Mark Holmgren Consulting is partnering with Social Media Tools
to design, build, and help support web projects for nonprofit organizations. Our partnership's goal is to help nonprofits build dynamic websites integrated with social media and supported by back end databases and content management. Services available include:
- Developing a web presence strategy that ties your web activities to your overall organizational, marketing & communications, and stakeholder engagement goals.
- Working with your staff to identify social media objectives, as well as your needs around learning social media.
- Building specifications for your website in team with your staff and other stakeholders as required.
- Presenting three design concepts for you to choose from.
- Branding your site
- Building an architecture that can flex and change with your needs.
- Training your staff to reduce dependencies on third party consultants and webmasters.
- Hosting, if required.
Websites can be built on the following open source technologies. Open source saves you money. We can also help you install, configure, and brand many of the open source web site applications. These can save you time and money and include:
- WordPress - Blogging
- Joomla, Drupal, and CMS Made Simple - Content Management System
- SugarCRM - opensource Customer Relationship Management(CRM) application
- PHPList - Email Marketing
Some of the integrations we can include in your website include:
- Calendar: A dynamic calendar that lets you quickly add events which support single or multi-day events.
- Documents: A simple online module that (like a wiki) that lets you collaborate on documents, store and compare revisions, attach files, and once you're done print out the final copy.
- Blog: A tool that allows members to enter posts about issues, articles or anything pertinent to their group. Embedding multimedia is also an option. Members can comment on posts.
- Membership: Visitors can sign up and become members with access to designated portions and functionality of the website like discussion groups, downloads, etc.
- Task Tracker: A full task system that lets you assign to do's and create unlimited projects within each of your groups. The case tracker also lets you classify the tasks, give it a priority, and manage its status.
- Twitter: Services include Twitter set up, training, and integration with the site and with other social media like Facebook.
- Facebook: Page setup, training, and website integration
- YouTube: Page setup, training, and website integration.
- Flickr: Page setup, training, and website integration.
- Surveys: We can integrate mini-polls all the way to sophisticated surveys using third part form building software.
- Bulletin Boards: Allows for group discussions, themes set by users, although moderated to ensure appropriateness.
- Database-driven functionality like member profiles, press releases, event posting, and so forth.
- E-News Letters includes integrated sign up, archiving of newsletters, list management, etc.
- Notifications: Members/users are notified when they are assigned a task and/or can subscribe to be notified of new calendar items, document additions and/or changes. You control frequency of notifications.
- Group Dashboard: Mini widgets give you a snapshot of all the activity happening across your groups.
Mark Holmgren has led the development or participated as a team member in the development of numerous web-based software applications and web sites. One of his technology projects, My Family's Future
, was given an innovation award from the State of Florida. Other projects include the development of e-fundraising tools and a grant application tool. In the early 2000s, Mark sat on the board of Rainbow Coalitions Technologies, the organization responsible for the development of Rainbow, one of the major fundraising applications used by United Ways in North America. Want more information? Contact Mark at 780.244.8686 or 780.299.0780
This presentation was given today via video conference to Hanna Learning Centre and Return to Rural. While a slideshow can't tell the whole story, this was a three hour session that addressed social media strategy, an overview of marketing and social media (their differences and potential synergies), target audiences, and a tour of various applications.
If your organization is interested in training/learning opportunities about how to integrate social media applications (Facebook, Twitter, blogs, social networks and so forth) into your overall communication and engagement activities, please take a few moments and fill out this 3 minute survey
. This link will take you to our consulting site at markholmgren.com.
You can read more about why websites are not enough anymore in the April release of our e-newsletter. If you are not signed up to receive it you can read it in the archives here
[reprinted from our blog, Anticipate!]
If you are a CEO or VP in your organization, you are likely becoming engaged in or contemplating engagement in social media. Younger people in your organization may be encouraging you; some may even be putting on the pressure.
Does it make sense for your non profit to embrace social media as an integral part of your communications and engagement strategy? Probably, but only if you are diligent about being strategic about it all. Without a clear strategy, social media is little more than cool stuff, and cool stuff will sidetrack us, if not confuse us, if we go forward without a vision and strategy.
Here are some suggestions as to how to give due diligence to the social media question.
Get familiar with social media. You can learn a lot in a short time through some very excellent and brief videos that explain Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Wiki sites, Ning communities, RSS, and so forth. It helps to understand the highlights of these applications. Learning about them will whet your appetite for social media strategizing. You can access some quick learning at our sister site, www.thebigchange.ca. We have a social media resource section on that site that can help you as well.
Understand what social media can do and what it can’t. For example, while there are exceptions, social media is not known to be a significant donations generator directly (though that will change over time), but as an adjunct to a fundraising or marketing campaign it can be a great ally. Social media is also excellent in terms of connecting with others who share your interests, causes, geography, and so forth. For example, if you have the email addresses of your donors, Facebook can search for them and display which ones have a Facebook page. You can do the same on LinkedIn, MySpace, and other applications. Universities are doing this to find alumni and then communicate with them, engage them in discussions, etc. After all before you can raise money from people, you have to know where they are, get to know them, and find ways to have a relationship.
Understand what you want to achieve. Are you trying to increase brand awareness, expand your donor base beyond your local area, promote volunteerism, engage community leaders in discussions about social issues or priorities, collaborate with other service providers? All of those things and more can be supported by social media. Being crystal clear about your intentions or desired outcomes will help you figure out which tools to use and how.
Are you going to invest some resources in social media? Social media is far more economical than traditional media. In fact, many companies are using social media for more and more of their advertising. It is less expensive but also the ROI is quite good (watch this ROI video called Socialnomics). That being said, it does take resources: design, content generation, and regular updating need to occur. You have to work at growing your “friends” or members. Having a Twitter page with only six followers doesn’t look good. There is a lot of activity on social networks. You have to stand out, offer compelling or intriguing content and do it often and when you are not putting up content, you must be working to grow a following or to network with others.
If you are a control freak, forget social media. Social media is about being out there communicating with others – it is about being social! If you are in dialog with others; if you are getting a following, people will spread the word and create a buzz about your brand. You can’t control what they say though. So if you are risk averse about this, either find a way to get more comfortable with it, or just don’t go there.
Your employees are already out there in social media land. Don’t think that not being on Facebook or Twitter or elsewhere in social media land somehow mitigates risk to your brand. The Internet is the new public square and people will talk about you whether you are there or not. Many employees will list where they work on their profiles. Some will create social media sites to help support their work – yes, without even asking. Whether or not your organization is doing social media, it is a good idea to have social media policies in place that address risk. Our resource section on theBIGchange website has a link to a great piece on social media policy. Click HERE to go there.
How will you measure success?
Social media, like every other business activity, should be measured. The key is to measure the right things. To do that you have to know what is reasonable to expect from your social media activity. For example, if the purpose of your Facebook or Twitter account is to increase traffic to your website or blog, then you will want to track how many visitors come to your website from those sites. Are you looking for how many friends or followers you have? Are you looking for fundraising leads? Or is the purpose of your social media activity to enlist volunteers or collaborators? Of course, the metrics you use relate back to the purpose behind your social media presence.
First, what is a blog? Here's what Wikipedia has to say:
A blog is a user-generated website where entries are made in journal style and displayed in a reverse chronological order.
Blogs often provide commentary or news on a particular subject, such as food, politics, or local news; some function as more personal online diaries. A typical blog combines text, images, and links to other blogs, web pages, and other media related to its topic. The ability for readers to leave comments in an interactive format is an important part of most early blogs. Most blogs are primarily textual although some focus on photographs (photoblog), sketchblog, videos (vlog), or audio (podcasting), and are part of a wider network of social media.
The term "blog" is a portmanteau, or, in other words, a blend of the words web and log (Web log). "Blog" can also be used as a verb, meaning to maintain or add content to a blog.
This article provides a good overview of "corporate blogging" which offers insights that are applicable in large part to non-profits.
What does it cost?
There are many free blog sites. Two of the most popular are BlogSpot and Wordpress - the latter being the host of Anticipate!. Each provides with many templates to choose from and a whole bunch of features (some times called "widgets") at no cost to you. There are paid services of course at places like Typepad, Go Daddy, and the like, but no need to start there. Try the free stuff first.
Think about using a blog to communicate regularily with your membership or constituency about the work of your organization. Many CEOs now have blogs (even if they don't write them themselves). It can be an onerous task to write regularily. The key to a successful blog is that it is updated frequently. But a blog is much easier to update than a web site. You just log in, click on "post" and write your stuff and publish it. Simple. Ok. Not always totally simple but you can put up a blog in a short time without having to know any HTML.
Question: If I have a web site, do I need to have a blog?
Answer: Well, that depends. If your web site is a large one chocked full of information, it may be difficult for your visitors to always see what they want to see AND difficult for you to make sure they see what you want them to see. If you have frequent updates or news pieces you want your constituents to be aware of, a blog can be very helpful and a good companion for your web site. That is because a blog posts your pieces in chronological order, with the latest news appearing first on the blog’s home page. By making use of blog publishers these written pieces can be archived automatically by month and can also be sorted by themes or categories like I have done on this blog. What is so powerful about that is this: you can tag a written piece with more than one theme or category. You can’t do that on a web site without spending quite a bit of money on development costs. Click on a category to the left and see what happens.
Question: Can’t I just email people our latest news and articles or tell them about an article on our web site?
Answer: Sure you can, but emails get buried in an inbox and you would have to write an email for each update. A blog will be there with ALL your news and articles — a permanent fixture on the Web for them to see and anyone else to see for whom you may not have an email address. Search engines will notice your blog and display it on searches for the topics you cover on your blog. You can promote your blog from your web site but also include its web address as part of your signature line on all of your emails, thus ensuring a constant promotion of it to everyone you communicate with.
Question: Don’t you need special or technical skills to operate a blog?
Answer: Well, you need a good mind to blog, but no special skills. Services like WordPress (the host of this blog) and Blogger (a google site) have all the functionality laid out for you and they give you free templates to use for your blog’s design and navigational structure. Just about anyone can start a blog and just about everyone has. Of course, the more technical skill you have the more you can take advantage of the blog software.
Question: Other than search engines, how can a blog be promoted?
Answer: “Blogs Can Be Syndicated Through RSS. RSS most popularly stands for Real Simple Syndication. Visitors can “subscribe” to your blog and get regular updates delivered to their desktop, their newsreader, or to their personal homepage at Yahoo or MSN. Alternatively, other Web sites might syndicate your content to help populate their own Web site. You blog, RSS helps deliver your message…for free.” (Source: http://www.flyte.biz)
Question: So, should I blog more and email less?
Answer: No. If you are thinking of email and blogs in a marketing context then use them together as part of an overall marketing strategy. Use email to not only drive people to your blog, but use the blog to enlist people in an email magazine or newsletter. Then use the newsletter to also promote and link to the blog. Also, there are services (like feedburner.com) that will allow you to create an email subscription link for your blog. When people enroll, they get an email automatically each time you update the blog AND you get one more email for your database.
Here are some web and internet trends. Understanding them can help you predict what direction your web work should take.
1. Half of adults in the USA today use one of these three social media: text messaging, blogs, or social networks (e.g. Facebook, MySpace). In the 18-34 year-old demographic, the numbers of social media users are even higher: 85% of rely on one of the three platforms to stay in touch with others. Adults who never sent a text message fell to 41% from 49% last year. |source|
2. 1 out of 10 U.S. adults now publish blogs (up from 5% last year) |source|
3. 1 out of 5 18-34-year olds publish blogs (up from 10% last year) |source|
4. 22% of U.S. adults use IM (up from 9% last year) |source|
5. 21% of 18-34-year olds use IM (up from 14% last year) |source|
6. On an average visit to your site or blog, users read half the information only on those pages with 111 words or less. On average, users will have time to read 28% of the words if they devote all of their time to reading. More realistically, users will read about 20% of the text on the average page. |source|
7. Gen Y'ers are changing the Internet. They are the first true digital natives. They grew up with the Internet. They care less about traditional television - in fact a good number watch "tv" on the Internet. They tend to me more socially motivated than Boomers and GenXers and less wound up in work. In fact, they think employers need to be more sensitive about, and accommodating to one's personal life. They care about the world, politics, and like to have control when it comes to their charitable activities. They are on FaceBook and MySpace, use Twitter, and they think they are a force to be reckoned with. You won't reach them in conventional ways. Instead you will have to not only communicate with them, but engage them as well, on the web, through social networking, through the use of mobile technology, and by using Web 2.0 and 3.0. By the way if you don't know what Twitter is, check out our Learn Twitter page (link is in the left hand column). |source|
8. Social News is the way of the future. "Social news sites such as Digg, Propeller, Reddit, StumbleUpon, where the community decides what content is worthy and what content isn't, are powerful enough to drive tens of thousands of visitors to some lucky content producers, and thus have become an incredibly valuable marketing platform. One good day on any of these sites can get you more than 60,000 visitors in less than 24 hours" Look out newspapers. And look out television news. <source>
9. Heard of Lifestreaming? People that use the Internet have an array of Internet experiences, transactions, and they create all sorts of information along their way. They write blogs, listen to music, watch videos, play games, post to bulletin boards, write emails, chat with friends, write little reviews of the books they like on Amazon or elsewhere, and so on and so on. So, what is this Lifestreaming thing that is taking blogging to new levels? Lifestreaming is taking all that information from different sources, and sticking it in one place so that people who find it interesting can see what I’m up to. It’s less stalking, and more “this person has similar tastes to me so I’m interested in what they’re interested in.” |read 35 ways to stream your life|
10. YouTube. Yeh you have heard about it, but think about it. In August 2006 YouTube hosted just over 6 million videos and had half a million user accounts. In April 2008, there were 83 million videos on YouTube and 3.75 million user channels (channels, not users!) It is estimated that in 2007, YouTube consumed as much bandwidth as the entire Internet in 2000, and that around ten hours of video are uploaded every minute. YouTube is free. You can upload videos and easily imbed them in your website or blog. People are reading less and watching more. Does your marketing strategy include video and YouTube?
According to McMillan Dictionary, “Crowdsourcing is trying to find a way of completing a task, a solution to a problem, etc. by asking a wide range of people if they can help, typically by using the Internet.”
Crowdsourcing is the next evolution of “outsourcing.” Whereas the latter speaks of sending work or functions to a particular company or organization to do for you (because they can do it better or faster or cheaper or all three), crowdsourcing engages anyone who cares to be engaged in helping you solve a problem, generate ideas, mobilize a volunteer effort, or fund something you need money for — and much more.
Crowdsourcing is made possible by the Internet and the myriad social media tools and sites that can serve to engage people from around the world or at least people you may not have any relationship with locally in your organization’s cause or work. Crowdsourcing also speaks to making sure you are offering lots of choices to people in terms of how they might lend a hand. The crowd after all is looking for many things, not just one cause.
From a fundraising perspective, crowdsourcing is related to micro-donations (“a very small sum of money donated to a charitable cause by millions of people. All the small sums can add up to the desired total amount” – Source: McMillan Dictionary).
Methods of raising money through micro-donations include text messaging fundraising programs arranged with a cellular provider, via Twitpay, but also via websites like Donorschoose.org.
The Donorschoose site is an American-based fundraising site that embraces both crowdsourcing and micro-donations. The overall theme is education of American students but within that theme, donors are provided with myriad choices on how to support what THEY want to support. Here’s a brief blurb from their website:
Here’s how it works: public school teachers from every corner of America post classroom project requests on DonorsChoose.org. Requests range from pencils for a poetry writing unit, to violins for a school recital, to microscope slides for a biology class.
Then, you can browse project requests and give any amount to the one that makes your eye twinkle. Once a project reaches its funding goal, we deliver the materials to the school.
Since 2002, the organization has raised more than $40 million, benefitting more than 2 million students. Look at the rate of growth.
Find out more how this fundraising group works by going here.
So, what is “social networking?”
In the simplest of terms, social networking is an online community of people who share a common interest, cause, or purpose. Some social network sites exist primarily to allow users to socialize. But others are more focused on politics, or a hobby, or a region, and so forth.
While there are rules and guidlines of behavior on such sites, beyond that members of a social network create their own web pages, profiles, and linkages with others. Social Network sites like FaceBook also allow its users to create “groups” that others can join. A group could be about anything. For example you could create a group focused on Architects or Poets or on your city or neighborhood or church. The options are virtually limitless.
Younger people are more likely to be active on social network sites than their parents, but as this form of interaction among people becomes more accepted, I believe generational differences will dissipate.
When you join a social network site, you create a profile. You can say as little or as much about yourself as you choose. Mention where you work or don’t. Share your contact information, your favorite books, your community memberships, and your favorite websites. When you make a “friend”, they become listed (with a photo if they have one) on your network page.
People can communicate with one another by posting comments to their respective pages. On FaceBook, that is called a whiteboard. That way others can see who your friends are too.
Here’s the So-What
The so-what factor about social networking depends on what you want to use it for, to be honest. Your organization may benefit by having its own social network of employees (good for larger firms with multiple sites) or one focused on your volunteers or your donors. You don’t have to use FaceBook or MySpace for that. You can create your own social networks using existing online platforms (for free) like Ning, for example.
So, how can a social network benefit your organization?
If you are using a social network for relationship building with volunteers or donors, here are a few of the benefits you can realize.
1. Learn about your constituents’ interests, hobbies, friends, aspirations, involvements and then use this information to communicate to them in a more tailored approach.
2. Keep everyone up to date on the lastest news or program without having to email everyone separately.
3. Create forums and groups for people to participate in. For example, create “interest groups” for donors. Topics could include: Kids, Seniors, Homelessness, Health, whatever makes sense for your organization.
4. Find out what people think and feel about your organization.
5. Share photos and videos of interest to your members.
6. Facilitate your social network members getting to know one another. Connected donors and volunteers are more likely to create synergies around your cause than they will if they don’t know each other.
7. Ask your members to help you solve a problem. You might be surprised on what they come up with.
8. Provide online orientation for your volunteers.
9. Create online surveys and ask for people’s participation.
10. Connect members to your website, blog and other web-based resources that may be of interest to them.
Social Networking is revolutionizing the way people interact. While I was writing this article I was logged into FaceBook and my son was there too. He and I chatted for a while, something we would not have done today most likely. And while we chatted, an old colleague spotted me and shared the news of her soon to arrive grandchild.
The opportunities for connecting with people and connecting people to one another are virtually endless through the use of myriad web-based platforms and tools. Many, if not most, of these tools are free to use. You just need to know why you want to use them and then how to deploy. The knowing why is actually the harder part than deployment.
For more info about social networking and how we can help your organization better embrace the Internet and engage your constituents, contact Mark HERE.