Category Archives: Social Media

Social Media Policies – NPQ Newswire

Members of the Turtle Creek Chorale, a thirty-four-year-old predominantly gay group with more than 200 performers, are using social media platforms like Facebook to voice their frustrations about the organization and its social media policies. The Chorale is not alone in its struggles to perfect a social media policy; many nonprofits are wondering how to write these short but complicated documents.

Social media policies are supposed to protect both the organization and the employees (or, in this case, dues-paying volunteers). When written well, social media policies provide the necessary balance of common sense rules (such as no profanity), organization specific protocol (don’t share confidential information), and overall guidance (be transparent). When written poorly, social media policies can lead to confusion and the perception—correct or incorrect—that individual rights are being curtailed. There are several websites which offer sample social media policies but few which provide accurate guidance as to what works and what does not.

Read the more about the case of the Turtle Creek Chorale and social media policies on the Nonprofit Quarterly website.

My Brain on Fiction

Let’s face it. There is a lot to do. And most if it won’t ever get done. Take the dishes, for example. Or the dust that settles behind the door in my office.DAYDM

We have to prioritize. I have to prioritize.

Lately I’ve been prioritizing nothing. Literally. Nothing. I’m scheduling time do nothing into my calendar. Before the hullabaloo of the week begins — and it always begins — I mark time in my calendar to do nothing.

Sometimes it’s in the morning. In fact, that’s a part of how I start most mornings. Sometimes it’s a lazy Friday afternoon (like this one). Other times it’s just a longer breakfast or lunch, looking out onto my herb/veggie/rose garden. It’s only about 5 foot by 3 feet but each day the green of the plants greet me and I’m happy.

Our brains need a break. They need to daydream. They need to think about something that is really interesting and, at the same time, doesn’t matter at all.

Fiction is a great brain break. Lately I’ve been trying to squeeze in just 15 minutes of non-research reading a day. I find that, like exercise, my brain does better on fiction.  I’m happier, more relaxed, and can think more clearly.

Last month I read A School for My Village by Twesigye Jackson Kaguri and am now (slowly) working on The Twelve Tribes of Hattie by Ayana Mathis. In January I read the Journal of Best Practices by David Finch. That one made me laugh out loud. Often. In public.

Three books. It’s already April and I’ve already read three books. I think that might be three more than I read last year. Which is too bad, really. I’m a reader. While I was in the Dominican Republic as a Peace Corps Volunteer I read more than 130 books.

Reading, especially fiction, is deeply generative. It helps us to:

  • Make sense of the world
  • Connect with others’ perspectives
  • Step away from our own (petty? first world?) concerns
  • Rejuvenate the brain
  • Relax before going to bed

It’s kind of like singing in the shower. The best ideas come to me when I’m singing reading.

I like my brain on fiction. The next few years will be very busy for me. I’m sure you’re life is no different. I’m going to try to remember that just 15 minutes a day makes a huge difference. What about you?

Got any great book recommendations?

 

I’ll have cookies, granola, and some greater good, please

Examples of social enterprise: Girl Scout cookies and "Your Choice Brands" Granola

Examples of social enterprise: Girl Scout cookies and “Your Choice Brands” Granola

Social enterprise is one of the hot new buzz words these days. Other buzz words include social entrepreneur, impact investing, philanthrocapitalism, and social innovation. These words sound really exciting, maybe a bit foreign.

Don’t panic. Social enterprise is less confusing or foreign than it sounds. In fact, we see it almost every day. . . After all, it is Girl Scout cookie season.

Girl Scout cookies are a prime example of social enterprise:

  • There is a profit created by the sale of cookies.
  • There is a social good realized when the girls learn entrepreneurship and when the money from the sales provides funding for the overall program.

Not so scary anymore, huh?

Now, let’s talk about practice. There are two primary ways in which a nonprofit can be or have a social enterprise:

1) Earned Income: nonprofits engage in social enterprise activity when they create earned income. These business-like activities create a profit for the agency which then is reinvested to further the mission. For example:

  • A nonprofit theater company charges for a ticket to a performance.
  • A nonprofit hospital charges patients for services.
  • A disaster preparedness agency sells earthquake kits.

2) Creating a for-profit company: nonprofits can actually create and own a for-profit company.The for-profit provides a revenue stream for the nonprofit corporation.

There are lots of other types of social enterprise which I’ll discuss in further detail in other posts. These include cause marketing, L3C corporations, Benefit Corporations, and cross-sectoral partnerships.

In case you’re curious, the granola pictured in this post is from a for-profit social enterprise (L3) called “Your Choice Brands.” Consumer can log onto a website and donate a portion of the proceeds from the purchase to the nonprofit of their choice. . . I’ll tell you more about these types of social enterprises another day.

The bottom line though is that social enterprise is not rocket science and you don’t have to be Gandi-like to be a social entrepreneur.

Sunday Musings on the Nonprofit Governance Conference

I had the opportunity on Friday and Saturday to speak at USD’s annual Nonprofit Governance Institute. This two-day conference – for those of you who might not live in San Diego – draws hundreds of board members and senior leadership staff members at nonprofits throughout Southern California together to talk about one thing: governance.

As always, the energy was high throughout the weekend and the conversations were stimulating. It’s such a joy to be around people who are trying to make the world a better place . . . and being smart about it!

I was privileged to speak at two different sessions.

The first was a panel on Nonprofits and Civil Society. I shared about a book I had recently read and reviewed for an academic publication. The book, Measuring the Networked Nonprofit, provides a wonderful roadmap to nonprofits looking to measure their impact on social media.  I highly recommend it.

The second topic I addressed was — drumroll here — social media policies. The session focused on tips for how to create policies that are generative rather than overly rigid or controlling. It’s not easy to do, trust me. What I loved about this session was the second half: small group discussions.

Use or Lose

The attendees gathered together in small groups to discuss sample policies. Each group had a different policy which I had selected from a online database.  They played a game I call “Use or Lose.” After each reading the policies separately, they had to decide what they could potentially “use” from that policy to write their own and what they would “lose.”

The key lessons from this exercise are:
1) Social media policies are NOT one-size-fits-all,
2) Virtually no company has a “perfect” policy,
2) We can learn from a wide variety of companies, including Nordstrom.

More than 50 people showed up to learn about social media policies and I’m thrilled. We’ve been talking about social media for a long time. Now it’s time to also talk about generative governance.

Cheers!

 

 

Get your head out of the sand! Write that social media policy!

The benefits of social media are tremendous. Millions of dollars have been raised online and countless acts of advocacy been performed.

It’s exciting. And mindboggling.

Yet, despite the many benefits, social media also comes with significant risks. These risks include employee privacy, employee safety, labor relations and HR issues, brand identity, client confidentiality and so much more. Because of the ever-evolving nature of social media, we don’t even know what some of these risks will be.

It’s a scary situation, one that makes many CEOs want to bury their head in the sand.

Social media polices are one way to provide guidance to staff and ensure we avoid major pitfalls. So. . . it is critical that we get our heads out of the sand and write that social media policy!

Here are three tips to help get you going.

First: Don’t let funders pressure you!
Nonprofits are being encouraged by funders to outreach to clients via social media. For the nonprofits that have not written a social media policy, this can be dangerous. The risks to engaging in social media increase when we engage in direct client outreach. If you begin client outreach without thinking it through properly, you’re asking for trouble.

Before you outreach to clients online, make sure you:

  • Have a social media policy in place;
  • Have trained staff; and
  • Know who will and how to respond to a social media crisis.

Second: Write that social media policy!
Many CEOs aren’t familiar with social media tools and thus are reluctant to provide governance in the form of policies. This is understandable but dangerous. Instead, CEOs should use the staff resources at hand including: HR Director, IT Director, Program Staff, Marketing/Development Director, “digital native” staff, and others. Gather your team together to first identify potential risks and then craft the policy.

When you write a social media policy, be sure to include:

  • A statement of purpose, values, and/or ethics;
  • An outline of who can/cannot officially engage in social media on behalf of the organization;
  • References to any relevant internal and external polices;
  • Any branding requirements;
  • A separate policy for staff engaged in social media as a part of their job and all staff engaged in social media for personal use;
  • A list of staff who should be contacted in case of questions, emergency, policy violation, etc.; and
  • A date for when the policy will be reviewed.

Third: Help your employees understand their three voices.
It is important to help employees understand they have three main voices: official, professional, and personal. Understanding the distinction between these voices can help them to make wise social media decisions at work and in their personal lives.

1)     Official: My official voice is the role I am given by an employer. My job description will indicate what I can and cannot say on behalf of the organization.

2)     Professional: My professional voice is the image I want to portray in the professional world. This might include a Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn profile I create specifically for the purpose of career networking.

3)     Personal: My personal voice is who I am outside of my job. It is who I am with my friends and family. On social media, this might be a Facebook profile I share with friends and family only. Many choose to keep this information on strict privacy settings. If I choose to include my professional contacts on my personal social media pages, I’ll probably be more cautious about what I share.

This isn’t as easy as it looks. The distinction between these three voices may appear clear, but online, the boundaries blur quickly. We can use privacy controls and disclaimers (i.e. “these thoughts are my own and do not represent my employer”) to distinguish between our voices; but, unfortunately, there is no guarantee that professional networks won’t see personal information and vice versa.

The bottom line is this: “What happens in Vegas, stays on Facebook.” . . . We should all proceed with caution.

One final thought. Even if you don’t employ union staff, it important to understand what the National Labor Relations Board is saying in regards to social media. (Link to: http://www.nlrb.gov/)

Now . . . Get your head out of the sand! It’s time to write those policies!

Moving Millennials to Donate: Easier than You Think

A few months ago I wrote about the Chains of Habit many nonprofits are forming by reaching out to and stewarding the millennial generations. These chains of habit begin by establishing awareness about the mission and then move through increasingly higher asks:

1) volunteering
2) small donations
3) encouraging peers to become involved/donate
4) larger donations

This process, which mirrors any donor stewardship process, is undergirded by the emerging forms of electronic communication: enewsletters, social media, and more.

The internet is now the flour that thickens and binds the sauce.

Many CEOs feel unsure of how to proceed but, today, we have updated information to guide our approach. The 2011 Millennial Donor Survey results have been released and they are worth paying attention to.

Here are a few of my key take-aways from the report.

1) 70% of millennial have raised funds.
Wow! Think about our nonprofit boards. How many of you have 70% of your board members raising funds? Not many, I’d be willing to wager. However, this next generation appears to be more comfortable with fundraising than their predecessors. This makes sense. Partially because of (and partially evidenced by) social media, the millennial generation is a very connected group. They want to engage with one another and with others who share common interests. When they’re passionate about something — your mission?!? — they happily share.

Nonprofits can harness this fundraising might by encouraging millennial to join boards and by creating low price-point opportunities for donating/fundraising.

2)  70% said they would share cool events on Facebook.
This is in comparison to the 30% who would share that they had donated or the 34% who would share they had made an impact. They don’t want to brag. They don’t want a plaque on the wall. They want to engage. . . and it has to be cool.

Nonprofits should take note. Rubber chicken dinners and standard forms of donor recognition aren’t enough. It’s time to get real and get creative.

3) 90% had never donated through Facebook.
This is shocking to me, especially given the fact that most of them preferred to give online. Does this mean that nonprofits are not effectively asking through Facebook? Or, instead, does it mean that nonprofits are effectively engaging through Facebook AND getting the donors to click-through and donate via their website. I don’t know but I hope it’s the latter.

Either way, nonprofits can look at ways to improve the numbers of millennial s (and others) donating through Facebook. The survey mentioned safety concerns as one of the reasons only 10% were donating through Facebook. Don’t let that stop you. You can make the ask via Facebook but offer links so that the actual donations come via your website.

The millennial generation is here to stay as is this new fangled internet thing. Thanks to the Millennial Donors Survey, we have more information about how we can reach this increasingly powerful population. I’ve offered a few key facts here but there are many more included in this report. It’s definitely worth a read.

If you’ve had success reaching out to the millennial generations, I’d love to hear about it. Please post your comments here or share them on www.facebook.com/JennysJunction.

 

 

 

Learning to Listen

I am learning to listen.

This lesson is coming through many forms, most recently via a lecture I attended by Otto Scharmer of MIT entitled Leadership and Mindful Transformation of Capitalism: from Ego-System to Eco-System Economies.

Otto asked the audience two core questions:

  • Where do you experience a world that is ending/dying?
  • Where do you experience a world that is beginning/waiting to be born?

In thinking about these questions, only one answer came to my mind. The world that I experience to be ending/dying is the world that believes that problems are external.

In my work with nonprofits, I have come to learn that problems are—at their core—thinking problems. This means problems must be resolved internally first, then externally. What do I mean by this?

  • Problems with the environment are, at their core, a problem about how we conceptualize our relationship to the earth.
  • Problems with poverty are, at their core, problems about how we structure our economy and how we conceptualize our relationship to fellow man.

I did not always believe this. I used to think that “poor people” needed help. To that end, I spent many years in many countries in direct service. What I have learned is that direct service is powerful (there is tremendous power in any act of service to another human being), but it isn’t enough. If the core of the problem is a thinking problem, our work must also be on a different plane.

In thinking about this new work, I am compelled to listen more deeply. But how?

Otto described four levels of listening:

  • Downloading: is taking the information you receive and applying old opinions and judgments to that information.
  • Factual listening: is taking the information we received and acknowledging any data which disconfirms what we thought we knew.
  • Empathic listening: is seeing through another person’s eyes and thereby establishing an emotional connection.
  • Generative listening: is opening our awareness to that which exists and to that which might exist. We allow our attention to connect to an emerging future, waiting for that which wants to be born.

According to Otto, as we move towards generative listening, we let go of the voices of judgment, cynicism, and fear. Instead, we move to a position of openness, engagement, and, eventually, embodiment.

While all this sounds beautiful, I have not yet answered Otto’s second question. Where do I experience a world that is beginning/waiting to be born?

I don’t know, but I’m listening.

What do you think?

For more information about Otto Scharmer and his work on Theory U, visit: http://www.presencing.com/

5 Quick & Effective Nonprofit Communication Ideas

It’s a simple recipe. Nonprofits start “cooking” when they establish a mission. Then, in order to achieve that mission, they add healthy servings of potential donors, volunteers, and community members.   These stakeholders are what make the dish come alive. They are essential in the same way flour is essential baking bread. But, we need more. We have the ingredients but we need a space where the two—the mission and the stakeholders—can come together. This “space” is usually called a kitchen. In the nonprofit world, I call it the Communications Plan.

The Communications Plan tells us what, how, and when we will share our message with the larger community. It answers core questions such as:

  • Who are we trying to reach? (also known as your target audience)
  • What is the core problem we are solving and how do we want to frame the issue?
  • What are our key messages?
  • When/how do we interact with the media? Who is responsible?
  • What communication tools (social media, newsletters, etc.) do we use and how often?
  • Who is responsible for interfacing with the public?

For a quick template, click here.

Communication and PR strategies can make a big difference.  Even when there isn’t much in the budget for communication strategies, nonprofits can still have an impact.

5 Quick & Effective Ideas:

1)      Teach board and staff how to speak about your agency. The people that are close to the organization—staff and board—are already talking about you. Do you know what they are saying? If not, then share with them your key messages. Write out those messages and offer a training where everyone can practice. Make sure to ask them to add their own personal flavor. They can share a story that touched their heart or share about the aspect of the mission which is especially important to them. It’s much more powerful to hear someone when it’s obviously they really care.

2)      Tell stories. Stories are a powerful currency in the market of donor engagement. They can motivate us to give, to act, to share. By capturing and sharing the stories of your organization—the client success stories, the volunteer’s inspirational stories, the donor’s generosity stories—we can engage the community in a visceral way. Ask your staff to write down and collect clients’ stories. Keep these in a safe space so they can be used in enewsletters, appeal letters, media pitches, donor recognition letters, and so much more.

3)      Use a variety of the tools available. There are many new tools available through the internet which can make communication cheaper, easier, quicker, and more engaging. These tools can and should be used in combination with each other. Here are just a few:

  1. Social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn (for great examples, look at Mama’s Kitchen, the San Diego Zoo, and the San Diego Opera)
  2. Nonprofit Blogs (for a great example, see San Diego Coastkeeper’s blog)
  3. Enewsletters (there are many inexpensive platforms such as MailChimp, ConstantContact, and VirtualResponse)

4)      Enlist your funders. Is one of your donors a large corporation with many staff? Perhaps they can help. Here are a few ideas:

  1. Ask if your staff can participate in their company trainings. This is free capacity-building for your staff.
  2. If they would share your information in their company newsletter (assuming the content is useful to their employees).
  3. Ask if they would share about you on their corporate social media accounts.
  4.  And so much more. . . be creative!

5)      Make friends with the media. Media is a great source of free exposure; however, nonprofits are sometimes afraid to reach out to the media. Their media outreach efforts may rely solely a press release during major events. This is good but not good enough. A better strategy is to establish a relationship with the media. Meet the reporters that cover your area and begin a long-term conversation. It’s a win/win: over time you provide them with awesome story ideas, they in turn offer your agency excellent exposure. For an example, look at what Voices for Children accomplished with their recent Op/Eds…. The bottom line is this: don’t just think in terms of press releases, think about an ongoing relationship.

Nonprofit communication strategies are not hard but they do require some thought.  When sitting down to map out your communication strategy, you can use some of these five easy-to-implement, inexpensive ideas to ensure your message is heard.

What are your ideas? Share them below or on www.Facebook.com/JennysJunction.

Do you know a nonprofit that does a great job at PR/Communication? If so, share their links here so we can all learn.

6 Steps to Take Before You Start an Enewsletter

Many nonprofits start an enewsletter and then think through how they are going to manage it day-to-day. Like most things, this is not the optimal way. Here are 6 crucial steps to take before you start an enewsletter.

 1) Chart your course.
Before you start an enewsletter, ask some questions:
-who is my audience(s)?
-what do I want from them?
-what do they want from me?
-how often will they want it?
-what resources (staff time, money, etc.) can I devote to this?

2) Choose a platform.
There are many enewsletter platform providers you can use. Popular ones include Constant Contact, MailChimp, and Vertical Response. I use MailChimp because it is easy to use, inexpensive, and comes with great technical support. They also have a sense of humor which helps when dealing with the (sometimes) technologically challenged people like myself.

3) Design a template.
The major platform providers are all set up to allow the average user to design their own template. You can customize it with your colors, logos, etc. or you can use a standard template they’ve created. Some agencies prefer to have their enewsletter look like their print newsletter or website. If you want that level of customization, ask a graphic designer to help. I’ve used The Design Stylist many times and the results are astonishing.

When building your template, think about what you want to share and how often. For example,
-how many stories or notices will your enewsletter include?
-will there be a special section for events? For resources?

4) Create an editorial calendar.
Create a 3-6 month calendar outlining what you might write about for each of the stories in your Enewsletters. This isn’t set in stone but will give you a framework with which to work. It will also help you see if you have enough content for the enewsletter. When deciding on topics, keep it relevant. If appropriate, incorporate seasonal items, holiday references, and even the odd, “International day of chocolate covered insects” references. You can also see how your enewsletter content will cross-pollinate your other marketing such as social media, press outreach, and more.

5) Build your enewsletter subscriber list.
It is critical that your subscriber list opt-in. This means that you have their explicit permission to contact them. The best open rate success stories I’ve had with clients have come when two things happen: a) subscribers opt-in and b) content is customized to meet the audiences’ needs. This is to say: don’t buy a list. Take the time to build your own.

Here are a few pointers on building a strong subscriber base:
-put a ‘subscribe now’ link in your email signature line and on your website.
-check and see if your platform provider will set up an app on your Facebook page for fans to opt-in. MailChimp does.
-offer a goodie (like an ebook or a ticket for an opportunity drawing) for subscribers

6) Keep up the good work.
If you’ve done steps 1-5, you are well on your way. Don’t lose momentum! Consistency is as important to success as is content.

What is your best tip for a stellar enewsletter? Share it here or on Facebook.

Was this helpful? Sign up for my enewsletter and receive more tips, trainings and special discounts. Just click “Follow” in the box on the right at the top of this post.

 

Protecting Client Privacy on Social Media: 3 Tips to Minimize Risk

In nonprofits, clients are the top priority. They are the reason we exist. Many nonprofits worry about getting into social media, fearing that it will jeopardize client confidentiality. There are many risks but, with careful training and management, these risks can be minimized.

Here are three ways to minimize risk:

1)      Include social media in your general privacy/confidentiality trainings. You may have a basic privacy training or a training specific to legislation such as HIPAA and FERPA.  Either way, it’s time to include social media in the discussion. Remind employees that their responsibilities to privacy/confidentiality are the same online as in the real world.

Wherever possible, include real-life examples of exactly what is and is not appropriate. Examples help make the dangers more tangible. If you don’t have any examples of breaches of confidentiality, consider yourself lucky.

I also suggest reminding staff and board members that what they post on their personal sites is also subject to your confidentiality policies and procedures.

2)      Refer to your internal HIPAA policies in your social media policies. In our social media policies and procedures, it is important to refer back to established internal policies such as privacy/confidentiality. This helps ensure that employees think about their activities in social media with the same mindset as they use in their day-to-day work life.

Again, real life examples are very helpful.

Do you work with youth or at-risk populations? You may have some special concerns when it comes to clients attempting to ‘friend’ staff or posting their own personal information on your social media sites. These kinds of privacy/confidentiality issues should be addressed in your policies.

3)      Create what I call Community Standards. This is a public document usually shared via an organization’s website which outlines the values/standards you will expect/reinforce on your social media sites. You can link to this page on the website from your social media sites.

One of the goals of a Community Standards document is that it sets the tone. It establishes an organization’s desire to maintain a social media site that is __________ (you fill in the blank: respectful, informative, ??). It articulates what types of comments/interactions are unacceptable and will be removed.

This document also protects you. It is an opportunity for you to make it clear that clients are responsible for the information they post. It is an opportunity to remind clients that while you will protect their information according to your P&P, they have a responsibility in regards to what they choose to post on your site. (Youth are a different story – we have added responsibility to protect youth’s personal information even if the youth themselves don’t choose to.)

Not sure what I mean? Here are some examples of Community Standards and Comments Policies. With a quick glance to these, you can see that tone makes a huge difference.

If you are trying to create social media policies for your nonprofit, my website has an entire page of resources you can use. There are several hundred sample policies available through the first two links on the page.

Do you have any questions? Ask them here! I’ll be happy to answer. If your organization has a social media policy, I’d love to see a copy. Email me at jenniferamandajones@gmail.com.

Chains of Habit: Online Giving and the Millennial Generation

Online giving is a pivotal way to attract and retain the next generation of donors. According to the Millennial Donor Survey, 49% of Millennials of gave online.  This survey included responses from nearly 3,000 people between the ages of 25 and 35. It provides valuable insights for nonprofits wishing to use online philanthropy to create chains of habit.

Communicating with Millennials
Millennials expect to give and prefer to give online.  According to the survey, the top 2 preferred methods of communication are via the web and email. They also expect nonprofits to use electronic means of communicating – social media, websites, enewsletters – to keep in touch. For this generation, the print newsletter is a dinosaur.

Soliciting gifts from Millennials
According to the survey, the top 2 preferred methods of being solicited for a donation are via a personal request and online.

Online giving allows for easy peer-to-peer asks which result in larger giving circles. It is ideal for capturing the attention of this generation and it is ideal for nonprofits who want to increase their donor pool.

Of the Millennials who gave online, about half gave $150 or below. The Millennial generation is the least financially established of all the generations. Their gifts are often small; however, they are making the commitment to give to social causes. They are forming chains of habit.

Chains of habit
We know that past behavior is a predictor to future behavior. What we do today, we are likely to do tomorrow. When we graciously (and creatively!) solicit and accept smaller donations online, we are paving the road to long term donor relationships.

“Chains of habit are generally

too small to be felt until they are

too strong to be broken.”

~Samuel Johnson

 

What are YOU doing to create the chains of habit?
In order to help nonprofits maximize online philanthropy and create ‘chains of habit, I’ve created Online Giving 2012: Your Best Year Ever. This yearlong webinar course will help you master the core competencies of online philanthropy – online relationship building, enewsletters, social media strategy, online giving campaigns, branding, and more.

You will:

  • Create your 2012 Online Giving Road Map
  • Develop an engaged social media community
  • Deliver an enewsletter donors wait for
  • Raise funds via a successful online giving campaign

Monthly Course Webinars include:*

Jan: Online Giving ~ Are you Ready? (30 min – free)
Feb: Creating Your Roadmap for Online Giving
Mar: Leaving Your Mark ~ Branding, SEO, & the Web
April: You’ve Got My Ear ~ Donors and Enewsletters
May: Online Cultivation ~ Donors and Social Media
June: The Anatomy of an Ask ~ Designing Your Online Fundraising Campaign
July: Testing the Waters ~ Warming Your Audience with Small Online Asks
Aug: Bonus Class ~ Participants vote on the topic
Sept: PowerHour ~ Review and provide feedback on classmates’ campaigns
Oct: It’s You, Online ~ Using Your Personal Brand to Maximize Fundraising Nov: Final Push ~ Harnessing the best fundraising month of the year
Dec: Bonus Class ~ Participants vote on the topic

Save $225!
Purchase the yearlong series for $275 by January 31st and save $225! That is a $75 savings off of the full price of the year ($350) plus two FREE 30 minute coaching sessions valued at $150.  What a deal!

Click here to Register for the full year

Are you ready to harness the power of online giving?
Receive two free 30 minute coaching sessions when you register now for Online Giving 2012: Your Best Year Ever!  These coaching sessions can be used at any time throughout the year.

Want more information? The first webinar is free! This webinar Online Giving: Are You Ready will articulate the core competencies needed for a successful online giving campaign. It will lay out the road map for the course and show you exactly what you can do to make 2012 your best year ever.

Click here Register for the first webinar

If you have questions about the course, please ask me on Facebook or send me an email at jenniferamandajones@gmail.com.

Online Giving 2012: Your Best Year EVER

Did you know that 1/3 of online giving occurs in December and 22% occurs December 30th and 31st? However, don’t wait until December to think about online giving. . . Relationships need to be cultivated. This is true offline as well as online.

We must develop all web-based competencies – including enewsletters, social media, branding, and search engine optimization – in order to succeed in any online campaign and to truly maximize the December giving push.

I’ve created Online Giving 2011: Your Best Year Ever to help nonprofits harness the power of online philanthropy. Over the course of the year, you’ll master the core competencies needed for success.  Course materials and resources will be provided to help you make 2012 your best online fundraising year ever!

During this year-long web-based course you will:

  • Create your 2012 Online Giving Road Map
  • Develop an engaged social media community
  • Deliver an enewsletter donors wait for
  • Raise funds via a successful online giving campaign

This course is GUARANTEED to increase your online giving in 2012!

Monthly Course Webinars include:*
Jan: Online Giving ~ Are you Ready? (30 min – free)
Feb: Creating Your Roadmap for Online Giving
Mar: Leaving Your Mark ~ Branding, Blogging, & the Web
April: You’ve Got My Ear ~ Donors and Enewsletters
May: Online Cultivation ~ Donors and Social Media
June: The Anatomy of an Ask ~ Designing Your Online Fundraising Campaign
July: Testing the Waters ~ Warming Your Audience with Small Online Asks
Aug: Bonus Class ~ Participants vote on the topic
Sept: PowerHour ~ Review and provide feedback on classmates’ campaigns
Oct: It’s You, Online ~ Using Your Personal Brand to Maximize Fundraising Nov: Final Push ~ Harnessing the best fundraising month of the year
Dec: Bonus Class ~ Participants vote on the topic

*Each webinar is one hour long. Dates are scheduled 2-4 weeks in advance. Don’t worry if you cannot make the date. All webinars will be recorded and emailed to course registrants to review. You won’t miss a thing!

Save $225! Purchase the yearlong series for $275 by January 31st and save $225! That is a $75 savings off of the full price of the year ($350) plus two FREE 30 minute coaching sessions valued at $150.  What a deal!

Click here to register and save $225!

Want more information? The January webinar is free! This webinar will articulate the core competencies needed for a successful online giving campaign. It will lay out the road map for the course and show you exactly what you can do to make 2012 your best year ever.

Click here Register for the January webinar

Class materials: (You won’t find these anywhere else!)

  • Online Giving Roadmap Template
  • Enewsletter Rescue Plan
  • Social Media Strategy Guide
  • Social Media Policy eBook
  • Resources for online giving, enewsletters, social media, and more
  • Access to recorded versions of the webinars
  • And more!

My Guarantee: If you attend every webinar, create and follow your road map for online giving, and you still find that online giving to your nonprofit doesn’t increase by at least 10% in 2012 as compared to 2011, you can choose between 100% of your money back or 3 hours of free coaching.

What “The Help” Can Teach Nonprofits About Social Media

Okay, I’ll admit I’m behind the times. I finally read the Help by Katheryn Stockett. It was as moving and poignant as the hype made it out to be. I cannot help but reflect on how this courageous story might shed some light on nonprofits and social media.

About the Help:
The Help is set in Jackson Mississippi in the 60’s against the backdrop of the nationwide civil rights movement. In the book, an awkward 20-something white woman nick-named Skeeter wants to become a writer. She looks around for a story worth telling and, through conversations with Aibileen, an African American maid, she discovers it: the untold stories of maids working for white families.

Skeeter works in secret to interview and write the stories of twelve maids. Her book is written anonymously because, if anyone discovered the identities of the maids,  there would be disastrous – even deadly – consequences.

As I read this story, I saw a parallel to today’s world: nonprofits and social media. Today nonprofits tell the stories of the most disadvantaged, marginalized members of our societies. We tell the stories of the homeless, the bullied LGBT youth, the victims of domestic violence, the mentally ill. These stories are stories that those of us working in nonprofits hear every day. But unless we tell these stories, the larger community doesn’t know they exist.

The Help offers three lessons for nonprofits today:

1) Let people make their own decisions.
When Skeeter invited people to participate in the project, she told them the facts: they wouldn’t be a lot of money involved, it may be very risky, and she couldn’t guarantee that they wouldn’t be fired or worse. The twelve women who participated in the project made the informed decision to participate. As the project continued, and the danger increased, they continued to make their own decisions.

Skeeter gave the women the dignity of choice. She also gave them a platform to speak their truth. In working with nonprofits, specifically in media relations, I find that many clients are overjoyed with the opportunity to share their story. They want to tell the world what happened to them and how they are turning their world around. When nonprofits let clients make their own decisions, they offer them dignity and a road to empowerment.

2) Be financially (and otherwise) transparent.
The financial arrangement was transparent from day one: any money made from the book would be split evenly thirteen ways. I doubt any of the women participated for the money but knowing that the benefits would be shared equally made a huge difference. They knew what they were working for: the story.

Nonprofits are legally and morally obligated to a higher standard of transparency than for-profits. Those of us who are nonprofit-savvy know how to find financial information about just about any 501(c)3, but a marginalized client might not. By being proactive about financial transparency, nonprofits establish trust. One example of this is when using a client story in online philanthropy. Of course we want to ask for verbal and written permission to use their story in social media; however, we should go a step further. We should allow them to see (and give feedback) on how we tell their story. We should also allow them to celebrate with us the money raised for the organization. Certainly clients wouldn’t be paid, but they can and should be informed.

3) Sign your name.
Skeeter and the maids agreed to be anonymous for safety purposes. As the book they co-authored was published, no one spoke a word about who was involved in the process. But, like in most small towns, the rumors spread.  In perhaps the most moving scene of the book, the African American church of Jackson Mississippi signed their names on the recently published book. This book was presented to Albileen as a gesture of solidarity and gratitude. This act said, “We stand with you.”

Nonprofit organizations are perhaps one of the few vehicles through which the marginalized members of our society can speak. In many ways, we are their voice, their advocate, and their champion. If we don’t sign our names, who will?

Skeeter, Albileen and the 11 others were brave, brave women. The nonprofit organizations I know are also filled with brave people. When we are transparent, give people choices, and are willing to sign our names, the world can change.

5 Tips for A ROCK SOLID Enewsletter

Enewsletters are the bread and butter of online philanthropy.
Yes social media is important – indispensable even – in online fundraising. But remember. . . enewsletters allow you the opportunity to control the message, a luxury social media does not afford.

A great enewsletter can

  • raise funds,
  • encourage in-kind donations,
  • inspire volunteer contributions, and
  • increase overall awareness.

If you are considering starting an enewsletter or if you want to revitalize your current one, read on. . .

5 Tips for A ROCK SOLID Enewsletter

1) Start with a good list. Your mailing list is the ticket to success. Make sure everyone has opted in and that you are following CAN-SPAM laws. These laws are a bit more lenient for nonprofits than for-profits but don’t be fooled: everyone must opt-in. It is more valuable to have a short list of highly motivated readers than a long list of people who think you’re spam.

2) Provide excellent content. Only send out enewsletters as often as you can provide excellent content. As with social media, it is important that enewsletters not be sales pitches. Here are some ideas nonprofits have used:

  • Highlight a donor
  • Give a client testimonial
  • Feature a volunteer
  • Provide an update to a noteworthy program
  • Share how things in the world (economy, politics, etc.) affect your clients or your agency
  • Share your expertise in the form of tips and resources for the reader

3) Be consistent. If you send out the enewsletters sporadically, people will forget they have signed up. If they forget they signed up, they will opt-out. Bad news. Instead, send the newsletters consistently. Once a month is a good place to start. Only if you have a lot of new, valuable content, should you consider doing it more often. If you are wondering what days and times to send the enewsletter, consider mid-week (Tues, Weds, Thurs) either late morning or early afternoon. You can experiment and see what days/times work best for your list.

4) Don’t fuss about open rates. If you are getting an open rate of 20-30%, you’re doing a good job. We can always strive for better but remember this: even if people don’t open the email, they still see your name. That bit of brand recognition goes a long way.

5) Cross pollinate. Share your enewsletter on your social media accounts. Include in your email signature line a link to the web version. Add a link to your website. It’s okay to include some of the same content on all of these accounts. Just make sure that the content is appropriate for the space – no 500 word Facebook posts.

Enewsletters remain one of the best and least expensive ways to communicate with donors, clients, and the larger community.

If you’d like assistance setting up or revitalizing your enewsletters, email me today at jenniferamandajones@gmail.com.

Got ideas? Share your best tips below!

A Note of Thanks

Every two years, my family makes the trek to San Diego for an official “Jones Family Thanksgiving.” As a nuclear family transplanted from England, our holidays are usually small. But a funny thing has happened over the years – our table has grown. As people get married, have babies, and forge life-long friendships, more and more plates are added to the table. This year there will be a record 15 of us.

I am sure you are making similar Thanksgiving preparations, whether it be with family or friends. Before all of the madness begins, I wanted to take a moment and say thank you.

Today, I am especially grateful for:

  • You, my readers
  • My family and friends
  • The incredible new opportunities opening up in 2012
  • The work of those in the US who are raising long overdue discussions
  • My munchkins who have crowned me “Super Aunt” or, on a very good day, “Super Duper Aunt”
  • The opportunity to live, work, and study in San Diego – amazing!
  • The opportunity to study at USD – it is beyond my expectations
  • Twitter and Facebook, which allow me to connect in ways I could not do otherwise

It’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the holidays. After all, the turkey is not yet digested before the holiday sales begin.

Let us pause first and say thank you. Remember:

“If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, “thank you,” that would suffice.”  ~Meister Eckhart

For wonderful quotes on gratitude, click here.

What are you most grateful for today? Please share below:

The Photos that Betray Us: GPS technology, mobile phones, & nonprofits

By next year, all mobile phones in North America will use GPS to capture locations.  Many already do. This information is extremely useful in the case of emergencies. It will help us to find missing persons and to respond to disaster victims.

There is a downside. A huge downside.

Mobile phones have cameras. Many newer phones automatically tag photos with your name, location, date, time, etc. This information helps the phone to organize your photos.  If those photos are shared online, the information stored in the photos is also shared.

This is called Geotagging. According to Socialbrite.org’s Social Media Glossary:

“Geotagging is the process of adding location-based metadata to media such as photos, video or online maps. Geotagging can help users find a wide variety of businesses and services based on location.”

Why might it be unwise to automatically share this information? If you takea photo at home and then post it online, a thief or predator can learn your address. If you take a photo at a domestic violence shelter, an abuser can use the address to find his/her former partner. This is true even of the photos we take of staff or facilities at domestic violence shelters.

I spoke recently with Deacon Johnson, creator of pixelguard, an application which allows users to decide what information is stored in their photos. He designed the app shortly after becoming a father. He realized the danger of social sharing and wanted to protect his child.

In talking with Deacon, I realized how important it is to be savvy about the information in our photos. By removing the data stored in photos, we are protecting clients, donors, and staff.

Nonprofits have been quick to adopt social media. In fact, more than 97% of nonprofits are using social media of some type. However, few have explicit social media policies. Even fewer are dealing directly with issues of privacy and security posed by social media.

This is definitely an issue nonprofits will want to look into. As a Nonprofit Nerd, I can think of many causes that should be thinking about these issues:

  • Domesticviolence safe houses
  • Organizations working with abused children
  • Health care organizations
  • After school programs
  • Drug and alcohol treatment centers
  • And many, many more.

By removing the information in our photos, we reduce the risks associated with publishing photos online. We don’t eliminate risks but they are reduced somewhat.

Consistent with Deacon’s mission to protect children, the pixelguard app is free for public schools.

This post is a part of our “Stay Tuned” blog series where I interview experts on a variety of topics. If you have a topic you’d like to see covered, please add it in the comments below.

Policies as beach reading?!

“Social media culture eats policies for breakfast,” might be the 2011 version of Drucker’s wisdom, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.”

It is very tricky.

We can look at this from a perspective of managment vs leadership. For the purposes of today’s discussion, let’s establish some broad definitions:

Management: delineates and controls work product. Essentially, management gets things done.

Leadership: inspires and facilitates the achievement of a larger vision. Essentially, leadership moves us forward.

Typically, polices are a function of managment. They define scope of work and frame boundaries of authority. They are usually boring, dry, and not very inspiring.

Let’s face it – in general, policies aren’t beach reading.

Social media polices – to be effective – are a function of leadership teathered to managment. What do I mean by this?

Social media polices must accomplish two seemingly divergent goals:

  1. Instill caution. (management)
  2. Inspire creativity. (leadership)

Policies instill caution by articulating key boundaries such as client privacy, legal compliance, and ethical considerations. These very same policies must also inspire creativity by encouraging innovation, honoring relationships first, and putting immediate goals aside for long-term community building.

For many managers, writing social media policies may seem like a lesson in chaos. It probably is but, given the ever-evolving nature of social media, that is unavoidable.

As Frank Barrettt says, “Say yes to the mess!”

For many leaders, writing social media policies may seem like an exciting tight rope walk.

It is. And it is a dangerous one. Proceed with caution.

In 2011, we must learn to walk the very thin line between strategy, policies, and culture. Social media culture is ever changing. Policies must keep pace and anticipate changes. They must inspire creativity and instill caution, doing both in a way that moves the online community forward. If we miss the mark, we quickly become the “breakfast” of pop culture.

Social media polices should be great beach reading. Are yours?

For resources as you write your policies and learn the ropes of social media, sign up for my weekly enewsletter.

5 Nonprofits to Watch

Here are 5 nonprofits I think are doing great things on social media. Some are well established, others are just getting started. They all have one thing in common: they are doing it right.

What does “doing it right” mean on social media? They are engaging, personable, consistent, and exciting. Take a look.

San Diego Zoo

Click here for – Facebook

Click here for – Twitter

I’ve become an even bigger fan of the San Diego Zoo since joining their Facebook page. It hard to resist commenting on their posts. They are very creative. One day they will post a picture of a unique plant and ask us to guess where it is located. Another day they posted a picture of an animal – a gorilla, I think – with a very strange expression. Facebook fans got to suggest captions for the photo. There is always something new and interesting. Fans are clearly engaged.

Kid Healthy

Click here for – Twitter

Kid Healthy does a great job of taking their specific issue (fighting obesity in low-income communities) and making it relevant to the social media audience. Posts often include tips, ideas, and kudos to others who are making healthy lifestyle choices. What parent or health-conscious person wouldn’t want to subscribe to that Twitter feed?

Peta

Click here for – Twitter

Click here for – Facebook

Yes, 1.2 million Facebook fans is pretty amazing. But you really know a nonprofit is doing a good job on social media when you continuously see information about them pop up on your Facebook friends’ wall streams. Peta is one such organization. They contribute unique, compelling content – including photos – which gets people talking.

US-Mexico Border Philanthropy Partnership

Click here for – Facebook

This nonprofit is new to social media and I share them as an example of how to start on the right foot. Well before they sent out their first ‘please like us’ message, the Facebook page was already full of useful, interesting information. As soon as they hit 25 fans, they created a custom Facebook URL.  They organization is posting on a regular basis and the information is relevant to the topic but not overly self-promoting. They are also doing a great job of using photos to capture people’s attention.

Red Cross

Click here for – Facebook

Click here for – Twitter

Check out the Facebook page for the Red Cross. They have applications which allow you to donate and find a chapter, all from Facebook. They make it easy on their followers. It works. It appears they have almost raised $700,000 on Facebook alone!  The Twitter page is especially appropriate for the organization. Twitter is most often used in disasters. The Red Cross has the ability to share important messages instantly in a way that could potentially ‘go viral’ and reach many, many more than the 500,000 followers they currently have.

One of these organizations has 37 fans, another has 1.2 million fans. It doesn’t matter. They are building their constituency by adding value through their pages. I recommend following them in the days, months, years to come.

What organizations do you recommend following?

Free E-Course: Social Media 101

Click here to register for your free e-course: Social Media 101. This free four part e-course will give you a basic understanding of the scope and benefits of social media for business – including nonprofits.

The course will be emailed to you once a week for four weeks. Topics include:

1. Social Media 101 – the Big Picture
2. Social Media 101 – Marketing and ROI
3. Social Media 101 – the Benefits
4. Social Media 101 – Getting Started

This course also includes: some light (optional) homework, lots of resources, and tips you can implement right away.

Who should take this course?
– A CEO who is reluctant to join social media
– Someone trying to convince a CEO
– Anyone wanting to know the basics

Not sure if you should jump on the social media bandwagon?

Check out this video:

Register today for this free e-course.

Questions? Ask me below or on Twitter.

 

A Lesson in Twitter Handles – Learning from the New York Times

Many companies struggle to determine who owns the social media account – the employee or the company? Without clear policies, companies risk losing the fan base they worked so hard to establish. This can be devastating. Just ask the BBC – they lost 60,000 followers.

On Twitter, the biggest concern is determining the best Twitter Handle (or username). We want to increase brand exposure and yet success depends upon personality and genuine connection. How do we be humans online when wearing the mask of a brand or logo?

The New York Times (NYT) manages the balance well. Let’s take a look.

Official New York Times Wellness Twitter Account:
The twitter handle for the official NYT Twitter account is @nytimeswell. This Twitter handle clearly “belongs” to the company; however, when you look at the page, you can see personality right away. Blogger Tara Parker Pope’s photo and name are clearly displayed. You can also see her personal Twitter handle which includes her full name and no reference to the NYT.

Click on the picture below to enlarge.

It is clear that followers are following the company; however, followers are interacting with an individual. This profile builds trust and establishes a relationship.

This profile also protects the NYT. If Ms. Parker-Pope is promoted or leaves the company, the Twitter handle is still useful to the NYT. The company retains the account and its 100,000+ followers (assuming they like the next personality just as much).

If the official Twitter handle were a blend of personal and professional such as @Parker-Pope_NYTWell, the account would be difficult to salvage.  The NYT would have to create a new Twitter account and ask its 100,000+ followers to follow that new account. It is doubtful all followers would transfer; the NYT would lose valuable exposure.

Tara Parker-Pope’s Personal Twitter Account:
Blogger Tara Parker-Pope’s personal Twitter handle is her full name: @taraparkerpope. It does not include the name of her company.  She does indicate in her profile that she is a blogger for the NYT. This allows for maximum exposure for both her and the NYT. Parker-Pope’s followers can also follow the NYT and vice-versa.

Click on the picture below to enlarge.

If Ms. Pope is promoted to a different position or leaves the NYT, she should be able to retain her personal account without concern. She can easily change her profile information to reflect her new status. If her personal Twitter handle were a blend of her name and the company, this change would not be so easy to navigate.

Why is it imporatnt to separate personal from professional?
Rarely do individuals stay in one job for more than a few years; however, social media is here to stay. Companies must think long term.

It is dangerous when a company’s presence online is dependent on an employee’s twitter handle, especially an employee’s twitter handle which includes the compnay name (such as @joe_ABCcompany). There are two major risks here:

  1. First, when the employee is no longer at the company, the Twitter handle is no longer useful to either the employee or the  company. The followers must either chose to follow a different account or be lost completely. This loss is completely avoidable.
  2. Second, it is unclear who owns the Twitter account. Does it belong to Joe or to the company?  These questions are leading to some very interesting (and unfortunate) legal debates.

Social Media Policies
Social media polices are key. Policies should state upfront how decisions are made. A good social media policy will:

  1. Provide guidance as to the naming of company accounts
  2. Provide guidance to employees as to how to avoid the question of ownership of their  personal accounts

The NYT Wellness account is one great exampel of how to balance personal and professional on Twitter. Do you know of other examples  Please share here.

Social Media Policies – 6 Mistakes NOT to Make

We all want to keep our organizations safe online. How? Below are six common mistakes made in regards to social media policies.

1)     Mistake #1: A policy of DON’T. When writing social media policies, it is best to write about what staff can do, rather than focus what they can’t do.  When we focus on what we can do, we are focusing on opportunity and action rather than avoidance and reaction. We want staff to be thinking about possibilities, not paralyzed in fear.

2)     Mistake #2: Not paying attention to the fine print. It seems simple but many organizations don’t read the guidelines for social media sites. As a result, they make decisions which later haunt them. If you’ve ever created a Facebook Profile page for an organization, you might know what I’m talking about.  It’s no fun to work on your site only to have it revoked because you didn’t read the sites’ directions.  Policies are a good place to remind staff to follow all site-specific regulations.

3)     Mistake #3: Going too narrow. The policies should focus on the
big picture. They should include concerns such as privacy, safety, and
values.  They don’t need to mention the nitty-gritty ‘how-to’ instructions on individual sites because sites change frequently. Should staff have ‘how-to’ instructions on individual sites? Sure! Those guidelines are very helpful but don’t need to be a part of your policies.

4)     Mistake #4: Not involving HR. The HR director must be involved in this process. There are so many potential challenges which your organization might confront up to and including potential termination of employees. This is extreme but does happen. Writing polices which avoid these challenges requires that HR be at the table.  If you still aren’t convinced, check out some of the articles on my Social Media Polices Page.

5)     Mistake #5: Not having a social media savvy lawyer review the policies. We aren’t experts in the law and new cases are being decided every day. Don’t give your policies to a tax lawyer to review. Do you research and find a lawyer who understands the issues. It’s worth the money.

6)     Mistake #6: Not having policies. It’s tempting to bury our heads in the sand but that won’t help us here. For one thing, the staff engaged in online outreach need direction. I’ve talked with many staff and the one thing I hear over and over is this, “I need guidance. I think I’m doing the right thing but I’m not sure.” When it comes to social media, the field is literally being created before our eyes.  Nobody expects senior leadership to be experts; however, it is important that staff have clear guidance and know what pitfalls to avoid. Together, you make a great team.

What’s your biggest question about social media policies? Let me know below and I’ll address it in an upcoming blog post.

Making the Switch: Marketing in Today’s World

At a business networking event, I met a marketing representative from one of those private fly-by-night schools. I’m not a fan of the institution (hence I’m not naming names), but they were in the middle of a fantastic marketing campaign. I told the woman how impressed I was. Her reaction surprised me. She asked,

 “What do you like about the campaign?”

This is key. I made a comment about her work. She immediately turned the discussion to me and how I, the potential consumer, relate to the brand.  

She engaged me. This is demonstrative of what Social Media is doing for marketing today.

Social Media asks the consumer, “What do you think?” Publically.

In traditional marketing, a company or nonprofit establishes a brand and then representatives spread the espoused message. The message is what the company says it is. No discussion.

Social Media provides a space in which a company must engage their constituency – customers, donors, clients, patients, community members, legislators, etc.  It shifts marketing activity from the “preaching”
of a pre-established message to a public dialogue. Yes, there is still the traditional branding in the sense of a logo and messaging; however, the goal is not to deliver a brand sermon. The goal is to engage in conversation and to be in relationship with your constituents.

Relationships require work. My colleague says, “Relationships are not 50/50 but 100/100.” You have to be willing to hear what the other person has to say. . . . Proceed with caution.

When you invite the public into a relationship on Social Media, you are holding perhaps the most public forum possible. An online discussion is available to the entire world. It is not limited to the number of people that can fit in a gymnasium. It is not limited to the speakers officially on the agenda. It is not bound by the same relationship dynamics we honor when meeting in person (handshakes, meeting agendas, subtle throat coughing, etc.).  It requires an entirely new set of rules.

This can be very unnerving, especially for those trained in marketing many years ago. This definitely isn’t Kansas.

As you can imagine, there are challenges and major risks associated with social media. Here are just a couple:

  • Negative feedback
  • Difficulty starting a discussion
  • Difficulty facilitating a conversation when it turns hostile or deals with difficult subjects
  • Privacy issues for all parties

These challenges aren’t insurmountable. In fact, some are tremendous opportunities.

I said earlier that the consumer was in charge. That isn’t entirely true. Nonprofits and small businesses have a tremendous opportunity to start and shape the discussion. Here are just a few of the tactics used:

  • Sharing a message and asking followers to repost or retweet
  • Creating an event and ask followers to invite others
  • Starting a discussion online
  • Asking for feedback
  • Providing useful information or shocking statistics
  • Hosting a contest where people have to create content such as a video, photo caption or short essay

Traditional marketing worked for many years. It is one of the reasons large companies like CocaCola or nonprofits such as St. Jude’s were able to grow. Today, marketing is different. Consumers want to engage. They want to feel like they are a part-of, and they want to help in the myriad of ways possible via Social Media. Marketing must both allow for and shape that interaction.

It is a relationship and it takes work. Are you ready?

Question for readers: What has been the biggest surprise for you as you begin to use social media for business?

Social Media Policies: Assemble Your Team

Many of your organization’s policies – like HIPAA compliance or donor privacy – can be written by the CEO to top leadership without input from staff. This is not the case with social media policies. If you are the CEO and are tempted to write a policy without including your staff in the process, I beg you – STOP. Do not pass go.

As you will see in this and other posts, I am a big fan of team work when it comes to social media. There are key players in any organization that must be involved
in order to 1) be successful and 2) minimize risk.

If yours is like many organizations, most of your social media activity is completed by program staff. Many of these program staff are from the Gen Y generation or are on the younger side of Gen X. This is great. You need at least one “Digital Native” who is familiar with the tools on your team. However, as I discuss in this and other blogs, the skill sets of your core leadership team are absolutely necessary.

Here is a quick snapshot of who should be on your Social Media Team and what they might contribute:

  • CEO / Executive Director: provides overall leadership
  • HR Director: anticipates and provides guidance on employee related concerns
  • IT Director: provides technical support and anticipates IT and site related concerns
  • Program Director: establishes outcomes and identifies staffing needs; this is critical for nonprofits doing client outreach and/or program participant tracking
  • Development and/or Marketing Director: provides guidance on messaging, branding, and integration with organization’s marketing and outreach activities
  • Social Media program staff: provides insights in social media, researches target populations’ online activities
  • At least one (preferably more) “Digital Native”: ideally one or more of the above categories will include a “Digital Native” (bicultural in the social media world) but if not, invite one to participate
  • Anyone else you might think necessary: for example, a board member or volunteer with particular expertise
  • A social media savvy lawyer: whether it is a volunteer board member or paid counsel, it is imperative that a social media savvy lawyer review your polices before you put them into place and that s/he be available for questions down the road

As you can see, this is a power-house of a team. Their role will
be to:

  1. Set the course for where you want to go
  2. Develop and review policies
  3. Encourage creativity
  4. Stay abreast of new opportunities (including funding!) and challenges
  5. Monitor and (sometimes) participate in social media dialogue
  6. Provide guidance and trouble shoot along the way

You might be successful without creating a core team; however, there are many complex issues involved in social media outreach for nonprofits. To minimize risk and maximize success, you’re best bet is bring the team together early and often.

Stay tuned. In future posts I’ll discuss how to work together to create the right policies for your organization, anticipate opportunities, and dodge challenges.

For resources, visit my Social Media Policies resource page.

Does your organization have a Social Media Team? If so, tell us about your success below.

Social Media Policies – from 175 to 5

If you are looking for templates to create a social media policy, look no further.

The Social Media Governance website has more than 175 different policies you can peruse.  It includes policies from companies of different types, sizes, and sectors.

If you are writing your organization’s first set of social media policies, this website is a must-use resource.

The question is – do you have time to read 175 different templates?

If you are like most CEOs, the answer is no. You don’t have the time to read 175 templates. Nor do you have the time for a lawsuit down the road.

When crafting a policy for a specific company, you might whittle down the list by
looking at a sampling of polices in 5 major categories:

  1. Look for policies written by law firms. Why? They
    might know a thing or two about not breaking the law.
  1. Look for policies written by communication and marketing firms. Why? They would understand – and want their staff to take advantage of – the unique opportunities of social media. These firms are likely to give leeway in policy to allow for innovation and experimentation. This is important.
  1. Look for policies written by organizations in your field. Why? They might have insight into sector specific issues which should be addressed in your policies.  In social media, it’s not about new laws. It’s about how the old laws and regulations – like HIPAA – will be applied.
  1. Look for policies written by organizations (large and small) with a successful online presence. Why? They are obviously doing a decent job of a) risk management and 2) fostering creativity. A good set of social media policies will do both. It is a delicate balance.
  1. Look for policies which are general, not specific to a social
    media site.
    Why? Sites come and go. Sites change their format and rules. If your policies reflect a site, they will soon be out of date. Instead, policies should guide social media activity overall. Let the staff sort out the details of how to apply the policy to an individual site.

The list of policies available on the Social Media Governance website is truly remarkable. I’m delighted it’s there as a resource. These suggestions above will help streamline your search so you can hone in on those policy samples most illuminating for your organization….. and when you have crafted your social media policy, don’t forget to add it to the database!

Quitting . . . and leaving with the online Rolodex!

An employee’s personal LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter accounts may very well contain some of your company’s most valuable relationships. These relationships may be jeopardized if that employee quits or is terminated.

A fascinating article by Ed Fraumenheim in the June edition of Workforce Management highlights the risk inherent in the increasing professional use of social media: employees who quit and take the Rolodex – in the form of personal social media accounts –with them.

In area of social media, there are not many precedent-setting legal cases. . . yet.

According to Fraumenheim, in regards to the issues of the “online rolodex”, our current Intellectual Property standards and non-competing agreements are not enough to provide concrete answers.

My friends, this is a new frontier; and, unfortunately, companies find themselves reacting to situations rather than crafting prevention-focused policies.

If your company is looking into these issues, my kudos to you.  You are on the cutting edge.

Here are some questions to facilitate your discussion:

1)     What are our internal policies and procedures about storing the
contact information of donors, clients, customers, etc.?
At a very
minimum, it is important this information be stored in a database housed by the
organization rather than solely on an employee’s social media account or even
their Outlook account. If you already have this policy in place – and most
companies will – when was the last time you reminded staff, reinforced the
procedures around this policy, and/or conducted an audit?

2)     Are our company’s social media accounts dependent upon a single employee?  A company’s official pages should be set up
so as to be maintained easily by anyone within the company. Information about
passwords, branding, and maintaining your company’s “social media personality” should be shared amongst key staff. This is crucial. If this valuable
information lives with only one person, there may be trouble down the road.
Similarly, if the company’s social media accounts largely reflect an individual
– even a star employee considered an authority in the field –there is cause for
concern.

3)     If employees are encouraged to have individual social media
accounts for your company, what kinds of policies would ensure the company maintains influence?
For example, a company might ask employees to set up a professional Twitter account or a Blog in order to position themselves as authorities in the field or to answer customers’ questions. Are those accounts required to include the company name? Include company branding? Be connected to the company’s account? Answers to these questions may determine whether or not an employee can legally walk away with information stored in that account.

4)     What are the rules guiding employees’ conversations online? Keep in mind that what is said online is public and forever. It can be viewed by your competitors. If the data is valuable to your company and/or your clients, it would behoove you to think through how to best protect it online. Both nonprofits and small businesses can lose the competitive edge if they aren’t careful. However, too much caution will hamper the success of online marketing campaigns. It’s a double-edged sword.

As was mentioned earlier, there are no definite answers to these questions and no court decisions we can look to for guidance. We proceed with caution in hopes that our company is not the legal precedent setter. As with most HR issues, transparency, planning, communication, and consistency are key.

If you have suggestions for other discussion questions, please comment below.