September 29, 2014

9 tips for using Twitter to tap into #globaldev community

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Post by Gemma McNeil-Walsh

Target audience: Nonprofits, cause organizations, foundations, NGOs, social enterprises

gemma-mcneil-walsh-jpegIf you were to ask me what my most useful resource during a three-year undergraduate development studies degree has been, I think the answer might surprise you: Twitter. Although I initially joined Twitter so that I could join in on my housemates’ banter about cupcakes and Ryan Gosling (don’t judge), I quickly found Twitter to be an invaluable professional and career development resource. I decided to leave the Ryan Gosling banter to Facebook, the pictures of cupcakes to Instagram, and came to see Twitter as a ‘rolling online CV’.

Through Twitter I have been approached and invited to a coffee meeting to discuss a new business venture; I’ve been recruited for freelance work at a national newspaper; and I’ve been sent a film that I went on to screen at my university. My housemate (also a development student) even connected to a journalist at the Guardian through Twitter, and was interviewed for an article that was published on the website. While I am by no means a social media expert, I thought I would share here some top tips on getting the most out of the Twittersphere.

1. Get your profile right

It needs to include the serious stuff (such as your current degree or place of work etc.), but don’t forget to make yourself sound human (put in one of your other interests or a quirky fact about yourself). See examples here.

2. Don’t just retweet

It’s important to inject some of your own voice into your Twitter feed, so don’t just rely on retweets or on tweeting out links or article headlines (although obviously do that too) – aim for something like 70% pure retweets, 30% tweets that you have either written yourself or altered.

3. Live-tweet

For me, the best way to interact with people or to gain followers has been to live-tweet from events, conferences, talks and panel discussions. Jump on the event hashtag, tweet some of the best things the speaker is saying, and make sure to interact with other people who are tweeting from the event.

4. Research hashtags

Make sure you only use hashtags that you know other people are already using. Don’t go making up bespoke hashtags à la Instagram (#yolo #internlife #unayyy). Before using a hashtag, click on its feed to make sure it’s active – basically, you want to make sure it’s worth using some of your precious 140 characters on. Talking of hashtags, the Guardian Global Development Professionals Network (@GuardianGDP) tweet out a daily hashtag (#hashtagoftheday), which is always worth checking out. Another important point is to limit how many you use – more than five hashtags significantly decreases the likelihood of someone interacting (clicking on, favouriting or sharing) with your tweet.

5. Watch what you tweet

If you imagine your Twitter page as a rolling online CV, you automatically become more aware of what you allow on to your feed. There’s nothing wrong with Tweeting comments of a more personal nature (it makes you a more interesting person), but being too controversial or offensive is only going to draw attention to your feed for the wrong reasons.

6. Follow academics

This one is probably a little biased given that I am technically still a student, but there are some academics who are very active on Twitter and who are well worth following (try Laura Hammond and Chris Blattman for example). Of course, make sure to tailor this to your own area of interest so that the issues they are talking about, or the research they point you to, is relevant.

7. Get favoriting!

Twitter can often be an overwhelming space of information, so the ‘favourite’ button is a really useful tool. Use it to bookmark anything that you see that may be of interest or of use, but which you want to come back to later. When I’m writing essays or preparing for exams, I often stock up on these resources and then go back through them to find what might be most relevant.

8. Don’t be afraid to engage

Twitter is much like the real world – people like to interact, and they like to know your reactions and opinions on things! They also love a good complement. So if you’ve read, or seen something that you liked – post it on Twitter and say what you liked about it (making sure to mention the original source). Even if people don’t get back to you on it, they’ll likely appreciate you for making the effort to Tweet about it. Similarly if people post questions, or shout-outs, on Twitter – reply to them (but only with something useful). That’s how my housemate got interviewed by the Guardian, and how I ended up contributing to this blog!

9. It’s another skill to add to the CV

Many entry-level jobs in development organisations are likely to be in PR or communications positions, and if you can showcase that you are an active user of Twitter you are automatically in a stronger position. If you think that your Twitter feed is a good reflection of you both as a person and as a potential employee (or let’s face it, intern), don’t be afraid to include the link on your CV. It will give people a unique insight into you – one that can’t be achieved on LinkedIn or on a two-page Word document.

If all of this seems like a lot of effort, I promise it tends to be worth it. For me, Twitter has been an equal playing field – despite being a lowly development undergraduate, Twitter has given me a platform to engage and interact with the development community and has brought my degree to life in a way that I don’t think other resources could have done. There are so many ways to get the most out of Twitter, and these 10 tips are just the beginning – please get in touch if you have more to add!

Quick links to get started on Twitter:

Development Intern’s list of good accounts to follow (including: academics, bloggers, development news sources, job opportunities & our writers)

WhyDev’s list of globaldev allstars

This originally appeared at DevelopmentIntern.

Gemma McNeil-Walsh is completing her undergraduate degree in development studies & economics at SOAS in London, and heading to the Oxford Internet Institute for her MSc in October. Interested in media, communication, Internet and ICTs on the African continent, she works in digital newspaper production, interns with SOAS Radio, and has spent the previous two summers working in Freetown, Sierra Leone on documentary and citizen journalism projects. Follow her on Twitter at @gemmcneil.

September 8, 2014

3 ways to sharpen your PR measurement skills

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Focus on what you should be measuring so you can streamline your PR measurement tracking

Target audience: Nonprofits, cause organizations, foundations, NGOs, social enterprises

Shonali BurkeWhen it comes to the latest in PR measurement, the mere thought of it may make you feel like it’s impossible to “keep up.” Before you overwhelm yourself, take a deep breath and focus on growing your skills by incorporating these three principles into your regular routine. By focusing on these simple – not to mention, free! – tips to refine your skills, you’ll become a measurement star before you know it!

1. Simplify and Streamline Tracking

As I mentioned in a previous Socialbrite post on creating a measurement program, most of the time we don’t have access to fancy dashboards; because we are often limited by client budgets in the tools we can and cannot use. That’s ok, because I’ve found that the more uncomplicated you keep tracking, the better.

Here’s how you can do this:

  • Use an Excel or Google spreadsheet to track outputs and outcomes
  • Making sure the time frame within which you’re tracking different things – e.g. traffic, downloads, purchases, whatever – is the same
  • Watch your Analytics (at the very least, Google Analytics) at the same time, and regularly look to see if there is a correlation between outputs and outcomes.

2. Two Tools to Know and Love

Let me preface this by first reiterating one of my big “don’ts” – don’t get caught up in shiny new measurement tools. Focus on what you should be measuring, as opposed to getting bogged down, overwhelmed, or limited by a tool. That said, there are some tools and techniques that are just crying out to be used.

I’ve already referred to it once, and I’m doing so again: it’s time to become BFFs with Google Analytics and the Google URL Builder. The tracking of URLs has been around in the marketing world for a while now; and it’s something PR pros should know how (and why) to do. Especially for campaigns where you’re driving calls-to-action online, it’s one of the best ways to understand what is driving actions, clicks, downloads, purchases, sign-ups, etc.

After all, it’s only when you know what is and isn’t working that you can adjust your strategy to make it more efficient, effective, and ultimately more successful.

3. Spread Your Measurement Wings

Benjamin Franklin once said, “Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning.” Just as it’s important to continue to track and measure the growth of a campaign or initiative, it’s equally important to facilitate our own growth as industry professionals… and that means seizing every opportunity for learning when we can.

Here are a few free ways to spread your measurement wings:

  • Read. It’s that simple. By regularly reading smart bloggers who regularly talk about metrics (Lee Odden and Jim Dougherty spring to mind) you’ll be one step ahead on the PR measurement front.

Want to go the extra mile? Make a point to add a couple of smart books to your library. Social Media Metrics by Jim Sterne is one of my faves.

  • Events. Attending or taking advantage of free events seems like a no-brainer, no? Here are just a few:

○      AMEC Measurement Week: presented by Cision (disclosure: client) and Vocus, this free five-day event takes place September 15–19, 2014 in New York City. It will bring together more than 16 speakers who are experts in measurement and analytics across the communication spectrum, and includes keynotes from Mark W. Schaefer and Peter Shankman… and me! Seriously – if you’re going to be in/around NYC next week, you really should attend. Register here, and the hashtag to follow on Twitter will be #AMECatWork.

○      #measurePR Twitter Chat: As the founder of #measurePR, I’m clearly biased, but I’m proud that in its fourth year, #measurePR still connects measurement geeks across the world. From newbies to old hands, they (we) all congregate here… and I hope you will too! #measurePR takes place the first Tuesday of every month, 12-1pm ET (the September chat, however, is on the second Tuesday, Sept. 9, to accommodate returning from the Labor Day holiday).

○      Webinars: Find and participate in free webinars focused on measurement every chance you get. Now, I know it can be tough to find really good webinars (though Cision – and yes, I’m mentioning them again – offers them frequently), so head to PRSA and IABC’s online events calendars to see what they have coming up. That’s a very good place to start.

I hope this helps you get started on spreading your measurement wings. And remember if you’re going to be at AMEC Measurement Week, or drop in at #measurePR, please give me a holler – I’d love to say “hello”!

September 2, 2014

7 tips for your nonprofit communications plan

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Photo by J.D. Lasica

How to maximize and follow through on your communications goals

Target audience: Nonprofits, cause organizations, foundations, NGOs, social enterprises, businesses.

John HaydonIf you’re like most nonprofit communicators, you have a list of specific quarterly or yearly goals. No doubt they include growing your e-mail list, acquiring new donors and increasing engagement on your Facebook updates.

But whatever your goals are, make sure they cover these seven tips below:

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August 21, 2014

My take on the ALS #IceBucketChallenge

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Video still of Bill Gates taking the ALS #IceBucketChallenge (via YouTube)

3 reasons I’ve decided to embrace this campaign — and why you should, too

Target audience: Nonprofits, cause organizations, foundations, NGOs, social enterprises, businesses, educators, journalists, general public.

Caroline AvakianAs you all likely know by now, the ALS #IceBucketChallenge is taking your Facebook news feed by storm. Your friends, colleagues, heck, even your grandmother might have been nominated to dump a bucket of cold water and ice on her head in the name of charity. And in this case, it’s a very good cause. ALS is Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, also referred to as Lou Gehrig’s disease,a neurodegenerative disease characterized by muscle spasticity, rapidly progressive weakness due to muscle atrophy, and difficulty in speaking, swallowing, and breathing.

As a social media consultant working with social causes and nonprofits, I have taken great delight in the virality of this meme all in the name of a disease that gets very little attention and fundraising dollars. Continue reading

July 28, 2014

3 powerful email marketing examples from the pros

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Tell stories of impact, use humor & cultivate relationships for more powerful email marketing

Target audience: Nonprofits, cause organizations, foundations, NGOs, social enterprises, businesses, educators, journalists, general public.

John HaydonAre you looking to breathe new life into your nonprofit’s e-mail marketing?

If so, you will love these tips three from my peers:

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July 10, 2014

8 ways to make social media matter

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Target audience: Nonprofits, cause organizations, foundations, NGOs, social enterprises, businesses, educators, journalists, general public.

Post by Nancy Schwartz
Nonprofit Marketing Problem Solver & Coach at Getting Attention.org

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Pressure. You feel it. I feel it. Every nonprofit communicator and fundraiser out there feels it. Social media pressure, that is.

Whether the source of this anxiety (Am I keeping up? Do I have a billion Facebook likes or Twitter followers? Is my Instagram strategy driving action?) is your immediate boss, board chair, or colleague in programs, it’s there. The pressure to generate a social media miracle.

Breathe—There Is a Solution

You can boost marketing and fundraising impact, and you can deflate that pressure. Here’s how:

1.  Get to know your people. Research, via online survey or calls, where your current supporters are when it comes to social media.

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