Tag Archives: NTC09

How I went from 40 page views to 246 thanks to Twitter

Here's what happened to blog traffic when I posted a link to a blog post on Twitter

Here's what happened to blog traffic when I posted a link to a blog post on Twitter

The headline first:  what you’re seeing in the picture is not a hockey stick.  It’s a cropped screenshot of my Philanthrophile’s wordpress dashboard on April 27.  The day prior, I tweeted to my <10 followers that I had posted an article about a conference breakout session, using the hashtag for the conference.  Philanthrophile is a blog for social media beginners, written by a pro bono consultant (volunteer?), so it doesn’t have a huge following.  Before April 27, its busiest day attracted 40 views.  On April 27, traffic spiked to 246 views.  Therein lies a tale.

I signed up for Twitter on April 20, knowing that I was headed to NTEN.org’s Nonprofit Technology Conference in San Francisco, where I knew half the action would take place on the Twitter channel.

Conference attendees like me used the conference hashtag in their tweets:  #09NTC.  (Some also joined a twibe, but that’s a topic for another time.)  My post about the session, including the hashtag, was retweeted.  So, people either saw the retweet through someone they follow, or searched on their Twitter homepage for the hashtag.  Either way, a healthy number of them ended up checking out the post.

Though a mere speck in the Twitter universe (a universe that sent 12,000 tweets in an hour about swine flu, during the same period), I was struck by the speed that one little tweet triggered an effect.  Questions are swirling this week about the value of Twitter in a marketing mix, given Nielsen Wire’s report that only 40% of Twitter users stick around after the first month.  This small experience, and perhaps a well-informed gut, tells me that Twitter has a greater impact than standard tracking tools may show.  A tweet literally ping-pongs across platforms.  In fact, I saw and read this article about “The Intangibility of Twitter Results” due to a tweet from Maddie Grant (worth following, by the way: @maddiegrant).

Other results:  thanks primarily to people re-tweeting and checking out Philanthrophile, I went from 4 followers to 27.  Yet another speck in the Twitter universe, but I don’t follow people willy-nilly (who has time for that?) in the hopes they’ll follow me.  RSS subscriptions to the blog went up, and people read a number of articles, not just the one they came in to see.

By the way, I wrote 9 observations about my first 24 hours on Twitter, which included the advice not to sign up right after a major celebrity signs on (as Oprah had).


Filed under Uncategorized

8 things I learned about Facebook Causes at NTC 09

Our local United Way just launched its "Live United" campaign on Facebook Causes

Our local United Way just launched its "Live United" campaign on Facebook Causes

With nearly three-quarters of nonprofits having a presence on Facebook, I was curious:  so what’s the big deal?  Susan Gordon, Senior Nonprofit Coordinator for Causes, the free Facebook application, enthusiastically offered best practice tips during the very last time slot of the recent NTEN Nonprofit Technology Conference in San Francisco.

But wait (you say)!  Didn’t I just read a big article that Causes is no good for raising moneyShouldn’t I spend my resources on something with a better return?

After the dissing of the article died down (blogs abuzz…), many users of Causes at the NTEN conference spoke to the value of Facebook as a part of their marketing mix.  Look, no nonprofit has a lot of time OR money, so when these fundraisers tell me it’s a critical part of their toolbox, I listen.  Many believe that people learn about them through Causes, begin to care about the cause or organization, and give through other channels.  By the way, Causes takes a fairly hefty cut  (Facebook takes a small cut of donations, and there’s a transaction fee charged by Network for Good, which processes the money) — but you’re likely acquiring new donors that you wouldn’t have reached any other way.  For small donations, it compares fairly well to the administrative cost of mailing appeals, sending thank you’s, etc. (postage and cost adds up for snail mail donor acquisition, too).

But wait (you again?)!  Doesn’t it take too much time to keep up with Causes?  Angela, who maintains the “Save Darfur Coalition” Causes page (along with a lot of other responsibilities), says she only spends 10 minutes a day on Causes — and they have 1 million Facebook friends.  She says she takes a hands-off approach, checks out new users (and thanks them), and does a little moderation of members’ posts.

Without further adieu (now that you’ve stopped interrupting), here are Susan’s best practice suggestions:

  1. Get the name right.  The name should use an active verb and grab attention, like, “Educate girls in Africa,” or “Stand up for hungry children!”
  2. Find the exclamation point key and use it often.  Susan says that part of the culture of Facebook is enthusiasm.  Exclamation points sell!
  3. Turn it into a campaign.  Set an achievable goal – like raising $10,000 — and find a creative way to engage people to invite their friends.  The “Power of Ten” campaign asked 10 people to invite 10 other people to send $10 each.  One of Susan’s co-speakers, Ryan, noted, “Always have a fundraiser up” (not just a generic cause/organization page).
  4. Consider an incentive, like a drawing to attend a conference, a free downloadable CD, etc.
  5. Use the announcements feature and keep followers in close touch.  Susan says you can’t announce too often, but make the content different each time (and short) – oh, and with exclamation points!
  6. Post on the wall.
  7. Activate your offline network.  Tell people what you’re doing by email and at events.
  8. Reach out to the hall of famers — those that recruited the most friends to the cause — and message them on the Care Wall.  Facebook is VERY careful about not allowing you to message people you don’t know, but Causes found a way to allow nonprofits to communicate with followers through the Care Wall.


Filed under Social media

Chicken or egg dilemma for nonprofits – what’s first: website, email, Facebook, Twitter?


Kathy Gill tweets - what's first?

Kathy Gill tweets - what's first?

I listen when the universe sends me the same message twice in one day.  Yesterday morning, I saw the Twitter post (pictured) from Kathy Gill, University of Washington’s social media senior lecturer.  Attending NTEN’s “Effective Online Communications,” John Kenyon, consultant, asked (and answered) the same question about which online communications component should come first.

Here’s what he said:  “Your website and email are the foundation of your online strategy.”

Here’s what I had tweeted back to Kathy earlier in the day:  “For commercial co, optimize website 1st, then blog and newsletter.”

Came across a summary of a new study (hat tip:  Mack Collier) that suggests blogs are going to play an even bigger role for commercial enterprises going forward.

For a nonprofit, I agree with John.  Make the website sing, and build off of that!  (Kathy, if you happen to see this post I want to know what answers you received from your Twitter followers!)


Filed under Strategy, Websites

How much email is too much when it comes to fundraising appeals?

Screen shot of Common Knowledge's home page

Screen shot of Common Knowledge's home page

Jeff Patrick, president and founder of Common Knowledge, a consulting firm, promised that one of the four case studies he would present at NTEN’s Nonprofit Technology Conference yesterday would be “a juicy one,” but all four went a long way toward satisfying one’s appetite for solid results.  Here are some of the delicious tidbits that appealed to my palate:

You can’t send too many email appeals.”  Knowing that fundraisers and direct mail experts assume that more frequent email appeals will wear out donors and lead them to unsubscribe from email lists, Jeff worked with a national veteran’s group to test whether high frequency email (2 direct appeals and 1 cultivation email with a “soft ask”/month) performed better or worse than low frequency email (1 appeal/month) in combination with printed direct mail materials.  The suprising result:  over a three month period, 23% more was donated by the group that received high frequency email.  (Test groups of equal size received either the low or high frequency email campaign.)  It’s true that the % of those opening these solicitation emails was a little lower among the high frequency group, and their average gift was lower, BUT because they were asked more often, more was raised.  Jeff’s tip:  don’t evaluate a tactic based on a one time experience; run the test over a time period.  He concluded, “Asking more (often) is okay as long as asking more has cultivation in it” — that is, information and stories that develop interest and relationship with potential donors.
A fast way to double your fun – well, almost – by using both online and offline channels in combination.  Jeff also presented a case study that demonstrated a way to jump start email list acquisition by using a company like FreshAddress to append household/address info with emails.   These list suppliers match your info with an email address and go through the work of getting people to opt-in to receive email; the non-profit only pays for email addresses they receive at the end of the process.  Remember that these constituents already know you, so you’re not spamming them.  They may unsubscribe at a higher rate (e.g. 1.5%) but they still give more just because you started communicating with them with an online channel.  Why acquire email addresses of existing donors?  Often, non-profits have large list of past donors with which they communicate by snail mail, but for whom they have no email address.  Jeff says that strong evidence points to the value of communicating BOTH online and offline.  Get this:  if you ask for donations both online (via email) and offline (via snail mail), organizations yield roughly 1 1/2 times the revenue than if they had used just one channel.
Got a new donor or contact?  Jeff recommends “rapid onboarding.”  Anytime someone shares the gift of their contact information with you, communicate rapidly and frequently with them over their first 30 days with you.  Jeff recommends sending cultivation emails twice a week for that getting-to-know (and love)-you period.
Jeff also did a show-and-tell of a Facebook Application he created for the Alliance for Lupus Research on Facebook.  I won’t explain it well but I hope that Jeff will blog about it in the next week or so, and if he does, I’ll share the link with you.  As he points out, Facebook is a great platform where people “meet up” in an environment that is almost SPAM free.  He effectively created a microsite for ALR within Facebook that went way beyond what you can do with Causes.
P.S.  Common Knowledge is also serving up a new white paper that looks interesting, Social Networks for Non-profits:  Why You Should Grow Your Own.  Check out the description about it here.  And just yesterday, Common Knowledge and its partners, NTEN and ThePort, reported that almost three-quarters of non-profits have a Facebook page, plus a whole lot more good data about social networks in the Nonprofit Social Network Survey report.


Filed under fundraising, Uncategorized