Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Be More of a Difference

What with our own expectations, traditions, and the constant admonition to make this the "best Christmas EVER!" the whole season can quickly degenerate into a mass of anxiety-ridden desperation.

The quickest way to help you feel better is to make things better for someone else!

Today I'm volunteering tweets to the Adopt a Family Project in Santa Cruz County, California and devoting this week's post to spotlighting family needs.

If you live in the area, think about enriching your own Christmas by helping to make another family's Christmas a happy one. If you don't live here, I'm sure you can find similar programs in your area - or ones that can easily take its place.

Regardless of religion or politics, the end of the year is usually a time of reflection on your efforts and what you hope for the future, to be grateful for what you have and be generous to those who have less. Though you're part of a small not-for-profit, you're not exempt from this consideration. On the contrary...

For those of you running small nonprofits - consider what you can do to help other small nonprofits engaged in assisting local families during what's often the toughest time of the year for them emotionally.

Staff could adopt a family and the NP donate the occasional tweet or FB post to local agencies serving family needs for the holidays.

I know you've got your own year-end campaign to deal with; just don't get so caught up in the details that you forget about what else you can do as a nonprofit or as an individual or a group of individuals.

It's been said that Christmas is for kids. I think the time between Thanksgiving and New Year's Eve is for reaffirming one's connection to the rest of the community and recognizing that even as we do the work of improving one area, we can still contribute to the betterment of others. Using our knowledge of social media and nonprofits, are we not uniquely qualified?

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Groupon Update - the Ugly Side

Back in April, I wrote about Groupon and it's near-instant popularity. The post included some things to consider before your small not-for-profit jumped on the bandwagon. Here's an update from someone who learned the hard way:

"Without doubt, it was my worst-ever business decision."

As I said; it's a look-before-you-leap proposition.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Following Back is For the Birds

Image from Coloring Pages for Kids
I read a rant (a good one) today by Rob Cottingham over at the Social Signal about the expectation that if you follow someone on Twitter, you should be followed back.

I joined Twitter on the 22nd of January, 2008, which means that I've had an account almost since it really took off in 2007, which has given me kind of a historical view of this issue.

I left the following comment on Rob's post today (with a few updates made):

In the early days of Twitter (when Guy Kawasaki actually wrote his own tweets), it was worthwhile to follow everyone that followed you because there wasn't anyone there who was not interested in tech and social media. It was easy to converse because you usually had common interests and time: minutes would go by without the twitter stream being updated with a new post. You had leisure to get to know one another and there was no such thing as a focused stream (except maybe for Scoble, who more or less left Twitter in May 2008). So it kind of became a custom to follow back those who followed you.

Much has changed since then.

Frankly, I don't understand people who follow back automatically anymore. Stephen Fry used to do this until his follower count got close to 100K (maybe he still does). I've got far fewer followers than he does, and I know I miss some of the posts I'd like to see (like those from Stephen). Can't imagine what Stephen's stream looks like and doubt he's even seen it in a while. Not to mention that all you have to do now is include a word like 'pilates' in a post and five 'bots for Pilates instructors will follow you immediately.

I read a quote that went something like, "other people's opinions of me are none of my business." Probably this won't work for a brand, but for just us folks, it works fine. You don't have to like me and you sure don't have to follow me on Twitter, even if I follow you. People who think otherwise are using Victorian etiquette in a rocket-ship world.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

"I've Been Re-Framed"

image from ScrapbookScrapbook
I heard from a friend of mine that someone had bought a very nice piece of art; an oil painting that he couldn't wait to get home after he took it to a framing store and had the frame replaced because it didn't fit the artwork. This probably happens more often than you might think and some people don't look beyond the frame to the art, so a beautiful piece will languish in a gallery or show instead of going home with someone.

You ever think much about the way your small not-for-profit is perceived in terms of context in your community. I mean, how do you frame the issues that you're about?

I got to thinking about this today when I read this article at NPQ about how an advocacy group is urging LGBT groups to stop asking for gay marriage as a rights issue, but reframe it as a love and commitment issue.The group seemed to feel that it was seeing the proposed legislation as a rights issue that was causing it to fail and that if the proponents would only appeal to the common desire of people to share romantic commitment, the cause would do better.

Why Framing is Important

This is one of those areas where we may think we've got the question and answer right without remembering that there's more than one way to ask a question - or frame an answer. The right frame helps you craft the right message and everything you do to support your NP in social media has to target that message. You're tweeting or posting that message; you're interacting with others in a way that reinforces that message. And yet, so many times we think the choice is obvious, simple, and we don't think it any farther than that.

Don't kid yourself; the frame you put around your goals is important.


NPQ had another article in the same newsletter I found interesting because I saw it as being related to the rights/commitment reframing issue. This article dealt with how corporations are using programs and even nonprofits to market to children in schools. The article uses Kohl's as an example, where they had a program to give money to schools based on how many votes a school could get on FB. Parents and supporters voted and found themselves on Kohl's mailing lists. NPQ also points out how marketing is done using a corporation's charitable arm, which makes it seem less like marketing.

The corporations are re-framing  their goals through a concerting marketing push, resulting in a perspective that puts a very positive spin on them.

I hope it's obvious that I'm not advocating using framing to avoid being clear about what you're trying to accomplish. But I'm saying that there may be more than one way to state your case to your community and you might want to give some thought to whether or not you're using the right one for your nonprofit.

How did you decide to frame your small nonprofit? Let me know by leaving a contribution in the comment box.

Tip: Google+

Google has now opened Google+ to branded pages for institutions, businesses, and nonprofits. Here's how to create your small nonprofit's page on Google+.