January 17, 2010

How to grow your blog with guest posts

This is part of the series 31 Day Challenge To Optimize Your Blog With Social Media.

John HaydonIn the above 2-minute video, I talk about why guest blogging could be a critical addition to your blog.

One benefit of guest posts is to further a relationship. You both build a relationship with other bloggers and expose your blog to a completely new audience — a great way to attract new readers and get new RSS subscribers.

Here are some guest post strategies I’ve used:

  1. Read the blog of the person who you want partner with. Get to know his or her readers and content.
  2. Be sincere and genuine with your interest. A long-term partnership will not blossom if you lead with a hidden, personal agenda.
  3. Add valuable comments to their blog – and not “Great post, here’s a cool link.”
  4. Continue reading

December 11, 2009

The most powerful social media tool out there. Period!


John HaydonAt Community Organizer 2.0, Debra Askanase just wrote a piece called Front and Backyard Conversations. In it, she talks about social media as a public platform –- a front porch, but also a private platform where “conversations continue, out of the public eye.”

Front yard conversations are replies on Twitter, videos posted to YouTube, photos posted to Flickr, and blog posts and comments. The backyard conversations are personal emails, chats on the phone and ideas shared over pizza.

To go from the front yard to the backyard with your customer, you need develop increasing levels of trust, as in Debra’s diagram:


Questions I’d be asking

  • At what point does your organization call a donor on the phone, or have coffee with them?
  • What criteria, beyond donation amount, would you use to open up backyard communication?
  • And once you have lunch with them, what changes in your relationship on Twitter?
  • Continue reading

December 4, 2009

Using hashtags to enhance community

John HaydonOn Tuesday I’ll be leading an online session for Philanthopy.com about building communities on Twitter (follow @Philanthropy for details).

Communities do not just happen. And they certainly don’t happen overnight. You have to have something important to talk about. And you have to be prepared to consistently connect people together over a period of months.

But Twitter seems like a big mess, doesn’t it? With thousands of tweets going off every hour, about hundreds of different topics, how do you build a cohesive group of fans?

The answer is hashtags.

Hashtags are a way to funnel specific discussions about a topic into a coherent thread, sort of like using Twitter to tune into specific radio frequencies. But not everyone knows how to create successful chat sessions.

In the screencast at top, I outline the basics of managing a hashtag chat on Twitter:

October 23, 2009

Using nonprofit tech to benefit society

Amy Sample Ward on nonprofit technology from JD Lasica on Vimeo.

JD LasicaJust before we launched Socialbrite.org, I met Amy Sample Ward in person for the first time. Amy’s a whirlwind of energy and passion about all things np tech (nonprofit technology), and I was so impressed that I immediately asked her to join the Socialbrite team.

But not before I got her to sit still for a few minutes to talk about nonprofit tech, Net Tuesdays — Amy is the global community builder for NetSquared — and being a catalyst for social change.

NP tech is social change work, whether you’re a nonprofit or an individual who wants to change her community or you’re a corporation that’s working on social benefit through a corporate social responsibility campaign, she says.

More than 36 cities around the world now hold monthly events as part of Net Tuesday, the offline component of NetSquared, and if you’re within driving distance, you should stop by and meet other change agents in your community. (Sarah Kennon does an outstanding job of organizing the Net Tuesdays in San Francisco.) Continue reading

September 9, 2009

Socialbrite’s night at NetTuesday


JD LasicaLast night was the coming-out party for Socialbrite at the monthly NetTuesday gathering in San Francisco. About 40 people turned out for the event at PariSoMa, the coworking space at Howard and Tenth. Here are a half-dozen shots snapped by organizer Sarah Kennon and me.

And here is what the NetTuesday Meetup members had to say about the event.

A few notes from the evening:

• I kicked things off with a rundown of the Socialbrite team and the resources offered by Socialbrite, including the Sharing Center, Social Media Glossary, Web 2.0 productivity tools, directory of social media reports, guides to free photos, free music and free video footage, and directory of cause organizations.

• Jacob Colker, co-founder of the Extraordinaries, discussed the “micro-volunteer” opportunities using mobile devices in their spare time that people could sign up for. The Extraordinaries is now available as a free iPhone app. Socialbrite will publish a video interview with co-founder Ben Rigby soon.

• Schlomo Rabinowitz sketched out VideoCampSF, coming to BAVC Oct. 16-17. Two days of sessions can be had for just $65. (Register here.) The stellar lineup of instructors includes Melissa Rowley, Jen Myronuk, Katrina Heppler, Sukhjit, Markus Sandy, Adam Quirk and Bill Streeter (hey, I know all these folks!).

• Katrina Heppler outlined her promising new venture, envisionGood.tv. (She’s also begun contributing video dispatches to Socialbrite, like the one immediately below this post.)

• Michael Stoll and two of his staffers came by to fill us in on The Public Press (which will be getting a new domain name next month). The nonprofit publication provides noncommercial news for the Bay Area and has been raising funds for story pitches on Spot.us.

• I outlined the mission of the Public Media Collaborative, a group of Bay Area technologists, activists and bloggers who put on training workshops, chiefly for community organizations. Our next daylong workshop will be Oct. 23 in Oakland.

• Program manager Liberty Smith told us about the National Service Learning Clearinghouse. Service learning is a teaching and learning strategy that integrates meaningful community service with instruction and reflection to enrich the learning experience, teach civic responsibility, and strengthen communities. Continue reading

August 6, 2009

Online community building: Gardening vs. landscaping

Amy Sample WardMy latest post is up on the Stanford Social Innovation Review opinion blog. You can read the post and join the conversation on SSIR or below, where I’ve republished the full post.

My current job title includes the term “Community Builder” and I get asked nearly every day just what that means: How do you build community? Where is the community you want to build? How can I be a community builder online? Tips, secrets, ideas?! I want to take a break from all the hard work building community (does that get a wink?) to share some of what I believe is the core of successful community building (on or offline).

“Community building” is about a lot of things. Some people define it as organizing, especially around specific events, campaigns, legislation, or fundraising. Others see it as specifically applying to online community spaces, like a social networking site. I believe that community exists everywhere, really. That the Internet is a huge community of people looking to connect with others like them to form smaller, more specific communities. Those of us in positions to support those connections and collaborations are some of the luckiest people in the global network, acting as the email or Twitter post or blog reference that helps individuals make networked jumps to where they really want to be.

Gardening vs. landscaping

So, what’s the secret to successful community building? You guessed it: Be a great gardener and avoid the temptation to landscape. Here’s what that means:

  • A gardener only takes out the weeds; a landscaper takes out everything that isn’t part of the design. Think about the number of beautiful plants or trees that have sprung up in parks, your yard, or even out in nature that weren’t “intended” to be there but quickly grew to be a valuable part of the ecosystem.
  • A gardener isn’t afraid to mix things around; a landscaper plans and plots and plants.  Sometimes you can’t know ahead of time just which plants will respond well or want more sun or shade so you need to be flexible.
  • When a storm hits, a gardener can remain open to planting anew and rejuvenating others; a landscaper may just order more of the same. Sometimes it takes a storm to realize which plants just weren’t going to make it or which were able to stick it out.
  • When in doubt, a gardener will try more plants or kinds of plants and see which take root; a landscaper may default to less. What about the plants you had never used before to know about and how they took root, flowered, and bolted up right before your eyes?

Clearly, this is all very metaphorical here with the back yard options. It is, though, meant to paint a picture:

The Gardener creates an ecosystem open to change, available to new groups, and full of fresh opportunities to emerge naturally. The approach is focused on organic collaboration and growth for the entire community. The gardener is simply there to help, cultivate, and clear the weeds if/when they poke up.

The Landscaper creates an ecosystem that matches a preconceived design or pattern. The approach is focused on executing a preconceived environment, regardless of how natural or organic it may be for the larger area. The landscaper is there to ensure that everything stays just as planned.

Your community

How can you apply these ideas to your community building? The first question I always ask myself when considering a new tool or functionality online, a new project or campaign, or even new partnerships or members is: “Is this something the Community wants or something I want?” It doesn’t matter what I want, really. It matters what the Community wants. And how do you know if or what they are interested in? ASK! Be sure to always provide opportunities for your community members or those who come across your work to share their ideas about what they would like to see, how they’d like to connect with each other and how they would like to work with you. And when considering anything new, ask for feedback and share your ideas and plans ahead of time. You may be surprised, but your Community often has even better ideas than you!

What do you think? Do you have other ideas about successful community building? Have a great example or case study you want to share? Looking forward to more!

You can read the post and join the conversation on SSIR here.