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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#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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#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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#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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#INTERVIEW: Joanne Fritz, The About.com Website Guide on Nonprofit Charitable Organizations

Joanne Fritz HeadshotJoanne Fritz is the guide to About.com’s “Nonprofit Charitable Organizations” site. A former high school and university teacher, she has also been a senior manager at two nonprofits and two universities. The interview was conducted by Don Akchin, a principal of Nonprofit Marketing 360 and a frequent contributor to the MKCREATIVE blog.

NPM360: Is About.com a blog or something else?
JOANNE: About.com is sort of its own animal. It has close to 1,000 guides. Each guide is an expert in a particular topic area. Each of us has a mini-website that includes a blog. So when you first see, for instance, my landing page, it has the blog, but then over to the side are topics, and those links will generally lead you to articles that are meant to be evergreen information. We typically use the blog to keep up with what’s happening in the here and now. The articles go into more depth and are more like reference materials. We’re constantly creating evergreen content because most of our traffic comes from search, and they turn up on one of our articles. I usually blog at least three times a week. There’s a lot going on about nonprofits these days, so it’s a constant struggle to keep on top of it.

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#HOWTO: Tumbler Can Be Social Media Hub, But Other Tools Are Available

Tumblr offers ease and accessibility - WP offers control and SEOWe have sung the praises of Tumblr for the past few Thursdays, and we will continue to do so. Tumblr offers nonprofits and charities a free platform (with some themes and extensions costing a few bucks) and host to establish a web presence that is just a couple of clicks away from integrating with your Twitter account and an RSS feed. Tumbr offers elegant simplicity to est up a look and post as quick or as richly developed media-laden posts as your organization cares to produce via its Dashboard.

But most use Tumblr to pursue ‘Tumblogging’. The word morphed from ‘tumblelog’, first used in 2005 but briefly eclipsed by the rather dry ‘microblog’ for a while. It refers to a blog that consists of an ongoing series of focused, but brief, posts that include various visual, aural, and textual media. These tend to be short entries that simply state the immediate context of the subject/object of the post with no effort to tie it to a larger story.

Well, why would a nonprofit want to do that?

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#SM4NP: ROI From Social Media May Be Elusive, But It’s Not Impossible

Twitter is not expensive, so returns can be highIf you search for information about how to measure returns on investment in social media, you will be quickly reminded about just how new social media is in the business and nonprofit economies. Mathematicians are still searching out formulae and quality-control gurus want to talk about the developments of relationships that will bring customers and donors a bit later down the road. One of the underlying themes, though, is that no one doubts the value of social media writ large, even as we try to quantify that value and/or make it predictive of our outreach.

Perhaps success can be measured in hard, but not precise, numbers. Moreover, we should also consider social media as a ‘value added’ component to the core vocation of our nonprofit or charity, rather than as a fundamental element. How might we do both?

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#HOWTO: Get A Nonprofit Tumblr Blog Up, Published, & Read

Tumblr offers rich-media blogging for us non-codersSigning up for Tumblr takes seconds and is free, so there’s no economic reason your nonprofit might resist learning the platform. As we introduced last week, Tumblr offers the opportunity to have a fabulous and well-connected online presence without needing to learn the tricky coding behind a traditional blog or website. Our excitement about this platform has inspired us to continue to try to inspire you to consider Tumblr for your organization’s outreach. Every software package has its quirks and features, but Tumblr really seems to offer a wide array of opportunities to use the skills you already have (proven by the fact you are reading this blog!) to present a professional, flexible, and elegant web-face to the world. Let’s set up our first post!

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#PUBLICPOLICY: Online Privacy Becomes Concern For Service Providers

Peter Steiner's famous cartoon of internet anonymity
Perhaps the most famous statement of internet privacy from 'The New Yorker' (1993)

Online privacy has been a notable concern for many citizens almost since the inception of the internet, and certainly we have often discussed the issue on our blog over the years. A decade ago, the question of privacy largely was answered with calm warnings to use common sense and with explanations of the averages working against anyone being able to assemble any meaningful aggregate of the real you.

But now not only do companies exist precisely to aggregate your online behavior, millions of us willingly offer our own aggregations via our social-network platforms of choice. Those who strive to ensure some privacy of individuals have been lobbying the federal government to block certain aggregations and pressuring companies to offer ever more powerful privacy controls to customers and members. What seems to be the state of the discussion now?

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#SM4NP: Automate Your Google Searches To Follow Important Issues

Google Alerts is one of many services offered for freeSearching on Google is perhaps the single experience of the internet we all share. In the fine and flexible tradition of the English language, we turned the noun into a verb: to google (someone or something). The behemoth that is Google Inc. began over a decade ago (hint: Sarah McLachlan and Elton John won big Grammys that year) as a way to search for key terms on the net. Now it owns YouTube, has built its own social network, and created a smartphone operating system to rival the iPhone.

One of its underused developments, though, is the ability to automate and monitor specific terms or events or institutions on the internet for you. In a few simple steps, you can get an alert whenever your charity is mentioned or your plan-of-action praised.

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#PHILANTHROPY: Google Can Give Time, Resources, & AdWords To Nonprofits

Google gave $100 million and free programming time to charities in 2011Google is the great behemoth of web searching and video hosting. Google.com is default homepage in millions of browsers and YouTube has inspired citizen journalists in war-torn Syria and video mashups of cute kittens in suburbia. Google.org is perhaps not as well known, but its philanthropic outreach is huge, and it offers that money and support numerous ways – some of which your organization can surely take advantage of!

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