Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Brand, Reputation, Authenticity, and Interaction

and Keychain via iTech News Net

Your brand is what makes you recognizable. In the olden days, this was likely a logo like Coca-Cola's. These days, it could be how you personally are known. For example, there's a guy whose current brand is President of the United States. Nice brand. Your reputation is how the world perceives your brand. Wall Street is pretty well known, but their reputation is not too good right now.

Brand, Reputation, and Authenticity

To get your brand known, you have to get out there and make it visible (the subject of many a book and post). Once it's visible, your actions and interactions will determine your reputation. This is where authenticity comes in, as being found authentic can be part of your reputation.

Being authentic is as easy and difficult as being yourself online, though probably with a lot cleaner language (if this isn't you, sorry; I can only judge by myself). I perceive being authentic as:

  • not being a stiff online (i.e., don't use a lot of jargon or refer to your NP or company in the 3rd person).
  • being conversational - you don't talk like a business letter at home, do you? So don't do it online.
  • letting your feelings/opinions show (we've all got 'em, why pretend we don't?), though that doesn't mean being a drama queen or metaphorically shaking your fist at people.
  • being truthful while being considerate of others

This is the enchilada, in my opinion. Without it, your social media involvement will be short of a combination plate.

I want to stress again (and probably again and again) that social media is not about you or your mission (if you've got one). It's about the people you're interacting with. It's not enough to find interesting things to say about what you are doing or how well the event went off. It's not enough to respond to the questions or comments on your website, blog, or FB page. You've got to monitor what people in your community are saying and respond to that.

On Twitter I recently saw a post by a book publisher I follow and have talked with in online chats. She mentioned that she was having a pumpkin spice latte, even though she shouldn't. I could have let it pass, thinking it was just another tweet from someone about their lunch. But I happen to like pumpkin spice lattes and look forward to their seasonal appearance. I was also intrigued by the fact she said she shouldn't have them, so I responded to her tweet; she responded back and we had a micro chat about flavour, caffeine, and seasonal opportunities. Not once did the subject of book publishing come up, though I have a novel I'd love to sell her. But now I know her a little better and she knows me a little better and we both trust each other a little bit more, having found something besides books we have in common.

In my opinion, interaction is about finding commonalities and being interested in one another. People trust someone they know over a stranger, they're more comfortable giving donations to a cause whose public face (or voice) is familiar to them. There are dozens of reasons why showing an interest in the life of another can have benefits for your business, but I don't really care about them. What matters to me is that by reaching out to someone else, I help them know they are visible to me. And if we all become truly visible to one another, it will be harder for one of us to choose to harm another one of us.

Call me quirky, but that's the authentic me.

By The Way

Metrics is something that's always coming up, so I was glad to find these excellent posts on the subject:

And here's good news for those of you who are going mobile with your FB posts:

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Monthly Social Communications Round-Up

The King is Dead - or Is He?

It's been said that Web 2.0 is over -that the future is all about cloud computing and mobile. That may be true, but that doesn't mean that social communications is going away. It just means that Silicon Valley and other like places will be less focused on it. And that may mean that now you'll have room to breathe a little while you review your social media tools and processes and settle into something approaching a routine without being distracted by change and more change.

Less Innovation, More Integration

Use the breathing room to integrate your social communications and platforms. And always remember - building an online community means being more interested in the community than you are in tooting your own horn or putting your hand out for a donation.

Along those lines, here are some more posts from this week I found useful to think about.

The Eight Word Mission Statement

In this article by Kevin Starr at the Stanford Social Innovation Review, we learn that the best Mission Statement is short and to the point and why that's necessary.

The NonProfit Facebook Guy

We get two good posts from him - one about taking advantage of Facebook Ads to work some birthday magic for your community, and one about using photo tagging to help with data gathering.  You may not be an ichthyologist, but you might be able to think of a way photo tagging could help your mission.

26 Tips for Integrating Social Media Activities

Here, from Debbie Hemley posting at Social Media Examiner is a good list of ways to integrate your social media activities and get your various forms of social communication working together for you. Notice that at least a couple of them refer to mobile. The article is oriented towards business, but don't let recent warnings about not being taken over by the business mindset keep you from mining this list for helpful nuggets for your small nonprofit.

Dark History of Community Thinking

This piece is strictly extra-credit.

When you're dealing with what seems like overwhelming need, do you ever wonder what might be accomplished if your nonprofit tackled the roots of a problem rather than the results? A long time ago, the Rockefeller Foundation and others tried this approach. NPQ describes their efforts in Philanthropy's War on Community, where it went wrong, and how it continues to go wrong.

By The Way

I have donated to several Kickstarter projects in the last couple of months. If you haven't checked out this online fundraising tool, you might want to give it a look. There are other, similar tools for fundraising, but this one, for creative projects, is the model for success.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Don't Go By the Numbers

From a website you should not visit
I really hate those 'services' that promise to get you hundreds or thousands of followers, likes, or whatever. It's not honest, for one thing. Having lots of followers who are not engaged with you and disinterested in your content can serve only one purpose - to fool other people. Maybe to make them think you're more popular than you are so you can attract more followers or so you can use the inflated numbers to get advertisers or something else that requires a good showing. But those numbers are like expensive furnishings in a structurally unsound building.

Content and Interaction Will Drive the Numbers

As a small nonprofit, your content and the way you interact with people on your website, your Twitter account, your Facebook page, etc., is your best advertising. It's okay to promote yourself, but no one wants to listen to a channel that airs nothing but commercials. And it's smart to highlight some of the things you're doing - events, milestones, your partners. But mix it up a little - even if something doesn't directly have to do with your nonprofit, it could be interesting to your social community. If it catches your eye and gets you excited and thinking about possibilities in your own neighborhood, then chances are it will appeal to your social media friends, too.

Don't be afraid to feature staff as well - it never hurts to put faces to the work you're doing. But don't make it one of those bland profiles - it should be about what that person is doing and the personal touch they bring to the work.

And if someone in your community is doing something interesting, call attention to it.

In the main, whatever picture or story or video that touches on what your small nonprofit is doing or affected by or could find useful can be considered for content.

You may start out with a small audience, but don't focus on that. Focus on communicating, being enthusiastic about what you're doing and what your community is talking about and working on - the numbers will come.


Here's a screenshot from a presentation by Darren Barefoot and Theo Lamb, which speaks to content:

By The Way

Nonprofit Tech 2.0 has good news about numbers - particularly one which seems to be magic.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The Way We Role - Modeling Your Small Nonprofit

Via T-Shirt Guru

This week Social Media Birdbrain has a guest blogger, Erin Palmer, with a post on role models and your small nonprofit.

Find Your Nonprofit
Role Model

Where would you be without your role models? From childhood, people start looking to those around them for advice and guidance. These role models help influence decisions, careers and even lives. People will have many role models throughout their lives. Having a role model to look up to can make such a positive difference in your life.

People look for personal and career mentors all of the time, so why not utilize the same principles for a nonprofit? There are so many organizations that do good, and each one represents a learning opportunity.  If you want to be the best nonprofit possible, you should learn from the best nonprofits possible.

Look for special qualities

Nonprofits excel in different things. Some might be masters of organizing events while others always have a lot of success in fundraising. Pay attention to the qualities that other nonprofits have perfected and see how you can incorporate these methods into your own organization.

Even the creative elements of another nonprofit can be a source of inspiration. If a nonprofit creates some particularly powerful messaging, use it as a learning experience. Dissect what makes the ad so powerful. Is it the wording or the imagery? Try to learn about how to create a stronger call to action or finding the right photo to suit the message.

Branch out

It can be beneficial to focus on organizations that are different from your own. Just because two organizations have entirely different focuses doesn’t mean that they can’t teach one another. The leadership of a human rights organization can inspire positive change for an environmental nonprofit. What your mentor nonprofit does isn’t the most important thing. It is how they do it that’s important.

Work together

To really maximize your benefits, don’t just watch another nonprofit from afar. Be proactive and plan some mutually beneficial ways that you can work together. Consider pooling your resources to put on event and splitting the profits. You could rotate your volunteers through both organizations to double recruiting efforts. Working together can spark new ideas and help to get more out of each nonprofit.

Give back

The idea of giving back is familiar territory to anyone working in the nonprofit industry. However, you should aim to give not only to those that your charity aims to help, but to other nonprofits as well. It is wonderful when you can find a nonprofit to serve as a mentor to your organization. It is just as wonderful to take the time to serve as a role model to another nonprofit.

Every nonprofit starts with a dream, a cause and a lot of ambition. However, it can also be a time of questions, red tape and other confusion. Helping out a nonprofit that is just getting started can create a lasting relationship. More importantly, it can help others to make the world a better place. After all, isn’t that what it’s all about?

About Erin Palmer

 Erin is a writer and editor for the University Alliance where she writes about the sort of nonprofit and public sector topics relevant to a Masters in public administration online program. Erin also covers business subjects found in human resources degree programs.

By The Way

Fractured Atlas is offering legal seminars for nonprofits: Legal Seminars