Oy, Another Year. Who Knew?

Yes, it’s another year. When 2013 began last January, who could have anticipated that, a mere 12 months later, we would be doing this all over again? Not the news media, apparently, judging from the gusher of year-end reviews and new-year predictions filling our eyes and ears.

Can you stand one more? After thoroughly digesting the most important trends of our times, I confidently predict these developments in 2014:

  • 12 new studies will reveal that Facebook is useful for engaging supporters but lousy at raising money.
  • 11 newly launched social media sites will be greeted euphorically as definitely the next big thing.
  • 10 newly social media sites, after their enthusiastic debuts, will be bought out by Facebook or Google.
  • 9 governmental investigations will determine that Americans willingly share personal information with corporations but are shocked! shocked! that details of their private lives can be recorded by the NSA.
  • 8 blogs will observe that direct mail response is declining.
  • 7 blogs will observe that email direct response rates are declining even faster.
  • 6 research reports will discover that a majority of executive directors don’t trust their development directors and vice versa.
  • 5 golden rings!
  • etc. etc.

Building Your Email List May Backfire

The conventional wisdom on email lists is that bigger is better, but it ain’t necessarily so. According to people who are paid to know these things, it’s better to have a smaller list that is more receptive to your emails.  Blame it on spam. The big email services like Gmail and Yahoo! are now identifying spammers, in large part, based on what percentage of  their emails get opened. So if you send email to thousands of boxes and your messages get deleted without being opened, your reputation as a sender suffers – and you just might find yourself in very unsavory company.

#ADVOCACY: Google Does Harm To Privacy & Suffers An Hour’s Income For Infractions

Google as a gateway spying agency?

Google as a gateway spying agency?

What you think about Google’s (and Facebook’s. And Twitter’s…) efforts to collect personal information of its users probably says quite a bit about what you think about human nature: If you don’t mind a database of your online activities being used by social networks and search engines, then you are likely comfortable with the fact that Google might know quite a bit about you but will not use that information to do any one harm. If you wonder if that flatscreen TV is looking back at you, then you might see in Google’s inadvertent collection of personal data while collecting its street maps over the last few years as the foundation of our Orwellian fate.

Google was recent fined for its ‘accidental’ collection of information across open Wi-Fi networks while filming its Street Views for Google Maps (And by ‘accidental’, I do not mean to use the term ironically. Google executives, once called on it by the federal government, immediately apologized and said it would accept the fine.). The fine was for $7 million − about what Google Inc. collects per hour from its various advertising and business interests. How might we understand these latest infractions into our privacy?

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Is Google Advertising a Waste of Money?

Google Search

Google Search (Photo credit: Steven Combs)

A study by eBay has concluded that buying keywords in Google Search had negligible effect on its search rankings or its results.  Most people find their way to websites through organic search, with or without advertising,  according to the study. Google earned almost $37 billion in online advertising in 2011 in the U.S. alone.

The report did not speculate on the value of advertising for sites that are not household names such as eBay.

#DEVELOPMENT: How Much Cash Is Required To Land A Donation?

Woman charts customer relationships

What does it cost?

How often do nonprofits reach out to donors potential and actual online, yet have no real sense of how successful the outreach was? Did the time and money spent developing a program or launching a campaign prove to be worth the support? Dan Norris, founder of the online-analytics service Informly offers a tool to help you make that call. He also recently posted his somewhat-scientific results on using his ‘Cost Per Acquisition‘ (CPA) calculator to see what kinds of costs he was incurring to get people engaged with his for-profit business. Let’s see how the costs to acquire customers or donors can prove strikingly steep.

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#HOWTO: Tweak Your Organization’s Facebook Site For Graph Search

Facebook's Graph Search

Help your supporters find your organization on Facebook

Last week we talked about what Facebook’s latest feature, Graph Search, is (Namely, a way to combine keywords, categories, and what friends are saying about them within Facebook) and it is not (Namely, a challenger to Google’s search algorithms across the internet). This week we want to help you and your organization make the most of the new feature by prepping the content you post on Facebook.

First and foremost (and this tweak applies to any images you post on your blog or website, much less your Facebook Timeline), tag your images and identify them. Such terms will show up in people’s searches (both Graph & Google). What else?

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#SOCIALNETWORK: Are You Prepped For Rollout Of Facebook Graph Search?

Mark Zuckerberg introduces latest features

Building the Facebook network

Facebook’s latest tool, Graph Search, was announced a couple of weeks ago and it is being rolled out through the Facebook0sphere through February. Though many wondered if Facebook were challenging Google, the fact is Facebook is trying to rejigger how you can access information within Facebook, not how you wend your way through the tubes of the internet.

Facebook’s own introduction emphasizes the concept that the billions of connected bits of information within people’s Facebook accounts can now be viewed along a graph of variables that the user asks for:

The main way we make the world more open and connected is by giving people the tools to map out their relationships with the people and things they care about. We call this map the graph …  There are already more than a billion people, more than 240 billion photos and more than a trillion connections. Today we’re announcing a new way to navigate these connections and make them more useful. We’re calling it Graph Search.

What does the Graph Search mean to the average user or nonprofit on Facebook?

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From Screen to Shining Screen

Google released a study of media habits in late August that quantifies what many have observed: Americans consume digital content across four different devices – television, personal computer, tablet and smartphone. Together, the four account for 90% of media usage. (Abandon hope, all ye who favor print!) Another interesting nugget: consumers start digital interaction from their smartphones 63% of the time, but usually complete it on a tablet or PC (shopping) or TV (movie). The study confirms why it’s vital for nonprofit marketers to reach out through multiple channels, especially mobile.

#MARKETING: Build Your Search Engine Marketing Strategy With Solid Search Engine Optimization

Search Engine Marketing for the internetSearch Engine Optimization (SEO) includes numerous tools and plug-ins that help (first) web crawlers and algorythems find your organization’s website, so that human web searchers can then find your site via Google, Yahoo!, Bing, etc. Optimization means (in part) key words are placed in specific parts of the website’s code and banners to ensure that not only do search engines find your site, but they easily calculate the importance of certain terms and ideas so as to put your site ever higher on their list of relevant sites.

SEO is something we’ve often talked about on this blog, but marketing experts have been taking SEO to the next level over the last year or so to develop an overarching strategy of online marketing: Search Engine Marketing. But what is it and why should your business incorporate it into your outreach?

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#TECH: How and Why To Develop A Google+ Page For Your Nonprofit

Google+ offers numerous means to reach out to clients, donors, and customers

Tools for your nonprofit's outreach

Yesterday we looked at how to pin something of interest to Pinterest, and why such activity can draw many many eyeballs to that interest and then to your organization. One of the striking demographic facts of Pinterest is that the audience is strikingly female. Toward the other side of the spectrum is Google+, which is largely made up of males. Though the status and interest of Google+ remains an open question, we remain confident that it supplies a number of features that are not difficult to use yet create a well-organized presence for any nonprofit or individual.

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#SOCIALNETWORKS: StumbleUpon An Early & Still Independent Social Network Web Searcher

StumbleUpon's new logo

Creating social networks before anyone knew what they were

In 2001, long before ‘social network’ was a concept bandied about by anyone trying to explain what brings together more than a half-dozen people, four young Canadians wanted to start a company and then build a product from it. They chose their embryonic search-engine project called “StumbleUpon.” Within a year the search engine had over a million users and StumbleUpon now claims over 25 million of them. Recently, StumbleUpon (SU) released an add-on called ‘Paid Discovery’ that behaves rather like Google Ads, except “your entire web page is your ad. StumbleUpon doesn’t serve typical display ad formats, such as pop-ups/interstitials, banners, or other invasive forms of advertising.”

But what is this popular yet lesser-known service, and how could it be a useful service for a nonprofit?

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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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#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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#HOWTO: Get Guidance From Google On Simple SEO Success

Google's developers recommend valuable content when striving for SEO success

Is your site worth searching for?

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a social media buzzword: gotta have it, gotta work at it, gotta pack it in to your website or blog! And it is true that SEO needs to be a part of your nonprofit’s online and outreach strategies. Why develop a new site or even update your outdated one if people will struggle to find it, much less relevant information on it? The go-to standard for web searches (including images and videos) is, of course, Google. Even as the e-behemoth develops Android and G+ and even augmented-reality glasses, millions of us use it simply, almost exclusively, for web research.

So why not find out what the folks at Google recommend to bolster the searchability and discoverability of your website?

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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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