You@Facebook.com – Facebook Email Is Coming…

24 11 2010

Once again, Facebook is poised to set the social media world on fire. What could they possibly do that they haven’t done already, you ask? Email. Well, sort of.

Facebook recently announced the creation of their “Social Inbox” – a modern messaging system that just may replace email as we know it. What’s the difference between this messaging system and regular email? The new Facebook messaging plan will not only incorporate Facebook messages, but also chats, texts and IMs – all delivered to you at facebook.com.

Simply put, Facebook will set up three areas for you to receive email messages: one for your direct friends or connections, one for your indirect connections like friends of friends or businesses you may have contact with outside of Facebook and one for spam. Of course, you will be have full control of your settings so you will be able to decide which of your contacts goes into which area.

Some closely involved with the release of Facebook email believe this may allow Facebook to break through corporate firewalls that once blocked the application. More companies, particularly those that are sales oriented, may see this new feature as a way for their sales force to communicate with clients via messaging and even from their smartphones on the go.

Facebook email is completely optional. You don’t have to use it, in fact, at this time you can get Facebook email by invitation only. Should you decide that you want to take advantage of the new email program, your email address will be your name @Facebook.com. So, if my email address will be melanie.vannuys@facebook.com. Don’t email me there – it’s obviously not live yet.

The Facebook powers that be swear that this new email program won’t be the end all of the likes of gmail or yahoo mail. What are your thoughts?

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Using Social Media to Enhance Your Upcoming Event

22 11 2010

In today’s technology-driven world, it may seem to be a no-brainer to use social media to enhance your next event; but it takes more than creating an event on Facebook and inviting guests. To truly use social media to make your event shine, you’ve got to have a way for your attendees to interact with each other – before, during and after the event, enhance their overall participation throughout the event and to have fun. There are many ways to use social media to spark an interest and add spice to your event – let’s take a look at a few of the most popular here.

Facebook

This is the most obvious, most popular and perhaps the easiest and most understandable tool for many to use. If you’ve been using our advice from previous posts on Facebook, then you have already created a Facebook profile and a fan page and/or group for your nonprofit. Now it’s time to create an “Event” page to begin inviting attendees. The Event page is a centralized location to schedule your event, invite attendees, track those who have confirmed attendance, those who have yet to respond to your invitation and those who have declined the invitation. The page also allows your attendees to communicate with each other to discuss event logistics like speakers and their topics or if overnight travel is necessary, perhaps to share expenses with hotels and cabs to and from the airport. Those who are attending your event can also share your Event page with others to help increase awareness and possibly attendance.

Success Tip for Facebook: When creating your Event page on Facebook, be sure to include ALL necessary information: date and time of event, venue location, address and phone number, who to contact for further information on your event and any other information that attendees will need: conference speakers, topics, etc.

Twitter

Twitter is another effective tool for upcoming events, though it will be used in a different manner than other social media tools.

A few weeks before your event, you’ll want to create what’s called a “hashtag” for your event. A hashtag is a key word specific to your organization or event preceded by the “number sign” or a “hash mark” – for example, our basic Twitter hashtag is #animalrescuesuperhighway. Event coordinators should adopt a hashtag well before the event so that there is uniformity when seeing it splashed across Twitter. Make sure you post the hashtag everywhere so that your attendees who Tweet can begin using it before and during the event. If you want to see how the hashtag is performing, you can use a free service like Tweetdeck to monitor any mentions of the hashtag.

Success Tip for Twitter: If you have the capability, scroll tweets using your event’s hashtag in the hallway or centralized place for your attendees to see what others are tweeting. You can also use Twitter (and your hashtag, of course) to schedule “Tweetups” – meetings with event attendees at a dinner or for drinks to help put faces with names.

YouTube

Yes, even YouTube can help create a buzz for your event. This particular tool will take a little more effort on your part, but worth it in order to spark an interest and increase attendance.

If you are holding a conference that will feature speakers about a particular topic, you can create short videos about the speakers and upload them onto your own YouTube page. Once you’ve done this, be sure to embed your video into your Facebook page, tweet about it (don’t forget to use your hashtag!) and email to your mailing list of attendees. By giving them a teaser of what’s to come, you’ll surely create a buzz.

Success Tip for YouTube: Is the event your planning a yearly thing? Did you have a similar event last year? Use pictures and videos of the last event and post them on to your YouTube channel to create excitement for your current event.

Blogs

Before, during and after your event – blog, blog, blog! By blogging about the information that will be conveyed at your event, you will help encourage those who are on the fence about attending to register and those who are already confirmed will share their excitement with others. Blogging during the event will help to create a buzz for those who couldn’t attend (and encourage them to attend the next event) but also those who are there and will also provide a recap of the day’s events.

Success Tip for Blogging: Be sure to include all of the other social media outlets you are using to promote your event here. Include links to your Facebook Event page link, the Twitter hashtag and the link to your YouTube page. All work hand-in-hand with your blog and other social media tools to help promote your event and make it a huge success.

Are you using social media to promote your event? Tell us about it! Please leave your comments below and help us help others find out what works and what doesn’t.





Crowdsourcing: What Is It And How Can Your Organization Benefit?

15 11 2010

Crowdsourcing is hardly a new avenue for involving others in your organization – it’s actually been around since the early days of the Internet – we’re just learning more about how to use it. But what is it?

Simply put, crowdsourcing is involving volunteers to help your organization meet the goals you’ve set. This method of expanding an organization’s reach is a practice used by both for-profit and nonprofit businesses alike. While some of the individuals used for crowdsourcing may be paid a small amount, most are volunteers who believe in your organization’s mission. More and more organizations are finding they can increase their outreach by relying on the ideas and talents of their volunteer pool and not just limiting themselves to the ideas and desires of their Board of Directors and other “powers that be.”

Crowdsourcing can be used by having your volunteers reach out to the community for new ideas and thoughts that can help move your organization forward. What can your organization do to better the community? How can your community benefit from what your organization is currently doing? These are just a few examples of types of questions you can pose.

Harnessing the power of crowdsourcing can allow your organization to effectively and efficiently solve problems and create new ideas. As with any other opportunity presented to work with volunteers, crowsourcing presents its own set of challenges, but because of the low cost involved, there is a large return on your time investment. Those your organization is trying to reach believe that their ideas can help shape your mission that which in turn makes it more valuable to you, your staff and your community. Don’t you agree that it’s time for you to use this powerful resource for YOUR group?





The Facebook -NonProfit Link – A Surge in Effectiveness

21 10 2010

In a previous post, we encouraged you and your nonprofit to get onboard the Facebook bandwagon. Here, we’re going to delve into that topic a little further and show you just how useful this social media tool can be.

Facebook is one of the top five sites on the Internet when it comes to being regularly used, so doesn’t it make sense that you’d want your nonprofit to get in on that action? Of course it does. But it takes more than creating a profile, a fan page or a group. When used correctly, Facebook can be a magnificent tool. Used incorrectly, and the whole thing can blow up in your face.

What is Facebook Anyway?

If you truly are a social media newbie and don’t have a firm grasp on what Facebook is or what it can do, read on.

Facebook is an Internet, or social networking, site that allows users with common interests to share information and photos with each other. Many nonprofit organizations are already using Facebook successfully. If you’re not, you will be soon. Simply follow the step-by-step guide below and you’ll be up an running on Facebook in just a few minutes. Keep in mind that this is not an all-inclusive, exhaustive list, but rather a brief overview. If you would like a more in-depth course  in Facebook for Nonprofits, I invite you to visit our Animal Rescue University and see our Course List.

Step-By-Step to Getting Started

The first thing you will need is your own Facebook account. You can get one here. Here’s what you’ll see:

You’ll need to add some basic information: your first and last name, email address, birthday and gender and then you’re in!  Once you’re in, you can wander around your new profile. add a picture and complete your biography. All of these steps should be completed if you are planning to use this as your nonprofit’s online presence.

After you’ve created your profile and entered the site, you’ll want to start looking for friends: people you already know and people who have similar interests as you. Here is what the search screen will look like:

Ok, now you’ve got your friends and your newsfeed is filling up. Wait – what’s a newsfeed? The newsfeed is your main Facebook page. This is where your friends will update their statuses, share pictures and links. Your newsfeed will look like this:

So, you’ve got your account, your friends and your newsfeed. What next? The newsfeed is a great place for you to post information about your nonprofit. But what if all of your friends aren’t interested in your cause? No problem. You can simply create a “group” for your organization and invite those who ARE interested.

Creating a group is simple. From your newsfeed page, look to your left to find the “Create A Group.” Here’s what you’ll see:

The small window is where you will enter the name of your group, type the names of those you want to invite and decide if you want your group to be private or public.

Does your organization have an upcoming event? You can promote it on Facebook. From your main newsfeed page, look on the left, just above where you selected “Create a Group” and click on the “Events” link. When you reach the next page, you’ll want to click on the “Create an Event” button on the top right of the page. Here is what you’ll see:

Once at this page, you’ll be able to add all of the details of your event: the date, time, location, who’s invited and even add a photo of a flyer or the venue.

The last thing I should cover is how to maintain some semblance of privacy. The Internet is a wonderful tool, but it is also a place for the unscrupulous. Facebook has privacy setting in place that you can control. To locate your Privacy Settings from your newsfeed, go to the upper, far right corner of the page and click on “Account.” From the dropdown window, select “Privacy Settings.”  Here is what you’ll see:

Once you’re here, you can select who can see what. From here, you can allow everyone to see everything or you can choose to “block” individuals from seeing anything you post. These settings are completely customizable and can be changed whenever necessary.

The last thing I want to touch on before I send you off to Facebook land is this. Facebook is a wonderful tool when used properly. However, if used improperly it can cause more problems than you or your organization may be prepared to deal with. Be leery of new people you associate with in the beginning. Chances are they are fine, but until you know for sure what kind of person they are and what they are involved in, be careful. Furthermore, the more people you become involved with who aren’t directly involved with your organization, the more likely you can be pulled into unnecessary “drama.” Avoid THIS at all costs. Not only does become a time waster, it can lower your credibility.

As we mentioned earlier, if you are interested in learning more about Facebook and your nonprofit organization, or social media in general, please subscribe to our blog, or visit our Animal Rescue University.





Nonprofits and The Facebook Bandwagon: Get on Board – Quick!

19 10 2010

Some see the social networking sites like Facebook a massive time-waster and procrastination tool. And with the game apps that seem to be overtaking the site, I would tend to agree. However, when those apps are avoided (I block most), Facebook is actually an important tool to help spread the word of your nonprofit organization. For those of you reading this who may not have the first clue about social media, Facebook and how it all works, applying the use of Facebook to your nonprofit organization may seem like a daunting task. Rest assured, it isn’t and we’re going to help you every step of the way.

Facebook is an important and necessary tool for nonprofits because it is a simple way to connect with those who support your organization as well as those who may not know your organization exists. It’s also a way to connect with other organizations who have similar goals – as in the animal rescue community.

Another perk to using Facebook to spread the word of your nonprofit is the cost: it’s free. Well, monetarily anyway. You will have the investment of time by you and your staff as you learn how to use Facebook, create and maintain your online presence. While you may not necessarily see a financial return on your investment, you will still see a “marketing” return as your network and organization begin to grow and expand.

This particular blog post is a springboard for using Facebook appropriately when using it to promote your nonprofit organization. There is much more to using this social media source than creating a profile and a fan page. If you are just getting started, I would suggest that you read CauseWired: Plugging In, Getting Involved, Changing the World by Tom Watson. This is a wonderful resource for those who are just getting started in the social media world as it will help define social media, the tools involved and how to move forward with your organization.

If you haven’t subscribed to our blog, I encourage you to do so now and follow along as I further into the social media sensation.  I also encourage you to read our previous social media posts and let us know how you put them to use for your organization.





Tweet Your Way To Success

5 10 2010

If you’ve read anything else we’ve written, you know that we have said repeatedly that social media is the wave of the future and is definitely here to stay. There is no more evidence of this than with Twitter – the microblogging application that has exploded to a 900% (yes, that’s 900%) in the past year alone. Statistics show that five to ten THOUSAND new Twitter accounts are opened every day. Are you going to be the latest? If you aren’t already using Twitter, you need to get on board and fast.

If you want to use Twitter to help extend the reach of your nonprofit, you need to be smart about it. The process is more involved than just opening a new Twitter account and hope people will trip over themselves to read what you’re writing. You have to be smart and we’re here to help you every step of the way.

First, the basics. Twitter acts very much like other social media sites. You have “followers” and you can “follow” others. Every time you “tweet,” your followers are updated. Your first thought may be: “So if I get a lot of followers right away I can post a lot of things about what my nonprofit is trying to accomplish and everything will be perfect.” Not exactly. Yes, the more people that follow you, the more exposure you get, BUT, it’s not just about adding people for the sake of adding. You have to play it cool.

Too many business owners rush into social media applications, like Twitter, with the intent of using it to market their companies. Unfortunately, because many don’t understand how it works, their marketing fails miserably. We’re going to help you avoid the most common, and costly, mistakes others have made.

The first two steps in tweeting your way to success are easy. First, when you open a Twitter account, you will be able to import all of your email contacts from your address book – do it. It’s a great way to have your current supporters “follow” you and it allows them to see that you are growing. This can be exceptionally powerful with tech-savvy donors.

Second, once your account is open, make sure your new Twitter profile is complete. Don’t leave people guessing about who you are and what you do. Be sure to complete all fields of the profile, not just the required ones and don’t forget your website. Twitter even allows you to customize your profile with your own brand name. Take advantage of it – it’s free advertising.

Now it’s time to get into the “meat and potatoes.” One of the most common mistakes that new tweeters make is mistaking Twitter for a classified ads site – it’s NOT. In fact, if you are going into this new venture thinking the same thing, stop right there and let’s change courses. Here’s some food for thought:

  • Don’t promote your company directly. I now what you’re thinking…”Isn’t that why I’m doing this?” Yes, it is. But do it the smar way. Remember, this isn’t a classifieds site. Instead of directly promoting your company and begging followers to visit your website, try writing a short blog post and tweet that instead. Include a link back to your website and the traffic WILL come.
  • Follow other users and communicate! You won’t grow your followers’ list if you hang out your shingle and then disappear. You have to communicate, “tweet,” “retweet,” and comment on other users tweets. Doing this allows you to become more visual in the Twitter community and will make others want to hear what you have to say.
  • It’s important to communicate regularly. However, don’t tweet ever whipstitch. Sending out updates every five minutes will become annoying to your followers and send them running for the hills. Post good, relevant information but don’t cram it down their throats.

So now you know how to tweet but who are you going to tweet to? It’s easy enough to gain followers by following a few simple rules:

  • Invite everyone to follow you on Twitter. Add a link to your email signature, place a button on your website and add a graphic or link to your business cards.
  • Are you an active blogger? Every time you add a new blog post, invite your readers and blog subscribers to follow you.
  • Twitter has a built in Search option on their site. Use it to find profiles that interest you or who may be interested in what your nonprofit has to offer.
  • Use Twitter directories to find people with common interests. Two of the big ones are Just Tweet Me and Twellow.
  • Find out who is following your friends and follow them. They’ll follow you back.

People who use Twitter like the application because it’s short and to the point. They like it more when it’s relevant, short and to the point. Be sure that what you’re sending it out is something people what to read or know. If it’s not something you would be interested in, chances are your followers won’t be either.

One last tip – learn from the best. Find users (either from your own followers or through one of the methods above) who have hundreds and even thousands of followers and find out what they’re doing. Don’t be afraid to ask what their tricks of the trade are and apply what information they give you. You can’t argue with success right?

If used properly, Twitter can put your nonprofit organization on the map like you never thought possible. Don’t be afraid to get out there and spread your wings. And don’t forget to Follow Us On Twitter!





POLL: Are You Currently Using Twitter?

5 10 2010