Posts in the Tutorials Category at Socialbrite Social media for nonprofits Mon, 03 Dec 2018 04:29:38 +0000 en-US hourly 1 5 Creative Ways to Engage Supporters with Instagram Stories Tue, 11 Oct 2016 15:13:00 +0000 Continue reading ]]>


john-haydonInstagram Stories create an extra layer of visibility for your nonprofit – whenever you want that visibility.

Like Snapchat, Instagram Stories last for 24 hours. And like Snapchat, stories are told in a series of pictures and videos.

Users who’ve published Instagram Stories within the past 24 hours appear at the very top of the home screen:


What are the benefits of Instagram Stories from a communications perspective?

Let’s dig in!

Get on the marquee with Instagram Stories

When you publish a story your profile picture appears at the top of the home screen (as shown above), giving your brand extra visibility. Once your stories expire (after 24 hours), your brand will no longer appear in the marquee.

In other words, the simple act of publishing Instagram Stories creates more visibility your brand!

Content with an expiration date:

Before Snapchat, social media content was assumed to be permanent on the Internet. In fact, Facebook updates, Twitter tweets, and Instagram posts all have a unique URL called a permalink – a permanent link to a piece of content. No expiration date.

But with Instagram and Snapchat stories, social conversations can have a shelf-life. An expiration date helps you:

  • Create a sense of urgency: If your people are going to act, they have to act now. The story won’t be there tomorrow.
  • Get and keep their attention: The stories only last seconds, pay attention, or you will miss out.
  • Inject more “human” into your brand: People seek to engage with people, not brands. Brands are fiction, people are everything. Instagram Stories allow you show supporters the people behind your brand – immediate, transparent, and spontaneous.

5 Creative Examples of Nonprofit Instagram Stories

A few nonprofits have started using Instagram Stories in very creative ways. Here are five examples.

1. Do Something

Do Something engages users in a creative and fun mini-campaigns to grow and engage their mobile supporter base.


2. Stand Up To Cancer

Stand Up To Cancer invited Instagram followers to a live Q&A with Sharon Jones to discuss her new documentary.



PETA invited Instagram followers behind the scenes to film a new PSA about the dangers of leaving your dog in a hot car.


4. Pencils of Promise

Pencils of Promise invites followers to tap through a series of pictures that promote#BacktoSchool. Fun, interactive, and creative!


5. Monterey Bay Aquarium

Monterey Bay Aquarium entertains with cool facts and bad puns… Hovercraft!


What other creative Instagram Stories have you seen?

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How to Double Online Giving in Six Months Thu, 14 Jul 2016 13:41:08 +0000 Continue reading ]]>

Blog post pic

By Darian Rodriguez Heyman

More and more nonprofit donations take place in today’s digital landscape, but how can causes ensure their online storefront is not only open for business, but optimized?

As I explored this critical issue in my new book, Nonprofit Fundraising 101, I interviewed Roderick Campbell, the CEO of nonprofit fundraising platform CommitChange. He shared a few takeaways from their efforts to maximize digital donations for Mercy House, a $3.8M nonprofit that has provided housing and support to California’s homeless since 1989.

This simple formula helped Mercy House double online giving in just six months, and I believe it can do the same for your nonprofit, too:

  1. Break it Down: CommitChange helped Mercy House break the donation process down into four steps: recurring versus one-time; amount; info; and payment. Instead of asking for the information all at once, they simplified the process, which is especially helpful for digital donors contributing on their mobile device. Another great example of what this looks like is charity: water, also profiled in the book.

Whatever your process, be sure to look closely at recurring giving, as this creates valuable ongoing funding for your cause, increases gifts since people are more likely to donate $10 a month versus $120 now, and simple tweaking here can yield tremendous results: by leading with the recurring gift option, Mercy House increased the number of donors signing up as sustaining members by 400%!

  1. Stay Consistent: The data proves what we all know in our guts: nobody likes to feel like they’re leaving your website once they hit that donate button. So be sure to keep the look and feel of your donate page consistent with your website and other communication materials and ensure your logo remains visible throughout the giving experience. This simple change helped Mercy House convert more of the people who clicked “donate” to actual supporters, while simultaneously increasing average gift size.
  1. Streamline Donations: Less is more, and once someone clicks “donate,” your job is to make the giving process as simple as possible. In fact, CommitChange discovered that every field eliminated from the donation experience increases conversion by 2%. They further optimized conversion rates by adding some simple programming, so when Mercy House website visitors click the donate button, a new tab opens up exclusively dedicated to the donation process, ensuring a closed environment free of distractions.

By making these three simple changes, Mercy House was able to improve online giving by 110% in just six months, and it didn’t stop there. They continued to enjoy the fruits of their labor and saw an additional 73% increase in the six months after that. The point is, if you take the time to build a solid foundation for the house that is your online giving experience, the sky is the limit to what becomes possible.



Darian Rodriguez Heyman is an accomplished fundraiser, social entrepreneur, and best-selling author. His work “helping people help” started during his five-year tenure as Executive Director of Craigslist Foundation, after which he edited the best-selling book, Nonprofit Management 101: A Complete and Practical Guide for Leaders and Professionals (Wiley & Sons) and co-founded the global conference series, Social Media for Nonprofits and Sparrow: Mobile for All. His new book, Nonprofit Fundraising 101, is the first truly comprehensive yet practical guide to all aspects of fundraising for your cause, and chapters 15 – 18 are dedicated to online giving. Heyman is also an in-demand fundraising consultant and a frequent keynote speaker at social impact events around the globe.

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Should Your Nonprofit Use Snapchat? Wed, 16 Mar 2016 14:02:31 +0000 Continue reading ]]>

Screen Shot 2016-03-16 at 9.53.40 AM


Snapchat is a mobile app that lets users share photos and videos that are deleted in 24 hours. Snapchat users share snaps (temporary videos and photos) privately with a few friends, or as stories with all their followers.

What people love about Snapchat

You might be wondering why someone would use a social network that deletes everything they share.

If you’re wondering this, you were probably born before the internet. You never had “that talk” with your parents about being safe online. And you never had to worry about a potential employer digging through your Facebook updates. Which is why millennials love Snapchat.

The best thing about Snapchat is that all posts are deleted by default. So snappers don’t need to worry about an everlasting online persona.

Snapchat explains:

Our default is delete. Conversations are ephemeral unlesssomeone chooses to save or screenshot them. And if they do,we do our best to make the sender aware. Just like a face-to-face conversation content stays impermanent unless someone goes out of their way to record it.

Snapchat by the numbers:

  • Launched in 2011
  • 100 million users
  • 6 billion video views every day
  • 86% of Snapchat’s users fall into the 13 – 37 age range
  • $100,000 is the minimum ad spend for brands.

How nonprofits use Snapchat

There aren’t many nonprofits using Snapchat. But the ones that are using it are pretty damned creative.

For example, recently published a series of snaps promoting their Everyday Superheroes campaign1. The campaign, which ends March 31st, encourages participants send a card to someone who makes the world a better place.

Their snap story begins with Ricky looking for a special way to show his appreciation for Puppet Sloth:


Ricky is encouraged to download an Everyday Superheroes card and give it to Puppet Sloth:


Puppet Sloth loves his card:


Everyone is happy:


Finally, Snapchat followers are encouraged to be part of the story by joining the Everyday Superheroes campaign:


How does this campaign benefit the organization?

  • They stay top of mind with followers on their turf (Snapchat).
  • Their followers are reminded that is cool and creative brand.
  • They grow their list (emails and phone numbers) as followers join the campaign.
  • They leverage exclusivity and urgency (snaps are gone in 24 hours).
  • Participants share the campaign with their friends with their own creative snaps.

So should Your Nonprofit use Snapchat?

During a recent Hump Day Coffee Break we discussed three questions you should answer before jumping on the Snapchat bandwagon:

  • Are YOUR people there? Do your supporters, donors, and volunteers use Snapchat? What percentage of your audience is comprised of millennials?
  • Do you have the bandwidth? Do you have the time and resources to manage yet another social network?
  • How will you add value? What will you share that’s useful? What will you share that’s entertaining?

Here’s the recording from the Snapchat training: 

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A Simple Facebook Checklist for Better Page Posts Tue, 16 Feb 2016 14:25:04 +0000 Continue reading ]]>


john-haydonIn a perfect world, all of your fans would see all of your posts in the news feed. But this is not a perfect world, and your Facebook posts are rarely seen by the people who’ve liked your Page.

Yes, it might seem unfair, but when you get right down to it, Facebook users are the ones telling the news feed algorithm what they want in their news feeds, not Facebook.

The bottom line is that posts that are relevant, useful, and / or entertaining get more Newsfeed exposure.

A Simple Facebook Checklist for Writing Better Page Posts

Here’s a simple Facebook checklist you can follow for improving your organization’s engagement and reach on Facebook:


1. Don’t ask for money, just yet

As with belly-to-belly fundraising, it’s never a good idea to have to ask for money the first time you meet someone. The same is true on Facebook.

Before you post anything on Facebook,  remember that it’s a friend network. People are there to connect with their friends, not brands or charities. In fact,“supporting my favorite nonprofit” isn’t even on the list:


2. Answer the WIFM question

Make sure your content focuses on WIFM – “What’s in it for me?”

Supporters are more likely to engage with your content if it benefits them. Your content must be valuable, useful, and hopefully entertaining to your supporters.


Be like American Rivers, and remember – it’s really NOT about you.

Learn more: 5 Content Marketing Ideas that Inspire Action (With Examples)


3. Make your post about your community

Remember, the reason why people support your nonprofit is because they view you as a partner, an agent of the change they seek. But they want to be the hero!


Take the focus off your organization and put it on the heroes in your community.

Learn more: 10 Tips for Turning Photos Into Powerful Stories


4. Tell powerful stories

Your supporters are hard-wired to act when emotions are triggered.

The New York Times did a study on the top emotions that encourage sharing. What they found was that the top three emotions are anger, awe, and anxiety.



Before you publish your next post, ask yourself: How does this update make me feel?

Learn more: 10 Tips for Turning Photos Into Powerful Stories


5. Make your appeal conditional (IF)

It’s better to ask people to “share if”, then simply commanding them to share.

Adding a condition “if” puts ownership on the Facebook user. This turns the the call to action into an opportunity for people to share an important part of their lives, and feel included in the group.



For example,’s update above says “share if you think it’s time we declared our independence from fossil fuels.”


6. Optimize it for the news feed

Use Insights to understand what type of content performs best with your fan base.

After you log into Insights, click on the posts report and note the characteristics of your tops posts.

top ten posts

Pay particular attention to the post type that gets the most engagement, as well as the topic of the post. You can also get clues from the comments on your top posts.

Learn more: Three Most Useful Reports In Facebook Insights


7. Recycle past top-performing posts

Another way that you can find engaging content is to recycle top-performing posts from your page.  This strategy is almost guaranteed to get your fans liking, commenting and sharing. After all, they loved this content before.

Learn more: Recycling Facebook Page Content Works – And Here’s Proof


8. Be obsessive about replying

When you reply to comments on your updates, or tag users who have commented, notifications are sent to these users. This brings them back to the update to continue the discussion.

Make sure that you’re getting notifications for your page. You can get notifications on Facebook or by email, by visiting the notifications area in the settings area of your page (as shown below).


Learn more: 13 Super Creative Ways to Boost Facebook Page Reach – Without Facebook Ads


9. Enhance your best posts with ads

Use targeted boosted posts to create even more engagement on your top performing posts. Using Insights, select the most relevant post as it pertains to your upcoming fundraiser, and target that post wisely.

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A Facebook Donate Button for the News Feed that Might Actually Work! Fri, 11 Dec 2015 14:01:34 +0000 Continue reading ]]>



Facebook is testing a new fundraising app that just might make giving as “social” as liking, commenting, and sharing.

Called “Fundraisers”, the app will include a set of fundraising features for charities and nonprofits:


  • Share fundraising campaigns with Page followers
  • Use photos and video to tell fundraising stories
  • Track progress toward a campaign or project
  • Update supporters when fundraising goals are achieved
  • Customize donation amounts
  • Get donations via credit card or PayPal

But this isn’t the first time Facebook has dabbled with fundraising features:

Facebook Donate Button for Ebola

A Donate Button for the News Feed

Fundraisers puts the donate buttons where it matters – in the News Feed! This lets people donate directly from their news feeds instead of having to visit the Page (which rarely happens).

Below is a fundraiser for the Syrian Refugee Crisis that allows users to choose a specific donation amount. According to Facebook, users will be able to donate and share fundraisers in just a few taps.


And here’s a video demo of the donor experience:

Fundraiser is being tested with Mercy Corps, World Wildlife Fund, and 35 other nonprofits in the U.S. and will expand that list soon. You can sign up to get news about the rollout.


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Periscope for Nonprofits: A Quick Guide & Review Thu, 02 Jul 2015 12:35:49 +0000 Continue reading ]]>

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Caroline Avakian Headshot finalLive streaming has been thrust into the limelight recently with the release of Periscope — a free mobile app that allows any user to live stream from wherever they are. The whole concept of Periscope is to virtually place you somewhere in the world you would never be if it weren’t for the app.

Even as a nonprofit techie, I tend to look at new apps and platforms with a bit of skepticism because I don’t always think nonprofits should jump on the bandwagon of the next new shiny app that promises a lot and underperforms. That said, I do feel it’s important to keep updated on new tools, make an educated decision on whether it’s right for your nonprofit, and have a strong reason either way as to why or why not your nonprofit is using that social tool. I’ve noticed that having a well prepared answer at the ready is especially handy at board meetings when conversations start to drift to why your npo isn’t leveraging a certain social platform.

So when Periscope came along, I did what I normally do — I downloaded it to my smart phone and started playing with the app and paying attention to how others were maximizing its potential. I quickly realized Periscope could be a powerful broadcasting tool for nonprofits.

But how do you know if it’s right for your nonprofit and if it is, how do use it effectively?

Periscope Demo Pic

THE GOOD (and what you need to know to get started):

  • Periscope is a free downloadable mobile app that works with either iPhone or Android
  • It’s Twitter owned, so you can sign up using your existing Twitter account and have instant access to all of your Twitter followers.
  • You can share live broadcasts with your Twitter/Periscope following and the app sends a notification to your followers that you’re streaming live.
  • There’s a very small learning curve on this app. I found it very simple to set up my account and start streaming.
  • When you’re watching a live stream, tap on the screen to give the broadcaster hearts. On Periscope, hearts act as applause or ‘likes’ to show the broadcaster you like what you’re seeing. Visually, the hearts float up the right-hand side of your screen when you’re streaming. Hearts also measure popularity on Periscope.
  • There is a chat function that lets you interact with your audience, and them with you. In shoty, viewers can comment on your livestream. It’s really great for Q and A’s and commentary in real time. You also have the ability to turn comments off.
  • Once your broadcast is over, your analytics come on the screen and show you number of views, retention rate, duration of video, and number of hearts received. So great for data-driven organizations!
  • When you end your broadcast, you can save the video to your camera roll and share it or watch it later.
  • The lock button allows you to live stream a video for only certain people to watch. If you want to live stream an event for only your team or small supporter group to see, you can choose which people will be able to see your broadcast.


  • It just launched in March 2015, so it is still a little buggy.
  • Your livestream is only available for 24 hours before it disappears on Periscope, so make sure to download it if it’s a video you want to keep.
  • Periscope shoots only in vertical mode, not landscape, which has now become intuitive for anyone shooting any type of video on their smart phones. Lets hope that changes soon.
  • Periscope needs better immediate control over trolls, spammers, and innapropriate comments during a live broadcast. As it is now, you have go to the user’s profile and then press the block button. This is too complicated when you’re in the process of broadcasting live. If Periscope doesn’t find a better remedy for this soon, it is going to be a dealbreaker for many, many nonprofit users.
  • It forces you to begin your broadcast with only the option to shoot outward facing. So, if you’d like to begin your broadcast by speaking directly to camera, you can’t. You have to start outward facing, then double tap the screen to switch it inward facing. We should have the option to start a broadcast using whichever view we prefer.
  • The ability to comment is limited to the first 200 people viewing the broadcast. Viewers can tap hearts but not comment if they are late to the broadcast and the livestream has over 200 viewers.


1) Live streaming from “the field”

If the connectivity is there, we just opened up a great way for communications and program officers to broadcast field visits abroad and beneficiary interviews (when appropriate). The same goes for local nonprofits who really have the capacity to live stream important “mission moments” that might otherwise go unshared.

2) Q and A’s

Periscope offers a great new way to connect with your supporters by having the ability to conduct livestream Q and A’s with your program participants, executive director, program director, celebrity ambassadors, and others. The chat function allows Periscope users to ask questions or post commentary as you’re live streaming, so it’s exceptionally interactive and fast. Think about Periscoping in a series, like doing a series of fun ‘Meet the Staff’  Q & A’s, or designating a portion of your weekly staff meeting to a Periscope Program Update and short Q and A afterwards. That’s a great way to let your supporters know ahead of time what you’ll be doing and what to expect.

3) Events Broadcasting

Periscope is a great way to let your supporters in on events that they’re interested in but can’t attend. That $500/plate gala dinner can now be accessible via Periscope. How great would it be to have a staff correspondent at your next gala, benefit, fundraiser or conference that’s in charge of showing viewers around and chatting with honorees and guests? It’s a fantastic way to share these exclusive events with your community.

Attending a rally, friendraiser, or other on site event for your nonprofit – bring your supporters along with a live stream on Periscope.

Another way to break the fourth wall, is to do an office tour led by your staff and interns. Showing the inner workings of your organization and the people behind the status updates has been shown to increase engagement and trust for nonprofits.

4) Crowdsourcing

If you’re looking to get some quick feedback on a new project, logo, initiative or maybe just some input on what your supporters like and would like to see more of, Periscope is a great tool to survey a clearly social media savvy focus group.

5) Announcements

Have an announcement to make? Did you just receive a big grant from USAID or added an awesome new hire to your team? Expanding your work to a new country? Added a new program? Did you host a contest and want to announce the winner? You can use Periscope to go live with your big news and involve your community in the excitement.

Nonprofit Best Practices for using Periscope:

  • Be prepared BEFORE you click the “Start Broadcast” button. Given it’s an amateur live broadcast you do get some leeway, but try to be as steady with the shots and as well-prepared as possible. You don’t have to script the broadcast but remember that you’re telling a story. So what is the story you want to tell? Why have you asked people to come and watch this broadcast? What value does it have? What’s in it for them? Make sure you can answer these questions. Also, provide some guidance to your viewers as to what type of questions or feedback you’re looking for. Viewers may be hesitant to use the comments on Periscope, so make it ok by prompting them. Any good story has a beginning, middle and end to it, so it’s a really good idea to create a bullet list of what you want to happen during each stage of the broadcast, to ensure everyone on your team is on the same page. Above all, remember, all good media production rules still apply.
  • Title your live stream broadcast well. Tell us what it’s about in a concise way.
  • Be wise about using your hashtags to promote your live stream. Hashtaging allows people to find your stream via Twitter when searching that topic.
  • To reach as wide an audience as possible, share the broadcast and location on Twitter. You’ll be able to reach far more viewers, and having the video present on Twitter gives it a much longer shelf life.
  • Use the top third of your mobile screen, as  the comment function will block the view of the lower part of your broadcast.

Final Thoughts:

I think Periscope is one of the latest platforms to come along that has the greatest potential for nonprofits. Live streaming can take engagement to a whole new level and if the bandwidth is there, give nonprofits and global NGO’s the ability to share the on-the-ground work that is being done. Perisope has the potential of upping the levels of engagement, transparency and trust. From another perspective, I wonder how many nonprofits will be comfortable with the risk inherent in livestreaming? While we’re seeing so many nonprofits using social media wisely and experimenting, most nonprofits still want to have tight control and management over any content they produce. As we have seen in the past, nonprofit teams that are more comfortable with risk and social sharing will help pave the way for other organizations who will wait until the app is less new and seemingly less risky. Ultimately, lack of complete content control and the inability to quickly seed out inappropriate comments, will present the biggest barriers for a nonprofit’s use of Periscope.

Lastly, from a citizen reporting and journalism perspective, Periscope is and will continue to be a real game changer. I believe we’ll be seeing much more ‘Periscoping’ in parts of the world seeing political and social unrest — giving us unprecedented access into areas otherwise unseen by most.

I will be featuring nonprofits and NGOs using Periscope on this blog, so please let me know in the comments below of any npos you know that are using Periscope to engage their supporters.

*Blog post updated on 7/5/15.

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Getting your board on board with social media Mon, 24 Feb 2014 17:31:55 +0000 Continue reading ]]>

This is the first of a two-part series on making the case for your social media plan and initiatives.

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

Caroline AvakianYou get it, your team gets it, but how do you make sure all the directors on your board understand the value that social media can bring to your organization? Some board members may know it’s an activity your nonprofit should be engaging in but still feel it’s something that can be relegated to an intern instead of making a real resource investment in social media. Sound familiar?

Explain the role of social media

If you’re having a debate over whether to spend time on social media, you’re having a discussion that was valid five years ago, but society has moved past that. The era of one-way communication is over. The conversation today should be about your organization’s expressed programmatic goals – with social media being the means, not the end.

Make it about what your key stakeholders (CEO/Board) already want

Don’t position your ideas as a social media initiative. Frame it as your initiative to support your organization’s programmatic goals.

Make it about the community

A good way to depersonalize the debate over social media is to make it about your community’s preferences rather than a philosophical tug of war between you and others who may be a bit apprehensive about the role of social media within your organization.

Sign up to listen

Set up Google Alerts and TweetBeep (email alerts for Twitter mentions) for your CEO so she can see that there are already many discussions happening on social about your nonprofit. Once this is apparent, two things are likely to happen. First, it will become clear that your organization no longer controls your message and what people are saying about you online. Second, once engagement is revealed to key stakeholders, it will be apparent how valuable it is to join those conversations online – which is what social engagement is all about. Often resistance or apprehension comes from not actually experiencing the conversations and engagement in real time.

Start small

If you want to grow your nonprofit’s use of social media, start small. Pinpoint where your supporters are and branch out from there. You don’t have to be an overnight social media expert – you just need to be a part of the conversations about your cause and grow your program through listening, learning, and engaging.

Set a clear goal and measure and report successes

At board meetings and other staff or 1:1 meetings, be sure to tie your successes and results back to your social media efforts where possible with careful tracking. For example, if you see an uptick in website hits to a particular web page, and you’ve noted that 50 percent of that increase in traffic is coming from Facebook, it’s good to report it in that way. So instead of just sharing that there’s been an increase in traffic to a promoted project page or blog post, say that we’ve seen an uptick in traffic that is directly coming from Facebook. Share every little bit of progress and relate it to social media whenever possible.

Remember: This isn’t a crusade for your communications team alone, it’s a learning experience for everyone. If there is a project that didn’t do as well with social media supporting it, share and learn from what came up short. Go back and analyze and then evolve your social media plan with those learnings in mind. There is no shame in gaining knowledge from mistakes. Every success builds on past failures.

Engaging the board in your communications and social media initiatives

It’s important that board members embrace their roles as ambassadors of your organization’s message. In essence your board members are your greatest messengers, often the most connected to other potential influencers and donors and well positioned to grow your network of influence.

When engaging your board in your social media and communications plan, it’s important to start small (as to not overwhelm) and guide them carefully, giving them enough room to feel comfortable to tailor the messages to their networks.

Below are some steps and tips to guiding your board to greater communications and social media engagement:

As a first step, we suggest surveying your board to find out five things:

• What social media outlets are they already engaging with?

• What new ones are they open to engaging with?

• What has been their experience with social media in general? Are they comfortable using social media?

• Are they open to helping communicate important messages to their networks in support of your nonprofit’s mission and programmatic goals?

• Would they like a social media mini-training incorporated as part of the next board meeting?

Once you have this information, you’ll be better equipped to determine how your board can help support your social media initiatives.

Stay tuned for part 2 of our “Getting your board on board with social media” primer!

In the comments, please share with us ways your board members are using social media to support your cause. We’d love to know!

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10 ways to learn about your fans by using Facebook Graph Search Tue, 12 Nov 2013 13:02:07 +0000 Continue reading ]]>

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

John HaydonOne of the most critical components of an effective content strategy is to understand your audience. When you understand your audience – really get them – your content strategy becomes crystal clear!

In the video above, I lay out 10 ways to use Graph Search to understand your organization’s Facebook community.

  1. My friends who like [your organization]
  2. Favorite interests of people who like [your organization]
  3. Favorite interests of people who like [your organization] and Susan G. Komen
  4. Groups of people who like [your organization]
  5. Pages liked by people who like [your page]
  6. Pages liked by women who like [your page]
  7. Pages liked by men who like [your page]
  8. Fans of [your page] and [another page]
  9. Restaurants in [your city] visited by people who like [your page]
  10. Pages like by people who live in [your city] and like [your page]

SEO 101: 10 ways to make your site more findable Mon, 16 Sep 2013 12:01:04 +0000 Continue reading ]]>

Image by mik_p on Flickr

Search basics every organization needs to know

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

Guest post by Teddy Hunt

teddy-huntIf you’re just starting to look into search engine optimization, or SEO, it’s important to get a handle on how it works so that you use it to benefit your organization. Using SEO properly will eventually pays big dividends as it boosts your website’s visibility, thereby creating more opportunity to convert prospects into supporters or customers.

Let’s run down a few simple things to keep in mind when you’re first getting started.

What is SEO?

1The first step to effectively implementing an SEO strategy is to understand what it is. Search engine optimization affects how your website shows up in the unpaid, or organic, search results returned by Google and other search engines. Most users click on the first few results of a search, and even fewer make it past the first page. So when you don’t break into the top, you’re losing opportunity for support.

Researching keywords

Check that your image tags, title tags and H1 tags match the keywords you’re looking to target

2Although their value has dipped a bit in the latest iterations of Google’s algorithm, learning how to use keywords wisely is still a key part of SEO. Do your research to get the best results! Tools like Google Analytics will help you get started — look at Content > Site Content > Content Drilldown >Tags (yes, those are keywords), for starters. Figure out some keywords that match up with your cause, service, product or offering — both the ones that are working and the ones you’re not ranking for then try out Google’s new Keyword Planner, which has taken the place of the Google Adwords Keyword Tool, to see which of keywords people search for most often.

Creating titles and descriptions

3Meta descriptions and page titles are the first things that any visitor will come across when they’re searching for your site — that’s what they see on the search engine results page. As a result, you’ll need to optimize these so that they also work with your keywords. Make sure your page titles and meta descriptions include those top keywords you determined. You’ll need to make sure that they’re written correctly as well so that they display well in search engines. However, first and foremost, they should be designed with your users in mind.

Understanding keyword ratio

4It’s not enough to use your keywords. You need to exercise caution when using them. In fact, if you use them too often, you’re actually hurting yourself. You shouldn’t have a keyword density of more than 3% when you’re creating your text. If you do, search engines could think you’re spamming, and this will hurt your results. While having a good density of keywords isn’t as important as it has been in the past — inbound links have become more important — it’s still a valuable part of SEO.

Using internal links

5Learning how to work internal linking is another important part of a successful SEO strategy, because it helps search engines find the deeper parts of the site. You’ll want to know that everything links up correctly. Adjust how you structure your internal linking system so that the keywords you have in the content on your site link to other pages. This way, you’ll improve your results while creating a seamless experience for your users once they land on your website.

Optimizing URLs

6Of course, you can’t just keep your keywords in your text. Keywords are important throughout your website, including in your page URLs. You’ll want to make sure that your page URLs contain those keywords you’re targeting. This way, search engines will rank your site based on this, too. And anything that boosts your ranking when it comes to search engines is a big help.

Optimizing HTML

7Keywords go far beyond the simple text you’re using as the content in your website. Along with your URLs, you should optimize your HTML. To do so, check that your image tags, title tags and H1 tags match the keywords you’re looking to target. Keeping these things in line with your targeted keywords goes a long way when it comes to SEO.

Using analytics to your benefit

8When you’ve selected your keywords, written your content and followed all the steps for SEO, you’ll want to track your results to make sure you stay on target. Google Analytics will come in handy here as well. You’ll have access to the data that shows how you’re performing, and with that knowledge, the power to tweak things to get even better results. Check out these sections in particular: Content Drilldown, In-Page Analytics, Speed Suggestions and more.

Writing for mobile sites

9With so many people relying on their mobile devices for Web browsing, it’s essential that you don’t ignore mobile sites when designing an SEO strategy. Eighty-one percent of Internet users use their phones to browse. Since search engines rank your site higher if you have a mobile version of the website as well, you don’t want to ignore users on 4G LTE phones on T-Mobile or other mobile phones.

Fresh content is key

10It doesn’t matter if you have an intricately crafted SEO strategy that uses the best keywords. You won’t keep readers with stale content. By continually updating your content and creating new content — always based on these SEO tips — you’ll keep search engines and customers alike happy. Do this by updating various sections of your site and keeping an updated blog.

Whether you’re launching your website or fine-tuning it to make sure more people find it, there are certain things to keep in mind when formulating an SEO strategy. Learning how SEO works goes a long way in making sure that potential funders and donors get themselves to your site.

Teddy Hunt is a freelance content writer with a focus on technology. When not behind a computer, Teddy spends most of his free time outdoors and resides in Tampa, Fla. Follow him on Twitter at @tedhunt9.

5 powerful ways to improve your website’s SEO (Socialbrite)

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15 ways to optimize your website’s landing pages (Socialbrite) posts on SEO & search techniques

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Understand WordPress tags and categories Tue, 07 May 2013 12:09:08 +0000 Continue reading ]]>

categories vs. tags

A quick, helpful guide for nonprofits using WordPress

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

John HaydonOne of the most common questions about writing an effective blog post is the proper use of categories and tags.

What exactly are categories and tags? What purpose should they serve for the reader? Should they each just be one word? How do tags and categories relate to each other? And what does all this mean for optimizing your site for search (SEO)?

Categories vs. tags

Categories are like the aisles in a grocery store and tags are like the ingredients in the various different foods. Chinese chili sauce is located only in the ethnic foods aisles, but garlic (an ingredient) is found in the chips aisle, the frozen dinners aisle, and the vegetable aisle.

Tags (ingredients) link together all of your posts (food items) across your categories (aisles).

According to WordPress, tags “make it easier for people to find your content. Tags are similar to, but more specific than, categories.”

Categories and tags also influence how your blog posts rank in search engines.

How to create effective WordPress tags

Examples of useful tags include “no-kill dog shelter,” “adoptable dogs” and “Australian cattle hounds.” Examples of bad tags include “dog,” “shelter” and “transportation.” The idea is to write tags that are highly specific and can stand on their own.

This way, your readers can find the content they’re looking for much more quickly. Plus, someone looking to adopt an Australian cattle hound will never type “dog” into a search engine.

There are at least three purposes that tags serve:

  1. Put your readers before anything else. Ask yourself this: If someone clicked on your tag, will the tag archive be what they’re looking for?
  2. Use existing tags first. To avoid redundant tags, use an existing tag before creating a new one. WordPress makes this easy with an auto-complete feature and a tag-cloud; both display tags you’re already written.
  3. Make a regular habit of deleting tags that are redundant or too general. Search by topic in your tags panel and weed everything out until you have a few highly specific tags for that topic.

Three useful WordPress plug-ins for tags

If you do use WordPress, there are several plug-ins that can create powerful experiences for readers using tags. Configurable Tag Cloud and Opacity Tags are my personal favorites. If you need to delete unused tags, check out the Mass Delete Unused Tags plug-in.

How to create effective WordPress categories

A dog shelter blog I recently visited included the following categories in the sidebar: “Hairy,”,“Declawed,” “Thoughts.” The problem with these categories – and it’s a very common problem – is that they don’t help the reader.

There are at least three purposes that categories serve:

  1. Categories help you communicate to readers what your blog is about. And if people can’t figure this out, they will quickly leave. Categories can be used to create a hierarchal navigation menu in your header or sidebar that quickly communicates the topics your blog covers.
  2. Categories help you control where people click on your site. Don’t forget that the purpose of your website is to direct visitors down specific paths of action. You decide which categories to include in your navigation. You decide which categories to display on specific sidebars within your site.
  3. Categories help you get found on Google. Google uses your categories to help index your website content. Google also looks at the topical relationship of all your categories as well, so the dog shelter mentioned about might move their “Thoughts” content to another blog.

Four things you can do now to improve your categories

  1. Make them clear. Edit your categories so that they are broad enough to cover the larger topics you blog about, but specific enough so that people can know what they’re going to get when they click on the category page.
  2. Consolidate categories. Through the process of renaming your categories, you will no doubt find useless categories. Remove the posts from these categories, put them somewhere else and delete these useless categories.
  3. Clean your slugs. Slugs are the simple URL structure associated with the category. Remove words like “a” and “the. This will help improve the URL structure for search engines. There are also plug-ins to help clean up your slugs.
  4. Start another blog. If you find yourself writing blog posts about topics unrelated to your website, consider starting a different blog, perhaps one just for your personal take on things. Again, your readers and Google look for the prevailing themes of your blog when deciding to subscribe or rank. If there’s not a cohesive theme, you’re in trouble.

Optimizing categories and tags on your site is a lot of work, but the enhanced search rankings and enhanced reader experience are well worth the toil.

How are you using categories and tags?

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