Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Who Do You Think You Are? Your Brand and Social Media

Change Has a Ripple Effect
I wrote a post not too long ago about being a huckster. I've come to realize that being viewed as inauthentic is a horror of mine. I would always rather know the truth of myself and deal with it than see myself through a cracked mirror and this is one of those things that has become both easier and harder through the advent of social media.One can more easily learn what others think you, but dealing with it may become more difficult while the focus remains on you.

Take a look at any news or SM platform and you'll easily see that rumors can go to facts and facts become shown as made up from whole cloth within minutes on the internet. Also that backlash can be brutal: The Susan G. Komen Foundation canceled another of its biggest yearly events, the Lobbying Day, because they're still dealing with the aftermath of the Planned Parenthood de-funding debacle.

Not knowing who you are and what you stand for and reinforcing that through review and just plain taking-time-to-think can have very long-term consequences.

You might think this is a problem more likely for a large nonprofit than one your size, but I don't agree. In every encounter you have online or in person with someone where you are exchanging views relating to your nonprofit mission, you are holding up your brand and saying, 'this is who we are - this is what we believe.' And that statement can be more far-reaching and affect more than just the two participants in the conversation. Just ask those healthcare initiatives that will be affected by the Komen Foundation's diminished fundraising and lobbying efforts. They will be the losers even though they were not directly a part of the original argument.

If we are all inter-connected (and we are), then the actions we take and the tone we set can never occur within a vacuum. Only by understanding who we are and how what we do may affect the lives and works of others, can we more confidently take steps into action using social media, trusting in our sense of self to guide us.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Party's Over - Post Event Socializing

Image via Blu-Reviewer
The Big Day has come and gone. You worked long hours in anticipation of the event and worked as much social media magic as possible to generate excitement and ensure an audience of room capacity size. But while you were putting together your engagement plan for before the event, did you remember to create a plan for after?

Website

Do you have images and copy set up for the website talking about the event in the past tense? Don't let the "Buy Tickets Now!" headline stay up longer than a day. You might not have pictures yet, but you can talk about them and make a promise to post them. I like the idea of creating albums on FB or Picasa and sharing them through your FB page or even your blog, but it will depend on where you really want the traffic.

Make sure you remove all the old event links, though you may want to keep the home page for the event for a while for your post-event updates.

Emails

About a week or so after the event, when you've got the photos available and set up - or, better yet, video - you should send out a short email thanking everyone who participated, volunteered, donated, or sponsored and include some pics from the event. This is a good opportunity to inform those who couldn't make it about what a great time they missed, remind those who attended about what a great time they had, and let everyone know about how your NP did in fundraising or whatever the focus of the event was. Try to find some stories to tell from the event that support your mission. Make it fun, though.

Facebook, Pinterest, etc.

You can update Twitter, but do it when you have some definite information, like who won the grand raffle prize or who announced a big donation. Don't waste tweets on "Golly, it was fun."

Remember that if you decide to add some images to your Pinterest account, they should be of general interest and attention-grabbing. Shots of the Board Chair dancing the hula while holding a drink in a cocoanut do not count as general interest.

You can start updating your FB page as soon as you can move your tired fingers over the keyboard. Make sure your cover picture is updated, tag people at the event, thank them, post some candid shots if you've got them. Over the next few days, tell a few stories from the event, create photo albums, add video, and talk about the future.

Cross-pollinate like crazy. Include links to your other social sites and your website - share your stories in all your hang-outs and don't repeat them. On FB you can mention a too-long story and include a link to read the whole thing on your website. Link from your website to your FB photo album or to your YouTube or Vimeo page or Slideshare.

Plan for After from Before

Decide what you will share and where before the event happens. Do the prep work. Then, when you have the content, you'll know where it goes and where and how to promote it. And very importantly, don't share everything within a short period of time or you'll burn out your audience. Finally, show only the best you have: if your plan called for a video and the video is mediocre, be willing to cut it. Don't be a slave to your plan.

Whenever you plan an event, there's always the work that happens in preparation, then the work that happens during. But there's also the work that should happen after. Plan from the beginning to make the most of the after.

Comments or suggestions for after-event socializing? Leave a contribution in the comments.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Return of the Scary Stuff

Sorry I'm late; been working on communications for a big nonprofit event in my community and it's been keeping me busy. Anyway... let's return to last week's subject: Jay Baer's post, " 14 Ways New Facebook Betrays Small Business. If you haven't read last week's post on this subject, that's where we covered the first 7 Ways. On to the next 7.

8. New Tab Width

 I'm in total agreement with Jay; this isn't really a problem, it's an opportunity. If you're using an app that makes use of the old maximum width, you'll need to get on to changing that, but a wider width makes for better visuals and better visuals make for better storytelling.

9. Premium Ads

The new ads will be larger and more dynamic and less targeted, Jay says. In the pre-Timeline days, this allowed small business to tailor ads to return clicks, likes, leads, and sales. The changes, he thinks, will favor a big business perspective on relationships and engagement. (Since he knows his market better than I do, I will take his word for it, though I think he might also want to remember that in another post he said that the ad market on FB is young and that to suggest that what it is today is what it will be tomorrow is probably wrong.) Fortunately for nonprofits, a market with ads that lean towards engagement is good. Likes and clicks are nice, but what you're communicating is a mission to for social good, and people investing time and energy in talking with you about that mission is great. One-time donations are nice things, but long-term supporters are better. That's if you buy ads on FB, of course, which many small nonprofits can't afford to do.

10. Reach Generator

If I'm understanding Jay right on this, FB says only 16 out of 100 of people able to see your NP's updated status postings actually see your post (and this is larger than the 7.5 - 10 people that Jeff Widman at pagelever.com estimates). FB is now offering to fix that for you - only if you happen to be a large company (mind, I've no data on what constitutes 'large' at this time) - by allowing you to purchase more ads, which will give you a larger 'reach'. Not nice, FB. Even worse, Jay says FB have 'essentially admitted' that they reduced the reach of status updates in advance of their announcement about being able to buy more Premium Ads. That would be extremely not nice. 

How this affects small nonprofits - likely doesn't (see my comment for 9., above). Are there any NPs out there that have bought FB ads? Just sayin'. But if FB actually artificially depressed status update reaches in order to make ad purchases seem like a better methodology - did they do it across the board or only to say, Nabisco and other big brands with thousands of Likes? And does that matter? I think it does. It's likely legal, but it just isn't kosher.

To me this behavior is a warning; don't get too heavily invested in the idea that your NP has to stay on FB forever. The playground belongs to FB and they can rearrange the slides and swings or decorate them in weird ways, if they want to. To paraphrase Jay, to suggest what is favorable to you right now is going to remain that way is probably wishful thinking.

Logout Experience

In an All Facebook post, another new advertising opportunity was announced: an ad displayed when a user logs out of Facebook. In reading this, I got the impression that FB expects to make good on their boast to Premium Advertisers that they can get 75% of user eyeballs to see an ad based on a combination of the new 'Reach Generator" ads and the 'Logout Experience' ad. The writer didn't seem impressed with this idea and neither am I. It used to be that I would have to log out and log back in under another name to update client accounts, but with fan pages, I can just be named an administrator, so if I'm logged out of FB these days, it's usually by accident.

11. Real Time Insights

These are your regular Insights but now shown as they happen instead of when FB decides to collect them. It may be that some small businesses and nonprofits are too busy trying to make a living to spend time making note of who responded to what post when, but it only takes a minute to take a look and you might gain valuable insight into what time of day you get the most engagement. Allocating a week to doing that once an hour during business hours could probably give you a pretty good average for deciding what times of day and what days of the week are busier. Do this every other month or so for a year, and you'll have better data. And if you're not looking at your Insights data, why aren't you?

12. Milestones

This is pretty cool for a nonprofit, I think (or a legacy business, as Jay says). To create a milestone on your timeline, place the cursor somewhere on your timeline as shown by the plus sign inside the red circle in the first pic below. Then a dialog box will display as in the second pic below. 
Your Timeline currently starts on the day your FB account was established. You'll need to enter the date your agency started. Once you do that, you can add updates for any time in the past between your founding date and the the present. For example, the date you broke ground on your new building or the date you had your first major fundraiser or gained your 1,000th Like.

13. Auto-Play Content

Roland Smart of Involver has been reported as saying that FB's long-standing rule against content being able to play without user involvement (e.g., you must click to start a YouTube video) has gone by the boards. Likely this pertains only to 'approved' apps. I haven't seen auto-play on anything my friends have posted, unless the video link takes me to another URL. Maybe I'm just blasé or it's because I used to have to get up to change the TV channel, but I often prefer to click-to-play, so I'm likely not to be happy with something that starts up by itself. And I don't know how this would work. Surely it wouldn't auto-play in my newsfeed - that would be like every picture in a Hogwart's photo album talking at once. Very annoying. Guess I'll have to wait and see on this.

The End Is Near!

14. Rollout Schedule

Everyone who hasn't already moved over to the new Timeline display will be moved over by Facebook on March 30. This is not a lot of time in which to absorb the new changes and make plans for them.

If you're one of those NPs that hasn't done it, you might want to get cookin'. But don't stress over it. Read through things, make a list of things you can deal with and then deal with them. If you want to wait on some stuff until you can learn more, then leave it be for now. It'll still be there when you're ready, and it's doubtful that anything on FB's current rollout is going to be make-or-break for you or anybody else.

Thoughts? Leave a contribution in the Comments.




Wednesday, March 7, 2012

FB's Timeline Restrictions - Bad for Nonprofits?

New Things Scare Me!
As you know, I search for content inspiration from a lot of different sources. In particular, I look at business blogs because small businesses have a lot in common with small nonprofits. I found this post by Jay Baer at Convince & Convert (via Social Media Navigator) and thought, "Dang. Why am I just now hearing about this?" 14 Ways New Facebook Betrays Small Business definitely has application for a small not-for-profit. I'm going to go through the 14 'betrayals' and see how they translate. In addition, I'll spend a little extra time at one or two because you might want to see a how-to.

1. Cover Image

Not that big a deal to me. Any small NP worth its salt will either have someone on staff who can do this or has already got a volunteer. Nonprofit Facebook Guy (if you haven't liked his page yet, what's wrong with you?) makes it even easier by providing a free Photoshop template

2. Prohibition on Cover Promotion

FB now says:
Use a unique image that represents your Page. This might be a photo of a popular menu item, album artwork or a picture of people using your product. Be creative and experiment with images your audience responds well to.
Cover images must be at least 399 pixels wide and may not contain:
  • Price or purchase information, such as "40% off" or "Download it at our website"
  • Contact information, such as web address, email, mailing address or other information intended for your Page's About section
  • References to user interface elements, such as Like or Share, or any other Facebook site features
  • Calls to action, such as "Get it now" or "Tell your friends"
All cover images are public, which means anyone visiting your Page will be able to see the image you choose. Covers must not be false, deceptive or misleading, and must not infringe on third parties' intellectual property. You may not encourage or incentivize people to upload your cover image to their personal timelines.
This one is a little more problematic. Even if you never run a 50% off deal, you may want to include your website or promote an event. You can still do it, you just have to be more aware of what the image will contain. For example, here's a cover I did recently for the Cultural Council of Santa Cruz County (a small arts & culture NP) to promote their annual fundraiser, which this year has a 1960s theme:



You'll notice ticket prices, the website, share, and calls to action are not present. The most prominent information is the name of the event and the date on which it takes place. Information about entertainment, auction items, etc., comes in the form of storytelling posts - i.e., content.

3. Death of the Landing Tab

Again, I don't see this one as a biggie. You'll still be able to add a few custom tabs if you want to and the way the timeline is set up, people will be able to engage right away, which is what most probably prefer.

4. Pinning and Starring

I agree with Jay that having to figure out what to Pin and Star adds an extra layer - but not a thick one. If you don't already know what posts are more important than others, you probably have bigger problems. So, for those of you not aware of them (as I wasn't), this is what Pins and Stars are -

If you have a post you think should stay up at the top for a while, you can Pin it there.

You do this by clicking on the little pencil icon to the right of the post title. A drop-down menu appears and you can select "Pin to Top." If you want to, you may also choose to change the date of the post, hide the post on your page or delete it. There's also a Report/Mark as Spam..., but that's because the little pencil icon shows up on everyone's posts, so you'd use this (presumably) on someone else's content, if needed.


Once you've Pinned a post to the top, it's marked with a gold bookmark. To further highlight it or to remind you why this post hasn't moved down the Timeline the last few days, I dunno.

Star a Post - at the bottom of the pic to the right you'll see that if you hover your cursor over the star on a post, the tooltip 'Highlight' displays. If you click this, FB will resize the post to cover both columns of the Timeline, giving it extra prominence...

...which can be good or bad, depending on the post content. For example, the Cultural Council had uploaded several photos to FB about the construction of the new Arts Education Giving Tree (Artis). This is what the post looked like:

As you can see, the post reduced the number of photos shown from the 17 uploaded to the album to 9. So what would happen if the post were Starred?

As you can see below, the post now takes up both columns instead of one and the number of photos has been further reduced from 9 to 3. With a layout like this, you'd almost think you were viewing a slideshow and (like me) start unconsciously looking for an indicator to move to the next photo. But of course there isn't one, because it's not a slideshow.

Regardless of whether you use standard or Starred with multiple photos, a reader is going to have to click on the pictures to be taken to the album if they want to see everything. Other types of posts might not be so problematic, but each one will be slightly more of an experiment than you might have liked.

Whoa. This post has gotten ridiculously long and I haven't even gotten to Number 5, yet!

5. Direct Messages

Now when you visit a brand page, you'll see a "Message" button right underneath the cover photo. Jay says this will be one more mailbox to have to keep track of. Yeah, but when you're trying to increase engagement, I don't think that's all bad.

6. Activity Stream

At the top of your Timeline, your recent activity will be highlighted in the right-hand column under your Cover Picture. As Jay points out, if you're not very active, this will become very apparent. I'm thinking though, that with many applications now providing ways FB-approved ways to post to your page, you may be able to fill those gaps with content from your usual social media rounds like Twitter and Pinterest. You have to ask yourself how important FB is in the social media scheme of things for your nonprofit. If your constituents engage with you a lot there, then you should be giving posts on FB a certain priority so that there aren't big gaps in your Activity Stream.

7. Penalty on 3rd Party Apps

Yeah, this one could be a problem. Because of the lack of resources, your NP, like a small business, may be using a 3rd party app to post to more than one social media platform. FB would naturally prefer that you make your FB posts from FB, so they are apparently penalizing some 3rd party apps by choosing to reduce the prominence of updates made using them. This simply means that if you use an app like Networked Blogs to post your latest blog update to FB, it won't look as pretty (actually smaller and kind of looks like a classified ad) as it would if you had made the update directly on FB.

Which apps are approved and which aren't? I wish I knew. I know Pinterest is, because otherwise, why would it get so much space in my Timeline? Not only my recent activity is shown there, but also what my boards are and which boards I follow. If anyone has any clue about where the 'approved' 3rd Party apps list is, please let me know!

Okay, that's enough madness for now.  While I was reading Jay's post, I saw he had a link to another post on the Timeline's Pros and Cons from Kikolani.com that is well-worth the read. Next week, we'll get to the remainder of the 7 'betrayals' from Jay.

Want to comment? Leave a contribution in the Comment box.