Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Happy Holidays

Given the statistics, it appears you guys very much like posts about new apps and tools that you can use to further your social outreach, so I'll keep that in mind as we move into 2013.

This year has been very dramatic - I won't recount the events, since there are plenty of comics, pundits, and magazine/news shows that will do a better job - but this has been one of the toughest years for people in general that I can remember.

For me, this December has been a reminder of some large personal losses that significantly changed how I live my life; losses that I have seen reflected too often lately in the lives of others I know. It's part of the human condition, but knowing that doesn't keep it from sucking.

Anyway, this is my last post of 2012. I'm going to try to devote some time to the holiday season; something I haven't done for the last five or six years. And I'm also seriously considering going offline for a week or so to spend some time in retreat to think about new goals.

I wish you all an enjoyable time with your families, clarity of thought and purpose, rationality, compassion, an awareness of yourself as part of a larger whole, and the love of those you care for (including fur kids).

As always, if you have ideas, apps, or tools you'd like me to cover, just drop a comment into the little box.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Blended Storytelling With Branded Content

Artist Unknown

nce upon a time, there was a small nonprofit that wanted to infuse some extra pizzazz into its social communications. Big Data left them confused and social media marketers were now telling them that engagement was so Social Media 1.0. Storytelling continued to be one of the best ways to connect with their community, but how to do it in a fresh way?


Although curation is another content buzzword that seems to have lost its cachet, it's actually a viable content strategy. To curate, in social media terms, is to find articles, videos, slideshows, etc. that would be of interest to your audience. In the past, this has usually meant pretty much re-posting or creating a 'round-up' list of items.

But curation can go beyond simply presenting another point of view, it can show side by side with your own editorial content about why you find the piece interesting and how you think the information has a bearing on what you do and why it might be interesting to others. For example, if your nonprofit distributes books in areas where books are scarce, you might include a newsfeed with items related to books and book distribution. Include content by brands well known and respected in your community. Spread your net a little wider than you may have been doing and encourage your audience to get involved by allowing comments.

Telling a Story With Others

Rather than only providing your own stories, how about teaming up with other groups to create stories with a bearing on your mission? Going back to the book distribution example, you could work with an education group to create stories about their students and even include stories from participants themselves. Rather than hearing from you about what your work does for your constituents, why not let the constituents tell their story in their own way with help from you?

Knowing Your Audience

Finally, remember that your audience is probably composed of at least three types of participants in various combinations:

  • People who like happy stories
  • People who like statistics and infographics
  • People who like to know how their donations are being used
Consider designing your site with those people in mind so that they can find what they're looking for easily. And vary up your posts on social platforms to target those segments individually.

Provide breadth and depth in your storytelling by curating content, partnering up to tell more and better stories, and vary your approach in publicizing via social media while keeping the comment door wide open. Increased audience and participation could be your happy ending.

Related Articles:

How Jenn-Air Used Data Beyond Ads
How Designing With, Instead of For, Promotes Understanding
Why Branded Content is Beating Editorial

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Have You Zeen It?

Last week was a post on influence and I was going to write a post following up on that, but if my stats are any indication, you all are sick of hearing about influencers*. So, let's talk about Zeen.

What Is Zeen?

Zeen is a platform for creating a digital magazine. You can add your original content, pictures, videos, etc. or link to content on the web. It's a quick way to curate content that has relevance to your small nonprofit and get it out to your community via social communications.

You could put together photos from an event with stories and video on one page, then on another page, use infographics related to a program. You could create a magazine that highlights some special volunteers or partners and includes links to their pages or YouTube channels. Text, photos, video, and links can all be added either by uploading or from a link.

For Example?

For example, you know how round-ups work, right? A blog finds several good pieces of content and displays them in list format. Zeen allows you to do something like that, only better. Let's say I wanted to put together some writing tips. I decide I want to highlight some information on communicating, avoiding Tom Swifty style adverbs, dealing with rhythm and flow, so I find some blog posts and video on those subjects. But instead of publishing a bulleted list with links, I log into Zeen and start a new digital magazine:

Currently, they offer nine themes (seen at the far right of the screen). You can also select from a fair number of typefaces for the titles and the paragraph text.

You begin with the cover and add pages as you need to.

For each page, you can add as little or as much content as you like. Each piece of content is handled as a module and each module can be edited separately from the others as well as have its order on the page changed or the pages themselves can be reordered.

The Table of Contents is created automatically, and is revised whenever you change page titles or page positions. Zeen also automatically saves your work as you progress.

Right now, Zeen doesn't allow sound except through video and the stats are limited to Zeen views, which includes any viewing by you when you edit. Also, there's no way to embed the Zeen - it must be viewed at the Zeen site.

The Finished Product

When you're ready, you click Publish and your magazine is saved to your account. You then have the option of posting a Facebook update, making a Tweet or updating to Google+.  Your published Zeen has its own URL which you can copy and paste into emails or use in other ways. (To see my finished experiment, visit my Zeen page.)

Zeen is in beta right now, but it's not closed - all you have to do to use it is sign up. Take a look and see how a digital magazine might fit into your social communication plan. If you're already using Zeen, drop the URL in the comments - I'd love to see what you're doing with it.

* Let me know in the comments if you would like a post on getting to know influencers and their followers.

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