August 31, 2011

Tricks to ramp up your nonprofit’s Facebook Page

Planned ParenthoodPlanned Parenthood had success engaging supporters through its Facebook Page.

How a few simple changes can make your Facebook Page more visible & engaging to fans

Target audience: Nonprofits, cause organizations, community managers, marketing professionals, NGOs, businesses, brands.

Debra AskanaseWhat is your nonprofit doing to engage with your Facebook fans? I put that question to attendees during a talk I gave recently at a gathering of New York nonprofit organizations — and heard about some great practices:

Planned Parenthood was able to move its Facebook fans to successfully defend the organization against legislative attacks.

• MASA Israel found that including a media image (photo or video) with every wall post update increased wall post engagement. MASA Israel also developed a successful Facebook application that streamlines the program enrollment decision-making process.

• The Partnership at held a successful Facebook wall chat, most recently with the actress Melissa Gilbert.

The importance of the newsfeed

At the event, convened by my colleagues Michelle Perrault and Seth Giammanco at Minds On Design Lab, I talked about how to ramp up your Facebook engagement. The presentation covered understanding Facebook post engagement, matching goals to engagement, practices and ideas for designing Facebook Page, and how to measure engagement and ROE (return on engagement).

Most fans never visit a Page but instead rely on the Page’s content to show up in their newsfeeds. A recent ComScore study reports that “Facebook users are 40-150 times more likely to consume branded content in the newsfeed than to visit the Fan Page itself.” However, the problem is that not all content will show up in the Top News section of the newsfeed, which is the default newsfeed setting.

Facebook uses an algorithm called EdgeRank that dictates which content will be featured prominently in an individual’s newsfeed. (See J.D. Lasica’s explanation of how EdgeRank works.) EdgeRank takes into account three factors: how recent was the content published (on a site, on a Facebook Page), how much interaction did the piece of content create and how regularly the individual interacts with that organization or brand. Thus, if an organization publishes a video to its Page, and no one Likes or comments on it, the video may never show up in the Top News newsfeed of someone’s home page. However, if an individual often Likes, shares or comments on that organization’s content, there is a higher likelihood that the video will show up as part of the Top News. Continue reading

August 30, 2011

Top 10 productivity apps for college students

College apps
Photo by Ed Yourdon on Flickr

Make classwork go smoother with tools like Share Your Board, Pulse, Exam Support & Diigo

Target audience: Students, educators, nonprofits, social change organizations, mobile enthusiasts, education organizations.

Guest post by Angela Santiago
Digital Marketing Coordinator, McGraw-Hill Education

With the fall semester about to get underway, here at McGraw-Hill Education we’ve been researching some of the top digital tools for college students, in partnership with online study network Social media has found its way onto college campuses and into the classroom, with apps to help with everything from optimizing student studying and time management to locating interesting activities for students to do once they get to campus.

Here is our Top Ten Student Tools List for fall 2011:

1Share Your Board: Use this app to take a picture of the classroom whiteboard, make it into a readable PDF, add your own notes and send to friends.

2StudyTracker Pro (soon to be released): Since your GPA headlines your resume, it’s important to track your progress. Use StudyTracker Pro to help you manage study hours, exam and assignment grades, and judge how effective your study habits are.

3Foursquare for Universities: Connect with students, alumni, and staff, find new and interesting things to do, and earn rewards for exploring your campus and nearby areas.

4Pulse: Use this news reader app to stay informed and up to date by creating different pages based on your interests.

5Exam Support: Use this to focus, improve concentration, and beat back the rising tides of test anxiety through its “guided audio meditation.” Continue reading

August 29, 2011

Create a topic calendar for your nonprofit’s Facebook Page

John HaydonAn easy way to stay on message with your Facebook Page is to develop a posting calendar based on topics for each day of the week.

For example, a local Goodwill store could post based on the following schedule:

  • Monday – Fashion tips for work (get fans to share their tips as well).
  • Tuesday – A photo of a featured item from the store (tell fans to share items with their friends).
  • Wednesday – Discounts and other special offers for Facebook fans.
  • Thursday – Feature a local business that’s giving back to the community.
  • Friday – Show and tell. Get fans to post pictures of treasures they’ve purchased in the store. Have fans vote and pick a winner at the end of the day.

Before you start writing down topics for each day, make sure you’re clear about the mission of your Page.

What would your topic calendar look like? Please comment below.

August 29, 2011

In the field: 15 traveller tips for Africa

kiwanjaWhenever I find myself in front of a group of students, or young people aspiring to work in development, I’m usually asked to share one piece of advice with them. I usually go with this: Get out there while you can and understand the context of the people you aspire to help. As you get older the reality is that it becomes harder to travel for extended periods, or to randomly go and live overseas.

In the early days of Information and Communication Technologies for Development (ICT4D) and m4d – and development more broadly – it may have been seen as a luxury to understand the context of your target users (many solutions were seen as “universal,” after all). Today I’d say it’s become a necessity.

In my earlier days I did a lot of travel, mostly to and around Africa. (One thing I regret never managing to do was walk across the continent, something I started tentatively planning a few years ago). As our organisation has grown and my role within it changed, I spend more time today travelling to conferences giving talks than actually doing the work. My last major piece of extended fieldwork (i.e. longer than a week) was back in the summer of 2007 when I spent a month in Uganda consulting with Grameen’s fledgling AppLab.

There’s more to it, though, than just getting out there. What you learn, sense, pick up and appreciate about the place you’re in and the people you’re with largely depends on the kind of traveller you are. The truth of the matter is you’ll rarely get a real sense of a place staying for just a few days in the capital city behind the walls of a four or five star hotel. Quite often the more you get out of your comfort zone, the more you learn.

I’ve been hugely fortunate to have lived and worked in many countries – mostly in Africa – since I set out to work in development 20 twenty years ago. And during that time I’ve developed quite a few “travel habits” to help me get the most out of my time there.

15 tips while doing volunteer work abroad

Here are my Top 15 tips for traveling abroad while doing volunteer work:

1. Stay in a locally owned or run hotel (or even better, guest house).
2. Spend as much time as possible on foot. Draw a map.
3. Get out of the city.
4. Check out the best places to watch Premiership football.
5. Ignore health warnings (within reason) and eat in local cafes/markets.
6. Buy local papers, listen to local radio, watch local TV, visit local cinemas.
7. Use public transport. Avoid being ‘chauffeured’ around.
8. Take a camera. Take your time taking pictures.
9. Go for at least a month.
10. Visit villages on market days. Continue reading

August 24, 2011

Storytelling 2.0: Why nonprofits need to tell stories

JD LasicaNonprofits have astonishing stories to tell — about the constituents you serve, about your mission, about your organization. But too often nonprofits don’t know how to convey those stories effectively.

At the Social Media for Nonprofits conference in Los Angeles on Monday, I gave a half-hour talk on “Storytelling 2.0: Harnessing video and commkunity to meet your nonprofit’s mission.” At 19 slides, it’s one of my shorter presentations, with more visuals and less text. It’s embedded above, and you can download it or embed it at DocStoc.

The main points are:

• Yes, you have fantastic stories to tell, so don’t be intimidated into thinking that you need to learn some special craft to convey your stories. Do what works for you: Photo slide shows, blog posts, video interviews on a Flip or mobile device — or something more polished. But the most important thing is: Tell it!

• Use personal storytelling to frame your issue. Don’t tell a story about homelessness, or world famine. Talk about how a particular individual is being affected. By bringing your story down to the personal level, you make it universal. Continue reading

August 23, 2011

4 tools to help build your social community

Image by orangebrompton on Flickr

Strike right balance between scheduled updates & direct interaction

Target audience: Nonprofits, cause organizations, community managers, educators, NGOs, Web publishers, bloggers.

Shonali BurkeWhen trying to build an online community, I’ve found that one of the most important things to do is to participate consistently in your preferred channels. And not just participate as in talk a lot, but share interesting pieces of information so that your community knows you’re not just in this for you, you’re in this for them as well.

Inevitably, then, the time question comes up: “How can I always be online? Is there a way for me to cut down the amount of time I spend in social media?”

Yes and no. Yes, there are various tools you can use to cross-post your updates, for example, or to automate your updates. (See Socialbrite’s handy roundup of 10 social media dashboard tools.) But the “no” part of this answer is that if you’re going to try and cross-post every single update, or automate your posting schedule completely, I think you’ll flop.

How to maximize your social media time

Assuming you agree with that “yes and no” answer, here are four tools I’ve been finding very useful recently. They might help you, too.

Networked Blogs

NetworkedBlogs: Syndicate your blog to Facebook

1I tried NetworkedBlogs — one of many auto-posting services that syndicate your blog to Facebook — early on and then, for some reason, stopped. But recently, Ken Mueller wrote about nearly tripling his blog traffic by using, among others, NetworkedBlogs, and that made me decide to try it again.

Since coming back to NetworkedBlogs, I noticed that you can also syndicate to Twitter (though I’m not using that option).

How I’ve been using it: I had set up both my blogs to syndicate to my Facebook Page (that’s where Waxing UnLyrical goes) and my personal profile (that’s where my food blog goes). In addition, Waxing UnLyrical goes through to a secret Facebook group that I’ve set up for all the regular guest bloggers. I’m also testing this for a client blog — syndicating to the Page as well as a supporting Group.

Hiccup: Since I’m also testing Livefyre’s new SocialSync feature, I ran into problems with comments that I got on my Facebook posts not being pulled into the comment stream on Waxing UnLyrical (that’s what SocialSync does, it pulls in comments from Facebook and Twitter). Jenna Langer at Livefyre told me this was because when syndicating via NetworkedBlogs, NetworkedBlogs’ URL masks the actual blog URL and loads the site in an iFrame. (Sorry for that geek interruption.) Because Livefyre can’t see that that’s part of the conversation, those specific comments don’t show up in my Waxing Unlyrical comment stream.

But if you’re not using Livefyre as your comment system, you should be fine, and it’s worth a try because it does make the posts show up nicely in Facebook.


Triberr: Get your Twitter updates shared

2Much has been written about Triberrwhether automated tweets being shared by a “tribe” are a good thing, whether it can be gamed, and so on. When Gini Dietrich invited me into my first tribe, I had absolutely no hesitation in accepting.

I think Triberr is a great way to share posts – and get your posts shared – by a select group of people you trust. While there is a setting in Triberr that allows you to go in and check what’s due to be posted to Twitter via your account, I rarely check it.

Why? Because I’ve seen consistently good content being produced by fellow tribe members, and I trust them. So trust is key.

How I use it: I keep my Triberr settings on “auto” mode. This helps me because I don’t have to worry about going to Tribe members’ blogs (or to my Reader) to find the posts and tweet them out (though I still try to do that so that I can comment as often as possible). Continue reading