Thursday, December 19, 2013

Things I've Learned

Things I've learned or re-learned this year:
  • If you need help and it's clear you are (as we used to say) 'for real', you will get all the help you need and then some.
  • There's no 'quick and easy way' to achieve presence in social media. You have to show up every day and interact or you get nowhere. Sometimes, as with blogging, you have to keep on going, even when positive comments, or any comments are not forthcoming.
  • To make real friends out of online friends is both simple and dangerous - you only have to reach beyond the context in which you know them - fellow chatter, blogger, etc. - touch on a more personal area and allow them to touch back.
  • If you really want to accomplish something, you'll find the time. If not, you'll find an excuse. (This is one thing I learn over and over and over again.)
  • You'll do something very right sometimes, and when you do, celebrate it the way you would if a friend had made the accomplishment. Believing in yourself starts with the acknowledgment that you are capable of very good things. 
  • If you're on a winning streak, don't get cocky - everything comes and goes. Enjoy it while you can and when things go pear-shaped again, just remember it won't last forever.
  • Set goals for yourself outside of work: family goals, personal growth goals. Stretch yourself or you'll find yourself floating. 
  • If you float for a while, forgive yourself; maybe you needed it. As soon as you can, though, get back to setting goals for yourself.
  • Try not to confuse being critical of an action with being critical of a person. Even smart and kind people make mistakes. Give them the benefit of the doubt and hope they'll do the same for you.

I'd love for you to share your own lessons in the comments.

See you next year.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Four Questions to Ask Yourself About Your Social Media Use

"Let me play you the song of my people!"
So Amy Poehler hates selfies and Tina Fey thinks social media is boring. Likely you don't completely agree with them, or you wouldn't be on a site about how to use social media. Are they right or wrong? Trick question. At the risk of sounding like some kind of platitude guru, I have to say there's no right or wrong, there's only right or wrong for you. And your small nonprofit.

Some studies say that Twitter is used for news gathering and reporting, other studies say 'not so much.' I personally use Twitter to share what I think is interesting news in several different areas, and to meet up with other writers and nonprofit folks for fast and furious discussions that often leave me energized and ready to get back to work.

Some people think Facebook is used out of a desire to belong and a need to present their real selves. I use FB for close friends and family only. And I didn't have an account until my far-flung family told me they wanted me to have one.

You will find information on who uses various platforms, how and why they use them (like these Pew Internet study results). But metrics only take you so far. The subset of people you, as a representative of your small NP, and you as an individual, communicate with on any platform may be very different. So use the data as a jumping off point for your efforts, but only time put into a network will tell you how valuable that platform is to your goals. And of course, you need to know what those goals are.

I've never understood the desire to put social communication, social media marketing, or whatever the current descriptor is, into a two-column world. Why does there have to be a two column world, anyway? Yes or No, White or Black, Good or Bad? You should be asking yourself instead:
  • Does it work for me (meets my goals)?
  • If not, why not?
  • If I know why not, can I somehow make adjustments, so it does work?
  • If it does work, how can I use it better?
There will always be something new and shiny. There will be lots more studies on who uses what and why. For me, the plan is to stay agile. I define that as keeping an eye on new and popular social media sites, how they evolve and who they appeal to. But as long as even one other writer wants to talk to me on Twitter about the craft of writing, I will be there.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Can Metta Be a Useful Social Media Tool for Your Small Nonprofit?

Here's a little something I created using a new tool called Metta (which I learned about through Take a look and then we'll talk more.

So, as you've no doubt figured out, Metta is a tool for taking visuals and putting them together to create a video. I only used still pictures and text, but you can also use video and music or record your own voiceover. You can also include a poll - the viewer has to answer before the next slide will display - and you can choose whether or not to display poll results.

It's free to use although it has advanced features that come with a premium account. And when finished, you can have the media show displayed only on their site, embed it on your site, and there's even a launch code for WordPress. Once the show is saved, you can tweet it or post it to Facebook from your profile page.

Upsides and Downsides

1. You can search for images, videos, quotes, and soundtracks
right from the site
  • They use YouTube, Yahoo image search, Twitter, and Soundgarden
  • You can drag in your own image, etc., or use a url
  • You can't change out a graphic once you've inserted it into a slide (which Metta calls a clip), you have to delete the slide and make a new one
  • You can position the graphic within the window, but you can't resize it
  • If you want to re-use a piece of media, you can select it from a ribbon on the right side of the screen
2. You can include a poll slide and choose to have the percentages calculated and displayed.

  • The free account only captures the first 10 responses.

3. It's not hard to learn, but it's clumsy.

  • Trimming the length of each clip can be kind of tricky unless you're used to working with video.
  • There's no fade-out, so using video or audio clips can result in abrupt cuts unless you let them run all the way. 
  • Some of the how-tos are not as helpful as they might be - the step-by-step is very short and not detailed, but there is a how-to guide, a forum, and a 'chat-like support'.

4. It's not expensive - with three tiers

  • Free  gets you .01GB storage and only the first ten poll responses are collected
  • $5/mo (paid annually) will get you 1GB of storage, viewing & poll statistics, private sharing, co-editing, and custom colors, 100 responses per poll
  • $7/mo (paid annually) will get you 10GB of storage, all of the other perks, and 10,000 responses per poll*
* Why the huge difference between $5 and $7 on poll responses, I don't know.

There are other applications out there that might suit your video/slideshow embedding needs better, but the option of having a poll makes Metta attractive, although not so much at the free level. If you've used this tool or will try it, drop me a comment and let me know what you think.