#OurWork: NYU Faculty Against the Sexton Plan Marketing Campaign

Social Marketing and Media Relations Campaign

Working under the aegis of the Nonprofit Marketing 360 collaborative, MKCREATIVE and LCG Communications embarked on an ambitious campaign to promote an online silent auction for a client. We used a combination of PR (LCG Communications) and social marketing (MKC). Our client, NYU Faculty Against the Sexton Plan, sought to raise funds to continue its fight in preventing New York University from embarking on a multi-billion dollar plan to redevelop parts of Greenwich Village in New York City.

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Online Donations Up; Email Response Rates Down

The annual eNonprofit Benchmarks Study from M+R Strategic Services and NTEN had good news and bad news. On the plus side, the survey of 55 national nonprofits found a 15% increase in email list size, online fundraising revenues were up 21%, and social media is reaching more supporters than ever (with Twitter followers up 264%). On the other hand, email response rates dropped, especially on fundraising appeals (-21%).

Why? The authors note that the response rate decline is a long-term trend, in part a reaction to nonprofits that keep sending email to unresponsive addresses.  Then there’s Pale Shadow Syndrome, a theory I just concocted on the spot, which holds that successful innovators attract imitators who are but pale shadows of the originals, and audiences just get bored.



#FUNDRAISING: Causevox Improves Online Outreach & Fundraising To 2.0

Widgets to turn on or off
Easy-to-customize donation pages

We have often sung the praises of the online charity-site platform Causevox. And we do so again as the good folks at Causevox have released a significant series of upgrades and integrations in version 2.0. It moved out of beta last week, allowing any charity or nonprofit to take advantage of the expanding toolbox. This is how the programmers put it last week on the company blog:

We found out that the key to success for online fundraising this decade is easy customization, community engagement, and content marketing. Our existing platform couldn’t accommodate that vision, so we scrapped it and developed, from the ground up, a new and improved CauseVox.

CauseVox 2.0 is our first step to revolutionize online fundraising.

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Social Media Make Inroads in All Age Groups

Want to reach somebody under 30? The latest Pew Internet and American Life Project says 83% of them are using social media. While this may not shock you,  it may surprise you that two-thirds of all adult Internet users are partaking of social media – including 52% in ages 50-64 and nearly one-third of the age 55+ cohort. Facebook continues to be the 800-pound gorilla, with 67% of all users, followed by Twitter (16%), Pinterest (15%),Instagram (13%) and Tumblr (6%). The study also breaks out the demographics for each social medium’s users.

#SOCIALNETWORKS: Pew Research Keeps Us Up With Changing Faces of Internet

Hispanics use social media more than any other ethnic communityThe latest surveys carried out by the Pew Internet and American Life Project are tracking both the most popular online social-networking platforms and the kinds of people who are using them. We enjoy sharing such findings with our readers because the information the folks at the Pew Internet group can help nonprofits refine their online efforts for the many constituencies that these nonprofits want to reach. The latest study, The Demographics of Social Media Users — 2012, points to a few new developments we’d like to highlight this week.

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#HOWTO: Have A Film Screening As A Fundraising Opportunity

Tugg offers movies of your choiceWe at MKCREATIVEmedia wish you a joyous, healthy, and prosperous New Year!

As the year’s projects and fundraisers and festivals start rolling onto your computer’s calendar, you might be looking for an opportunity to host a one-off event that can bring much-wanted PR, good karma, and even some financial support. How about sponsoring a film screening? The chance for your nonprofit or charity to be a movie mogul, at least for a day, has been made possible by the social/cinema site Tugg. Though currently considered ‘beta,’ Tugg could make hosting a screening of a big-name movie, documentary, or short film so easy that you could host a few each season.

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Big Bird Soars to Social Media Victory

Big Bird
Big Bird (Photo credit: LR_PTY)

While we wait for the final vote count, a clear early winner of the 2012 campaign season is Big Bird. When Republican candidate Mitt Romney promised to “fire” the friendly Muppet by cutting off funding to PBS, Twitter exploded with messages of support for the bird. It was a communications crisis – and opportunity – for Sesame Workshop, who played it perfectly and in character with an initial response the following day.

Big Bird: My bed time is usually 7:45, but I was really tired yesterday and fell asleep at 7! Did I miss anything last night?

Sesame Workshops subsequent responses make n excellent case study for successful  “newsjacking.” Blogger Christina Sirabian extracts three lessons for social media marketers.

#SOCIALNETWORKS: Can Niche Online Networks Outperform Your Nonprofit’s Facebook Page?

Focus on niche social networks
Have you defined your organization’s niche?

Our participation in online social networks seems well beyond the status of a ‘fad.’ In some parts of the world, people risk censure − if not their lives − to post important information on such platforms as Facebook and Twitter. These social networks are the current heavy hitters, of course. But what about developing people’s interests in your nonprofit’s causes? Or engaging a peer group already predisposed to support your charity’s fund drive? The hard fact is, the best-known social platforms might just be too big for that kind of conversation. And we might just be witnessing the start of a tidal shift away from the bigger-is-better mantra of social outreach toward niche conversations among like minds. Could these more concentrated communities really be worth the effort of building a presence on yet another social network?

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#DESIGN: How To Follow The Branding Guidelines Of Twitter

Most Twitter logos break the style guidelines of Twitter
No. No. And no.

Birds of a feather? Not for that poor Twitter bird: perhaps no other icon in modern business is both better known and abused well beyond the company’s style guide. Even more than the Facebook logo that we discussed a couple of weeks ago, the icon for the social-media site Twitter comes in all shapes, sizes, and numbers − almost none of which are official or legal. If you want to have a good relationship between your organization and the folks at Twitter who have done so much to get news of your organization out to their millions of users, you best check out their corporate style guide.

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#HOWTO: Establish Your Tumblr Account Preferences To Stay Organized

Tumblr Infographic shows 33.3 million blogs in 8 languages
33 million blogs in 8 languages − Where's yours?

We have already presented videos on how to sign on to Tumblr and how to tweak the settings of your new blog − including how to ensure your activity on Tumblr is reflected in your Twitter account and on your Facebook page (though recent developments have limited the interaction between Twitter and Tumblr, alas). We want to continue with more how-tos associated with Tumblr both because we think the platform is an easy and flexible way to communicate with the larger world and because many have reached out with questions and ideas about the series. We appreciate your contacts and questions − thank you!

Today we present a video about Tumblr’s account preferences (to be distinguished from the blog’s settings).

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#HOWTO: Set Up Your Tumblr Blog’s Settings & Connect To Twitter/Facebook

Tumblr offers rich-media blogging for us non-codersWe continue our video series on setting up your nonprofit’s Tumblr blog account with a look at the two Dashboards within your account. We also explore the blog’s settings and what distinguishes them from your account’s preferences. Tumblr is a free platform and one that can give you an up-and-running blog in about 10 minutes − as well as powerful customization and design tools that can make your blog uniquely branded and connected. We’ll be introducing those more advanced features in future episodes.

What the Blog Settings offer that is worth emphasizing is the opportunity to connect your organization’s Twitter and Facebook accounts to your Tumblr blog. Once done, you can post something on Tumblr and have it announced on the other social-networking sites: three for the price of almost $0.

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#SOCIALNETWORKS: What Are You Doing To Improve Impact Of Your Facebook Page?

Facebook's outreach
Facebook can be the nexus of a still more powerful network

So your nonprofit or charity has its requisite Facebook page up. You’re posting updates and tweeting about upcoming events. All fine-and-good (and important). But what else could you be doing to energize your Facebook presence? Let’s face it, Facebook has hit some hard times recently. Even before the public IPO Facebook was one of the lowest ranked companies in terms of customer satisfaction. Since then, the stock has fallen over half its original price, and you might have noticed the advertisements as you sign in and sign out of your account as Facebook engineers struggle to find income streams.

But even if a few million of the users are fakes, Facebook remains the heaviest hitter in the social-networking league and we need to use it. The challenge is efficient differentiation and outreach − But how?

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#HOWTO: Customize & Brand Your Twitter Account

MKCREATIVEmedia's Twitter account
Don't simply accept Twitter's defaults

Twitter is perhaps the go-to social-networking site for anyone looking to share interesting information, tawdry gossip, breaking news, or knee-jerk reactions. Nonprofits should not only be using Twitter to broadcast their own pertinent information about their current successes and their upcoming events but also to share similar information about the efforts of their peers. Even more so than Facebook, Twitter can turn a pithy announcement into a viral retweet.

Content is certainly king, so don’t simply slap down the occasional message just to keep your tweet stream trickling. That said, your organization’s tweets are competing against 400 million others every day. How are you going to stand out from the crowd? For one thing, don’t simply accept the generic colors and designs that Twitter offers its members. Let’s see how to brand your Twitter account with your colors and logo.

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#SOCIALMEDIA: How Young Is Too Old To Have Communications Expertise?

Committee draws up social media strategy
Would you hire any of these people for your social-media outreach?

Why don’t you all fade away, and don’t try to dig what we all say
I’m not trying to cause a big sensation, I’m just talkin’ ’bout my generation

The Who, “My Generation,” My Generation (1965)

Well, I’ve already dated myself. But I’m going to press on with this post anyway. Catherine Sloan, a recent graduate from the University of Iowa who already has byline credit with USAToday, posted an opinion blog at NextGenJournal.com with the title “Why Every Social Media Manager Should Be Under 25“. It has caused something of a ruckus − a sensation, if you will − and commentators and flamers have been debating her post for the last 10 days. Now that some of the heat has dissipated, we wanted to see if she cast any light on the generational and communications experiences of Millennials.

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#SOCIALMEDIA: IOC Struggles To Corral First “Social Olympics” In London

Infomous envisions social media activity around London Olympics
Click on image to visit Infomous.com

The Opening Ceremonies went off without a hitch. Security concerns have been allayed thus far. The weather hasn’t been too bad. For Americans, we’ve had a few sub-par performances in the pool and on the gymnastics apparatuses, but so far, so good.

Unless the issue is how this so-called “First Social Games” is going. The social media events have not gone quite like fans, competitors, or International Olympic Committee members had thought it would − all for different reasons. Indeed, the biggest security dust-up has to do not with fears of terrorists, but fears of unwanted mention of sponsors by athletes and/or their supporters. Is the IOC fairly trying to protect the Olympic ‘brand’ or are its members greedily limiting expression through social media? And does anybody else really care?

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#COMMUNICATIONS: Keep Storytelling In Forefront, Whatever Platforms You Use

Retweeting can be huge but ephemeralOprah Winfrey likes a book. BOOM! It’s a best-seller and a big movie. Justin Bieber retweets something that catches his eye. POW! It’s trending huge for forty-eight hours! Who wouldn’t want that kind of attention? Well, often nonprofits and charities don’t want that kind of attention. The best/worst case of this kind of virality is the Kony 2012 campaign, which we followed closely earlier this year and don’t have the stomach to repeat.

What nonprofits and charities want is steady growth in awareness, volunteerism, and donations. They don’t need the huge splash (some small splashes don’t hurt!), but they use the same social networks that the Oprahs and the Biebers of the world use. How do they use the same tools to develop dissimilar results.

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#DEVELOPMENT: Social-Networking Is Good, But Conversation-Building Is Better

Social networks and the power of one Difficult to say that social networks have already grown to be mature means of communication. Moreover, some platforms shoot wide and far (vis Facebook for everyone), while others target a specific subset of the social-media community (vis Epernicus for the scientific community). Figuring out how to negotiate those platforms can seem daunting. But we have some advice that might help ease the stress of trying to reach everyone. Don’t try to reach everyone. Well, it’s not quite that simple.


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#SOCIALNETWORKS: NTEN 2012 Report Shows Real ROI Growth Over Past Year

Survey results of NTEN's questionnaire for nonprofits
Click to go to the report

Okay, so you have been developing your nonprofit’s presence on the staples of social media new for a couple of years. Facebook page? Check. Twitter account? Sure. But how much time do you want to put into keeping up with those outlets? Has your organization seen any growth in volunteers or donors thanks to the outreach on social media?

The 2012 Nonprofit Social Benchmark Report from NTEN is the fourth in this annual series, which means the surveyors have enough materials to start identifying longer-term trends and to offer meaningful statistics as to how social networks are changing communications and fundraising for nonprofits and charities. Spoiler Alert: Nonprofit use of social networks is growing, and with that use most nonprofits are enjoying significant returns on investment (ROI). Still not sure you want to commit resources to it? Please read on…

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#SOCIALMEDIA: Facebook & WordPress Join Forces To Connect Blogging With Timeline

Wordpress can update Timeline with this addition
Click to enlarge

For some time one could link one’s Facebook and Twitter accounts, so that if your nonprofit updated its Facebook page, a tweet would automatically be generated − and vice versa. If your organization had a blog running the WordPress platform (as does MKCREATIVEmedia), you could install a plugin that auto-tweets your posts. And if your auto-tweets are connected to your Facebook account, the blog post would be tweeted, the tweet would be linked to your Facebook account, a visitor in Facebook could see the tweet, click the tweet and get to the blog post.

Confusing? Yes. Thankfully, developers at Facebook and at WordPress have developed a plugin to shorten that convoluted trip.

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#SOCIALNETWORKS: Twitter Continues To Expand Through Mobile Devices

Mobile phones and Twitter go great togetherThe Pew Internet and American Life Project has brought us valuable statistics and reported notable trends in internet use over the years, and a recent report focused on the growing use of Twitter as a means of social networking. Twitter could be described as a social networking platform that punches above its weight class. Twitter turned six this past March, and by its own accounts has some 140 million users sending some 340 million tweets a day. For the sake of comparison, Facebook has over 900 million.

Yet Twitter’s political and cultural impact is almost equivalent, even if it has only 15.5% as many users. Note the ‘Arab Spring’ as a ‘Twitter Revolution.’ How does Twitter have such an oversized geopolitical impact? The same reason local nonprofits should be developing a presence on the social network.

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#INTERVIEW: Derrick Feldmann, CEO of Achieve, Discusses The Millennial Impact Report Coming June 11

Derrick Feldmann HeadshotDerrick Feldmann is CEO of Achieve, a creative fundraising agency that produces The Millennial Impact Report, an annual research study of Millennial Generation donors. (The 2012 report will be released on Monday.) The agency also hosts the only national virtual summit, MCON, on Millennials annually. The interview was conducted by Don Akchin, a principal of Nonprofit Marketing 360 and a frequent contributor to the MKCREATIVE blog.

NPM360: You have made Millennial donors a specialty. Isn’t it a little early to be worrying about the Millennial donors?

DERRICK: Absolutely not! If we have an expectation that this generation of 20- to-30-year-olds will be future significant supporters of our causes, we have an expectation now to involve them. If you are an educational institution, if you are a nonprofit, if you are planning a capital campaign in the next ten years, and you want more donor support, you had better start working with them now. There is an imperative to work with this generation.

Organizations might not have them as a focus because they may not have the largest capacity to give right now. It’s been a bit tricky for some organizations to figure out parallel tracks of involvement for constituents who don’t necessarily have large capacity but in volumes could give a lot.
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#INTERVIEW: John Kenyon, @NTEN, Helps Nonprofits Understand and Benefit From Technology

John Kenyon PhotoJohn Kenyon has been helping nonprofits understand and benefit from technology for more than two decades. Before becoming the education program manager for the Nonprofit Technology Network (NTEN) in February, he was a well-traveled consultant and speaker. He was a contributing author on “Effective Online Communications” in the book Managing Technology to Meet your Mission (Jossey-Bass/Wiley, 2009. The interview was conducted by Don Akchin, a principal of Nonprofit Marketing 360 and a frequent contributor to the MKCREATIVE blog.

NPM360: How did you get started consulting with nonprofits?

JOHN: I started volunteering with TechSoup Global (then known as Compumentor), who connected people with technology skills with nonprofits. I started volunteering to get to know nonprofits, as they are much different animals than for-profits. That grew into a consulting position with a nonprofit in San Francisco, where I started building a technology-consulting practice with a group of affiliates. Then I worked for GroundSpring.org as their training and consulting manager. I went around the country teaching nonprofits how to use the Internet. I was also hired by the University of San Francisco to teach the technology course for their Masters of Nonprofit Administration degree program. All that melded my experience with nonprofits and technology and being an educator.
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#COMMUNICATIONS: Make Your Next Fundraiser An Online Conversation Too

Twitter Walls can be a laptop attached to a TV
A Twitter Wall adds dynamism to even the smallest event

Though weather in the mid-Atlantic continues to flirt with spring while staying surprisingly loyal to winter, it is the season to be planning summer festivals, fundraisers, and rallies. And if you really want to stay on top of your nonprofit’s schedule, start planning your end-of-year banquet as well (and use Tungle). But in this day and age, a nonprofit’s fundraising festival should be but one component of a multi-media plan to engage constituents, volunteers, and supporters both at the event and in the social networks of those attending.

We have recommended ‘Tweet Tables’ in previous posts, and today we draw on a really useful compendium of ideas from Trevor Jonas at Mashable.com.

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The State of the Online Universe

T.S. Elliott said April was the cruellest month, and this is especially true for trees. April seems to be launch month for a flotilla of surveys, reports and data dumps on the state of all things online. This year we had the 2012 Convio Online Marketing Nonprofit Benchmark Index(TM) Study, the 2012 Nonprofit Social Network Benchmark Report,  the Sage Nonprofit Solutions Email Marketing Report, and possibly some also-rans.  Feel free to read them. Or just away these highlights:

  • If your nonprofit does not have a Facebook page, you qualify as a Conscientious Objector; 93% of nonprofits are on Facebook, with an average community size of 8,317 fans.
  • 73% of nonprofits staff their social networking with the equivalent of one  half-time employee.
  • 43% have a social networking budget of zero ($00.00).
  • Online fundraising is growing at a healthy clip. The median growth rate was 15.8%, versus 20% in 2010 – a year that included Haiti disaster relief.
  • Monthly giving programs are growing strongly, though these represent less than 7% of all online giving.
  • The median growth in online advocacy campaign response was 17%.
  • Donors who give through more than one channel give more than direct mail only or online only donors.