Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Call Me Maybe - Video Hangouts & Your Small Nonprofit

Here's a reason you should be on Google+ - hangouts.

G+ Hangouts allow you to gather together as many as ten people (including you) in a virtual room with video and have a chat.

  • Think of being able to get your team in a room no matter where they are (there's a Google Hangout app for smartphones and tables).
  • Think of being able to get some of your board members in a virtual room for a quick decision or consensus.
  • Think about getting some of your volunteers or community members in a room to talk about issues or direction.
  • Think about increasing interaction with stakeholders and donors, clients, local business people...

And it's completely free except for having to have a G+ account.

Google is also experimenting with filming hangouts. I was recently part of a group filmed in a vegetable gardening segment with Shawna Coronado. And Google is using Hangouts as part of their coverage of the Republican and Democratic Conventions, where experts and folks off the street can have a live say about what's happening. Television and journalists are taking note.

With a little experience, you will probably find other great uses for it.

Learn About Google+ Hangouts:
Two ways to Use Google+ Hangouts
Why Google Hangouts are Television's Next Frontier
About Hangouts (Google Support)

And if you're wondering what I look/sound like on a Hangout, see Shawna's video here

By The Way

My Big Duck newsletter had a great story about an innovative way to use celebrities to raise awareness and cash for Malaria No More and the Global Poverty Project. This is a terrific example about how the internet and social media can help reach out to people who might not necessarily warm to your cause and convince them to donate just the same.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Is Your Small Nonprofit Getting Too Much Business?

I often cite business tools or processes and systems here, but it's not because I think for-profit does it better. I think nonprofit is in a place now where they would benefit from creating new processes and systems that work for them and I happen to think everything is related to everything else. So when I see a business article about something I think can be ported over to nonprofit use, I mention it.

Is Business Trying to Take You Over?

NPQ thinks nonprofits may be paying too much attention to what for-profits are doing and trying to model themselves after them with bad results.

I agree, but only if the nonprofit is actually making itself over in the likeness of a for-profit. The writer, Simone Joyaux, points to another writer for her conclusion:
As [Jim] Collins writes, “We must reject the idea—well intentioned, but dead wrong—that the primary path to greatness in the social sectors is to become ‘more like a business.’”
That's true, though I don't think that anyone here is trying to find a quick fix for their nonprofit challenges by becoming converts to 'philanthrocapitalism.'

And I don't think this article really applies to what we usually talk about in this blog, so I'll continue to mention tools and processes in the for-profit world that I think might be of benefit to your nonprofit.

Even so, Joyaux's article is an interesting read and I recommend doing that and not skipping the comments, which are thoughtful.

By The Way

I read somewhere else - can't remember where - that as Baby Boomers retire, many of them may decide to start their own small nonprofits. Yeah, I know you don't need anymore competition. But maybe this is an opportunity. If you are interacting with Boomers already, you're in a good position to convince them to come over to your side of the nonprofit neighborhood. If not, maybe this is your wake-up call.

Other Articles at NPQ I found interesting:

The Participatory Revolution in Nonprofit Management - about how stakeholder participation in governance and decision making is broadening
Nonprofit Management Isn't a Game About game theory management and it's efficacy

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Add It Up For Yourself

There's a whole lotta scorin' goin' on. Ask people to define social media influence and you'll probably come up with a different answer for every person who answers. Obviously, Klout has their measurement and Hubspot has Twitter Grader and there are other sites and other tools like FB's own Insight and Google Analytics.

These Are Not The Metrics You're Looking For

You wanna know how influential you are? Experiment. Tweet something like a giveaway. Tweet it different times throughout the day and see what kind of response you get. Now post it on Facebook directly ('cause we've learned that FB penalizes status updates that are made with 3rd party apps by burying them) and see what kind of response you get. Keep experimenting by changing up the times, the wording, etc. And see what response you get.

Be patient and do this for a while with different content. Don't forget to include comments/views from your blog or YouTube channel (How many? From whom?).

Put together a spreadsheet and keep track what you're doing and what the results were. At the end of a few months, review the results. Compare your results with what Insights and Analytics tell you. Now think about what you've learned and design a new experiment that tests your theory about how your community is responding to your efforts. Rinse and repeat.

Yeah, it's a lot of work.

Finding your influence is a drawn out process because developing influence is a drawn out process. It involves:

  • establishing a presence
  • maintaining that presence actively (engaging with the community)
  • maintaining that presence consistently (staying on message while providing varied content)
  • collecting information about your interactions
  • putting your information together and drawing a conclusion
And all of these steps, except for the first, are continuous.

Advice is Cheap

I get a new admonition about social communications practically every day. The latest one I read told me that companies should never broadcast the same content across all platforms. Well, I'm in violation of that one, and probably will continue to be. When I find something interesting, first thing I do is Tweet, FB, G+ it. And then I may post it to Linked In and Pinterest in slightly different ways. Why? Because my audience is not the same on these platforms. The people I talk to on Twitter are 98% different from those in my G+ circles or in my FB list of Friends. And it's more like 99% on Pinterest. Different platforms appeal to different people. Only nut cases like me will maintain a presence on several platforms at once, and even we have preferences.

So take all social media advice (including mine) with a grain of salt - the only measurements that mean anything are those you arrive at yourself based on your continuing interaction with the people you meet and converse with online.

Related Writings:

Looking Beyond the Numbers by Danny Brown at Jugnoo
Social Scoring by NetLingo

By The Way

I heard recently that a big studio in Hollywood is being sued by some of their interns for not paying them to work. Be aware that, because of the now astronomical costs of student loans, people willing to work for credit are likely to be more scarce than ever, and budget accordingly.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

NonProfit Pulse Survey

Thought you might be interested in the results of a survey ConstantContact did recently on nonprofits Here's the text:

Constant Contact Nonprofit Pulse Survey:
Attracting New Supporters Keeps Nonprofits Up at Night
Majority of nonprofits see potential of social media marketing to help with engaging supporters

WALTHAM, Mass. – August 7, 2012 – According to new survey data from Constant Contact®, Inc. (NASDAQ: CTCT), the challenge of attracting new supporters is keeping 64% of nonprofits up at night.  While the Constant Contact 2012 Nonprofit Pulse Survey revealed nonprofit concerns related to cash flow and staff levels, it also revealed that 58 percent find social media marketing an effective marketing tool that can be deployed to address these concerns. 

What’s Keeping Nonprofits Up at Night
When it comes to running their organizations effectively, nonprofits are concerned about attracting new supporters and connecting more effectively with existing supporters. When asked what keeps them up at night:
·        64 percent said how to attract new supporters.
·        59 percent said how to connect and better engage with existing supporters.
·        57 percent said getting funding.
Management and measurement of marketing activities were also addressed:
·        34 percent said having a more integrated communication strategy.
·        22 percent said how to make marketing dollars go further.
·        20 percent said how to measure the impact of marketing campaigns.

Marketing “Go Tos”
Nonprofits still rely largely on email marketing, with 86 percent finding it to be an effective marketing tool for their organization.  Other marketing activities found to be effective are: website (80 percent), in-person interactions (73 percent), and events (70 percent). 

Facebook is Preferred Social Media Marketing Activity – Hands Down
Social media marketing is also an important tool for nonprofits, with 58 percent naming social media marketing as an effective marketing tool.  However, Facebook is clearly king of all social media within the nonprofit sector.  Of those nonprofits that find social media marketing to be effective, when asked which tools they find to be most effective:
·        88 percent said Facebook.
·        5 percent said Twitter.
·        3 percent said LinkedIn.
·        1 percent said Google+; 1 percent said YouTube.

Social Media Learning Curve
While social media marketing is valued by a majority of nonprofits, it is also an area where they want guidance.  When asked which marketing activities they need help with:

·        57 percent said social media marketing.
·        36 percent said email marketing.
·        35 percent said website.

Of note, nonprofits think 73 percent of their supporters are likely to recommend their organization to a friend or colleague, a dynamic that could be greatly amplified with the use of social media marketing.

“While more nonprofits understand that social media can help them attract and engage supporters, it’s still a bit of a mystery to them in terms of how to actually use it themselves,” said Alec Stern, vice president, strategic market development, Constant Contact.  “I think there’s a real opportunity here to educate nonprofits on not only the basic ‘how-tos’ of social media but also the longer view benefits of social media sharing.  The ability to share real-time first-person stories and images from charitable recipients, volunteers, and donors, and get a dialog started among all constituents, is a truly compelling way to build an engaged community.”

Nonprofit Outlook
Generally speaking, the health of nonprofits appears stable or growing:
·        67 percent expect membership/funding for the year to be more than last
     year, while 7 percent expect it to be less.   

·        49 percent have seen an increase in membership/funding so far this year,
     while 12 percent have seen a decrease.

·        55 percent have adequate cash flow.

This optimism is leveled by some operational challenges they face:
·        46 percent of nonprofits are experiencing increased operating costs.
·        35 percent need additional staff but are unable to hire.
·        51 percent have increased the number of service offerings.

About the Survey
This Constant Contact-sponsored survey was administered in May 2012 to 1000 participants in the Constant Contact Small Biz Council – a research panel of US small businesses and nonprofits recruited from the Constant Contact customer base. This is the first installment of an ongoing study about the state of nonprofits and the ways they connect with, and grow, their audiences.  Results include responses from 307 nonprofit organizations.  Of note, 65 percent of respondents have annual operating budgets below $500,000. 

How does this information jibe with what you've been seeing in your own small nonprofit? Are you with the majority or the minority? Are there other issues that weren't addressed by the study? Let me know in the comments.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Does Your Small Nonprofit Have a Disaster Plan - for Social Media?

Detail from a work by Ian Thomas

What do

have in common?

Both of them were caught in a social media crossfire.

The hotel got a little snarky when the bad press came in. The food nonprofit took the objections to their partnership with CFA seriously, but had to compromise to honor their agreement and keep faith with their mission and the people who depend on them. I doubt either the hotel or the nonprofit were entirely happy with the way things worked out.

Putting aside the particular issues, how do you think you would have done in a similar situation? It could happen. An Olympic athlete ended up not going to the Olympics because she made a joke on Twitter.  One joke and something she had been hoping for, working for, and looking forward to for years was put out of her reach. Was the joke racist? Certainly several people thought so, including her own country's Olympic Committee.

Not To Scare You Away

Scaring you away from social media isn't my objective. And it would be simplistic and useless to wag my finger and say, "Watch yourself." You could be ten times as careful as you have been in the past and a social media fire could still happen to you and your small nonprofit. The better you get at using the different platforms, the more you use them, the better the chances that you'll be embroiled in a imbroglio.

What's Your Plan?

Obviously, you can't prepare for details, since the details will change, but you can have a plan in place for how - and how quickly - your small nonprofit will respond to a stream of disconcerting, if not bad, press. Other things to have in the plan:

  • Who will handle/direct the response?
  • Who will handle/direct the response if the first person isn't available?
  • What channels will you use for the response?
  • Who and how will you monitor the continuing flap and how your response is being received?
  • How will you stay on message?
  • How flexible can you be?

Practice, Practice, Practice

Emergency responders have exercises for anticipating and working through crises, like earthquakes, hazmat dangers, disease epidemics. They choose a scenario and then work through it with all agencies and hospitals that would be involved. If your small nonprofit is a food pantry or clinic, you already know this and may have your own disaster plan. Why not do the same for your social media crisis?

Heaven forbid you should ever need it, but if that time ever comes, it's better to be prepared, isn't it?