Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Quick and Easy Slideshow Videos

Running a small nonprofit takes a lot of time. So being creative often has to take a back seat to getting things done. Picovico is a tool you can use for putting together short videos without a lot of investment in time.

Here's how it works:
  1. Sign up for an account or use Facebook to log in.
  2. Choose a theme.
  3. Add pictures and text.
  4. Add music
  5. Create the video.

Log In

This is the screen you see before you log in. In the upper right you can choose to view instructions in English, Chinese, or Spanish. You can also sign up for an account or log in using your FB credentials.

You'll notice they list the steps as choosing the music before the theme, but I always choose the music to fit themes, rather than the other way round.

Once you click on the Create Video button, a dialog box appears, asking you to type in the title.

Choose a Theme (or Style)

Right now you only have four to choose from. Clicking on the pictures will give you a preview of what each style looks like. Clicking on the name of the style will select it. I chose Cool Vibes. Click 'Next' in the upper right to continue.

Add Pictures And Text

You can add pictures from your computer, from Facebook, or from Flickr. Once a picture has been uploaded, you can always choose it.

The Pictures will be displayed in your video in the same order they are shown, but you can shuffle them, reverse them, or otherwise change the order you want them to be shown in.
At the left of the screen, Picovico shows you a summary of how many pictures have been added and how long the video will currently run.

You click on 'Add Text' to add a text slide, which will overlay the slide that follows it. Note a couple of things - you don't have any control over the typeface or where on the slide the text will appear. The picture's file name will also display, so you may want to rename some pics before uploading them. Finally, the text screen's title will also display, so try to come up with a header better than my 'Begin' and 'End.' Click Next, once you're finished.

Add Music

Adding music is as easy as everything else. I'm guessing the developer appreciates music more than the video templates, since music is Number Two in the instructions and because the selection is a lot more varied.

There are several categories and most categories have several choices, written by either Frank Nora or Kevin MacLeod. Or you can upload your own.

I chose Jazz as my category and the song 'Off to Osaka'. Note that each song has its length listed. The length of the video should influence your music choice. Otherwise, short music pieces may loop several times before a video is finished. You can preview each piece of music so you'll know what you're getting.

Once you press Next, you're on to the last step.

Creating the Video

For some reason, the creation timeline at the top calls this step 'Personalizing' but you're not doing that. You're entering a title and some descriptive text and you're choosing privacy settings.

If you need or want to, you can add credits to the video. Note that the composer of the music you chose will be credited unless you uploaded your own music.

The quality is pre-set to 360p. You can export the video to Facebook or YouTube. You can also choose whether the video will be available to the public, viewable only by someone who has the url, or private and viewable only by you. I chose to export to FB, but make it only viewable by me. When I checked my timeline, the video was there, but marked 'private'.

Once you click 'Make Video', Picovico will begin processing, which takes a few minutes or longer, depending on the length of the video. You are invited to hang around and look at videos made by other people, or you can leave the site and wait for an email that tells you the video is finished.

Viewing the Video

People viewing the video have the option of getting a url for it or the embed code, and setting the video to private doesn't stop the viewer from copying the code.

Also, the viewer can post a comment to FB. I made a comment on my own video and it, as well as the video, displayed on my FB timeline without the lock icon that shows it should be viewable only to me. So there are some glitches, but not a problem if you intend to make only public videos.

To see my finished sample (such as it is), click the link below:

Robyn's Sample Video

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Data Driven Campaigns Can Help Small Nonprofits

graphic via Robert Kirrily on Flickr

I really dislike numbers, but sometimes it can't be helped. SSIR has a good article about learning from Obama's data-driven campaigns. They make it about measurement, but I make it about reach.

Here's the gist of it:
  1. Target your audience for the best returns on your outreach. Example: Obama's campaign focused on buying ads in places where they could reach the most potential voters, not the biggest audience.
  2. Do research on what works by looking at what is happening in academics and science. Example: Obama's campaign asked advice from behavioral scientists about what could get people to the polls.
  3. Design outreach for specific segments of your audience. Example: Obama's campaign targeted the segment of 40-49 year old women potential supporters and offered them incentives directly tied to what that demographic found appealing (George Clooney and Sarah Jessica Parker).
  4. Get the most inclusive database system you can - even if you have to pay for it. Don't segregate your data into silos; tie it all together to get the most out of it. Example: The Obama campaign tied their voter registration database to the website and their campaign database so they knew which registered voters did what and used the data to target their outreach.
  5. Invest in data science by learning or having someone on staff who can accurately measure and help you analyze the data you're getting from your system. Example: Obama's campaign reportedly had ten times the data scientists than Romney's did and Romney's campaign delegated some analysis to outside firms, who were less responsive.
  6. Don't be afraid to go where the data tells you. Example: data analysis found that Reddit was a popular gathering place for key targets, so Obama made a virtual appearance on the site, even though Reddit was not well-known to his senior aides.
Two more things:

It bugs me that the article focuses on your community like they were just 'targets' or numbers. But you don't have to see them that way.

Also, I know some of you are going to complain about the amount of money Obama's campaign had, which you don't. Don't throw away these ideas just because you think you can't afford them. Do what you can, where you are, with what you have (as Teddy Roosevelt said) and make plans for the future to find a way to get what you need so you can do more.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

SEO and PR - Working Together For You

This is one of the best explanations of how to currently get higher up in Google search rankings. Why do you want to get higher up? Because most people don't look farther than the first page of search results. Normally, this wouldn't matter to much to a small nonprofit, but Google (and now Facebook) are working on more social versions of search, which means that search results are now more personalized - to interests, location, network, etc. And why wouldn't you want your small nonprofit to show up early in search results for groups doing the type of work you do, where you do it?

Shift Communication's Christopher Penn explains: SE


Also, if you haven't heard, Facebook has a new type of FB search in beta. It's called 'GraphSearch'.

Finally, the Nonprofit Quarterly is inviting you to join their new Google+ community, "Nonprofit News and Trends."

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Change of Direction

Smartphone (Photo credit: Prophetic_Blogger)

Awhile back, I published a post about maybe discontinuing this blog. I've gotten back into fiction writing in a large way, but haven't had the time to devote to my writing blog (robynmcintyre.wordpress.com) because of this blog and other obligations. 

I'm not going to completely discontinue this blog, although there are a lot of people out there now who specialize in blogging about social media and communications for nonprofits (just look at my own blog roll on the lower right for suggestions), and they give it a lot more time. But I'll pretty much confine myself to posting about tools and applications I think a really small nonprofit could find useful, or articles I think are worth the read.

TapFunder Mobile

Here's an app I just found that I think could be useful, depending on how many of your donors like to donate using their smartphones. It's called TapFunder Mobile. Currently, people wanting to donate using their phones get charged through their phone billing. TapFunder allows them to pay using a credit/debit card. It's not free, of course, but the charge from their partner WePay.com is in line with most other such services ($.30 and 2.9% per transaction). Where TapFunder makes their money is in being the portal to WePay.com, and they charge $1 per donation. So a $10 donation would net you $8.41.

Eventually, applications like Google Wallet may change how electronic donations are handled, but apps like TapFunder may be useful in the short term.
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