April 30, 2010

TakePart: Spurring people to take action

TakePart: Spurring people to take action from JD Lasica on Vimeo.

JD LasicaThe single most difficult issue that those of us in the social change movement confront is: figuring out how to get people to take action. So I’ve been paying close attention over the months to the successful efforts of TakePart, an initiative of Participant Media.

Ric-O'BarryI recently ran into Adriana Dunn, editor of the TakePart blogs, and caught some of her thoughts about the lessons they’ve learned in participatory media. Adriana just wrote an entry about major events related to The Cove, winner of the Oscar for best feature documentary, over the past 18 months. They’ve just passed the 1 million petition mark, but you can sign the petition, write to elected officials or make a donation.

Watch, download or embed the video on Vimeo

Ric O’Barry — the former trainer for Flipper who stars in “The Cove” (and the fellow holding the sign at top right) — appeared on Oprah on April 22, Earth Day, bringing the film’s message to the masses.

TakePart is much more than “The Cove,” however. Check out their beautiful News & Blogs section to see all the worthy causes you can get involved with or learn more about. For example, author Michael Pollan recently did a live chat about the 2009 documentary Food, Inc., in which he appeared.

“We’re not always going to be the one single source of information,” Adriana tells me, “but we do want to be the source where the community can go to find information about nonprofits, social change or whatever issue you’re passionate about.”

Follow @takepart (6,510 followers) on Twitter; Participant Media (SocialActionNow) has not yet taken off there.

Participant Media has either produced or distributed such films as “An Inconvenient Truth,” “Charlie Wilson’s War,” “The Kite Runner,” “The Soloist,” “Syriana,” “Good Night, and Good Luck,” “The Visitor,” “Food, Inc.,” “North Country” and the new “Oceans” and “Furry Vengeance.” See their full list.


‘The Cove’: Will movies usher in a new era of social change? (interview with Christopher Gebhardt, general manager and executive vice president of TakePart, on Socialbrite)
The Cove site on TakePart

April 29, 2010

Attend the Mobilize Your Cause Bootcamp in NYC

Take charge of social & mobile media for your cause or campaign

JD LasicaAt the Personal Democracy Forum in New York on June 2, Katrin Verclas — founder of MobileActive and a partner in Socialbrite — and I will be presenting the first Mobilize Your Cause Bootcamp. I’ve been giving social media bootcamps for some time, and Katrin jets off to another continent every other week to give presentations on mobile activism, so this should be a special event.

Please tweet, post to Facebook or share the word with your own networks.

We’re setting aside part of the afternoon for talks and Q&As with Craig Newmark, founder of Craigslist, Nicola Wells of the Fair Immigration Reform Movement and Rachel LaBruyere of the Reform Immigration FOR America campaign. I’ll also be on a panel at Personal Democracy Forum the next day.

See below for details and how to register.


For the first time, Personal Democracy Forum is bringing you an interactive workshop that will dive deeply into strategy, tactics and tools available to activists and change agents.


The bootcamp will offer a deep look at the following:

  • Social media for social good: Examples of how campaigns or ongoing initiatives have been successful in raising awareness, participation or funds for social causes, nonprofits and political movements.
  • Mobile action: Examples of how text/SMS campaigns and mobile applications are gaining momentum as a platform for social change, with an emphasis on U.S. campaigns.
  • How to build an activist community: We’ll explore how different organizations have successfully used social and mobile tools to activate their members, spread awareness, engage members and raise funds.
  • New technologies: An overview of the best “social good” tools and resources available for advocates looking to make a difference.
Who should come
  • Social media/community managers at nonprofit organizations
  • Editors & managers of political and political reform sites
  • Communications, marketing and PR professionals
  • Techies, geeks, nerds and mobile fanboys & fangirls
  • CUNY students and faculty
  • Activists, advocates and those who want to make the world a better place

Register Now

Katrin Verclas is founder and executive editor of MobileActive.org. She has spoken at Skoll World Forum, TED, Pop!Tech, SXSW, the Nonprofit Technology Conference, the Politics Online Conference, We Media and the Open Society Institute, among other places. She is an experienced trainer currently engaged in a six-country engagement focusing on social and new media for NGOs focused on transparency and governance in repressive media.
JD Lasica is founder of Socialbrite.org – social tools for social change – and a pioneer in social media. JD also runs the consultancy Socialmedia.biz and was co-founder of Ourmedia.org, the world’s first free video hosting and sharing site. He has presented at social media bootcamps, SXSW, Macworld, Digital Hollywood, Blogworld, Harvard’s Berkman Center, Stanford, MIT, NYU, UC Berkeley, universities in Sweden, the Citizen Reporters’ Forum in Seoul, the Cannes Film Festival and elsewhere.
Special guests

Continue reading

Craig Newmark The bootcamp will include a special appearance by Craig Newmark, founder of Craigslist and a political reform advocate. Craig will join in a conversation about developments in the social change sector and how to build an activist community. Bootcamp participants will engage in a Q&A with the speakers during this 45-minute segment.
The bootcamp will also feature a discussion with Nicola Wells, an organizer for the Fair Immigration Reform Movement, a national coalition of grassroots immigrant rights organizations, a project of the Center for Community Change. Nicola focuses her work on building strong state-based campaign for federal immigration reform.
April 29, 2010

8 new Facebook plug-ins to socialize your site

Facebook’s new moves demonstrate the power of personalization

Target audience: Nonprofits, social change organizations, community publications

facebook-group-iconJohn HaydonI‘ve been sharing with you my initial thoughts on how Facebook will change how we all experience and use the Internet – and how this change will impact your nonprofit.

Right now, when people visit your website, they see the same content as every other visitor. By default, it’s not tailored to their preferences. They also have no clue who else has visited your site, what content they’ve shared on Facebook, and whether they have a social connection to those visitors.

The new Facebook platform changes all of this, making your website – and the entire Internet – social by default. By implementing Facebook Social Plug-ins into your website, you could give your visitors these experiences:

  • Display content they would prefer, based on their Facebook preferences and what their friends have liked.
  • Show them who else has visited your site – and even who’s on your site right now!
  • Allow them to engage with current Facebook friends about your cause – on your website.
  • And do all of this without having to log-in to to your website.

Continue reading

April 28, 2010

Collaboration: The next phase of social change?


JD LasicaAt lunch yesterday in San Francisco, eight folks in the social change sector gathered at Samovar Tea Lounge to compare notes, discuss partnerships and answer a question posed by convener Christine Egger of SocialActions.com:

What is the problem you see in your sector, and how would you solve it?

The conversation quickly turned to silos and the need not to break them down but, as Kristy Graves said, to build bridges between them.

teaThe nonprofit sector. The social change and social innovation sectors. The social enterprise sector. The Gov 2.0 sector. The citizen journalism sector. The education sector. The micro-finance sector.

There are amazing parallel needs on display and immensely talented people working in all of these areas. Sometimes our efforts overlap. Sometimes we share resources. But too often we talk past each other, focus on our own events and pass up opportunities for collaboration.

The lunch came with no agenda and we left with no game plan but with a deeper understanding of some of the efforts taking place only a phone call, email or direct-message away.

One idea was to form a sort of cross-sector group or mailing list to help these sectors cross-pollinate. (I like that idea, but we’d need more participants for that to work.) Continue reading

April 27, 2010

Self-publishing: Tell your story in print



Lulu, Author Solutions, CreateSpace, Blurb make publishing your book a breeze

Target audience: Nonprofits, NGOs, educators, small businesses, journalists, photographers

By Kim Bale
Socialbrite staff

Updated Sept. 20, 2010, with new stats and services

With more people turning to ebooks or digital readers like the Kindle or iPad rather than turning the pages of a softcover, the publishing industry is evolving quickly. In 2008, for the first time in history, more books were self-published in the United States than were published the traditional way. According to Bowker, the agency responsible for assigning ISBNs, 288,355 traditional book titles were published last year, down a smidge from the year before. By constrast, 764,448 self-published “on demand” titles were produced last year, a dizzying 181 percent increase from the prior year.

Clearly, authors have found alternate ways to get their books on the shelf.

Inexpensive online print-on-demand services now allow anyone from nonprofit organizations to photographers to publish a story book, flip book, photo album or other publication — without the hassle of finding an agent or publisher. Sometimes, you can even make money at it. While in a traditional paperback publishing deal the author keeps just 8 to 9 percent of royalties, under most self-publishing agreements authors keep 70 to 80 percent of their profits.

Compose your work, upload the files, set the price, and you can have your masterpiece printed and mailed to you, or make it available online for sale to the general public. Print On Demand websites like Lulu, Author Solutions, CreateSpace (formerly BookSurge) and others make it easy and relatively affordable to guide your book from conception to printing, with new services available to boost your marketing efforts.

Whether you’re a nonprofit, NGO, educator or small businesses, your organization likely has a good story that can be told, accompanied by photos, between the covers of a hardover or softcover book. If it sells well, it could even bring you a modest revenue stream. But think of this chiefly as a polished way to promote your organization’s brand or your own personal brand.

Self-publishing might seem like a daunting task, though the tools are more accessible than ever. Most companies request you upload your work via Word document or PDF, and they offer a variety of services to help you add images and fine-tune your book for the printing press.

Tips for the first-time self-published author

Here are our tips to help take the worry out of self-publishing:


  • Do your research. You’ve written your book, now who’s going to read it? Whether you’re composing a detailed history of your organization or giving advice on how to grow a start-up, it’s important to understand your audience. If you know exactly who will be reading your copy, you have an advantage. Find out what it is they need to know, and tell it in a compelling, engaging way. If you’re aiming for your book to hit the best-seller list, it’s not a bad idea to read up on your peers and competitors already in the marketplace. Too many books of the same topic in the same space could mean overcrowding – find a unique angle and stay ahead of the pack.
  • Choose a service. Now that you’ve identified your audience, a host of POD (print on demand) companies are waiting to help you publish. Each company has its own set of services to offer, so shop around and choose one that fits your needs:
  1. Lulu offers four publishing packages ranging in price from $369 to $1,369. Lulu walks you through an a la carte process step by step and connects you with designers, editors and marketing professionals — at no charge — if desired. Or you can opt to choose the binding, create your own cover and simply pay for the costs of printing and number of copies, whether you’re printing for an audience of one or 1,000. At Lulu and similar sites, each time a purchase is made, a printer at a printing facility makes an individual copy that is shipped to the buyer, usually in 24 hours or less. No money changes hands until a book is published, authors set the prices for books, and the royalty rate excluding production costs is 80 percent, meaning you get to keep the bulk of the income from sales.
  2. "Escape" by CNN on Blurb

  3. Author Solutions is the parent company for well-known brands like AuthorHouse, iUniverse, Trafford, Wordclay and Xlibris. Each brand offers slightly different services such as extensive professional consultations, competitive publishing packages and marketing materials designed to generate buzz about your title. Author Solutions gives authors access to editorial services, illustrations, book and cover design, publicity, promotion, distribution, online sales and bookstore sales. Over the past 13 years, more than 85,000 authors have self-published almost 120,000 titles through Author Solutions, making them a leader in the industry. In many cases, authors pay an up-front fee of $300 to $1,600, book prices are set by the services, and royalties range from 10 to 25 percent, meaning you get only a small slice of any income generated — for example, $2.04 on the sale of a $15.95 book.
  5. HP BookPrep enables publishers to digitize any existing book and turn it into a virtual asset that can be sold over the Internet and printed on demand. Head to HP BookPrep.
  7. Blurb lets you create professional-looking photo books, text books, cookbooks and “blog books” for a low price, starting at $12.95 per copy (softcover, minimum 10 copies). Head to Blurb.com.
  8. Scribd allows authors to upload documents to their library of e-books for free, lets authors set the price of their e-books and retain 80 percent of royalties from sales. Head to Scribd.com.
  9. Better-Beginnings

  10. PayDotCom is an ebook provider that relies on affiliate marketing. It’s free to sign up and members can sell one product at no charge, with additional listings costing $29 and commissions split 50-50 between vendors and affiliates. Head to PayDotCom.
  11. Amazon’s CreateSpace offers packages starting at $299 and provides you with the benefit of being listed in their highly trafficked marketplace. You can upload your completed PDF file for immediate release or use their professional services to fine-tune your copy and ready it for publication. CreateSpace will assign your book an International Standard Book Number (ISBN) and you will become part of a growing community of talented authors looking to swap stories and share tips and advice. To list your book with Amazon, you must go through the Amazon Advantage page to register; it cost $30 per year to join the program.
  13. Smaller publishing houses: You can find a number of other publishing houses online or in your community. For example, Rexi Media, a start-up that helps managers enhance their public presence, self-published the book Better Beginnings (200 pages) through the Ohio-based POD service 48HrBooks and sells it online for $19.95. Café Press (which caters to shorter articles and stories) and ColorCentric and Llumina Press are three more micro-publishers; you can find an extensive list of print-on-demand publishers at Bookmarket.com. This option requires more market research and knowledge of how the design, publishing and distribution industries work, though it can be rewarding knowing you’ve published a book unlike most others in the marketplace.
  • Register your book. You’ll want to register your book for free at the Bowkers mega-directory Books in Print. This is the master list of all books available anywhere, which bookstores and libraries use.
  • Calculate your costs. Your expenses will vary based on which services you’ve rendered and can range from a couple of hundred to thousands of dollars. Once you’ve chosen your publishing company and a package that fits your needs, tally up the costs and make sure you’re getting sufficient bang for your buck. Printing more copies will give you the benefit of bulk rates, and with the right marketing tactics, it could pay off for when you hold an event with lots of foot traffic.
  • Find distribution channels. Now that you have your book, you’ll want to find venues for people to find it. One good choice is IndieReader, a site where readers can find original self-published titles.
  • Don’t forget marketing! Publishing your book is half the battle, so pay attention to distributing and marketing your finished product. If you’re personally handing it out to your colleagues and friends, marketing labor and costs will be low. If you’re trying to reach the masses, however, it’s important to obtain adequate publicity through marketing and advertising. Each self-publisher has professionals that will help you get an ISBN, list your book on various websites and push it to desired bookstores.

The self-publishing movement has just begun to take off, so identify your most valuable content and decide how you can package it in a way that highlights your organization’s accomplishments and appeals to existing and potential supporters.

Have you self-published a book? What was the experience like? Please share what you learned.


Publish a successful ebook: 7 e-publishing services (Socialbrite)

6 business reasons for nonprofits to publish a magazine (Socialbrite)

Self-Publishing at the Commonwealth Club of California (TheBookDesigner.com)

Self-publishing Boot Camp

Self-Publishing, Author Services Open Floodgates for Writers (PBS.org Media Shift)

Blurb for Good: Make a Book, Make a Difference (GOOD blog)

April 26, 2010

‘WordPress in Depth’ covers all the bases

WordPress-In-DepthJD LasicaAt a recent meetup of the East Bay WordPress Meetup group, I won a free copy of WordPress in Depth, the new book by Bud Smith and Michael McCallister.

If you’re thinking of starting a blog, or switching from another blog platform, “WordPress in Depth” (softcover; 432 pages; publisher: Que) serves as a worthy guide to get you acquainted with the wealth of options that WordPress and its open source-fueled developer community now offer.

During Friday’s post-conference strategy sessions at NewComm Forum, I was asked which blogging platform I recommend. Two years ago it would have been a close call. Not anymore. WordPress.org is the sleek, turbo-charged race car that leaves all the other players in the dust. (Last year I wrote a comparison of TypePad vs. WordPress. Some beginners may feel more comfortable with WordPress.com.)

In “WordPress in Depth” (one of several WordPress available in bookstores), the authors cater to a WP readership from newbies to advanced. The style is friendly, accessible and non-technical, with lots of graphics, call-out boxes and sidebars. I could have used this 16 months ago when I was working on the relaunch of Socialmedia.biz and the launch of Socialbrite — the book covers everything from installation basics to the must-have plug-ins. It’s not meant for the techno-illiterate, but it shouldn’t intimidate anyone who’s comfortable around computers. Continue reading