#COMMUNICATION: Is Your Nonprofit Staff Conversing With Both Audience & Each Other?

Silos of information can damage communicationAs social networks and social marketing have matured over the last two or three years, a debate continues as to how effective social media is to inspire action (be it making a purchase, donating to a cause, or risking one’s life in a revolution). But it seems to me that the argument is both older than modern social media (read any Marshall McLuhan lately?) and more complicated than trying to argue cause-and-effect. Social networks offer wonderfully inexpensive means to expand and magnify conversations, but they also create stunning amounts of ‘noise’ that readers have to learn to tune out without getting distracted (no easy task). But how can a nonprofit leverage the powers of social media to inspire action while also striving not to distort the outreach with too much talk?

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#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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#SOCIALNETWORKS: Sweat The Details, But Focus On The Big Picture

Screaming to get attention
In cyberspace, no one need hear you scream.

Ever feel like your nonprofit or small business is doing some pretty interesting stuff online to share the really interesting stuff you are doing in the real world − but no one seems to be hearing you? You are not alone in having those feelings, especially on a Monday − on a week that sees back-to- school for many kids and the start of the political convention season. We all could use a little pep talk.

Plenty of research shows that activity on social networks for businesses and charities pays dividends in many different ways, but what must be remembered is that some of those ways are not quantifiable. Which is not to say they do not have value. Consider this:

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#MARKETING: Can Nonprofits Take Advantage Of Pinterest’s Open Platform?

Keep Pinboards organized and relevant for your audienceWe talked about Pinterest last week when we discussed the fact that the social-media platform has been opened to the public, who no longer need to wait for an invitation. The incredible growth of the platform, already the fastest growing social network in the brief history of such networks, is likely only to continue over the next few years. The questions for nonprofits and small businesses should focus on how to think about Pinterest as a tool to reach more donors, volunteers, and customers. In order to answer some of those questions − even to ask the right questions − one must appreciate what Pinterest ‘is’ and get a sense of what current users expect of each other and of the sharing that goes on. We’re here to help with just those questions.

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#COMMUNICATIONS: Pinterest Goes Public Though Gender Gap Remains

Pinterest goes public
All aboard?

The big but unheralded news in social networks this past week was the fact that Pinterest went public − not an IPO, but the hitherto ‘by invitation only’ site is now available to anyone who wants to establish an account. Facebook started that way lo those six or seven years ago. How has Pinterest fared? Pretty darn well: the site reached 10 million unique viewers in a month faster than any standalone website or service ever has. And that was before the doors were opened to the general public!

Which is not not to say all is good for the platform, which offers fabulously easy sharing of images on pin boards meant to be organized by topics.

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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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#NONPROFIT: Some Models Of How Charities Use Tumblr

First Book's call to actionWe’ve sung the praises of Tumblr a number of times on this blog, and today we want to present a few examples and ideas of just how nonprofits are using this free platform as a means to spread the word of their great work. One of the many great things about Tumblr is its simplicity of setup. That said, you don’t want to treat your organization’s efforts simplistically.

First off, you might want to consider Tumblr as your calling card to a larger audience, rather than as a venue for in-depth reports to your committed constituents. Tumblr loves images, quotes, and videos, but few go to their accounts to read long analyses. Your nonprofit definitely should have a place for such detail, but Tumblr might not be that place. How have nonprofits used it?

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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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#SOCIALNETWORKS: OneClimate Is A Social Platform Primed For The Environmental Community

OneClimate is a social network dedicated to environmentalistsOf course those who are engaged in the pressing issues of environmental degradation and global warming want to reach out to audiences as wide as possible. The heavy hitters of social networking (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram…) can serve that purpose. But did you know that other social networks focus on particular issues and offer opportunities to talk with others focused on your organization’s concerns? If those concerns include those of the environment (from global industrial waste to local concerns of residue from asphalt runoff), sign up on the social network OneClimate.net. Why join yet another social-networking platform?

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#COMMUNICATIONS: A Storm & A Second Cause Disruptions That Remind Us Of Need For Vigilance (& Backups)

Powerlines burn with wires snapped after storms
70+ mph winds and burning poles disrupt power

If you live in the Mid-Atlantic region, then you might not be reading this blog on the Monday it was (hopefully!) posted. A freak and unpredicted storm ripped through the region Friday night − an effect of the 100+ heat and no breezes to break up the high-pressure cell parked on the region. Power is now out for some 560,000 residents of the Baltimore area, and millions in the region. The people who lost their lives in the storm (13 as we post), are of course the greatest tragedy, and we wish strength for the families.

From the perspective of communication and technology, the storm knocked out servers at Amazon, Instagram, Pinterest, and Netflix, and the first two of that list especially struggled through the weekend. To make matters worse, the world’s “Coordinated Universal Time” clock tacked on an extra second on Saturday to account for irregularities in the earth’s rotation. Reddit, FourSquare, LinkedIn, and StumbleUpon were some of the highest-profile services to fall victim to the extra tick. What can be learned from all this mayhem?

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#SOCIALNETWORKS: Let Flickr Tell Your Nonprofit’s Story As It Happens

Flicker helps you save, organize, and share images and videoA picture, they say, is worth a thousand words. And with digital social media, images are becoming both more common and more powerful as platforms such as Facebook and Google+ emphasize the photo and graphic qualities of their social-media networks. A kind of ‘visual economy’ is developing, within which social networks are competing and users are finding ever more refined ways to share their most interesting/compelling/entertaining work. With the ubiquity of smartphones with at-least decent cameras, nonprofits should be encouraging their staffs and volunteers to use those cameras to help tell the story of your organizations good work. One of the best ways to share that story is through Flickr. Let us show you how.

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#SOCIALNETWORKS: Facebook Stocks Being Sold Off & Facebook Accounts Not Expanding

Facebook's stocks continue to retreat
Should nonprofits worry?

The saga that is the Facebook IPO continues. Wall Street took a break from claiming to be the US Economy yesterday, but as of lunchtime this Tuesday, stock in the uber-social network fell below $30 for the first time. The brouhaha surrounding the IPO has largely concerned possible fraud or withholding of information from public investors, but some are wondering if the real issue is simply the product itself. If it is, what should nonprofits and charities be doing with their Facebook accounts as the company deals with this shakeout?

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#ADVOCACY: When A Clever Concept Just Misses, It Misses By A Lot

'Almost a homerun' usually means 'you're out!'
Sometimes being close really means missing by quite a bit

Sometimes a nonprofit’s campaign can include a fine idea that, alas, doesn’t quite get it right. Like a long fly ball to the 385-foot alley of a ball park that falls in to be caught at 382 feet, the charity can be excited at what seems to be about to happen, only to trudge back to the dugout (or in our cases today ‘back to the glitzy communications agencies’) lamenting about what could have been.

Let’s return this Monday to a theme we led off with last Monday on high-concept advocacy plans that did not quite live up to expectations. The good folks at the Showcase of Fundraising Innovation and Inspiration (SOFII) provide us all with food-for-thought when it comes to campaigns that might have looked good in the pristine world of the conference room, but came up just short in the real world. And ‘just short’ can mean real human tragedy where the fight against hunger is concerned.

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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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#FUNDRAISING: 2011 Was A Good Year For Email Outreach By Nonprofits

NTEN & M+R report their sixth annual report on e-fundraisingWith all the excitement about all the social networks and all the purchases that Facebook has been making lately, it’s worth remembering that not only do more ‘traditional’ media exist but they also can be of greater value than the newest platform that has all the media and investor eyeballs. Such should be especially remembered by nonprofits who might not have the resources to establish a presence on the latest Pinterest trend.

According to the latest eNonprofit Benchmark Study by NTEN (Nonprofit Technology Network) and M+R Strategic Services, a substantial email list and a well-crafted email campaign remain the most valuable fundraising tools in your charity’s box. Just how valuable?

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#SOCIALNETWORKS: Kony 2012 Covered The Night. Did It Jump The Shark?

Young teens enjoy a night out in London advertising Kony 2012
Youth cover some of the evening

The sensation that is/was ‘Kony 2012′ has been a part of the nonprofit social-media landscape for six-plus weeks now. The hundreds of millions who made the original video a viral sensation in March were not all supporters of the message, though, and challenges to the drive launched by the San Diego nonprofit ‘Invisible Children’ continue to be made. The original and ostensible goal is to have Joseph Kony and his Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) brought to justice by making Kony ‘famous’ enough that world leaders will be inspired or shamed to dedicate the resources to get him. The effort to make him famous has been done and the culmination of the effort was this past weekend’s ‘Cover The Night’ campaign. How well did it go? Whether the night got ‘covered’ probably depends on where you are and what you want ‘covered’ to mean, but Invisible Children have ratcheted up their campaign with, frankly, the oddest video yet.

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#HOWTO: Setup A (Free) Scoop.it Magazine For Your Community

Twitter and/or Facebook accounts get you immediately into Scoop.It!We introduced Scoop.it and Pinterest earlier this week because we think these information-sharing sites offer a great platform for nonprofits and charities to share their own news as well as related images or stories in their sectors. As promised we have returned to round out this mini-series with a guide to help you setup a Scoop.it e-magazine site. Unlike Pinterest, you need not wait for an ‘invitation’. In fact, if you have a Twitter or Facebook account, you are already good-to-go. And if you don’t, where have you been these past five or six years?!

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#SM4NP: Scoop.it! For Information ‘Curation’ & Social Interaction

Scoop.It offers magazines of content curation on your interestsYesterday we explored Pinterest, a social network that puts a premium on visuals and offers ‘pin boards’ of topics collected/bookmarked/’pinned’ by the user. The metrics on the platform show amazing growth over the last few months, and many are still waiting for an invitation to join up. Scoop.it! has, on the surface, a strikingly similar mission: to provide a webspace to present ‘magazines’ of (hopefully) related materials based on a user’s interests and what information she or he has ‘curated’ for his or her site.

Let’s look at Scoop.it, and to do so we must appreciate what this notion of ‘content curation’ means.

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#SM4NP: Are Pinterest & Scoop.it Part Of Your Social-Network Arsenal?

Pinterest shares images & text snippets on pin boards

Staying up-to-date with developments in the social-networking world is no easy task. Facebook engages most of our oxygen/eyeballs, but plenty of other services are available. Most of them are designed around a particular kind of presentation rather than a particular set of topics or audiences (Of course, certain kinds of presentations − photos, for instance − will draw markedly from certain kinds of audiences). Part of our vocation and business mission is to keep tabs on such evolution so you don’t have to (quite as much). This week, we want to focus on Pinterest and Scoop.it, with a How-To follow up on Scoop.it later this week. Interest in Pinterest has exploded only in the last few weeks, so let’s catch up with that one first.

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#TECH: Google+ Gets Redesign To Emphasize Visuals & Customizations

The cool palette of greys highlights users' contentThis morning Google announced a striking rise in income that beat stock analysts’ predictions for this first quarter of 2012: $10.65 billion for this past quarter. The number represents a 24% increase from last year’s Q1. Just before the search giant released these huge numbers, it announced a redesign of its social network, Google Plus. Though little if any of this influx of cash came from the social network, Google seems to be heavily invested on making their platform a vibrant competitor to Facebook, and the redesign seems geared to emphasize photos and video (Google owns YouTube) just as the new Timeline does on the competitor’s platform.

Let’s take a little tour.

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#SM4NP: How Is Facebook’s Timeline Doing In Drawing New Traffic?

Facebook's Timeline emphasizes multimedia on MKCREATIVE site
We all like to be liked

Now that the Timeline feature has been up-and-out on Facebook’s individual and on organizational and business pages for a week or so, people are starting to dig into the metrics about how useful and/or successful Timeline has been. The proof of most things Facebook is in the metrics of those who visit and interact with the pages. Timeline’s strikingly graphical interface and the ability to feature content certainly seem to be huge draws. In some instances the numbers back the enthusiasm. But in other instances, they don’t. So what do we know so far about Timeline and increased engagement with organizational Facebook accounts?

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#TECH: Google Now Designing Glasses And Giving Us A New ‘Play’ Service

A possible pair of Google Glass for augmented reality
Are these Google Glasses?

The good people at Google have been busy releasing new aspects of their services that are meant to augment our muti-media experiences. As is often the case, one’s first blush of these technologies might appear a bit overwhelming or a bit far out on the bleeding edge for most of us. But one of our goals at MKCREATIVEmedia is to keep our readers up-to-date on that bleeding-edge technology and to keep apprised as to how that technology is adapted and adopted by the nonprofit, charity, and small-business communities.

The first, Google Play, will likely seem pretty familiar to anyone using a cloud-based media service like iCloud or Amazon Prime. But Google Glasses seems so far out there that even some tech fetishists are wondering about its appeal. Of course, people scoffed at the notion we would want to travel in a noisy open-air flying machine as well.

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#SM4NP: Kony 2012 Will Get A Sequel & More Context Today

Invisible Children announce a sequel of Kony 2012
Today is the day. Probably.

As any Hollywood mogul will confirm, when your movie is watched by 100 million people, you need to make a sequel. That market is just too big to pass up. And the renown viral video Kony 2012 has been viewed well over 100 million times. Nevertheless, the reasons the San Diego based firm ‘Invisible Children’ will be releasing a sequel to their 30-minute wunderkind seem not really about tapping a market so much as explaining the phenomenon. It has not been released as of this posting, but one can’t help but wonder if we need the prequel/context-setter any more than we needed Star Wars: The Phantom Menace.

What do we know about a movie that has not yet appeared?

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#Tech: The Net Is Not Quite Dead, But It’s Not Your Mom’s Web Anymore

First of all, an adjustment/correction to yesterday’s story: Facebook pushed back its rollout of Timeline across all accounts until tomorrow, the 31st. Facebook did this rather quietly and did not state why, but you now have about 20 hours to get your Timeline up-and-running, as we outlined yesterday. (Thanks to Cody Damon of Damon Strategic for the heads-up!)

The Pew Internet Trust LogoToday’s tech topic is related in so far as it is about how we interact with Facebook and other online services in new ways. The traditional ‘internet via browser’ model is fading away, to be replaced by a more precise paradigm − one that moves us from our mobile devices directly to the service/platform/medium that we want. The opportunity it presents will streamline, and perhaps redefine, the internet as we knew it. How?

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