What's on our mind
Pacific Continental Bank sponsors a series of Bankers’ Hours workshops about various nonprofit issues, and last Friday I presented on Social Media. While most nonprofits have an idea that social media can play an important role in their communications arsenal, finding ways to strategically plan, implement and measure can still be a bit of stumbling block. With this presentation I focused on using real-life examples from nonprofits to show 5 ways that nonprofits can successfully use social media....
Pacific Continental Bank sponsors a series of Bankers’ Hours workshops about various nonprofit issues, and last Friday I presented on Social Media. While most nonprofits have an idea that social media can play an important role in their communications arsenal, finding ways to strategically plan, implement and measure can still be a bit of stumbling block. With this presentation I focused on using real-life examples from nonprofits to show 5 ways that nonprofits can successfully use social media.
Take your mission with you
While this can be a rather obvious concept, it can sometimes be difficult to actually enact. If your primary motivation on joining Pinterest is “because my board member told me I should,” then you need to re-evaluate your social media goals. One good way to get started with this is the fantastic Social Media Audit, put together by Ash Shepherd, which will help your org take a more strategic approach to your social media efforts.
Tell your story
There are lots of ways to connect with your donors and volunteers these days. The frequency and immediacy of social media means you don’t have to wait until your annual report to share the successes (and failures!) of your year. Often times it is the small stories and slice-of-life updates that gather the most attention on social media.
Local nonprofit, Treehouse does a great job of celebrating small wins and stories.
An important part of any relationship is being open to both positive and negative feedback. Creating a social media page, stream, etc. opens your organization up to receiving much more feedback from your supporters and constituents. While we all hope for the positive kind of feedback, it is also important to prepare for the negative kind. Check out Socialbrite’s post about how the YMCA of Metro Chicago does just that.
There are many ways of increasing engagement on various social networks, but one of the recurring refrains is: “visuals win.” Even if your org doesn’t work to rescue baby goats, elephants and ducks, you too can find ways to include more visual content in your status updates.
For example check out this fun image recently shared by the AmeriCorps VISTA Facebook page.
Get a routine
As nonprofit professionals, social media is often just one of the many daily tasks you need to accomplish; therefore, an important part of maximizing your impact is creating a routine. Three important parts of this are:
- Curating content: My personal favorite tool for helping me find interesting and relevant content to share is through RSS and Google Reader. For more information about how your nonprofit can benefit from using this or other feedreaders, check out our blog post: 5 reasons your nonprofit should be using Google Reader.
- Creating an editorial/content calendar: Having a plan in place that takes into account upcoming events, current campaigns and integrates all your online communication channels is a great way to increase the efficiency of your social media. Shai Coggins of Vervely has a wonderful post on Content Calendar 101: Tips & Tools to serve as a guide in creating your own schedule.
- Scheduling posts: Speaking of schedules, there are many different free apps that allow you to schedule tweets. Just this spring Facebook rolled out scheduling options for all Pages. Planning out a week’s posts at a time can be a great way to reduce your overall social media time commitment.
Ways to learn more
The full slide deck for this presentation can be found over in the Knowledge Center and if you want to pick-up the handouts used, you can find those here. Thanks again to Pacific Continental Bank for this opportunity and to all the nonprofits who attended and contributed such good questions and stories. While our summer brown bag series wrapped up today, make sure to sign up for our monthly e-news to keep up to-date with all future tech training opportunities.
- Abby Nafziger
While the importance of GooglePlus for all nonprofits has not been determined for sure, the advantages of its effect on SEO seems pretty clear. As an organization who works in the realm of nonprofit technology, it makes sense that NPower would have it’s own Google+ Page. Here are a few things I learned while creating ours and some links to the resources and tutorials that helped me out along the way...
While the importance of GooglePlus for all nonprofits has not been determined for sure, the advantages of its effect on SEO seems pretty clear. As an organization who works in the realm of nonprofit technology, it makes sense that NPower would have it’s own Google+ Page. Here are a few things I learned while creating ours and some links to the resources and tutorials that helped me out along the way.
Check out our very new Google Plus page and follow along as we dive into this new social media channel
No Page without a personal Profile
Just like Facebook, you can’t create a public Page without first having a personal Profile. Thankfully, these two accounts won’t be linked publicly and even more important to nonprofit orgs, you can add additional managers to the public Page once you create it.
You can’t circle profiles until they circle you first
However, once you do make a connection with an individual, the information you can learn from them tends to be much richer than what you can learn about individual Facebook fans (that information only extends to what the user is willing to share publicly). Also, you can also circle other Pages and connect with fellow nonprofits without them circling you first.
Google Plus brings with it SEO benefits
One of the biggest reasons for the nonprofits to be on Google Plus is new personal results section of Google Search. If a user has enabled Google Plus, they will see an option to include the information from their circled friends in their regular Google searches. Now, obviously this improvement in SEO is determined by two things:
- How much of your nonprofit’s audience is using Google Plus
- If you have built up a significant Google Plus community.
Don’t think that you can just create the page and forget about it though, you must post regular content (if not daily, than at least weekly) if you want to be found by people (and being found by people is how you get the SEO bump.
Whenever looking into a new service, social media channel or tech software, I love me some research. Fortunately, as is typical in the world of nonprofit technology, there is a lot of great information out there. Here are some of the links that I found especially helpful:
- Gideon Rosenblatt makes a strong case that Google Plus is for “Information Networkers” and that it more than most of the other major social networks rewards content curators. For more explanation, check out his excellent presentation “What is Google Plus? (Really)”
- Beth Kanter is the queen of content curation and can always be counted on to provide a great one stop shop on many issues in the nonprofit technology world. Her post Google + for Nonprofits, Invest Time or Not? Nonprofit Starter Steps, highlights the reasons why (or why not) your nonprofit might want to experiment with Google Plus.
- Heather Mansfield is another savvy source of nonprofit tech tips and tricks. Her How To: Create a Google + Page for your Nonprofit tutorial provides a good overview of how to actually set up your Google Plus nonprofit page. While the layout of Google Plus has had a few changes since this was published (mainly the addition of the cover photo), her set of screenshots will get you up and running quickly.
- Speaking of cover photo, the fine folks at Social Media Today, have all the cover photo dimensions and more for your Google Plus page.
- Last but not least, Debra Askanase curates a bunch of smart Google Plus resources and helps break down two big considerations for your nonprofit before jumping into Google Plus: Summarizing Google+ Pages: the Good, the Bad, the Possible.
- Abby Nafziger
The VISTA team was invited to present on social media at the 2012 VAN Conference on June 22 at the Lynnwood Convention Center. The theme of the conference was “Embracing Change,” a timely focus. There was a packed room for our presentation, entitled “Volunteers & Social Media: Boost Communication and Build Community.” Click through for a full re-cap and the presentation slides...
The VISTA team was invited to present on social media at the 2012 VAN Conference on June 22 at the Lynnwood Convention Center. The theme of the conference was “Embracing Change,” a timely focus. There was a packed room for our presentation, entitled “Volunteers & Social Media: Boost Communication and Build Community.”
Many organizations already know how to use Facebook and Twitter or have a basic understanding of social media, but it can be a challenge to use it strategically. The presentation was designed to provide a brief introduction for newcomers to the social media world and to provide tips and guidance for the seasoned veterans in the room. The presentation covered:
- An overview of social media, including statistics
- Strategies to select a focus for a volunteer program (community building, storytelling, or information hub)
- Tips for better engagement with volunteers using Facebook and Twitter
- Ways to measure “return on engagement”
Social media for volunteer management
Nonprofit volunteer administrators can take advantage of free tools such as Facebook and Twitter to find creative ways to engage with their organization’s volunteers. Whether seeking to attract new volunteers or acknowledging current supporters, social media channels can play an important role in boosting communication and building community with nonprofit volunteers. Here are our 6 tactics for better engagement:
- Make it easy to help.
- Ask questions and elicit responses.
- Acknowledge, acknowledge, acknowledge.
- Be responsive.
- Be human.
- Make or share interesting content.
Social media networks like Facebook and Twitter are providing new ways to engage with a different demographic of nonprofit volunteers. Websites allow organizations to show impact and connect with constituents in visually appealing and creative ways.
The Oatmeal thanks a donor on Twitter with a hand-made cartoon
It is impossible to measure “return on engagement” for social media outreach if there aren’t strategies in place to collect information about engagement efforts. Some types of information are easier to quantify than others, such as counting the number of “likes” your organization has received from online fans or referral traffic from other websites.
Influence is harder to evaluate, and includes things like requests to re-post your content and invitations for you or your staff to write guest blog posts. Sentiment involves the general tone of user-generated content on your social media channels.
Helpful tools for measuring return on engagement for volunteer management are the sames we recommend for other forms of nonprofit outreach:
Interested in more free tech trainings?
If you didn’t make it to the social media for volunteer administrators training or would like additional information, here are some relevant training seminars we’ll be hosting in the near future:
- July 11 - Google Analytics Brown Bag
- July 18 - Search Engine Optimization
- July 25 - Social Media Intermediate Level
- August 1 - Facebook 101
If you’re looking for the slides from the VAN Conference presentation, head over to our Knowledge Center.
- Elissa Thomas
Last Monday we wrapped up our technology assessment project that included 13 nonprofits from around the community. We handed out shiny printed copies of the strategy maps that these organizations can take to their board, use to write grants or recruit volunteers, and start implementing simple solutions on their own. Click through to read all about it...
Last Monday we wrapped up our technology assessment project that included 13 nonprofits from around the community. We handed out shiny printed copies of the strategy maps that these organizations can take to their board, use to write grants or recruit volunteers, and start implementing simple solutions on their own.
Elissa demonstrates our commitment to having lots of yummy food at our meetings.
A big thank you to all our pilot cohort participants
We’d like to give a shout out to the 13 nonprofits that we were able to work with, which included one (or more) interviews and Q & A sessions regarding technology and up to three hands-on technology trainings:
- Peace for the Streets by Kids from the Streets
- Southeast Seattle Education Coalition
- Eastside Legal Assistance Program
- Seattle RecTech
- Helping Link
- Hunger Intervention Program
- Literacy Council of Seattle
- Friends of the Children King County
- Youth Media Institute
- Communities in Schools of Kent
- Communities in Schools of Puyallup
- West Seattle Helpline
- Housing Development Consortium
Lots of helpful feedback
Since this was our pilot program, we asked for some feedback such as what worked, what was helpful, what possible next steps were, and what didn’t work so well. Here is what a few participants had to say:
- “The tech assessment gives us concrete recommendations that we can take to our Board of Directors. The various trainings were also helpful in the fact that they helped us better understand our options as far as social media, websites, etc.”
- “Our organization enjoyed the workshops that were provided and wish there were more. The Hands On Tech staff were very friendly, approachable, and happy to help the best way they could in answering our questions.”
Overall the biggest suggestion for improvement was an increase in the number of trainings and more help with implementation of various technology solutions. While there are changes we hope to make in the next iteration of this project, we were happy to receive a lot of positive feedback. We’ll be passing all of information on to the next round of AmeriCorps VISTAs, so that next year’s cohort program will rock.
Common problems and common solutions
We also spent some time discussing common problems and solutions facing nonprofits with small budgets that we discovered as we went through the technology assessment and wrote the strategy maps for each nonprofit. It was a little surprising to discover the same pain points among nearly all of the nonprofits, and many solutions are free or low-cost and involve a relatively small time investment. Check out our slides in the Knowledge Center if you’re interested!
Stay tuned for information about next year's program
If you didn’t get a chance to participate in the cohort during our first round, stay tuned as 3 brand new AmeriCorp VISTAs will be arriving in late August to continue serving the community and helping nonprofits with technology solutions.
Missed any of our previous updates?
- Announcing our AmeriCorps free tech assessment project
- Kicking off the tech assessment project
- Tech assessment social media training re-cap
- Tech assessment Google for Nonprofits training re-cap
- Tech assessment Websites for Nonprofits training re-cap
- Stephen Eggers, Elissa Thomas, Abby Nafziger