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:

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,

A Slice of Advice For a Pie Maker

April 18, 2012

Ken Okel, Social media recipe for Pamela's PiesRecently, I had a great sample of a pie at a farmer’s market. I’m not a huge pie fan but this Grapefruit Rose Petal Cream creation was fantastic.

I picked up a flyer for the baking business. Later, I was glad to see that Pamela’s Pies has a website and more than 150 followers on Facebook.

But upon further investigation, I realized that Pamela’s online marketing is half-baked. She’s got a great product but could promote it better. This is the same challenge that many nonprofits face every day. You’re really good at something but not so sure how to tackle social media.

So in return for Pamela giving me a piece of pie, I’d like to give her a slice of advice. These are tips that can help all of us in our marketing.

Right now, a lot of the baker’s promotion happens at the Farmer’s Market. People can meet her and taste her pies. But what happens when it rains? Your foot traffic goes way down.

It doesn’t rain on Facebook or on YouTube. These platforms give you a chance to send out your message 24/7.

Video: If I was Pamela, I’d shoot some simple videos, upload them to YouTube and then distribute them through my website and Facebook. Here are some suggestions for topics:

  1. Tell your story. Further online research told me that Pamela is an architect who’s become a baker. That’s a cool story. Share it.
  2. I also found out that she learned baking from her Grandmother, Hattie Mae, who doesn’t measure her ingredients. Wow!
  3. Pamela researches old pie recipes and then gives them a modern twist. Tell me more!
  4. Do a video on each kind of pie you bake. Build my anticipation and activate my taste buds.
  5. You could do a series of pie tips. One tip per video clip.
  6. Try to get some video testimonials from people who have eaten your pies.

This could represent more than 20 video clips that can be consistently posted online. These clips can be shot with a webcam or a basic video camera/cell phone. The audio quality is more important than the video quality. They don’t have to be long.  A minute or two is fine. Take us into your world.

Pictures are also a wonderful tool to use on Facebook. They help create anticipation for your creations. It would be great if we had smell-o-vision for pictures and videos but that hasn’t been invented yet. But that hasn’t stopped The Food Network from making a lot of money off food that viewers can neither smell or taste.

How about this for fan engagement: Have a online contest where you ask people to send you pictures of themselves eating your pie. The best/funniest/most memorable entry gets a free pie. This is a great way to get people to give you content.

Finally, I would suggest that Pamela post more on Facebook. Her last comments to her followers was six months ago. You don’t have to post every five minutes. But pick a schedule, like weekly, that works for you and then stick to it like butter.

So many nonprofits have a great product that not enough people know about. Take my recipe for Pamela and adjust it to your organization.

Additional Resources:

How Long Should My YouTube Video Be?

What Doesn’t Change With Facebook

March 28, 2012

You may think it’s a trick question as Facebook is days away from changing your personal and organizational pages to its new Timeline format.

Yes, I know.  Boo/hiss to a company that loves to change things on you. Take a deep breath and get over it.

The thing that hasn’t changed with Facebook is that it is still a valuable platform for your nonprofit to spread its message.  Good content is still king.

With that in mind, here are some suggestions for your Facebook posts:

Pictures: People love to see themselves at events or see photos of the good work that you’re doing.  I have a saying, “If an event happens and you don’t have a picture of it, then it didn’t happen.”

Get creative with your camera. Take me inside your organization and show your staff hard at work.

Video: Much like pictures, these can be donor attention magnets. From iPhones to Flip Cams style cameras, it’s never been easier to produce videos.

Share Thoughts: Is there a famous quote tied to your organization? Share it. Are there other quotes that inspire you.  Share them.

Explain: Take your brochure, pull out the facts, and post one at a time on Facebook. Voila, you’ve got multiple posts, using info you already have.

What you don’t want to do is constantly ask people for money or go for weeks without posting anything.

Make a commitment to Facebook and strengthen the connection between you and your supporters.

YouTube Video Idea – Your Brochure

March 8, 2012

Not sure what to include in your YouTube videos? Why not look at your nonprofit’s brochure for inspiration? The following video is mostly based on a flyer. Music and presentation style sets it apart.

For this example we framed it around the idea of a leap year but you could do the same thing by focusing on what a day is like for your clients.

YouTube Tip: Move the Furniture

February 24, 2012

Move furniture, youtube Video tip, Ken Okel, social media nonprofits, how to frame your videoDoes your nonprofit YouTube video make you look like you’re in a hostage video? The problem is likely furniture related.

Watch the evening news. Do the anchors sit right up against a wall? No. There’s some depth between them and the back of the set.

This isn’t how we arrange furniture in homes and offices. We put a couch right up against a wall. That’s good for selling a home but lousy for video.

Make sure there’s a few feet between you and any wall. This may mean that you’ll need to move around some furniture. Trust me, it’s worth it.

Another thing to keep in mind: Pictures and other art are hung on walls for the eye. This is not the same as the camera. Very often I see the bottom of picture frames running through someone’s head. It’s distracting. So you may want to take down the pictures while you’re filming.

You are the star of your video not your background. Make sure you’re not competing with it.

Other resources: A Tale of Two YouTube videos.

What is a Blog – A Frequently Asked Question

February 15, 2012

What is a blog, Ken Okel, Social Media for nonprofits, how often should I blog, nonprofit blogging tips, I need blog ideas, what should I put in my blog, social media consultant Miami Orlando

Make blogging a team effort.

Think of a blog like an online journal, where posts are displayed in reverse chronological order.

A post can be an article, a press release, a picture, a diagram, a video, or elements of all. It’s a platform where it is very easy to quickly share content (websites tend to be more complex). The post can be forwarded to social media sites like Twitter and Facebook.

A blog can be part of a website (this likely will require a webmaster to build it into your site) or exist outside your site for free with platforms like Blogger and WordPress.

Search engines, like Google, love blogs because of their ever changing content.  Posts can be easily tagged with keyword rich search terms.  So when someone looks for a phrase that you might not normally associate with the name of your nonprofit, like, “job training,” that post could come up in the search results.

After someone visits the post, there could be a link for more information about your services, which would take them to your main website.  That inbound link is something that search engines also like, which helps further raise the profile of the your site.

Ideally, you would like every post to have some additional link at the end that could send people somewhere else. It’s a chance to channel people to another part of your “online world.”

On a blog, you can also have posts categorized by topic and you can see which posts are getting the most views. Other options include polls.

Blog posts can also be set up as password protected. Perhaps instead of sending large file emails of things like board packets, you could post the entire document on the blog behind a password.

Blogs can accept comments. Comments can be closed off entirely or open for all to use. I prefer having comments accepted only after I approve them. This helps me protect my blog from spam.

There’s usually an option for readers to receive an email notification whenever new content is posted. This is a great way to stay connected.

What is a blog, Ken Okel, Social Media for nonprofits, how often should I blog, nonprofit blogging tips, I need blog ideas, what should I put in my blog, social media consultant Miami OrlandoIdeally a blog should have no less than three posts every week. But remember a post is about sharing content and that content can take different forms and come from different voices. The most important thing is that you commit to keeping a steady stream of content flowing to your blog. Create a routine and stick to it.

For instance: Ask members of the board to submit a paragraph about why they are a part of your nonprofit.. That could cover a lot of posts as well as give more of a face to the organization.

Finally, blogs can be set up so they are easily read by smart phones, which is how more and more people are consuming information online.

Is It News?

February 9, 2012

nonprofit news coverage, Ken Okel, how do I get more TV coverage for my nonprofit, how do I pitch a story to a newspaper, nonprofit publicityAs a newsroom veteran, I’ve seen the hundreds of press releases that can come in on a daily basis.

Too many nonprofits are adding to the pile that gets thrown out almost immediately because they don’t take into account some simple principles:

  1. Are there visuals associated with this story? Typically, no visuals = no TV. Getting a picture in with a newspaper article can make the article stand out.
  2. Can the story be personalized? A story about a program is more interesting, when you can meet someone who has been touched by it. News organizations don’t just want to talk to officials with your nonprofit.
  3. Why should we care? This is a question that’s asked in newsrooms. Some things are nice but aren’t news:

Safe food preparation at a Restaurant XYZ isn’t news. It’s something that the restaurant is expected to do. But if there’s a huge outbreak of  e-coli that’s traced to poor kitchen cleanliness at restaurants, then you could do a story at XYZ, where you show how things are kept safe. While the two scenarios are similar, there’s an element of timeliness that would make the second version a possible story. The first version could still be put out on Facebook or a blog, where people who really like the restaurant might want to find out more.

Ask yourself these questions before you send out your next press release.