June 30, 2011

How CrowdFlower powers crowdsourced labor

Target audience: Nonprofits, social enterprises, NGOs, foundations, businesses, educators. This is part two of a two-part series on crowdsourcing. Also see:

• How nonprofits can use crowdsourcing to work smarter and save money

JD LasicaOne of the most fascinating phenomena in the Web 2.0 world the past couple of years has been the rise of crowdsourcing.

Crowdsourcing comes in a few different flavors (which part 1 covered yesterday). For nonprofits, social enterprises and businesses, the real potential for disruption comes when a global labor force applies itself to a crowdsourced project.

That’s where CrowdFlower comes in. Since my interview with founder-CEO Lukas Biewald at SXSW 15 months ago, the start-up has grown from 15 to 60 employees and is now headquartered in a spiffy second-floor space in San Francisco’s Mission District.

Mollie Allick, director of PR and events for CrowdFlower, talks about what crowdsourcing is and how nonprofits and other organizations can use the power of the crowd to advance their mission in this 4 1/2-minute interview at their offices. “We take large datasets and break them down into small tasks and distribute them to a labor force across the Internet,” she says.

Watch, embed or download the video on Vimeo

It’s not just about reducing costs. CrowdFlower was one of the partners in the collaborative mobile relief effort Mission 4636, which we wrote about following the Haiti earthquake last year. The short code emergency response communication system enabled earthquake victims in Haiti to get life-saving aid by sending a free mobile text message, which local volunteers translated as needed.

One important thing CrowdFlower brings to the party today is that they’re the organizers behind the biggest crowdsourcing gathering around: CrowdConf, to be held Nov. 1-2 at the Mission Bay Conference Center in San Francisco, geared to both industry and the academic sector. Last year’s event drew almost 500 people. Continue reading

June 29, 2011

How nonprofits can use crowdsourcing to work smarter and save money

GreenFunder
Greenfunder funds socially responsible projects and businesses.

Target audience: Nonprofits, social enterprises, NGOs, foundations, businesses, educators. This is part one of a two-part series on crowdsourcing.

By Lindsay Oberst
Socialbrite staff

Lindsay OberstHigh-quality work at a low cost. That’s what crowdsourcing can achieve for nonprofts that wish to save money while pursuing their mission.

Crowdsourcing refers to harnessing the skills and enthusiasm of those outside an organization who are prepared to volunteer their time contributing content or skills and solving problems, sometimes for free, sometimes for a fee. An offshoot, crowd funding, describes the collective efforts to pool their money together on behalf of a cause, project or business. Kiva (loans to entrepreneurs), Crowdrise and Kickstarter (raise funds for creative projects) and Greenfunder, which launched in May as a site to raise funds for socially responsible projects and businesses, are among the burgeoning number of crowd funding sites. (See a few others in our roundup of 24 tools for fundraising with social media.)

Crowdsourcing, a bit of a catch-all term, can be used to gather information, solicit advice, save money or get stuff done. It can also help to inform decisions, demonstrate inclusiveness and bring a whole new meaning to collaboration.

We’ve seen the rise of community crowdsourcing with the advent of social media, but it’s always been part of the way society works. And nonprofits have always been at the forefront of crowdsourcing long before the term was coined in 2006. The idea simply fits in with the way small organizations work.

Here are a few quick, low-key ways crowdsourcing works

Say you’re a nonprofit looking to improve your services. You ask your Facebook fans and Twitter followers — people who have chosen to connect with you — how they think you can become better. They feel included in the process and want to answer, and then your organization has a solution to its problem. That’s what crowdsourcing can do — it can get a job done.

Or take blog posts. Studies show that people respond better to posts with images, so your organization seeks to include a photo along with the information you provide on your website. Where can you find images? Two good starts are Socialbrite’s Free Photos Directory and Flickr’s directory of Creative Commons photos, with 160 million photos available under various licenses. Both can be used to find free photos that you can use for your website, blog posts, reports, presentations and more — just give the photographers proper attribution. Continue reading

June 28, 2011

Unleash your nonprofit’s fundraising potential

 

CauseVox makes it simple for nonprofits to build successful fundraising campaigns online

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

Shonali BurkeIattended the Nonprofit 2.0 conference in Washington, D.C., earlier this month, and it was a great gathering of some of the brightest minds in the nonprofit space with plenty of opportunities to strategize for the social good. One of the highlights for me was meeting up with Rob Wu, the founder of CauseVox, particularly because he has a lot of great insights when it comes to helping nonprofits navigate the world of online media.

The more you can get your supporters to spread your story, the easier fundraising becomes

If you don’t know CauseVox, it’s a platform that was designed to make it easier for small and medium-size nonprofits to create dynamic fundraising campaigns without having to develop all the technical know-how. CauseVox’s mission is to take the difficulty and strain out of the fundraising process for nonprofits. Even though they are a startup, the company already has a lot of great success stories of nonprofits that have seen impressive results after conducting their campaigns through CauseVox.

I used my time with Wu at Nonprofit 2.0 to make a video with him that captures what CauseVox is all about and gets Wu dishing his best advice for nonprofits when it comes to creating social media and fundraising campaigns. Check out the video interview above — here’s the link on YouTube.

Rob Wu’s tips for better fundraising campaigns

Rob offered nonprofits these tips:

Tell your stories! According to Wu, a lot of nonprofits make the mistake of not telling their story effectively enough. Typically, organizations will write a whole bunch of text and content on their website and then assume that the visitor knows what they’re trying to do. That doesn’t work. Instead, what nonprofits needs to focus on is how they can tell a compelling story and make it visually engaging online. Continue reading

June 27, 2011

6 tips for creating effective custom Facebook tabs

John HaydonCustom Facebook tabs are not about technology. (Note: We still call them tabs even though they’re now simply links in the left sidebar of your organization’s Facebook Page.) They’re not about having the ability to display content once a fan likes your Page. They’re not about widgets or animated mouse-over things, either.

If it doesn’t convert, it failed

The smart nonprofit marketer uses custom tabs to motivate action. Following are six tips to help you improve the effectiveness of your custom tabs:

  1. Each tab should have one goal – Do you want people to like the page? Or do you want to tell people about your latest news?
  2.  
  3. Each tab should have only one call to action – If you ask people to follow you on Twitter, like your Facebook Page, and join your email list, your results will be poor. Facebook users will take action on one item, if they take any action at all.
  4.  
  5. Keep the copy clear, short and concise – Take the copy you now have on your custom tab and cut it in half. The increase in conversions will be worth the painful editing.
  6.  
  7. Use a powerful image – An image that stirs an emotion will help motivate action.
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  9. Make buttons easy to see – Make sure the button is a contrasting color and is at least 110×80 so it can compete with the size of Facebook ads.
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  11. Create a unique landing page for Facebook – If your call to action sends Facebook users to your website, make sure they land on a page dedicated to receiving traffic from the Facebook tab. This way, you can easily measure the effectiveness of the tab.
June 27, 2011

Lessons learned from the To Mama With Love campaign

ToMama

JustCoz, Twibbon, Google Docs were among tools used for community engagement

Guest post by Amy Sample Ward
Membership Director, NTEN

amy-sample-wardEvery campaign, every organization, every individual engaging with others online has a set of tools and techniques they’ve learned from and rely on every day. Building community and maintaining engagement is often a full-time job – even if it goes unpaid.

Epic Change is no different. The To Mama With Love campaign saw them try some new tools as well as some trusted favorites, even with no budget and lots of volunteer time.

Twitter is a major part of Epic Change campaigns and their daily engagement plan. To Mama With Love is no exception – but, as Stacey Monk, CEO of Epic Change, reflects, “It’s a much different medium than it used to be.”

Two or three years ago, you could have a conversation out in the open and have people organically join in. It’s much more challenging to do that now.

Two or three years ago, you could have a conversation out in the open and have people organically join in. It’s much more challenging to do something like that now. The 2011 To Mama With Love activity on Twitter was driven primarily by people very close to the campaign, whereas the first Tweetsgiving was driven by people Stacey didn’t know yet or hadn’t invested time cultivating relationships with.

More than 180 people with over 635,000 total followers signed up to participate by authorizing Epic Change to post via their Twitter account using JustCoz, an online relay system that lets you donate a tweet a day to help raise awareness for causes that matter to you. Continue reading

June 24, 2011

Find the influencers who matter most to you

Traackr helps you keep track of the big kahunas in your sector

Target audience: Nonprofits, social enterprises, foundations, NGOs, cause organizations, brands, small businesses, media professionals

Shonali Burke There’s a lot of discussion these days around influencers. With the proliferation of social media, it’s no longer just about generating the conversations online, but now it’s also about who’s talking about you and what they’re saying. It can be helpful to keep tabs on those influencers so that you can engage with them, as well as get feedback on your work.

This is where Traackr comes in. I received a three-month trial of the system and have been using it to gauge traction for the Blue Key campaign.

Much has already been written about the benefits of Traackr. If you haven’t read them, I’m pointing you to some great posts by Valeria Maltoni and Rick Liebling.

The main reason I’m a huge fan of the service is because with Traackr, it’s not about numbers, or how much you talk to someone on Twitter all day. It’s about context, relevance and therefore potential influence based on that contextual relevance. So you could, for example, have someone who is not very active on Twitter or Facebook but has a blog that is devoted to refugee and humanitarian issues. That’s someone I probably want to keep track of — and that’s the kind of thing Traackr lets me do.

You should know up front that Traackr is not cheap. It costs about $500 if you’re signing up for a list as a new account, and then the prices per list goes down. I was told that the founder may be considering alternative prices for small businesses, nonprofits or indie pros, but no word yet on when that will be.

How to use Traackr

Start out by identifying a particular area or topic that you’re trying to find online influencers in. For example, for the Blue Key campaign, one of my searches focused on refugees and humanitarian issues, i.e. people who are active online and who post frequently to any number of online channels about those issues.

Once you’ve identified these topic areas, make a list of keywords relevant to that topic area. You can set up to 50 keywords per search. As you’re doing so, Traackr will tell you how broad or niche that keyword is. You can also include Twitter hashtags and prioritize keywords. For example, here are the keywords I’d set up for this particular search (refugee and humanitarian issues):

Traackr A-list

Once you’re satisfied with your list of keywords (you can test them as you go; Traackr automatically generates a list based on who in its database is using those keywords most frequently), you can activate your search. Then, Traackr starts crawling the Web based on your keywords.

When it’s had a few days to do so, it will give you an updated list of influencers based not simply on how active they are on Twitter or Facebook, but on how much they use those terms in as many of their digital properties as they’ve been able to identify. If you find that the Traackr database is missing one or more of their digital properties can add a property and once Traackr verifies it, it will be added to that influencer’s profile. Continue reading