Happy Holidays…Now Get Started

December 23, 2012

Tux photos_00000There’s not a better time to bring your nonprofit into the world of social media. Make a commitment now to what you can realistically accomplish in 2013.

If you need help, reach out for it. We all know that plans are worth very little if they just collect dust.

My 2013 will see me putting out two books, one of which will lay out a social media blueprint for nonprofits. Stay tuned!

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Fundraising the Smart Way – Part 2

August 20, 2012

I’m collaborating with Ellen Bristol of The Leaky Bucket Nonprofit Blog on a series of reports on nonprofits and social media. Ellen focuses on how nonprofits can manage and improve their fundraising performance, emphasizing strategic management, metrics, benchmarks and processes.

Why? Because as she says, too many nonprofits ignore the strategic stuff and focus on tactics. And when they do, fundraising suffers. Social media seems like a tactical issue, but when you look at it strategically, it can boost your fundraising performance in meaningful ways.

In today’s post, Ellen has added her thoughts to the end of each section, which I’ve put into italics.


Using Social Media Right, Part 2

4. Who Does the Work? Many nonprofits assign their social-media work to younger employees, assuming that since “young people” are more likely to use social media more than the rest of the staff, they’re “perfect” for the job. But experience may not equal expertise. Can the staffer oversee a multigenerational marketing and branding effort to increase awareness of your organization and raise money?Maybe your social media should be handled by a team including someone for content and someone else to post and link.

Ellen’s comment: Social-media tools may be easy to learn, but knowing how to use them doesn’t deliver the message. Make sure your social-media messages help to fulfill your fundraising strategy: are you attracting the right funders and getting the results you want.

5. Use Your Brochure and Other Existing Materials. Don’t reinvent the wheel when creating content. If you have good brochures or annual reports, why not share the information through other formats? Your supporters aren’t memorizing the copy, after all.

Take information from brochures or reports and break it down into bite-sized chunks. I’ve seen organizations get at least ten posts from one brochure.

Ellen’s comment: Several short posts that deliver related messages are more effective and drive a larger following, than the occasional huge post. Create a conversation with followers.

6. Be Quick. In the past you could wait weeks before you shared photos from an event in a newsletter. With social media, audiences expect it almost instantaneously. If you have an event, get some or all of your pictures posted within 24 hours. That may not be possible if you use a professional photographer; save those shots for the annual report and make sure someone on staff is taking candid shots as well. The shots may not be as nice but they can serve as a good appetizer for your post event coverage and appeals. Make sure that you tell people at the event where and when they’ll be able to find the photos.

You may also need to shift your view of perfection. Perfection is a worthy goal but it takes a long time. “Good” takes a lot less time.

Imagine that your nonprofit’s focus or main issue is being covered in the national news. You need to comment on it immediately and use it to introduce your organization to the community or reinforce your image. To execute, you need a streamlined approval process. This is not the time to forward an idea to a dozen people for approval. Think of the media coverage as your Super Bowl; you have to get your Super Bowl advertisement out as soon as possible.

Ellen’s comment: In fundraising, “getting it done” is often better than “getting it perfect.” People can even use “getting it perfect” as a way to delay doing the fundraising task at all. Set up and simplify your approval process ahead of time. Master the art of writing succinct copy quickly. These are strategic issues!

7. Share a Vision

Most people don’t know what you do or how you do it. They know you do good work but that’s about it. Take them into your world and let them feel your passion for your cause. People love “behind the scenes” features, where you get to find out how the magic is made. So profile some of your employees. How did they come to your organization? Tell us about the person who answers your phone. Have four or five questions that you ask each employee. Ditto for clients, donors and board members.

Make sure your employees, volunteers, and board members follow your posts. It’s not a bad idea to give them a fun quiz to make sure they are. They are your chief ambassadors, so they need to know what’s happening in your organization.

Engage your followers with questions and ask them to respond. Studies have found that only a very small percentage will likely respond but it’s important to make sure you’re having a dialogue and not a sermon.

Ellen’s comment: Not only does this tip help you build your following, it helps you and your insiders appreciate the true mission and impact of your nonprofit!


Fundraising the SMART Way: Using Social Media Right, Part 1

June 22, 2012

I’m collaborating with Ellen Bristol of The Leaky Bucket Nonprofit Blog on a series of reports on nonprofits and social media. Ellen focuses on how nonprofits can manage and improve their fundraising performance, emphasizing strategic management, metrics, benchmarks and processes.

Why? Because as she says, too many nonprofits ignore the strategic stuff and focus on tactics. And when they do, fundraising suffers. Social media seems like a tactical issue, but when you look at it strategically, it can boost your fundraising performance in meaningful ways.

In today’s post, Ellen has added her thoughts to the end of each section, which I’ve put into italics.


Using Social Media Right, Part 1

Social media can no longer be considered a fad or something only kids use. It’s been embraced by big business as a powerful way to connect with audiences. Your nonprofit needs to be part of this movement.

The danger is that you’ll jump in the pool without learning how to swim first, become frustrated, and swear off social media forever. Let’s make sure that tumbleweed won’t soon be rolling through your Facebook, YouTube and Twitter accounts. Follow these tips to maximize your investment in online marketing:

Ellen’s comment: If you’re not clear about your mission, your ideal funders, and the metrics you use for managing fundraising performance, your Social Media won’t build the following you want.

1. Don’t Expect Too Much, Too Soon. Social media is not a bright, shiny object that will instantly solve all of your problems. It is a cost effective way to build ongoing relationships with donors and prospects. Make a long term commitment to explore and use the various social media platforms. See what works and adjust your strategy accordingly. It’s hard to predict what may resonate with your audience, so don’t become frustrated if one appeal doesn’t work very well. Try something else.

While social media can lead to revenue (either directly or indirectly), it’s more like a slot machine than a weekly paycheck. Don’t let every post be an “ask.” Constantly begging people for money is a turnoff. Only one out of a dozen posts should have any mention of fundraising.

When you do have an appeal, focus it strictly on a specific program or issue. Don’t just say, “Give us money. We’ll do good stuff with it.” That’s something any nonprofit can say.

Ellen’s comment: It takes time to build a following and create a brand. Social Media will help you tell your story, your clients’ success stories, testimonials, musings, history, and so on. That stuff drives the motivation to give.

2. Be Consistent. Before you post anything, map out a schedule for social media interaction. Making a commitment doesn’t mean that it can’t be changed later but you need to have a plan. You don’t have to post something every day. It’s more important to make sure that your posts are informative to your followers. So when your posts appear, people know you’re worth reading.

You may also want to consider having a theme for your posts. Maybe, it’s something like, “Fact Friday” or “Snapshot Tuesday.” The idea is to train your readers to expect some predictable good content.

Ellen’s comment: Inconsistent marketing leads to inconsistent performance. It’s tough to build a following, but easy to lose one.

nonprofit fundraising, connect with your donors3. Think Visual. It can be tempting to use a lot of words in your updates. Resist the urge. People like to scan social media sites rather than do extensive reading. That’s why pictures can be so valuable to your online campaign. Find a good picture that represents your organization’s mission, or take good pictures of your clients, activities or events. Add a caption to it if you have photo editing software or just put the caption in the social media site’s update window.

This is your chance to be creative and conversational. You could say something like, “This is why we don’t mind working late,” or “Challenging times never go on vacation.” The goal is to stop people and make them think.

Pictures can be unusual as well. For instance, can a weekly donation of a small amount of money (like 96 cents = $50/year) make a difference to your nonprofit? Lay out the money and take a picture of it. You get extra credit if you can put the coins in a creative shape.

Ellen’s comment: Your case for support is always stronger when you tell your story, stronger still when you SHOW it. That’s how to build relationships with supporters, donors and clients.


Nonprofit Phrases That Should Be Banned

May 23, 2012

Nonprofit phrases that should be banned, Ken Okel, Social Media for nonprofits coach

Click to see a larger view. You are free to print or download.

It began as a fun challenge: To take a look at the words and phrases that we’ve used so much in the nonprofit community that they’ve lost their meaning.

I thought this search for cliches might generate a dozen entries from several nonprofit LinkedIn groups.

Instead, the idea caught fire and I continue to receive submissions from nonprofit employees from all over the country. I’ll continue to update the graphic above.

Collecting the phrases is the first step. Now will you join me for the movement?

It’s not enough to identify these overused words. We need to stop using these phrases and get back to clear communication with our partners, our community, and our donors.

Will you join me in taking this step. Our causes deserve to be clearly articulated, free of jargon, cliches, and hyperbole.

Please share your thoughts below.


A Great Video Conferencing Tool On Google+

May 21, 2012

Social media for nonprofits, google+, Ken Okel, google hangouts, free video conferencingYou may have wondered why you need to join another social media site but I think you should register for Google+. Simply by registering, you can gain access to an incredible tool that’s entirely free.

I’m talking about Google Hangouts. This is a video conferencing service that allows up to 10 people to meet online. More people can join the call as observers.

Why should you care?

  1. Nonprofits spend a lot of time driving to meetings. That’s time that you’re not making money.
  2. Having multiple people on a video conference call usually costs a lot of money, something you probably don’t want to pay.
  3. Since you see everyone who’s active on the call, you can make sure that they are listening to what you’re saying and not multi-tasking, which happens frequently on teleconferences.

Everyone on the call needs to be signed up for Google+. It’s the typical sign up process that you’ve experienced elsewhere. After that, you’re free to use Hangouts.

During the call, all of the participants are visible through their computer’s webcams. Whoever is making the most noise (which hopefully means talking), is rotated into a larger window.

Trying something new can be intimidating at first but once you’ve used the program once, you’ll be comfortable with it. Here are a few additional tips:

  1. I think the system works best when you have one person on each webcam. When you have a group on one webcam, it’s harder to see and hear them.
  2. With the noise detection feature, it’s important to be in a place that’s quiet. Turn off your phone’s ringer. I did notice that if someone is a loud typist, that noise can be picked up for all to hear.
  3. As with any meeting, it’s important to have an agenda and start and finish on time.

This is great but I need more help.


Nonprofit Photo Tips

May 1, 2012

I get tired of seeing nonprofits post the same old kind of pictures of clients, volunteers, and board members. You gather up a bunch of people, force them to line up in an orderly fashion, and just as they’re tired of the whole endeavor, you take a picture that’s worthy of the Department of Motor Vehicles.

While I know these shots are necessary for recognition purposes, do they make you want to stop and find out more? After a while, you consider them to be nothing more than visual noise.

As you might guess, this defeats the purpose of the picture!  Now look at the snapshot below:

How to take a good nonprofit group picture, Ken Okel, Social Media Expert

There’s an energy to it that makes you smile. You want to find out more and you have to admit that these volunteers look like a fun group. The personalities came out.

Just a moment before, I covered my bases by taking a traditional shot of the group.  (I’d show it to you but it was so boring that I deleted it.)

Then I told the group that on the count of three I wanted them to say, “hooray.” I also said that it okay if they wanted to gesture as they said it.

The group did a great job of making a memorable photo.  Give your subjects some guidance and then let them have some fun.

Bonus tip: I stood on a chair while taking this picture.  This makes it a lot easier to see the people who are in the back rows.

Every thought about getting some consulting? Ken can help!


Video Contest – Can You Help Me?

April 26, 2012

I want to show you an example of a simple video that I put together for a contest.  It’s with the Asian restaurant, Pei Wei, and the winner will document and report on their head chefs’ trip to Asia. It would be a great chance to travel and tell some stories.

Entries had to be less than 3 minutes, show personality, and talk about your love of food and travel. It’s a challenge but you don’t grow unless you challenge yourself.

My video application is at: http://peiweiinspirasia.com/Home/?userContentId=bdf97c05-9d0d-4b9b-8fea-a2b2c40e16cf#player

When you have a chance take a look and then hit the thumbs up button if you feel so moved.

I think this trip would be a great experience and I’m looking for all the “social media love” and support I can get.

Take care,
Ken