Tag Archives: Twitter

More on Seattle’s #GiveBig Online Giving Event

Give Big home screen

I popped over to Twitter to see if #GiveBig was being used as a hashtag for Seattle’s community-giving event since it wasn’t obviously promoted on the home page of The Seattle Foundation, host of the event. Sure enough, #GiveBig was beginning to heat up.

I immediately noticed that my alma mater, the University of Puget Sound, was tweeting about its “One of A Kind” capital and scholarship fundraising campaign. As I did with Sacramento’s Arts Day of Giving, I made a small donation to support the Loggers (yes, Loggers) and learn more about how Seattle/Tacoma is deploying technology to support charitable giving. And naturally I sniffed around a bit to see how different nonprofits were using the opportunity.

Not all tweets were created equal

Some nonprofits seemed to use their 140 character message spaces more effectively than others:

  • The Pike Place Market Foundation won my prize for “best Twitter voice.” Twitter messages tend to be a bit cheeky and I liked their “#GiveBig to the Pig” message (“Rachel,” the 550-lb. bronze pig statue at the Pike Place Market is a famous landmark). But I suppose it’s hard to replicate this particular tactic if you don’t have an iconic farm animal associated with your charity. However, this can be emulated: The Pike Place Market folks chose to include a shortened ow.ly link to take people right to a donation page. I noticed that other charities linked to their event profile page, which would have required one more click to donate. A small thing perhaps, but you lose “customers” with every extra click.

Pike Place Market #GiveBig tweet

Seattle Foundation giving page

  • Some nonprofits’ messages struck me as more powerful than others. They moved beyond the obvious, such as focusing on the generic “it’s #GiveBig day” message, the opportunity for matching funds, or a few phrases about what they do (e.g. “serve 5,000+ homeless families ea yr” or “supporting girls and women”). Better examples: @ConservationNW got a little conversation going by encouraging people to list favorite animals. @MakeAWishAKWA tweeted a beautiful image they posted on Instagram.

@Conservation NW tweet

Make a Wish tweet

Make A Wish Instagram Image #WishBig #GiveBig

  • A number of charities asked for help funding specific programs. @IslandWood tweeted: “Every gift of $25 on May 15th funds an outdoor learning adventure,” and @GenderOdyssey made an appeal for funding of a staff position: “It’s true! We want to hire a Conference Director!! There’s just one thing…” (the tweet continued with a link to a blog post about the need for paid staff help).

Technology notes

Communities have assembled the technology for online giving events several ways. Sacramento’s Arts Day of Giving modified Guidestar’s Donor Edge ecommerce tools. Several other high profile online giving events, like Greater Washington’s “Give to the Max,”  have used Razoo.

I know that the Arts Day of Giving folks worked hard to make sure the e-commerce site wouldn’t crash with the volume they hoped to generate, and it looks like Seattle’s behind-the-scenes e-commerce provider, ClickAndPledge, also kept up per the Tweet below:

Tweet about receipts

BUT least two nonprofits posted that their website was down during the event. Nonprofits could experience more intense website traffic than they have experienced previously, since all of the push happens in a 24-hour period. Nonprofits: be ready!

Comparing Seattle/Tacoma and Sacramento:

There were a few things that I liked better about the way Seattle managed its Give Big event, and a few things I liked better about Sacramento’s approach:

Seattle wins:

  • For including the option of a survey (an embedded Survey Monkey link) that popped up right after you make a donation. It might have been a bit long (15 questions), but I liked the additional information about whether these are additional gifts if someone has given before.

Give Big survey - 1st five questions

  • For being able to process receipts that come through with the name of the organization as the sender (the email also had a pdf attachment with a printer-friendly version). The receipts lacked any kind of emotion, but the specific sender did underline the connection to the charity (and tax deductibility).
  • For giving people the option of donating to a stretch pool. Sacramento used matching funds from partners, but Seattle let community members continue to add to those matching funds. I thought this was a nice solution for people who wanted to participate in Give Big, but weren’t attached to a specific nonprofit.
  • For their use of Twitter pics, which looked great on a computer screen. I also noticed that Jimi Hendrix Park made nice use of this feature:

Give Big Twitter pic

Jimi Hendrix Park

Arts Day of Giving wins:

  • For promoting Twitter more visibly on the home page of the campaign. Seattle’s Give Big folks did promote social sharing but you saw the Twitter and Facebook push after completing a donation. This shouldn’t be an either/or. It would be best to promote the Twitter hashtag on the home page and have easy next-steps on the screen that pops up after donating.

Give Big post-donation screen

  • For a better way to list nonprofits. Both cities had a search field that made it easy to find a nonprofit if you knew who you wanted to donate to. But Sacramento created “buckets” — categories — of nonprofits while Seattle offered up a verrrrryyyy long directory of nonprofits. It felt like it took five minutes to find University of Puget Sound.

Seattle Give Big nonprofit list

Should Sacramento be afraid of becoming too successful?

I stumbled across one other important bit of dialogue while kicking around the Seattle event: it may be beginning to wear out some participants. Seattle’s event, by the way, is now in its third year.

Humanosphere, which reports news and analysis of global health and the fight against poverty, noted that it “drives many people nuts” because people are getting deluged with emails from nonprofits who have their email addresses. It’s a big enough issue that a guest column by Joy Portella, a consultant formerly with Mercy Corps, was published in the Seattle Times.

Both note that the online giving event may be especially helpful to small nonprofits that simply can’t get their message to penetrate to the same degree on their own.

If people in Seattle/Tacoma are getting deluged with emails from nonprofits, it suggests to me that there is a cadre of people who are very involved in supporting the community. These people may indeed get a bit annoyed by the “cacophony” as Joy Portella put it.

But Sacramento has a long way to go to get more people to give charitably, on a par with other communities our size.

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Arts Day of Giving: Where to Go from Here?

Is that all there is?

Yesterday was almost as good as Christmas morning when I was a kid: I woke up to see that more than $400,000 was donated to local arts-related nonprofits (more about Arts Day of Giving here). And just like a kid, my next question was, “Is there more?”

I think there is. If Give Local Now is successful, they will radically change the culture of giving in our community. I’ve always thought of Sacramento as involved; the amazing contributions of service clubs like Active 20-30 #1, Junior League of Sacramento, Rotary and others have made this a great place to live. But do Sacramentans give? Not at the same level of other communities our size, according to the Sacramento Generosity Project. I can make a difference but I can’t do what a well-run nonprofit can: make a real impact on a problem that is too big to be solved by a few well-intentioned people.

Technology-enabled charitable giving is a great way to attract new donors to the party.

What could that mean for Sacramento nonprofits? With a sector-wide giving day, we should be able to generate millions for nonprofits — but even more importantly, expose thousands of people to the experience of giving charitably. Fortunately, such a sector-wide giving day is in the planning stages for next May.

Here are my suggestions of things to do and not do as online giving events get rolling in Sacramento. Some of these are directed to the organizers of Arts Day of Giving, but others are directed to the nonprofits who participated.

Do!

1.  Close the feedback loop. Now that new donors have said “hello” by stopping by to donate, what can nonprofits do to make them feel really great about what they did? Thank you is always nice, but according to previous research by Giving USA, one reason that people don’t give is that they don’t know what happened as a result of their donation. I don’t know what access nonprofits have to donors who gave during Arts Day of Giving (presuming that the donors did not ask to remain anonymous), but ideally the nonprofits would be able to send a personalized email explaining how the new donations will be put to work. [Author’s update: This just in! My first thank you note just came through from Capitol Public Radio. Looks like they matched my email to donor info since the email came through thanking “Mr. and Mrs…” See ***below.]

2.  Learn more about the giver/nonprofit experience and build on it. The Case Foundation/Razoo report about Washington DC’s experience with its Give2Max campaign included results from post-event surveys of donors and nonprofits: “A whopping 96 percent of donors said they were likely to give more money to their selected nonprofits as a result of their participation in Give to the Max Day,” according to the report. This finding was also encouraging: “Fifty-eight percent of nonprofits recruited new donors, and 56 percent said they increased public awareness of their organizations among people in the region.” If there’s no funding to support a follow-up survey with this go-round, it would be great to build quick post-interaction survey technology into the website for the planned May 2014 event.

3.  Start getting nonprofits “socially” ready now for the May 2014 event. Looking at the websites for several of the established and successful one-day, sector-wide giving events, they appear to have secured the involvement of more media partners and more outreach partners (also known as “activators”). If April 29’s top-earners were more effective on Twitter (as I suspect), then it’s important to start building that capability now among nonprofits who are interested in the May 2014 event. It takes time to build connections.

I know what leaders of nonprofits are thinking. Twitter, ugh, who has the time? It’s a hate-love relationship at best. Until now, nonprofits haven’t had much evidence that there is a linkage between social media and donations. Online events like this one have the potential to change that dynamic.

4. Start now building relationships with more activators. I know the Arts Day of Giving folks had an event for people with the potential to be ambassadors and influencers for the event. And that tweets sent by @SacRegcf and @GiveLocalNow were re-tweeted by friends like @3FoldComm. But almost certainly more could be done to tap into Twitter users who create lists and use hashtags to “share the love” about causes and organizations that fit with their interests. Another great under-utilized communications resources in town is bloggers. Right here in River City there are political bloggers who write about causes; food bloggers who care about hunger, food literacy, health and nutrition; Mommy bloggers who write about things that affect children and the future of our community; fashion and thrift bloggers. Power Twitter users and bloggers could have even more impact that traditional news media for the one-day giving event; people who see their posts or tweets are already online and can most easily click to donate.

Give to the Max MN screen shot5.  Cultivate more media partners. In Minneapolis, for example, their Give to the Max Day (which raised $16+ million from over 53,000 donors) really pushed hard to for outreach partners and media partners.

Please don’t!

I fret about a few things when I ponder the future of online giving events here in Sacramento:

1.  Save us from contests, and don’t over-saturate us with Day of Giving events! I agree with this Forbes article that contests (“help us get the most votes to win $1,000!”) have largely worn out their welcome. As I was sniffing around the Internet, I noted that some communities, having proved the success of sector-wide giving events, are now planning multiple events per year. At that point, I think it could cannibalize donor sources of nonprofits or cause people ignore such events.

2.  What will happen to the user experience when hundreds of nonprofits are listed? The online tool set up for Arts Day of Giving was dead easy to navigate in part because there were only 80 organizations, and they were sliced into sub-categories like Visual Arts and Arts Education. It’s hard to imagine how easy it will be to surf and scan when potentially 10 times that many nonprofits are listed. I do know that some will exclude themselves by not getting around to creating profiles. But there are lots of nonprofits in Sacramento!

3.  The risks of cannibalization – or losing donors to other organizations. As more people “get” what these online giving days are about, and nonprofits adopt social media more, there are some downside risks. More people may donate through this channel rather than to the nonprofit directly, with slightly higher administrative costs. (Razoo.com, which supports many of the online fundraising events around the country, is nearly doubling its admin fees — from 2.9% to 4.9%, noting that great technology costs money to keep current.) However, we know that as many as half of the donors coming in through giving events are new to the charities AND that Sacramento lags national averages for giving. For a long while to come, all boats should rise with collaborative online giving events.

Give2Max tweet on home page4. Think twice or thrice before allowing individuals to fundraise. Razoo allows nonprofits or individuals to fundraise via their platform leading to tweets like the one at right. Razoo is a for-profit company (not that there’s anything wrong with that) that benefits from anything that increases contributions through its sites. I doubt that the Give Local Now folks would allow such individual appeals but I hope they continue to wave the banner of transparency for nonprofits. Raising awareness and promoting the integrity of nonprofits is just as important to this effort as is the actual money raised.

***As just added in “Do’s” #1, I did receive an electronic thank you with this bit at the bottom: P.S. “Your official donation acknowledgement/reciept from Capital Public Radio will be arriving by U.S. Postal Mail.”

Capitol Public Radio Thanks

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Arts Day of Giving Made History! Way to Go Sacramento!

Final Results Arts Day of Giving Give Local NowOn April 29, Sacramento held its first online fundraising blitz and generated $411,907 for ~80 arts-related organizations with programs spread across the region from Davis to Roseville, Placerville and Stockton. Even though another big local news story threatened to eclipse the attention being lavished on the event — the vote of the NBA Committee not to allow the sale of the Sacramento Kings to Seattle, posted by the Bee at about 2 p.m. —  Sacramento proved it could multi-task. People tweeted about the Kings while the Arts Day of Giving continued to generate email, Facebook and Twitter traffic.

The event was a big darned deal for a number of reasons:

Looking at the experience of other cities that have deployed similar technology, it also successfully demonstrated how much more opportunity we have. I’ll blog some thoughts soon about where we might go from here.

The Technology

There’s no doubt about it: many people want charitable giving to be dead easy. But technology costs money. Even if you acquire off-the-shelf technology, as our local organizers did, it takes a ton of time to wrestle a project like this to the ground. The software has to be modified, and nonprofits have to agree to participate and create profiles, all of which takes more time. Susan Frazier of Give Local Now credited the Sacramento Region Community Foundation with contributing resources – time and money – to build the engine of Arts Day of Giving. No doubt the collaboration with the Sacramento Metropolitan Arts Commission and For Arts Sake made a difference, too.

Give2Max home pageBut the results seem to be worth it for communities taking advantage of this new approach. In 2011, I blogged about Give2Max Day in the Washington DC area, which raised over $2 million in a 24 hour period from nearly 18,000 donors. Online giving blitzkriegs are picking up steam with events in places as far flung as Seattle (Big Give upcoming event on May 15), North Texas (Get Up and Give! which raised over $14 million from almost 28,000 donors) and Columbus, OH (The Big Give raised $8.5 million from over 10,000 donors).

Arts Day of Giving home page with categoriesI decided to test the technology by making several small donations. Dead easy indeed. If you knew which organization you wanted to donate to, you used the handy search field. But what if you didn’t know and wanted to “shop” for an object of your affections? The brain trust behind Arts Day of Giving created easily-digestible categories of arts organizations from arts education to dance, music, arts education, visual art, media and more. In each of those categories, you might see as many as a dozen nonprofits. You could click on a profile and learn more about them; seeing them in a consistent, complete framework made it a cakewalk.

Philanthrophile tweet stream #ArtsDayofGivingAs you can tell from my tweet stream, I made a series of seven rapid-fire small donations between 8:05 and 8:28 p.m. At the bottom of my first purchase screen was a link to allow me to select another charity. When I selected one, all I had to do was re-enter my credit card. Within seconds, I had an email receipt in my inbox.

The reason I tweeted my donation (which I normally wouldn’t) was to help charities vie for a social media prize worth $1,000. They had to be mentioned on a public post or tweet along with the hashtag #ArtsDayofGiving.

Who benefited most?

The Leaderboard (which is still visible) allowed charities and donors to see exactly who was winning the donation race. Sacramento Ballet received almost $50,000.

My informal visual survey of the Twitter stream during the 24 hour event revealed that Sac Ballet was the most active. They may have done a bang up job of promoting the event to their members in advance of April 29, but I suspect that the event brought them new supporters, largely through Twitter. And this is strange: Sac Ballet doesn’t promote its Twitter “handle” on its website and doesn’t seem to have a Facebook page. My advance prediction was that the Crocker Art Museum would raise the most funds because of its highly public profile. After all, it’s a place — and a place has the advantage when it comes to building relationships. Drop in anytime! But the Crocker also has a big social media footprint with nearly 18,000 likes on Facebook and almost 1,000 followers on Twitter.

But in some ways I think the biggest winners were organizations with lower profiles. The technology provided them with a way to raise visibility that they never could have achieved on their own. Case in point: @DDSOorg noticed me tweeting and sent me a message thanking me for supporting the Arts Day of Giving. I looked at their Twitter profile where they turned out to be the Developmental Disabilities Service Organization which “champions the creativity & potential within the hearts & minds of adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities using innovative strategies.” Then I looked them up on the Give Local Now event homepage. Then I gave.

Another surprising winner was the Sacramento Mandarins, a drum and bugle corps, which raised $16,000 from 78 donors.

Inquiring minds want to know

Twitter traffic Arts Day of GivingAn event like this leaves me salivating with more questions than answers:

  • Did Twitter have the most impact on traffic to the event page?
  • What happened to traffic on nonprofits’ own websites during the event?
  • Did landing pages like the one on Capitol Public Radio convert traffic to Give Local Now visits?
  • Did nonprofits mostly find new donors, as has been the case in other cities? Or did they see old friends come back in a new way?
  • What were nonprofit’s best practices (IMHO) on Twitter during the event?
  • Why weren’t more individuals engaged (as opposed to organizational tweeters)? There were a few voices out there but some of the most active social media adherents (some of whom work for public relations agencies) didn’t seem to be involved.
  • Where was United Way? In some other cities they seem to have been involved in giving events like this one.

Tomorrow (I hope): Opportunity knocks! How this online giving technology could become an even better thing for Sacramento nonprofits? (And I might throw in a little about the risks – like rising administrative fees,  wearing out the market with fundraising contests, or failing to let people know what happened with their donations, a leading reason that people don’t give.)

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Who’s using Twitter now? 25-34 year olds’ use has doubled since late 2010

Recommended reading: Pew’s June 1, 2011 “Twitter Update” report, which I missed a couple of weeks back.  You can download the report for free. Pew is the most credible source out there on online media use.

Verbatim, here’s Pew’s overview:

Overview

13% of online adults use the status update service Twitter, which represents a significant increase from the 8% of online adults who identified themselves as Twitter users in November 2010. 95% of Twitter users own a mobile phone, and half of these users access the service on their handheld device.

As in our previous research on Twitter use, African Americans and Latinos continue to have high rates of adoption of the service. Fully 25% of online African Americans use Twitter at least occasionally, with 11% doing so on a typical day.

Additionally, Twitter use by internet users ages 25-34 has doubled since late 2010 (from 9% to 19%) and usage by those ages 35-44 has also grown significantly (from 8% to 14%).

About the Survey

These findings come from national survey findings from a poll conducted on landline and cell phones, in English and Spanish, between April 26 and May 22, 2011 among 2,277 adults (age 18 and older). The margin of error among the internet users is +/- 3.7 percentage points.

 

The Pew Internet & American Life Project is one of seven projects that make up the Pew Research Center, a nonpartisan, nonprofit “fact tank” that provides information on the issues, attitudes and trends shaping America and the world. The Project produces reports exploring the impact of the internet on families, communities, work and home, daily life, education, health care, and civic and political life.

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What’s a good level of growth in Facebook fans?

Key (read from the bottom up on the chart)

1 – Loaves and Fishes; 2 – Susan G. Komen; 3 – WEAVE; 4 – American Red Cross; 5 – Volunteers of America; 6 – Salvation Army; 7 – River City Food Bank; 8 – St. John’s Shelter

Benchmarks have really been on my mind this week, including reporting the median number of unique website visitors for small-to-medium sized nonprofits from a recent study.  Today I’m thinking about Facebook benchmarks.  A little over a year ago, someone asked me, “So what’s a good number of Facebook fans for a local nonprofit?”  I blogged about my unscientific survey in a post here.

The organizations I chose to examine then were suggested by United Way’s Steve Heath as larger, active nonprofits.  I noted that the two with the largest fan bases had big initiatives underway: the Crocker was working on its big expansion, and Loaves & Fishes had undertaken a big capital campaign.

This week, I took a look at the same nonprofits to help get at the question, “So what’s healthy growth for Facebook fans?”  NTEN’s 2011 Nonprofit Social Network Benchmark Report found that the average fan base grew 161% between 2009 and 2010.  Although the study was based on information provided by more than 11,000 nonprofit professionals representing organizations of various sizes, the findings weren’t broken out by organization size, so it’s of limited use to our small, local nonprofits here in Sacramento.  I did find it interesting that 89% of nonprofits in the study reported they have a presence on Facebook.

In the chart above, I excluded the Crocker because they are so far above the norm and put a ton of resources into promoting their new expansion and opening.  They grew from a fan base of 4,561 in March 2010 to 9,952.  Yay, Crocker!  (I also want to acknowledge that the decline in Facebook fans I report above for the American Red Cross makes me wonder if they had a different page name/type a year ago.)  So, some data observations:

  • Four organizations had fewer than 500 fans 15 months ago.  Their growth ranged from 122%-347%.
  • Three organizations had between 500 and 1,000 fans.  Excluding American Red Cross, their growth was 117% for Susan G. Komen and 169% for WEAVE.
  • Loaves & Fishes and the Crocker, our stars a year ago, are still growing.  They grew 78% and 118%, respectively.
  • The organization with the fastest growth was St. John’s Shelter, with that whopping 347% growth.  Go, St. John’s!

I noted a year ago that there was little apparent relationship between the number of posts per week and the size of the fan base.  I still think that’s true based on some other sleuthing I’ve been doing.  Based on my reports earlier this week about the importance of content in generating engagement, and the value of timing, I’ve begun investigating the value of links to/from partners and other organizations, which show up on a fan page as the organization’s “likes”.  I’m also looking at the relationship between the number of photos and videos posted and fan engagement, and the relative prominence of the Facebook badge or “like” button on the organization’s website.

I used to work with a crusty former reporter who always looked for the “so what” in a news release.  “If that’s so, she said, then so what?”

The “so what” for me, in this case, is that local nonprofits — for the time being — should strive for at least 5-6% growth per month in new fans.  Shoot for 10% growth per month and you’ll be in the neighborhood of 185-200%* growth over the course of a year.   That would be aggressive, and if it were me, I wouldn’t commit to it unless I knew that there would be promotional dollars and resources to support a campaign.  It won’t happen by just posting away on Facebook.  (*I refused to pull out my Texas Instruments calculator to look at compounded growth, but my chicken scratchings should be close enough for targeting.)

At some point, the market for Facebook “fanage” may diminish, and it won’t be realistic to target growth in the 100%+ range, but for now, adoption still seems to be growing.  Local nonprofits should also be cautioned against simply adopting a growth target.  Benchmarks for should be chosen in the context of the average fan base of successful peer/similar organizations or industry-wide averages.

You should also keep in mind your end game with Facebook presence.  Besides the number of fans, active fans, new fans, etc., you should be tracking the number of Facebook referrals to your organization website through a tool like Google Analytics.  You want people engaged for a reason:  volunteer, donate, etc.  Your website is your involvement center.  (Google Analytics is free and makes it very easy to examine how visitors got to your site.  People who looked for you directly through your URL, and organic search through Google, will likely be the top two sources, but after that you should look for Facebook referral traffic… it may be down in the data details a waze.)

As a side note, Twitter adoption by nonprofits seems to have leveled off at about 60% according to the NTEN benchmarking study.  I don’t know if that’s a reflection of Twitter fatigue, or just that the consensus seems to be that there is better return from Facebook resource investments.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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For nonprofits, sharing is caring and Facebook is the #1 to show it

I feel like a statistics magnet this week, but here’s another finding I had to share.  TechCrunch carried a story about a new study of the more than 7 billion sharing signals that were passed in March 2011 over the top 1,000 websites that use the ShareThis widget to facilitate social publishing/sharing of content. The study’s sponsors were ShareThis, Starcom MediaVest Group and Rubinson Partners.  A few highlights that got my attention:

  • 10% of ALL visits to websites come from sharing.
  • Sharing produces 31% of all referral traffic to websites.  If you’ve ever looked at website analytics (Google Analytics works great as a free tool), you can tell what percentage of visitors came from organic search, direct (when someone types in your URL) or referral.  When someone arrives at your website by clicking on a link, it shows up as a referral.
  • Facebook is the number one way that people share content.  By a mile.  It accounts for 38% of all sharing referral traffic.  Twitter and good old email tied for second with 17% each.
  • Sharing is a numbers game.  The more people who follow you, the more people will see that shared content.  On average, shared links are clicked on 4.9 times each.
  • Not every shared link gets clicked upon.  People are generally influential on one or two topics.

What’s it mean to nonprofits?  First, you should have in place measurable goals to increase the number of absolutely unique website visitors, and to maintain a reasonable bounce rate (the percentage of people who came and immediately left because your site wasn’t a good match for what they were seeking).  Next in line, focus first on Facebook to grow the number of people who are engaged with you.

The finding about influence and relevance is also important to nonprofits.  As you hone your “voice,” don’t try to chat your friends and followers up on every topic.  Follow the rule of good PR and make sure you know your key messages, and seek to become an opinion leader on one or two relevant topics.

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@goodlaura explains it all to us: Sacramento Charity Daily

In yesterday’s blog post, I shared my recent discovery of Sacramento News Daily and Sacramento Charity Daily, which Sacramento non-profits should consider as they work to engage more people in supporting their missions.  To take advantage of Sacramento Charity Daily, non-profits have to tweet and include links to longer articles they post in blogs or on their websites.

Laura Good, a.k.a. @goodlaura, was kind enough to respond to the questions I sent her.  If you don’t know Laura, you should.  The woman has 6,819 people following her on Twitter and has sent 47,830 tweets – a number that will no doubt increase by the time you read this (no wonder the first line of her Twitter profile is “Twitter Junkie”).

Here’s a key bit of advice worth reading, as well as her full responses to my questions, below (and waaaay at the bottom some links you should check out):

My advice is that charities invest time in establishing a Facebook Page and a Twitter account, if they don’t already have one.   And once those are established, that they try to post content at least once a day during “prime time” – about 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. (anecdotal—this is my own observation) Monday through Friday.  Weekends are the absolute worst time to post content as activity on both Facebook and Twitter drops way off.  Posting time is a little less important on Facebook but it is absolutely critical on Twitter.

1)      When did you launch Sacramento News Daily and Sacramento Charity Daily to the public?

I don’t remember the exact date, but it was several months ago—maybe October or November.

2)  Your Twitter profile says you’re a program director with SARTA.org.  SARTA has a very nice website that does a great job of feeding news relevant to the organization’s technology focus.  Is that how you became interested in the potential of aggregating and feeding relevant content via the Internet?

I don’t think that what I do for SARTA influenced my decision—I was actually very passionate about the power of social media before I started working for SARTA in September of 2008.  I’ve applied my passion to SARTA’s website and social media presence as well as to my volunteer role with the Sacramento Social Media Club.  I post much of the social media content for Sacramento Social Media Club and for 2011, I am the volunteer Executive Director.  Back to the question… my primary interest area in social media is in connecting the community/building community.  I follow/friend people and organizations in the Sacramento region and promote causes and events I think would be of interest to those in the region via Facebook and Twitter.  I have a particular heart for philanthropic organizations* and try to use my social media influence to help promote them.  This is why I created the sac-charity Twitter list and the Sacramento Charity Daily.

(*Laura later clarified that she loves animals and animal-related causes fall within her definition.)

3)      Sacramento News Daily and Sacramento Charity Daily appear to be running on a platform called paper.li developed by SmallRivers.  (Nice looking, by the way.)  Did you reach out and find SmallRivers or did they reach out to you?

I found out about paper.li through a tweet from someone I follow on Twitter and then did a little research on my own about the application.  I started the Sacramento Daily News first, as I had already cultivated a pretty good list of local media on Twitter and then began cultivating the Sacramento Charity list with the idea of promoting them via the paper.li app.  A lot of the “papers” created are a bit worthless in my opinion – for example you can create one that aggregates information from everyone you follow on Twitter.  I want my papers to have a real focus and be of value to those who take the time to click on the promo tweet and then read them. This is why I’ve only created paper.li papers from my cultivated lists.  I also have one called “Sac Family Fun Daily.”  The goal for that paper is to promote activities in the Sacramento region that families might enjoy.

4)      Why did you decide to create Sacramento Charity Daily as a separate online news channel, vs. making it a component of Sacramento News Daily?

Sacramento News Daily only includes those who are professional journalists and/or news media organizations like News10, The Sacramento Bee, etc.  I review the paper from time to time to make sure that those I’ve included on the list really are tweeting news. If they are using their twitter account for more personal reasons, I may decide to take them off the sac-media list.  Not that there is anything wrong with personal tweets—most of mine are of that nature.  I just want to make sure the “paper” really is news. I created a separate paper for Sacramento Charity Daily because I didn’t want to bury news about Sacramento Charities in the Sacramento News Daily paper.  I have 163 accounts on my sac-media list and only 48 (so far!) on my sac-charity list.  I think that each of the papers may appeal to a different audience.  People who don’t really care to see a summary of Sacramento news from Twitter may care quite a bit about what local charities are doing.

5)      Do you find all of the content you post from tweets? Or do you use other sources besides Twitter?

Paper.li allows me to create the twitter list that the ‘paper” will pull content from. There is no way for me to add other content to what is reported each day, other than creating an editorial note (which I have not yet done).

6)      And now for advice. Most nonprofits post news on their websites.  How do they let you know when they’ve posted something interesting?  And, pragmatically, is the link to the organization website good enough, even though there will likely be other stuff on the page?

As you see from my answer to Question 4 there isn’t a way for me to add info from outside of what an organization tweets.  If they have a twitter account (and are based in the Sacramento region) they should let me know so I can follow them and add them to my sac-charity list. Then, they should tweet at least daily including links (paper.li only includes tweets with links to web content).  I don’t include all regional non-profits on my sac-charity list. I am primarily looking to promote philanthropic organizations that help individuals.  Originally, my list was broader than that but I’m working to fine tune it.  I have added some national charities that were “nominated” by Sacramentans to be included on the list but as more Sacramento based charities are added, I may remove them. For now, I also have non-profits that support the arts in Sacramento on the list.

Sacramento is Number 4 in the nation for  business use of Twitter. It makes sense for charities in this region to have a presence on Twitter because our community is so engaged on Twitter.  My advice is that charities invest time in establishing a Facebook Page and a Twitter account, if they don’t already have one.   And once those are established, that they try to post content at least once a day during “prime time” – about 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. (anecdotal—this is my own observation) Monday through Friday.  Weekends are the absolute worst time to post content as activity on both Facebook and Twitter drops way off.  Posting time is a little less important on Facebook but it is absolutely critical on Twitter.

7)      Are you the editorial decision maker?  Or is the process automated?

The process is automatic on paper.li. The only editorial decisions I make is who is on my sac-charity list and what time the paper is produced/broadcast via twitter each day.  I don’t even decide which twitter users from within the list will be featured in the daily tweet.  The good news about this limitation is that I can spread the word about charities with very little effort on my part, other than cultivating a good Twitter list.  I can add an editorial comment to the paper but I’ve never done that.  There is also an option to create a paper using different criteria than a twitter list – #tags for instance.  And there is a more advanced feature I have yet to try that lets you specify who to include and to filter on key words.

8)      What kind of content are you looking for?

It’s my hope that charitable organizations within the region will tweet about their cause and include links to web content that further explains their cause, activities, fund raising campaigns, events, etc.

9)      What length should news items be to be most compatible with re-posting on your daily news sites?

I don’t think this matters in what paper.li decides to include.  The key is that it is web content and a link to the content is tweeted.

10)      What do you wish I’d asked that I didn’t?

A lot of charitable organizations have limited resources – both people and funding. Social media is a low cost way to both share the message and to engage with those who care about your cause.  You don’t have to be an expert to create a Facebook page or a Twitter account—nor do you have to pay an expert to do it for you. If you’d like some advice, there are many low cost and even free seminars that provide tips on how to create an effective Facebook Page or Twitter account.  The Sacramento Social Media Club has monthly events and quarterly workshops that do just this.  There is a lot of great content on the internet on how non-profits can effectively use social media.  I also recommend that non-profits look at how other non-profits are successfully using social media and learn from them.  And  a final tip – if a charitable organization has a Facebook Page or Twitter Account, it should be featured on the home page of their website with a link to “Like” or “Follow.”

Additional info:

My Twitter account:

http://twitter.com/goodlaura

Sacramento Social Media Club

Twitter:  http://twitter.com/SMCSac

Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/SMCSAC

Links to My Twitter Lists mentioned in this article:

http://twitter.com/goodlaura/sac-charity

http://twitter.com/goodlaura/sac-media

http://twitter.com/goodlaura/sac-family-fun

Links to my Paper.li “papers”

http://paper.li/goodlaura/sac-charity

http://paper.li/goodlaura/sac-family-fun

http://paper.li/goodlaura/sac-media

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Sacramento News Daily and Sacramento Charity News

 

I’m always on the hunt for local communication channels that nonprofits can use to inform and build relationships with target audiences, especially as traditional news resources have dried up.  I found a new one (new to me at least), and I wanted you to know about it.  It’s Sacramento News Daily.

 

I dusted off my Twitter account yesterday, and lo and behold, saw this tweet from @goodlaura:

 

I checked it out and, at first blush, it didn’t look that different than outside.in and some of the other Internet-based news aggregators.  So I asked Laura to explain how it added value.

She tweeted back: The information is gathered from those on my sac-media twitter list. It’s a daily summary of Sacramento region news.

And then: Not everyone will find value in it but a number of people have advised me that they enjoy reading it.

And then:  I also have a paper.li “paper” for my sac-charity list. Because I have a lot of Sac followers, it helps spread their msg [She later sent the link to it.]

She also told me, via direct message: I want to start coaching the charities on my list to tweet relevant links daily so they will be included but haven’t yet.

Check back here for a post of an email interview with Laura.  Inquiring minds want to know a little about the back story and more about how to jump aboard:

1) When did you launch Sacramento News Daily and Sacramento Charity Daily to the public?

2) Your Twitter profile says you’re a program director with SARTA.org.  SARTA has a very nice website that does a great job of feeding news relevant to the organization’s technology focus.  Is that how you became interested in the potential of aggregating and feeding relevant content via the Internet?

3)  Sacramento News Daily and Sacramento Charity Daily appear to be running on a platform called paper.li developed by SmallRivers.  (Nice looking, by the way.)  Did you reach out and find SmallRivers or did they reach out to you?

4)  Why did you decide to create Sacramento Charity Daily as a separate online news channel, vs. making it a component of Sacramento News Daily?

5)  Do you find all of the content you post from tweets? Or do you use other sources besides Twitter?

6)  And now for advice. Most nonprofits post news on their websites.  How do they let you know when they’ve posted something interesting?  And, pragmatically, is the link to the organization website good enough, even though there will likely be other stuff on the page?

7)  Are you the editorial decision maker?  Or is the process automated?

8)  What kind of content are you looking for?

9)  What length should news items be to be most compatible with re-posting on your daily news sites?

10)  What do you wish I’d asked that I didn’t?


 

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I’m above average! (when it comes to Twitter use)

Just a tidbit…. Through a tweet from mashable (if you don’t subscribe via a Reader, put this on your to-do list), I saw an item this morning about a new study from Barracuda Labs:

The study looked at around 19 million Twitter accounts (PDF) in order to figure out how people are using Twitter (Twitter). It started with one assumption: an active or “True” Twitter user has at least 10 followers, follows at least 10 people, and had tweeted at least 10 times. By that definition though, only 21% of Twitter users are active users.

Usually when I report a study, I go to the source material.  Don’t have time to do that today, but I thought I would put your collective guilt to rest if you’ve joined Twitter and haven’t tweeted much.  You just might be above average, too!

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Mirror, mirror: here’s how I use social media

Whats in your mirror?  Courtesy:  Lamerie/Flickr

What's in your mirror? Courtesy: Lamerie/Flickr

(A blog post in which I ask and answer the new-age questions about why I use social media the way I do, and why my teenage son uses it the way he does.)

If I had one of those now unemployed Ernst & Young business process consultants sitting next to me, watching how I use social media, here’s what they’d observe:

  • I receive frequent Facebook status updates by email, which are cryptic enough to make me go on the page and try to figure out what they were in reference to, e.g. “I know what you mean!  LOL!”  I noticed about two weeks ago that I STOPPED getting updates from my son.  Yup, he de-friended me.  Fortunately, one of his friends invited me to be her friend, so maybe I can vicariously keep a finger on the pulse that way.  (My son writes a lot of songs that he posts on Facebook, which I really miss seeing.  But he took the advice of a friend that maybe it isn’t such a hot idea to give your mother complete visibility on your life during your senior year in high school.)
  • LinkedIn status updates, which come every few days, are generally boring.  I really don’t care who people are connecting to.  I swear, there’s one former colleague who connects to four or five people a day.  In my head, I hear his voice in an echo chamber, exclaiming like Jafar in Disney’s Aladdin, “I’m the most powerful genie in the WORLD!”  I like to use LinkedIn for purely professional contacts, and I like having access to info about what my professional friends are doing these days.
  • Because I have been crazy busy the past few weeks, I turned off my mobile tweets that used to come through every few SECONDS (dial 40404 and then type ‘off’).  I plunge in every few days, always find good stuff right away, do a few tweets and jump back out of the Twitter ocean.  I also get the occasional DM (direct message), like one from @sacramentopress asking me if I could take some pics of the wild chickens in my neighborhood.  One of my son’s friends follows me on Twitter, although to be honest, I’m not sure she knows it’s me since I tweet as @philanthrophile.
  • I haven’t logged back in to my Google Reader yet, which makes me re-log in every two weeks.  I know if I start reading posts, I’ll want to blog and I haven’t had time this week.
  • And, obviously, I haven’t blogged for about two weeks.  I don’t let myself blog until after I’ve done the important project stuff.  It’s my treat to myself.  Really.  Silent running, of course, has had a predictably negative effect on traffic.  My blog traffic climbed to 1,640 views per month in July.  Strangely, traffic was up early this week but it’s in the dumper again after being silent for so long.
  • My number one tool for communication?  Email.  I am a monster on email.  For me, it is social.  I’m not a big fan of talking on the phone although I text a lot.

The same E&Y process consultant would observe the following re: my son:

  • His phone is an appendage, but not so much for talking.  It buzzes with new texts almost constantly.  During dinner last night, one friend – the same friend – texted him in three minute intervals.  “Okay,” I said finally, “you can respond to Glenn!”  When he answers a ring (the ring tone changes every few days – last night it was Rocky Horror picture show), the greeting is always the same, “Hey, what’s up?”  The conversation is always less than two minutes.  It is usually followed by a succession of other short calls or text messages to coordinate whatever’s happening.  He has moved past the grunting stage of teen communication but doesn’t really enjoy the phone.  Especially Skype calls.  Just ask his sister.
  • His next best electronic friend is Facebook.  It beats out his ipod and gaming.  If he goes to a concert, he posts photos within an hour.  He literally cannot go to bed without doing this.  He is almost immediately embraced by friends who ‘like’ his photo or make comments.  He uses Facebook to coordinate group activities.  Tuesday has become drive-in movie night this summer, so he uses his status update to find out who’s in.
  • He thinks it’s a little strange that I have adopted Twitter, when he hasn’t.  (We parents are not supposed to lead when it comes to electronic adoption.)  But then, only one of his friends is on Twitter, and I’m not sure he even knows that.
  • He checks email only under duress.  Seriously, he hates it.  He has a teacher that communicates that way and he knows colleges use it, but it’s like taking out the garbage – you have to be reminded.

This week, Mashable (the central repository for all things social media) has been talking about why teenagers don’t tweet, in response to Neilson data that teens represent only about a quarter of Twitter traffic (although it doesn’t count those doing it on mobile, so it under-represents them).  So I’ve been turning an anthropologist’s mirror on my own social media usage and that of my 17-year-old son’s, thinking about why we have the patterns that we do.  I don’t think it’s that complicated:

Facebook is really, really satisfying.  He was pulled into Facebook by his college-aged sister, but quickly preferred the cleaner interface and smaller amount of junk.  He doesn’t have to think about a 140 character limit.  The status bar is long enough to accomodate whatever he usually wants to say.

His Facebook traffic is limited to his friends (which do not include me as of two weeks ago).  You can be followed by anyone on Twitter.  Sure, you can actively block people – I block the X-rated types that regularly offer me naughty videos – but that takes effort.  He would rather more actively friend people or accept a friend invitation (or not).

Additional groups – via fan pages – are easy to engage with.  Friends send you a status report that they’re a member of, say, their high school’s fan group.  All you have to do is press connect and it’s linked to your Facebook page.  Your causes and fan pages become a part of your identity on Facebook.  That’s less true with Twitter twibes and LinkedIn groups, plus there are an irritating number of people in those groups who are essentially advertising themselves or their services.

Facebook handles media uploads really easily.  My son recorded a song in memory of our dog’s unexpected death via Facebook.  He didn’t even Flip video record it or record it on Garage Band, his built-in Mac Book tool.

Facebook turns him on to stuff on the Internet, like youtube videos.  He doesn’t spend much time surfing on the Internet.  I don’t know of any sites he checks regularly, other than, perhaps, Fandango.  But friends find stuff and post links as part of a status update.  Voila!  Internet finds thanks to Facebook.

Facebook is so much a part of his life he can’t imagine going on vacation without it.  I know how Michelle Obama feels.

Bottomline:  Facebook is a great product for his needs.  Until something better comes along, AND his friends migrate, he’s not going anywhere.

Unlike my son, I do not like to be electronically tethered when I’m on vaca  (see?  it feels like a tether to me and a lifeline to him… hmm…) … so don’t expect to see a post until on or about August 20th!  Off to meet my daughter in Europe!

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