November 7, 2009

Social Media Resource Library: New from Idealware

Amy Sample WardWe all know that there are hundreds, thousands, a seemingly infinite number of social media resources for nonprofits or social impact groups. When you search on Google for a tool or a topic, you have so many results you don’t even know where to begin! Well, that’s certainly part of the information overload and wasted time that other bloggers like myself try to help with — come here and we’ll try to make things easy for you!

Idealware has just taken it a step further by launching a Social Media Resource Library!

As they explain:

As a first step in our year-long social media research initiative, Idealware has compiled a library of nearly 200 – and growing – resources on social media. And, we’ve incorporated an easy-to-use tagging scheme so that you can find the resources most helpful to you.

The Social Media Resource Library , compiled in Delicious, will help your nonprofit gain valuable insights into how to best use social media for your organization. There are a lot of experts out there (while a majority of the resources tagged are from Beth Kanter and Mashable, there are tagged items from over 50 sources), and we are making it easier for you to find what you are looking for.

You can start searching the Library or learn how to add more resources by visiting the Idealware site here. Continue reading

July 8, 2009

Social by Social: Handbook launched!

Amy Sample WardI am relishing in the feeling of hard work completed and the excitement for all the work ahead.  What about? Social by Social: a practical guide to using new technologies to deliver social impact — the handbook I co-authored about using social media and communications technology to change the world!

NESTA commissioned the work and the Social by Social team was comprised of Andy Gibson, Nigel Courtney, David Wilcox and Professor Clive Holtham and myself.

Why Social by Social?

There have been so many developments in communication technologies over the past few years, affecting so many aspects of our lives and working patterns, that giving shape and meaning to the chaos has become nearly impossible.

‘Social by Social’ is a term we’ve invented to make sense of what we’re talking about.

The word ‘social’ is often used to imply all the various work that goes on in the public and third sector, and by individuals, to improve the world around us, care for each other, create value for communities and tackle the problems and inequalities of the world.

(Social enterprise. Social conscience. Social problems.)

And ‘social’ is also used by technologists and the media to refer to the new two-way communications technologies available via the internet and digital technologies. Communications that create society, strengthen relationships, support social interactions.

(Social media. Social networks. Social infrastructure.)

This book is a map of where these two words meet. It is not limited to the fashionable trends in social media and ‘web 2.0’; nor is it specifically aimed at people in the social sector. It is about how these new tools for social interaction are changing our society, and how those of us with a social conscience can use them to do more good.

‘Social by social’ change is about using new technologies to bring people together to make their world better. This handbook is a starting point for working out how to do it.

New technologies are changing the way we engage communities, run companies, deliver public services, participate in government and campaign for change. These new technologies are available to all of us. And they offer us an amazing opportunity to change our world.

You can read the handbook online for free or order your hard copy today!  The online version is completely commentable and we are eager to continue the conversation with you!  To dive in, visit:

June 30, 2009

SEO: 9 tips for optimizing a nonprofit site

Search Engine Optimization isn’t black magic, so get your site to shape up

Guest post by Dennis Yu
CEO, BlitzLocal

Dennis Yu, SEO expert

Dennis Yu, SEO expert

Most people treat Search Engine Optimization (SEO) as black magic. While there are unethical methods to inflate your search engine rankings — cloaking, doorways pages, link farms, “google bombing,” dupe content poisoning, keyword stuffing, and so forth — these tactics are short-lived and can even get you banned. Folks who employ these tricks (also known as “black hat SEOs”) are in a cat-and-mouse war with search engines, as loopholes are being exploited, found and closed.

Most experts will tell you not to play this risky game — your long-term strategy is to write lots of good content. If it’s good for humans, it’s good for robots. And much of what SEOs charge for is good old-fashioned webmastering.

So ask yourself these questions:

1Is your code clean? Run it through and see. Search engines are finicky and fragile. Cut and paste whole content blocks and paste them into the search box to see if they’re being indexed.

2Does your site load fast? Check average load times with free external monitoring services, like and Could your images be reduced in size? Optimize your code to run faster and cache where possible. You want pages to load in under one second for an average connection.

3Are you using dynamic pages? Do your urls have question marks or equal signs in them ( , etc…)? You can typically have one or two variables in the url, but it’s best to have static pages where you can. Descriptive urls are better for the user and can result in portions of your url being bolded (a good thing) when they match terms in the user’s search. CRM (Constituent Relationship Management) and CMS (Content Management System) vendors such as GetActive/Convio and Joomla have issues with dynamic urls but are working to make their packages SEO-friendly.

4Do you have a Flash landing page? Or perhaps Flash navigation? Search engines cannot see beyond flash, as they look only at text. Do it in CSS. Use the Lynx browser or do a “view source” to get an idea of what search engines see. Don’t put up brick walls to search engines.

5Do you have multiple versions of your homepage? For example, and, which is also known as the “canonical” issue. To prevent diluting your rank, choose one version and permanently redirect all others to that one. See Matt Cutts’ advice.

Continue reading

June 11, 2009

A public RSS reader for you!

Amy Sample WardWhen it comes to nptech, or nonprofit technology, there are more blogs and organizations and resources than any one person can find, let alone keep track of!  I’m no exception.  I’m overwhelmed daily, just like everyone else, by the amount of information that’s available from, for and about our sector of technology and social benefit. 

So, my response is simple: I want to share my RSS reader with you. What’s in my brain can be in yours!

Amy Sample Ward’s Version of RSS



This is just a starting place. There are other places you can go to find more blogs and resources as well, like Alltop and even WeAreMedia. So, why did I do this? I want to help support those just starting to investigate the options of social technologies for social change work, as well as give something back to those already invested and contributing to the community. Opening up my RSS reader (well, except for my mom’s blog and that kind of thing!) is something I have wanted to do for a while because it

  1. provides an opportunity for me to offer a bit of value back to the larger tech+change community that is so valuable to me
  2. is aligned with my core values of collaboration and sharing
  3. creates a chance to improve this collection of feeds by and with my community

Continue reading

June 9, 2009

Free ebook: How to use Facebook for business (and nonprofits)

facebook-logoJohn HaydonAn increasing number of nonprofits are expanding their social media efforts with Facebook Pages and Facebook Groups.

And for good reason:

Facebook is one of the largest social media sites on the web:

  • More than 200 million active users
  • More than 100 million users log on to Facebook at least once each day
  • More than two-thirds of Facebook users are outside of college
  • The fastest growing demographic is 35 and older

And their users are very active:

  • Average user has 120 friends on the site
  • More than 4 billion minutes are spent on Facebook each day
  • More than 30 million users update their statuses daily
  • More than 6 million users become fans of Pages each day

Hubspot, an Internet marketing company in Cambridge, Mass., recently published a free book for businesses looking to use Facebook.

I was curious how useful How to Use Facebook for Business would be for my typical nonprofit client, so I downloaded it (no email required!) and read through the 22-page guide.

Continue reading

April 1, 2009

What is RSS?

JD LasicaRSS (Really Simple Syndication) refers to news and content that comes to you. More and more people are zeroing in on the material they want — content from bloggers, news outlets, even advertisers — and getting it through online subscriptions rather than through random Web surfing.

RSS lets publishers stream content instantly to users who have subscribed to their feeds, and it lets users follow the latest entries on lots of sites without having to check them one at a time. When new material is posted on a site, subscribers are notified and sent either full versions or summaries.

Users can subscribe to updated text and rich media either by using an RSS reader (also called an aggregator), through some email programs like Yahoo! mail, through a Web browser (both Firefox and Apple’s Safari have built-in feed readers), or by using a service, such as MyYahoo or NetVibes, that lets you collect feeds of your choice on a personalized Web page you create.

Just subscribe to a handful of feeds by clicking on the XML or RSS button on web pages, and you’ll see content appear in your reader of choice only minutes after it appears online. If the term RSS is too techie for you, that’s fine. Yahoo! almost never uses the term; instead, they talk about subscribing to content.

News readers

RSS news reader programs, or feed aggregators, include:

For more background

• A rich directory of RSS Resources can be found on the Social Media Co-Lab Wiki
News that comes to you — RSS feeds offer info-junkies a way to take the pulse of hundreds of sites and blogs.
Tools for the info-warrior — RSS readers ride to the rescue of heavy news grazers.

Please comment on, correct or expand upon this article.