Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Right Tool May Be in Your Head

46 and 2 Tool Head by Justin Roberts

In its younger days, social media was full of  conversations related to tools - tools for using social media, tools for managing social media, tools for measuring social media...

Tool Overload

New platforms and tools were coming out like water from a broken pipe and I imagine that a lot of people either threw their hands up in disgust and walked away or took the first recommendation they came across.

If you haven't taken time to sit down with yourself and think about the tools you're using and how you're using them, I recommend strongly that you do.

By now you have probably been using social media for a while. You are familiar with buzzwords like transparency, authenticity, and social media optimization. Now is a good time to ask yourself:
  • Have my social media goals changed since I started? At the beginning, you might have just wanted to try social media. After you got more comfortable with it, did you set new goals? If not, maybe it's time for that.
  • How are the platforms and tools helping me reach my goals? Can you look at the interactions you're having with your community and be able to quickly know which platforms or tools have helped you significantly or maybe not much at all? Do you know why - is it comfort level or return on your sweat equity or maybe something else?
  • How am I spending my social media time? Are you spending most of it on Facebook and ignoring Twitter? Are you giving social media the same amount of time as before or more or are you giving it less? If you're spending less time than before or more time than before, is it because you don't like the platform or tool? You could be avoiding social media platforms or tools because they don't fit the way you work or if you're forcing yourself to use them, you could be spending more time than you want to.
Review and Revise

Check your platforms and tools against your goals and ask yourself if you've got the right mix to achieve your goals? If not, you need to make some changes. This might involve trying a different platform, like Pinterest. Or it might involve finding the right tool for really making the most of your accounts, like Hootsuite. Or maybe now that you understand Twitter, it might be time to add timing tweets to the mix; finding out when your community is online, then setting up and scheduling tweets to post when they're more likely to see them.

Retreat! Retreat!

With everything you have to do, it's hard to try to keep up with changes. But, being able to craft a good strategy requires knowing what your options are. Once a year, many nonprofits have board retreats to cover where the NP has been and where it might go and how it might get there.

Social media is your NP's public face. It's worth it to take a day or two to review that face and decide how and when it might be displayed to its best. By doing that, you're using probably the best tool you have available.

Good Reading:

If you're on FB, you might want to take a look at this post by Beth Kanter on how applications coming into FB because of "open graph" may change things for your small nonprofit.

Treat: The Situation

Because even doing good can have its bad days, here's a great illustrated story about business as usual can look familiar even if its in another world.

Please leave a contribution in the comment box.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Re-Viewing and a Review

Image via Alfred Hitchcock Geek
One reason I have thought about ending this blog is because I didn't think I had anything in particular to add to the cacophony of advice and insight from people who have made giving advice and insight a profession (and do damn well at it).

My own insight has never seemed to me to be particularly... insightful. Maybe it's because I live in my head that I don't find anything there to be very remarkable. But I'm exploring the idea that I might be more insightful than I thought.

Recently, I've seen a few things about which I formed an opinion that I figured would be unastonishing, only to find out otherwise. I thought I would give examples here, but it comes off too much like hot air, so I won't.

So from now on, I'm going to try share ideas without pre-labeling them as pedestrian or unremarkable. I've always thought I should let the readers decide what's useful to them and what isn't and by tossing aside my own ideas, I've kind of done you a disservice. I've read tons of posts and articles that were about something that made me think of something else. So, even if my main idea isn't something that would work for you, it could give you a spark to something that would.

This is something I hope you'll do as well. Share your ideas, whatever they are. They may be old to you, but they'll be new to someone and, even if they aren't, maybe your process for uncovering them is. Personally, I'm always interested in someone else's process, that's why I always ask for a comment contribution. Tell me what you think and maybe we'll have a conversation.

About Title Creation

Today I read this post about creating captivating titles. This is advice I have read several times and many people swear by it. Tell you the truth, I won't follow this advice. Apparently it works, but to me titles like that sound like the pitches that sidewalk salesmen give and makes me growl in the back of my throat. As always, do as you please.

Review of Giving 2.0 

Giving 2.0: Transform Your Giving and Our WorldGiving 2.0: Transform Your Giving and Our World by Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Note: I received this book because my nonprofit blog is on Alltop.

I wanted to like it. I always want to like a book, but I couldn't like this one. It's a nonfiction book meant to inform fundraising in a connected/social media age. But the tone was too dry and lacked inspiration, though anecdotes about the history of giving Arrillaga-Andreessen's family were interesting. Often, though, the personal stories came off to me more as a resume-building exercise; a way of listing bona fides rather than providing any illumination or illustration.

Most distressing to me was the organization: dense text with list after list occasionally broken up by the Giving 2.0 logo which is meant to draw you to the website to learn more. I found going back and forth impeded my understanding because I then had to re-insert myself into the narrative. And the information on the website seemed loosely connected to what I was reading, rather than providing a more incisive explanation or expanding on the topic.

In the end, though I picked up the book often, I could not get myself to finish it - not when there are so many other books competing for my attention.

View all my reviews

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Pin It! Pinterest & Your Small Nonprofit

I thought it was time to tell you how much I like Pinterest and why I think it's good for your small nonprofit, but I was late off the mark and more than a few folks beat me to it.

Over at Nonprofit Tech 2.0 there's a great tutorial for how to get your not-for-profit set up on the site as well as a bit about how Pinterest is being used by savvy nonprofits.

Then skip over to Frogloop where Avi Kaplan gives away ideas on how best to use this new social media community. He also references Beth Kanter and Joe Waters and why they are using Pinterest.

Most Important Tips:
  • Let your supporters pin to your boards.
  • Put a Pinterest button on your website, so people can pin your images to their boards.
I got started with Pinterest in November or December last year and took to it immediately, since I'm very visually oriented and I'm always finding things I want to share. As an artist I'm always looking for inspiration and I find a lot of it on the web. My Pinterest boards give me a place I can collect images and view them in a fun way. Like a lot of the demographic on the site, I enjoy sharing what I find and what others find. It's fun and it can be inspiring as well.

You'll find me there as robynmcintyre. Email me if you need an invite.

By the way - remember that internet blackout on the 18th? If SOPA or PIPA were law, it's likely Pinterest wouldn't exist and the artists whose work shows up there wouldn't be getting pins or repins. Piracy is wrong, but those laws are not the way to fight it.


Amazon has provided a nice application for sending your documents to your Kindle. Check it out.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Protest Against Censorship

The internet has been a 'place' where we have all be free to share our ideas. Some of them haven't been good and there's no doubting that there are some pretty freaky people doing things they shouldn't be doing. But making Google, Yahoo, or YouTube and other companies responsible for policing and then deciding FOR us what is fair use and what isn't, won't make the bad people go away and will certainly hurt everyone else.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Ask and Answer - A Tale of Two Oranges

Two Oranges by Carolyn Texera

Sometimes it isn't a question of apples and oranges, but a question of two different flavors of oranges.

The small nonprofit where I'm currently contracting couldn't decide whether the solicitation letter they were sending out should have the ask upfront or in the middle.

The way I wrote the initial letter, the ask was upfront, since my experience has been that business people hate communications that don't quickly communicate what they're about.

One of the terrific ladies I'm working with slightly changed the order of the paragraphs so that the ask was in the middle. Her reasoning was that the middle position made for a better tie-in to the heart of the proposal.

After I and the Marketing Director read the changed letter, we didn't entirely disagree, although we felt the same about telling the reader what the letter was about as quickly as possible. My colleague then added a 'soft' ask at the beginning of the letter, which seemed to answer our concerns. Only none of us were sure which version might have the edge over the other.

So we're sending out both versions - half to one group and half to another - to see which letter might get the better response.

Experimentation doesn't always have to be about big differences - between apples and oranges  - it can be as subtle as the difference between a Valencia and a Clementine.

Have you ever experimented at a more nuanced level? If so, what was the result?

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Using an Honest and Open Hand

End of the year and beginning of the next year are the times you'll see a lot of prognostication about trends. I've never been much for resolutions or predicting the future - I figure you don't resolve to do things, you do them or you don't. And the future is just too blurry; things happen that you can't foresee that throw your careful analysis of trends into the garbage disposal. Whirr. Whirr. This is why the rest of the year you see lots of articles that can be summed up as 'Who Knew?' So no Resolutions or predictions from this blog. Lists, yes.

Resolve to List Stuff

Lists are nice because they give direction, goals, and a yes/no method of determining success. As I've mentioned before, I pay attention to what's happening in business, especially small business, because I think small nonprofits can learn from the businessman's never-ending search for improvement of the bottom-line. Over at Small Business Trends, they have a group of lists called Five Website Resolutions To Put On Your List for 2012 (yeah, the title is too long). One of the list groups is called Community and this is what author recommends to businesses:
  • Every business should nurture their customer communities by providing them with tools to spread word of mouth.
    • Customer appreciation days
    • Special offers for regular customers
    • Formal or informal meetings with customer advisory boards
    • Asking customers for ideas to improve products or suggest new product features
    • Provide easy ways to give you feedback or review your business
  • Face to face networking is important
    • Attend local events
    • Business networking and educational events
    • Set aside time and budget to attend and learn ways to increase your business
  • Sponsoring local community events – get involved in local community events, PTA organizations, schools , scout groups.

This list provides some good ideas for your small not-for-profit. You could re-interpret these in terms of your NP community and implement them. Now go further and imagine what you might do that might tie-in to some of your local businesses.

If you know a small business that does a community service that relates to your mission, why not tell your community about it? For example, if you're an environmental NP and you know of a LEED certified printer in town, why not mention it in your e-newsletter or somewhere on your site? By doing this, you'd be accomplishing a couple of things -
  • Increasing the quality of the content on your site or in your newsletter by informing your subscribers
  • Forging a new connection with a business that may become a future partnership

Link-backs are another way to do this. If a small business posts a blog that makes sense and complements your mission, why not include it in your communications? You may hear from the company with a thank you and (maybe, at some point) an invitation to partner on something or discuss an in-kind or sponsorship or something else.

You could also mention the business on your FB page or tweet about them or include their pics or videos on a Pinterest board.

It's a Bigger World Than We Know

And there are more opportunities to extend our networks and communities than we can find by talking exclusively about ourselves and our immediate constituents. The businesses in the same neighborhoods as our NPs are part of the same ecosystem. Lend them an honest and open hand and you may find your gesture reciprocated.

Social media influence is difficult to measure, but anyone can figure out the benefit of making a friend. And if we're less focused on tit for tat we may make more of them.