September 10, 2012

Welcome to the new-look Socialbrite

Socialbrite before our redesign.

Redesigned site has a renewed focus on serving nonprofits’ needs

JD LasicaFor the past several months we’ve been working behind the scenes on several design changes for Socialbrite that we’ve just unveiled.

We’ve been successful since our founding in May 2009 with becoming perhaps the Web’s leading knowledge hub about how to use social media for social causes and to advance nonprofits’ missions. Beyond our hundreds of tutorials and content-rich Sharing Center, check out our rankings in Google for these search terms: Continue reading

July 19, 2012

Should nonprofits bother with FeedBurner?

Short answer: Yes for RSS feeds, no for email

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

JD LasicaI‘ve been bloging since May 2001. I don’t remember when I set up my first FeedBurner account, but it was probably not long after it opened in February 2004 — and well before Google bought it. FeedBurner provides custom RSS feeds and management tools to bloggers, podcasters and other web-based content publishers.

Back in the day, FeedBurner was the heaven-sent answer to setting up RSS feeds. Today, creating an RSS feed is still important, but every blogging platform worth its salt has RSS feeds baked in. Continue reading

November 30, 2011

How to effectively use calls to action in nonprofit videos

Getting your supporters to take the next step when your video ends

This is part two of a three-part series on how nonprofits can create engaging multimedia stories that motivate supporters to take a desired action. Part two describes the use of call-to-action video overlays to boost ROI. Also see part one:

Creating compelling advocacy videos for nonprofits

Target audience: Nonprofits, NGOs, foundations, cause organizations, social enterprises, brands, businesses and their corporate social responsibility (CSR) divisions, video producers, Web publishers.

Lauren MajorWhile the audience for online video continues to grow, the advances in Web video technology are changing at a dizzying pace, making it hard for nonprofits to keep up. There are several good online video platforms and third-party apps available to convert views into actions. YouTube’s call-to-action video overlay, third-party video apps and customized video domains or microsites offer great options for boosting the return on investment of your nonprofit’s video program.

YouTube’s call-to-action video overlay

The effectiveness of your message is cut short if you don’t use a clickable call to action that takes visitors to your site or Twitter page to make a donation or to take another action.

Most nonprofit Web videos make mention of their organization’s URL either verbally or with graphics edited into the video. But the effectiveness of your message is cut short if you don’t include a clickable call to action that takes visitors to your website, Facebook Page or Twitter page to make a donation or to take another desired action.

YouTube’s nonprofit program offers two such call-to-action video apps that can be easily implemented: overlays and annotations.

If your nonprofit is not already part of the Google for nonprofits program, consider applying. The free program offers many benefits and can become a center for creating effective calls to action and engagement:

  • Free or discounted version of Google Apps for your organization
  • Premium branding capabilities and increased uploads on YouTube
  • The option to drive fundraising through a Google Checkout “Donate” button
  • The ability to add a call-to-action overlay on your videos to drive campaigns
  • The ability to post volunteering opportunities on the YouTube Video Volunteers platform
  • Free Adwords advertising

Examples of video calls to action — in action

Here are a few examples of how nonprofits have incorporated overlays and annotations to drive a specific course of action.

This Angry Kid Greenpeace video is heartfelt and does a great job delivering its message. Unfortunately, the creators stop short by simply offering engaged viewers the opportunity to visit their website at the end with no actionable link:


The Darius Goes West video takes it a step further and adds a call-to-action overlay to visit Darius’ Twitter page as part of the YouTube player:

Continue reading

May 2, 2011

Two more social media experts join Socialbrite

Shonali Burke spoke at What’s Next DC on “Redefining PR in the 21st Century.”

JD LasicaToday we welcome two additional social media experts to join the Socialbrite team. Both bring outstanding credentials that will help Socialbrite expand its ability to share free content — tutorials, interviews, articles about tactics and strategy — while also offering their considerable talents to our network of experts who provide consulting services to nonprofits.

Let me tell you a bit about them — they’ve already made their mark in the nonprofit sector, and they now join a team that includes John Haydon, Sloane Berrent, Carla Schlemminger and Ken Banks.

Debra Askanase: Strategies that spur people to action

Debra-AskanaseDebra Askanase, who also blogs at Community Organizer 2.0, provides social media consulting to nonprofits and businesses. Debra has worked for 20 years in nonprofit organizations in many positions, among them executive director, program director, fundraiser and community organizer. She holds a B.A. from Emory University and an M.B.A. in International Business from Bar Ilan University in Israel.

Debra will be taking on a top editorial position at Socialbrite and will be collaborating with us on client projects. In her consulting work, she’s passionate about working with nonprofits to create engagement strategies that move people to action. As a former community organizer, she believes that the best online strategies reflect community organizing principles: Be where your stakeholders hang out, nurture leaders, be transparent and inclusive, create integrated campaigns with your stakeholders not for them, and foster community. Debra has lived in the United States, Nicaragua, Vienna and Israel. Follow her on Twitter at @askdebra.

Shonali Burke: Community-building strategies

Shonali-BurkeWith small and large agency experience, as well as a stint as the ASPCA‘s Vice President of Media & Communications, Shonali Burke understands the challenges faced by small and large organizations alike when it comes to building community. Rather than dive straight into tactics, she works with clients to help them identify their strategic goals and builds their integrated communication plans based on measurable objectives. Her client roster includes/has included the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation, the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery and USA for UNHCR (the UN Refugee Agency).

In 2007, PRWeek named Shonali to its first “Top 40 Under 40” list of public relations professionals in the United States. In 2008, she was one of three winners of the Institute for Public Relations’ Jack Felton Golden Ruler award winners for excellence in public relations research and measurement, and she is considered one of 25 women that rock social media. Shonali is also adjunct faculty for Johns Hopkins University’s M.A. in Communication program, teaching a course on not-for-profits in the digital age. Follow her on Twitter at @shonali.

Great to have you both on board, Debra and Shonali!

If you have any questions for Debra or Shonali or for other members of the Socialbrite team, email [email protected].

April 21, 2011

8 great examples of nonprofit storytelling

“A Glimmer of Hope – LTBH Feature – Austin 2009”

How to convey a powerful message with videos & photos

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

JD LasicaAs regular readers know, I’ve been a longtime proponent of visual storytelling to advance the missions of nonprofits, cause organizations and businesses. (Heck, I co-founded before there was a YouTube.) People take action on behalf of a cause only when they feel an emotional connection, and yet nonprofits in particular are famously bad at telling their own stories.

What we tell people in our Socialbrite bootcamps and in our consulting work is this: Every nonprofit is now a media organization (the same goes for social enterprises and businesses). Never before have the tools of visual storytelling been so inexpensive, easy to use and accessible to the masses.

So why aren’t you taking advantage of visual storytelling yet? (Or are you? Tell us in the comments!)

There are dozens of ways to convey your story, and we’ve laid out lots of ways to get started — see the links at the bottom of this article.

Today we’d like to highlight a few best-of-breed examples of visual storytelling so that you can think about how to take a similar approach for your organization. At least one of the examples cited below should trigger an insight — an idea that resonates or an approach that you might consider using with your team or with a production partner.

Find people who encapsulate what your core objective is all about — and convey their stories with power, genuineness, passion and humility

Remember, it’s not about the tools or the technology. It’s about finding people who encapsulate what your core objective is all about — and conveying their stories with power, genuineness, passion and humility. Some can be elaborate productions, with narration, titling and musical score all working together. Others can be as simple as holding up a video-capable smartphone to capture a moment.

One you have a visual story, or several, that you can draw upon, you’ll be able to begin using it in your public outreach: on your website or blog, on your Facebook page, in your annual report, in your email newsletters. And don’t forget to enter contests like the DoGooder Awards, TechSoup Storytelling Challenge or CurrentTV’s just-ended The Current Cause, where $15,000 in prizes will be awarded.

Here are seven great examples of nonprofit storytelling:

1/ Classic video advocacy

“Breathe,” by Repower America

advocacyLast month’s 5th annual DoGooder Nonprofit Video Awards, presented by YouTube and See3 Communications — See3 is at the forefront of nonprofit video storytelling — drew 1,350 submissions from 750 nonprofits, with 16 finalists and four winners.

Among the winners were:
• Best thrifty video: It’s In Your Hands, by Watershed Management Group
• Best large organization video: A Public Service Announcement Not Approved by AJWS, by the American Jewish World Service

Some entries I liked better included:
Breathe, by Repower America (1:33, embedded above)
• The funny, celebrity-studded Seriously, Serious PSA (featuring B.J. Novak & Friends) by malarianomore (1:01)

Sign up to receive See3’s Daily DoGooder: a daily cause video delivered to your in-box.

And here were the 2010 winners. Observe how other organizations are telling their stories — which style did you like: earnest, funny, polished, grassroots?

2/ Digital stories using photos & narration

“Mountaintop Library Expands Horizons,” by Room to Read

digital storiesI’ve been involved in the digital storytelling movement since 2004. A vastly underutilized medium, digital storytelling uses photos, video, film or found materials, combined with voice-over narration, to convey powerful, evocative stories with a rich emotional dimension.

Our in-depth tutorials Digital storytelling from soup to nuts and Digital storytelling: A tutorial in 10 easy steps offers some great examples. But for a simpler way to do this, look no further than the winner of February’s TechSoup Storytelling Challenge.

The first place winner, Mountaintop Library Expands Horizons, by Room to Read (embedded above), took advantage of visually stunning photos taken in Nepal and weaved together a simple 60-second story about the San Francisco nonprofit’s global literacy mission. Nicely done — with no video at all. This is something your organization can do on its own, no? Continue reading

December 22, 2009

Mashable & our favorite posts of the year


JD LasicaWelcome to all the visitors from Mashable! We were thrilled to be featured in Melissa Rowley‘s article, 4 Social Good Trends of 2009.

For first-timers, we thought now would be a good time to highlight some of our favorite posts on Socialbrite since our launch earlier this year:

Some of our favorite causes

Tweet for a cure to end SMA

Global Voices: Lifting up the powerless & voiceless

An inventive cause campaign to fight malaria

Tim Ferriss’ method of supporting causes

Boxee and the promise of open media

All for Good: A Craigslist for service

California’s Secretary of State: Come and collaborate!

How the National Wildlife Federation uses social media

Socialbrite’s night at NetTuesday

UniversalGiving: Tailoring an impact just for you

Samasource enables socially responsible outsourcing

YouthNoise: Helping young people network a cause

Kiva: micro-loans to entrepreneurs abroad

Giving Challenge: Tap your networks to support a cause

Some favorite tools and tactics

How to make your website more accessible and 7 tips for communicating with people with disabilities

20 tips for mobile advocacy

A user’s guide to mobile activism

How mobile is empowering consumers

SEO: 9 tips for optimizing a nonprofit site — Search Engine Optimization isn’t black magic, so get your site to shape up

8 tips for raising funds online

The Extraordinaries: Building the ‘micro-volunteering’ movement

Twitter as a tool for activism

How to build a Facebook community — 14 levers you need to be pulling

How to add a Facebook Page Fanbox to your site

How to use Seesmic Desktop

Carbon footprints, nation by nation

Foundation Center: a deep resource for philanthropy

Guide to shooting photos in public

How to capture great photos on the road

Fair use in the digital age

Seven blogging tools reviewed

Socialbrite releases Creative Commons plug-in

Thanks to everyone for your support this year! (Don’t forget to follow @Socialbrite on Twitter!) We’re now working with a number of nonprofits and educational outfits — TechSoup Global and Scholastic, to name two — and looking forward to helping others with their social media needs in the months ahead. Continue reading