Wednesday, September 25, 2013

When You Work at a Nonprofit - A Case Study

When you see the response to your proposed
use of a new social media tool:

This came into my mailbox and I think it is so cool. At this point, I've got nothing to add that I think would make it any better.

Read it.

Don’t Over-Think It: A Case Study For Testing Ideas, From “When You Work At A Nonprofit”

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Social Communication, Email Level - 6 Pitfalls to Avoid

Via Twenty Four Frames
Social communication is bigger than Facebook and as small as a Post-It . Lately, I've seen some gnashing of teeth on the subject of emails and memos. Whether you're writing to a board member, a volunteer, a staff member, or another kind of stakeholder, avoid miscommunication by avoiding these six communication pitfalls.

Too Long

According to The Hobbit, the road may go on forever, but your communication shouldn't. With all of the voicemails, emails, hard copy, etc. everyone has to deal with on a daily basis now, you need to get to the point. If background on a problem or question is needed, ask yourself what the minimum is and go with that. Take the time to edit because you don't want your communications delayed by people thinking, "Oh no, another long-winded email from him."

Too Vague

Almost as irritating is a communication that makes you guess what it's about. Don't be cagey or cute and sidle up to your subject. If you want to use an introduction, that's fine - just make sure that it actually introduces the subject.

Subject Line Missing

Always put something in the subject line and make it as pithy as possible. Don't make the subject line the communication itself. Subject lines are used by most people to narrow down the search for a communication later. They can't do this if the subject isn't clear or isn't there.

And while we're on the subject (uh-huh), don't change the subject in follow-ups. If you've been discussing a new idea and the conversation has been resolved, don't use 'reply' to start a new subject. This makes it nearly impossible for someone to find the correct thread later if they need to. Start a new email or memo.

Being Too Creative

This applies to both stationery and signatures in emails. Most people, even in a tiny nonprofit, will have branding that lends professionalism to your communications. But in email there are uncounted opportunities to indulge your inner artist. When Microsoft first brought out email stationery, I experimented with it, but I quickly realized that it was distracting. Further, the graphics added unneeded weight to the size of the emails I was sending. It just wasn't worth it.

You should definitely have a signature, including your email address and the website of your nonprofit. Just don't get carried away and include anything unnecessary like a summation of your philosophy through the quote of the day, jokes, emoticons, poetry or pictures. If your recipient has to scroll down some to see all of your signature, it's too long.


The rule on these is, spell it out the first time you use it and include the abbreviation in parenthesis. For example, Society for Technical Communication (STC). Thereafter, you can use the abbreviation. But don't use a lot of these or your communication will look like alphabet soup.

Attaching Files

It should go without saying that if you're sending an email, you should only attach files if they are necessary to the conversation. Even then, keep the files as small as possible. There are still download limitations in force in many email clients (like Outlook and Gmail) and attaching big files (over 1 Mg) can cause some peoples' email clients to lock up or lock up and then give them a message that the file was oversized and could not be received. Note: do I need to do a post on reducing files for sending? Let me know.

Communication Etiquette:

Last Responder:

Failing to respond. If you get a memo, voicemail, text, email, and you don't have time to get into the subject, at least respond that you received the communication, so the sender isn't out there, wondering.

Greetings and Closings:

This one is iffy for me. I tend to like to get right to the subject rather than spending time with, "Dear George" and "Yours truly", but some people are offended by a lack of salutation and closing. In this case, all I can say is, know who you're communicating with.

Forwarding Emails:

If you're forwarding something that has gone through several back and forths, take the time to manage the subject line so it doesn't look like: re: re: re: re: re: re: The Event. Also, remove all of the forwards within the body of the email so that there are no strange lines and people don't have to scroll way, way, way down the page to see the pertinent information. If you don't know how to do this, it's not difficult, just tiresome, so learn it. The good news is if you do it from the start, you're unlikely to ever get to the re: re: re: re: stage.

Blind Carbon Copies (BCC):

A lot of people may not know what this is these days, since carbon copies are relegated (like me) to the Pleistocene era. When sending an email to a long list of people, it's polite (and a good safety measure) to send it to yourself and include the list in the BCC field. When one of those on the list receives the email, it will show only your email address and none of the others. This will prevent you inadvertently sharing someone's address without their permission with others on the list, and with spammers possibly trolling for email addresses. As a bonus, it gives the email a cleaner look, without all of the email addresses bunched at the top.

Regardless of the form of the communication, Facebook post, Tweet, Pinterest picture, memo, email, or text, the best way to engage and be engageable is to be clear, concise, and organized.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Are They Ignoring Your Small Nonprofit on Facebook?

Via Hockenheim Slideshow on Trip Adviser
The great move of 10 miles continues. While I am finishing cleaning, sorting, disposing, and more cleaning, here are some thoughts for you to chew on.

Are They Ignoring Your Small Nonprofit on Facebook?

Then maybe you need better content. Here are some ideas from Social Media Today on how you can get more engagement. Some of these we have talked about before, but I find that when I'm trying to get something really learned, repetition doesn't hurt. The advice in this post is slanted towards businesses, but we don't mind that, because it's all grist for the mill, right? How To Get Your Fans to Stop Ignoring You on Facebook.

Sharing a Photo Album on Facebook

While we're on FB... How many times have you had an event and begged everyone who attended with a a camera to send you their photos so you could add them to your FB album? Wouldn't it be great if you could just share access to the album and get them uploaded directly? Well, MakeUseOf has the breakdown on Facebook's shared album feature: How To Make a Shared Photo Album on Facebook.

Another Way to Use Instagram Photos

I like scavenger hunts and social media is the perfect way to update them so anyone across the country can participate. Digiday shows us how Heineken created a promotional scavenger hunt using Instagram: Heineken Creates a New Kind of Scavenger Hunt.

I hope you read through last week's guest post on using video, and I'd love to see any examples of what it inspired you to film. As always, if you've got problems, questions, or suggestions on future posts, drop a line in the comments and we'll see what we can do. Problems are particularly welcome - crowdsourcing solutions is fun!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

4 Reasons Your Nonprofit Should be Using Video

From Wikimedia Commons
As promised, here is the first of three guest posts on using video for a small nonprofit. The next post will be in October.

Madeleine Hammond is a Marketing Executive at Skeleton Productions, a UK based corporate video production company. 

The role of the online video is becoming increasingly important to the marketing strategies non-profit organisations. From it’s potential reach to it’s affordability, the inclusion of video into your marketing efforts is changing from ‘nice to have’ extra, to intrinsic part of your campaign. Here, I will discuss the reasons your nonprofit should be jumping on the video bandwagon too.

 1. It’s Affordable
It goes without saying that when it comes to charities, the lower the cost the better, as the saved money can go into furthering your cause. Ergo video is an invaluable way of spreading your message in a cost-effective manner. Between ever-increasing technological advantages,  better equipment at cheaper prices and video sharing sites like YouTube being completely free, the distribution of your quality web video content has never been easier. These advances have helped to make advertising to a wider audience more affordable and simpler than ever.

2. Increased Conversion Rate
Video can connect with viewers in ways text & pictures cannot. Clothing site Zappos noticed a 6-30% increase in sales for products with videos and a study by Forrester Research showed that even email with video is opened 2-3x more than email without video.By embedding a video on a web-page next to interactive links the likelihood of that content being clicked improves greatly. 

3. Better Engagement Rates
When marketing your nonprofit in any format, the absolutely fundamental aim is to convey your message. This is where video is king. Research shows that site visitors stay an average of 2 minutes longer on sites with well-integrated video. According to Forbes, 59% of senior executives prefer navigating video-friendly sites as well. With it’s shareability and visually appealing nature, video is a great way of hooking viewers into your message. 

4. It’s Affordable...Again
Given that most nonprofits are on a tighter budget than businesses and are reliant on a sea of volunteers, the affordability of video really is a point worth making twice!  Not only is video relatively low-cost from a production side, but it is also time-effective. With the advent of video sharing sites like YouTube, you can schedule the uploading of your video to a time that suits you. There is also the advantage of video being incredibly share-worthy. If you have built up a good following on social media, you will already have a decent base to start your video campaign ball rolling, and hopefully people will be moved enough by your message, they will want to share it among themselves - completing part of your distribution strategy for you!

Note from Robyn:

If you've had success - or not such good luck - using video at your small nonprofit, share your story in the comments.