Tag Archives: social media

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.

 

 

 

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.

 

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.

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.

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.

 

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?

10 Tweets for Your Back Pocket

 Using social media as a marketing tool does not have to take a lot of time. In another blog, I discuss ways it can be managed in 5 minutes or less per day and still be successful. . . but that doesn’t help you today, does it?

 If are sitting at your desk wondering, “what can I possibly tweet today?”, here are 10 tweets to save in your back pocket.

  1. Share a success. Comb through your monthly reports for ‘tweetable’ material. There is surely something to share.
  2. Tweet a mini-book or article review for whatever you’re reading, preferably related to your business or cause.
  3. Tweet a lesser known fact about your business.
  4. Tweet a quote. If the quote ties into your mission, even better. Try www.quoteland.com for inspiration.
  5. Tweet a “thank you” to a recent customer or donor. (Note – make sure they would want to be acknowledged publically.)
  6. Tweet a ‘shout out’ to someone you think is doing great work and deserves recognition.
  7. Tweet a reply to someone else’s tweet. See if you can add to the conversation. If not, acknowledge their insights.
  8. Tweet a tweet. Scroll through your Home Page and retweet something you find interesting.
  9. Tweet a ‘Thanks for the retweeet!” to the last person who retweeted you.
  10.  Tweet a request for questions. Let your followers tell you what they want to hear from you.

While it is important to have a social media strategy, it is equally important to respond to the needs of the day. These 10 tweets can be used any day, any time. Tweet away!