Archive for the ‘social media’ Category

Spotlight: How a Hands-On Creative Retreat Builds Community Online

Friday, April 13th, 2012

Ever wonder how other organizations run their web projects so successfully? Learn through Talance Client Spotlights, where you can connect with peers to pick up inspiration and proven tips you can apply to your website or online course.

Liz Engelman

Liz Engelman

Liz Engelman’s greatest enemy is the unexamined question. As a dramaturg, her job is to identify the questions a play asks, and the questions to ask of the play. She’s a bit like the confusion police; identifying the difference from good and bad confusion –anything from intentions, to anachronisms to logical gaffes. With her help, a play can be closer to the playwright’s initial vision. In short, she helps make plays become their best selves. For anyone who’s thinking, “There’s no part of my life that wouldn’t benefit from a little dramaturgy,” have hope. You can apply to Tofte Lake Center, a nonprofit creative retreat that looks a little more like your most idyllic summer camp fantasy in Ely, Minn. TLC’s purpose is to apply the principles of dramaturgy to all artistic pursuits. Read on for more about how a very in-person organization builds community online.

How does one become a dramaturg?

“I learned that just because another organization used their website in a particular way, it doesn’t necessarily apply to mine.”

I first heard about dramaturgy when I was a junior in high school, when I was taking a class called Madness in Literature. My teacher said, “Liz, you should be a dramaturg,” and I said, “Dramawhat?” She replied that I had the ability to look at the big picture and relate it to the specific. And vice versa. And I thought, “That’s cool, but how is that a job?”

Later, when I concentrated in theater at Brown, my professor suggested that I create an independent study in dramaturgy. I thought, “Okay, two different people are telling me to do this; I better listen…” So I did.

How did that evolve into Tofte Lake Center?

After 20 years of working as a dramaturg, I began to realize that there are ways of telling stories other than through the theatre. Each media has its own narrative, its own way to tell a story. I wanted to create and environment for these different types of stories to emerge. Often we hear about starving artists who live miserably in a garret somewhere creating their life’s work, and I thought there had to be a way to live as an artist without a struggle – to be nurtured and inspired and surrounded by beauty in the process. So I did what a dramaturg does: articulate the intention, build the story, take yourself seriously… and the dream starts to form.

What kinds of artists visit the center?

I like to say creative thinkers rather than only artists, as many creative people don’t identify as artists. However, most people who come are: they are playwrights and writers of all genres, (novelists and poets), musicians, visual artists, dancers and choreographers. The Stuart Pimsler Dance and Theatre Company has been in residence each of our 4 years, and have become a community face for the center. Our artists have come from all over the country (and Australia!) for their weeklong residencies, and we have been fortunate to receive funding from the Jerome Foundation to support our emerging artists program for artists who reside in either Minnesota or New York.

How do you represent a decidedly in-person creative retreat in the online world?

At first it was hard to think of how to translate an experience that’s very location-based onto a screen. Then I started thinking about how to communicate TLC’s values–conversation, innovation, community, creativity, sun and water. When I thought about how to share the impulses of and behind TLC’s story, the role of the website became clearer.

The website has become a way of maintaining our off-campus community. The site has been a way of deepening and broadening it, to partner with artists and make connections, using the site as a conduit for conversation. I used to think of a website as a static thing. I thought of our old website as an online brochure. Now it’s malleable, evolving — a way to tell our story.

I’ve found images as a way of building partnerships and interest, too. One of the artists whose images we included in our Flickr gallery thanked me for sharing his work. Letting people know I could link to their profile was a major way of building traffic to the site. The partnering opportunities have been more helpful than I’d imagined. I want to continue to find ways to use more photos as an attractor to the site.

Tofte Flicker

A collaborative online gallery of Tofte Lake Center artists

What are some of the most helpful parts of your website?

Putting our applications online has been most helpful. I was getting submissions via e-mail before, and I would have to send each e-mailed application to our review panel, one at a time as I received them, and they had the most difficult task of having to keep track a hundred incoming individual applications. An applicant might resend something, and the panelist might forget where they put it, and worry that something got lost. It was thus immensely time intensive on my part. Now applicants can submit online, and it’s all stored on the website. I heard from someone who applied last year who was so happy to see that the application was now online. It was a mature professional step up.

Tofte Application

Tofte Lake Center's online application for artists

What did you learn through a major website redesign process?

I was not expecting to learn as much as I did. I had been thinking more about the result than the process. It took longer than I thought, and this turned out to be extremely informative. The process was completely dramaturgical: identifying what I was trying to do and the best ways to structure and say it. Working on a website is a continual process. The story keeps evolving.

I also learned that just because another organization used their website in a particular way, it doesn’t necessarily apply to mine. They made certain choices in how to tell their story, but that’s not my story. Realizing that: that’s what a dramaturg does.

Guest Post: How to Be a Social Media Mentsh

Friday, August 26th, 2011

The following article first appeared in the Sustained! web magazine from PEJE, an organization that serves day schools. Ken Gordon is the Social Media Manager of PEJE. It’s an excellent article about how to build an online community on Facebook that can be applied to any organization.

Read the full article on Sustained!

Ken Gordon, Social Media Manager of PEJE

Ken Gordon, Social Media Manager of PEJE

So you started, or joined, a Facebook page for your Jewish day school community. You put up a few posts… and the only response was the soft click of crickets in your backyard.

What now?

Now you grapple with an important and awkward truth: social media is not entirely obvious. Using Facebook is not like reading a book. Or listening to a teacher in class. Or, you know, just talking to another person. Social media is a strange new kind of human communication, and it has its own obscure commandments. For those of us who didn’t learn to talk and tweet at the same time, this stuff must be gleaned on the fly, later in life.

You won’t find a handbook on Jewish day school social media citizenship in the how-to section of any bookstore, or anywhere else for that matter. Indeed, the day school world is only starting to emigrate into this part of the universe. (Which is why AVI CHAI started their Social Media Academy for day schools, which is a great first introduction to the world of Fans and Followers.)

Point is: Your Facebook kehila may be very perplexed; if so, show them the proper way to behave by offering a few essential principles of good social citizenship. Be a mentsh and teach these new citizens the rules of the road—or just pass this column along, if you’re too busy—and soon we’ll all be Active Daily Users.

You’re a Regular

Encourage your people to build in regular—daily, weekly, etc.—visits to your social media sites. How to manage this? Ask them. Send an email to your colleagues or close friends in the community requesting that they set aside a regular time of day to engage your page. (Ten minutes over morning coffee sounds good to me.) As for people far outside your offline network: advise them, in your newsletters and/or your email signature, to stop regularly so they can catch all your great links, videos, and updates. Just be sure that you, and/or your administrator, post enough valuable and diverse content to warrant such regular visits. (On the PEJE FB page, we post plenty of articles that come from outside sources. People tend to find it refreshing and useful when you share content that isn’t just, say, “selling” your own stuff. Another tip: FB users in general, love video and photos.)

Lights! Camera! Action! Interaction!

The most important thing about social media is the interactivity of its participants. Newbies need to understand that their input is wanted—desperately wanted. We them to react to the material posted on a Facebook page (and maybe even react to other people’s reactions). How to do this? Glad you asked…

More Impressions than Rich Little

The most passive way to contribute to a FB community is to simply view a Status Update or Link on Your Wall. Facebook counts each “impression,” which The Next Web defines as the “raw number of times each entry has been seen on the wall and in the news feed of fans.” The page administrator will receive regular reports on the number of impressions, which will delineate the range of your influence and indicate what does and doesn’t interest your community.

Click and Read

Your people can do better than a few impressions. Actually clicking on a link posted by a Facebook user, and then reading it, is the first real step to joining the online community. If something catches your eye, be sure to click away.

You Like?

Hitting the Like button—beneath a link or status update—is an even more active form of Facebook behavior. Likability is Extremely Important in the social media world, and it’s also a good strategy for those of you who are seriously time-pressed. But it’s not as substantial a response as the following two methods.

Sharing Is Caring

Sharing is good because it helps spread the word around. And if you’re not the kind of person who likes to speak (or write) in public, this may be the best way you can serve in the PEJE social media crew. You click on the word “Share” right underneath the piece of content in question. A box opens up. You write in it, click the “Share” button, and it goes on your wall. Or you click the “Send a Message Instead” link. You fill in the names of the person/people you want to tell about this, write a message, and then send it off.

All the Rest Is Commentary

Write a response, a thoughtful response, to a Status Update or shared Link and you’ve done something with true social significance. The process is simple: You click on the word “Comment” right underneath the piece of content in question. A box opens up, and you write your comment. Simple. Note: Not every comment has to be a dissertation—such things are better employed in grad school and your Friends will likely lose interest in a lengthy response—but it is a good idea to respond intentionally when you’re commenting.

Answer the Call

When confronted by a good question in a Facebook status—good administrators are constantly asking questions—you answer it. It’s OK to hang back and read how other people respond … but it’s generally good manners and a healthy social attitude to answer legitimate questions put out to your Facebook community.

Be a Model

Note: you can’t be the only person on your Facebook page. Imagine a Facebook page that is nothing but status updates that get Liked and Commented On by the administrator. (This would be, as John Bender said in The Breakfast Club: “Sorta social—demented and sad, but social.”)

When you set up a FB page for your school, particularly when you’re first starting out, it’s essential that you invite some good role models to the party. People, that is, who know how to be a regularly active member of your community. So don’t be shy. It’s not cheating to ask for help, it’s essential. Remember, this is social media.

Two kinds of invitations may be necessary.

  1. Invite people you know are comfortable with Facebook, and your community, to join your group. These are folks, let’s say, who know about day school and social media and will naturally become part of your community.
  2. Invite qualified people to respond to a stimulating question. You can—and should—arrange debates. Find a provocative piece of content, ask a provocative question, and then invite several smart people (of varying opinions) to respond on the page. One great way to get people to respond: call FB friends out by name with a tag.

The great thing about modeling good social citizenship: it’s contagious. What are you waiting for? Stop reading this and show your community the way of FB. The more you engage the page, the more people will engage with you.

BY KEN GORDON

Ken Gordon is the Social Media Manager of PEJE. He cordially invites you to friend our Facebook page and follow us on Twitter.

Read the full article on Sustained!

http://www.peje.org/index.php/the-virtual-assembly

20 Free Icon Sets for Non-Profits

Monday, August 15th, 2011

The quickest shortcut to making your website look polished is to use icons. These little pictures, plenty of which are cheap or free, look way better than anything most mortals can do with Photoshop. A little pop of color, used judiciously, can help bring life to bland webpages. Coordinated sets of icons also make pages look like you put a modicum of thought into how the out-put looks. And, importantly, visitors are more likely act based off a compelling picture rather than a chunk of text.

So stop snagging any old picture off Google Image Search (naughty, naughty!). Here is a list of free icon sets guaranteed to make any non-profit’s webpage better, whether you’re into donations, social media, activism, environment, or health and human services. Have you seen anything I’ve left off? Leave a link in the comments.

Donations

Donate Now Buttons

Donate Now Buttons

Donate Now Buttons

Festive Donate Buttons

Festive Donate Icons

Festive Donate Icons

Open Source Icons (including money icons)

Open Source Icons

Open Source Icons

Themed Fundraising Buttons for Email

Themed Fundraising Buttons

Themed Fundraising Buttons

Credit Card and PayPal Icons

Credit Card Images

Credit Card Images

Social Media

Vector Social Media Icon Set

Vector Social Media Icons

Vector Social Media Icons

Scribble Social Icon Set

Scribble Social Icon Set
Scribble Social Icon Set

WG Social Media Icons

WG Social Media Icons

WG Social Media Icons

Double J Social Media Balloons

Social Media Balloons

Social Media Balloons

Buddycons

Buddycons

Buddycons

Health and Human Services

Fruit/Food Bank Icons

Paradise Cherry Icons

Paradise Cherry Icons

Education Icons

Bitty Education Icons

Bitty Education Icons

Jana free baby icon set

Parenting/baby icons

Parenting/baby icons

People & Disability Icons

People and Disability Icons

People and Disability Icons

Medical Toolbar Icons

Medical Toolbar Icons

Medical Toolbar Icons

Environment

Environment Icons

Environment Icons

Environment Icons

Ecology Icons

Ecology Icons

Ecology Icons

Recycling Icons

Recycling Icons

Recycling Icons

Weather Icons

Weather Icons

Weather Icons

Water Icons

Water Icons

Water Icons

Activism

Endangered Animal Icons

Endangered Animals

Endangered Animals Icons

Sign Up Petition Icon

Sign the Petition Icon

Sign the Petition Icon

World Flag Icons

World Flag Icons

World Flag Icons

Military and War Icons

War Icons

War Icons

Multi-ethnic People Icons

Multi-ethnic People Icons

Multi-ethnic People Icons

10 Ways to Be a Jackass in Online Discussions

Friday, June 10th, 2011

Donkey del Sol

Please apply the following rules to discussion boards, comments entries, and Facebook and Twitter postings if you wish to raise collective blood pressure.

  1. Use all caps. I CAN’T BELIEVE HOW MANY PEOPLE DO THIS EVEN THOUGH THEY’VE BEEN WARNED AGAINST IT FOR YEARS.
  2. Stay off topic, perhaps discussing the demise of the semicolon, one of the most misunderstood pieces of punctuation. You can use the semicolon to join two independent clauses that bear a close relationship; a period is sometimes just too much. Independent clauses can stand on their own as sentences, but a semicolon can bring two of them together. Wait. Where was I?
  3. Make it personal if you disagree with someone. As in, “You don’t like cilantro? You’re a pathetic and ugly sad sack.”
  4. Jump to the end of a discussion without reading the whole thing. That way you can make clueless statements or ask obvious questions that cause everyone to write you off.
  5. Slip little spammy messages into your postings.  (Seriously, though. Click here to read more about how you can be a better person for $9.99 per month.)
  6. Curse like a **** sailor.
  7. Make sure 2 use ur worst speling n grammar.
  8. Post irrelevant personal messages to everyone. (Andrea: doesn’t this remind you of the time you threw that flaming marshmallow at Travis’s head?)
  9. Be sarcastic. E.g., “Smooth move, ExLax.”
  10. Hit Submit before you’ve finish

[Image: Flickr user devittj]

Widget Worth

Wednesday, June 1st, 2011

We never expected to spend as much time as we do building widgets. Increasingly more often, our clients come to us for Twitter stream sidebars, custom Facebook pages and Facebook Like buttons. We’ve known anecdotally that there’s a growing demand for these social media hooks, and now there’s justification.

Lijit, a provider of search, content delivery, and analytics tools for online publishers and networks, has just released a report that reflects how many publishing organizations rely on social tools blended into their sites. Many, many sites have widgets installed, implying that websites are not stand-alone and serve as a hub for more wide-reaching campaigns. Over the past two years, they found:

  • 2010: 735,834 sites surveyed, 84.8% with widgets installed (13,541,022 widgets)
  • 2009: 744,848 sites surveyed, 84.7% with widgets installed (13,826,562 widgets)

Why the huge numbers?

“To either make their sites better, or to give them more understanding about the readers that visit their site, or to make money,” says Lijit CEO Walter Knapp in an article in EContent Magazine, which featured the study.

The article outlines the wealth of social tools available for augmenting the site and also extracts key date from the study. A helpful benchmark in case you’re deciding whether you want to add a widget to your site.

Check out the top 50.

Top 50 widgets and tools implemented on publisher websites

Top 50 widgets and tools implemented on publisher websites

How Anthem Pets Boosted Fundraising with LinkedIn

Wednesday, October 20th, 2010

CASE STUDY: When faced with the task of gathering donations for the pet rescue group Anthem Pets, this board member found an untapped font of helpful advice in LinkedIn Answers. Here’s how she uncovered it – plus some fabulous fundraising ideas.

By Corine Cuvelier, Board Member, Anthem Pets

Get more donations with puppies

Get more donations with puppies

I recently joined the board of directors for Anthem Pets, a non-profit rescue organization north of Phoenix. One of my new duties is to solicit donations for their fundraising event. Since I’m new to the area and don’t have many contacts, I decided to give social media a try.

The most successful tact was to pose the following question on LinkedIn Answers:

Doing fundraising for an animal rescue group. Any hints on how to approach local companies for donations in a down economy?

I’m on the board of a local animal rescue group and in charge of fundraising for our two main fundraising events, one of which is an auction. I’ve sent e-mail to several local businesses, and either haven’t heard back or have been rejected due to the economy. Any hints on how to approach businesses?

Within three days, I received 12 suggestions, mostly from strangers. Many of which were excellent. I’d like to share these posts; your non-profit may benefit from them as well.

Simply ask for smaller donations that they can afford…

Now this submission didn’t seem too applicable because I asked a huge liquor chain for a donation and they wouldn’t even give me a bottle of wine!

Go to their door with a puppy that needs a home and a T-Shirt. Seriously. People have a hard time saying no to an honest-to-god puppy.

I found this an excellent suggestion and I think I’ll borrow a puppy. After trading a couple of e-mails with this man, it turns out he is a former pet-store owner and has a lot of experience in the field. With LinkedIn you tap into some great experience.

Go to local businesses that would benefit from the advertising and the image boost of being involved with your organization. Be prepared to offer them something in exchange for their support (an inexpensive thank you plaque? a banner at the event? a glowing review?) and take them some statistics or other information that helps them justify giving to YOUR organization over other non-profit groups. For example, you might say that you have experienced an X% drop in funding in recent years and an X% increase in need since families cannot keep pets after foreclosure.

I think you have to go to people to “do business,” not just to walk away with something for your organization. How can you help them? How can they help you? Be flexible and get creative. If they give you $100 worth of products and you ping $1000 worth of business, they will be sure to support your next event.

Some businesses might not be able to afford to do much but they could allow you to advertise at their business for free (a poster?) or maybe they could offer services (printing of said posters) and some places might be willing to “loan” you one of their staff members for a few hours.

I also think that email is too impersonal and suggest that you call or go in person. I do a lot of fundraising for the PTA and many student organizations and this has worked in the past.

This suggestion came from a woman who is a student, but obviously has a lot of experience fundraising. Her creativeness spurs me to think of different ways to tap into my community.

I plan on putting some of these suggestions to use verbatim; however, just their creativity led me into some paradigm shifts in what I’ve asked for and received.

  • An historic painting from a now-closed downtown building.
  • An hour’s worth of space planning/design time placed into a sweet designer basket (this will also benefit the designer as free advertisement).
  • Tickets to the local Christmas pageant (free advertisement to an upcoming production in the community).

Have more ideas for how to network for fundraising ideas using social media? Leave a comment below.

About the Author

Corine Cuvelier lives in Arizona and is a volunteer and board member who has been active in many non-profits. Her professional life is in the medical industry. If you’d like to donate to Anthem Pets rescue group or adopt an animal, please post your request on the Anthem Pets Facebook page.

Simple Tip for Attracting Attention

Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010

How many times have you been in a restaurant or bar with a TV in one corner that keeps snagging your eye? It’s a human response to follow movement, and video is a proven attention-getter.

If you want to call attention to something on your website, you can apply the same techniques through video. Thanks to services like YouTube and Vimeo, it’s pretty easy too.

Think of who your visitors are and create a simple video that appeals to them in just 30 seconds or a minute in length. See how traffic changes on your website before and after you add a video.

Keep experimenting until you find what works with your audience. Check out this video from ReadWriteWeb on NPR’s experiments with social media.

NPR’s experiments with social media from JD Lasica on Vimeo.

8 Non-Profit Website Tools That Really Work

Friday, July 30th, 2010

It’s true that your website should be a reflection of your organization’s goals and audience, but there are a few proven tools that we suggest again and again because they simply work. They make a more interactive website. They drive more support. They deliver information most efficiently.

I happen to be right, but you don’t have to take my word for it. I ran a check against some of best top non-profit websites out there – the ones that were official nominees for the 14th annual Webby awards – to see what tools they had on their homepages.

Here are the top eight and why they work so well. Keep reading and you’ll see the breakdown for Teenage Cancer Trust, ASPCA, One, SocialVibe and The Nature Conservancy.

Search

There’s only so much information you can cram onto your homepage. Search provides a way for website users to tap into your reservoir of information.

Donate button

You’ve got to earn money, and people want to give it. Don’t stand in their way.

Newsletter

Establish a regular newsletter and then encourage people to sign up. This way you can remind them that you exist and that what you do matters.

Slide show

Slide shows are an efficient way to display evocative, image-based content in a confined space.

Blog

Blogs not only keep your constituency informed of what you’re doing, but they also help fill your website with content. That gives search engines more to latch onto, and therefore drive more people to your website.

Social media plug-in

Whether you have an initiative on Facebook or Twitter or some other social networking platform, bring it into your website. It serves as a cross-promotional element and gives people other ways to interact with you.

Featured stories

Websites can go stale quickly, but a list of featured stories or news items can keep it fresh.

Here are the tools those top five non-profits are using on their websites. Look familiar?

Teenage Cancer Trust

  • Search
  • Donate button
  • Slide show
  • Latest news
  • Newsletter
  • Directory/support network

ASPCA

  • Search
  • Join now button
  • Donate button
  • Newsletter
  • Highlighted stories
  • Online shop
  • Social media accounts

One

  • Join now button
  • Search
  • Slide show
  • Newsletter
  • Blog
  • Social media accounts

SocialVibe

  • Slide show
  • Newsletter
  • Facebook link
  • Twitter feed
  • Blog

The Nature Conservancy

  • Search
  • Newsletter
  • Slide show
  • Interactive map
  • Social share
  • Social media accounts

Five for Monday

Monday, June 7th, 2010

Honestly, who feels like delving into those voice mails and uncompleted projects this early in the week? Fill your cup of coffee and watch these five great little movies that will help polish your tech education.

What Is Drupal? from help.asu.edu on Vimeo.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) basics for Non-Profit Organizations (NPO) from Firstgiving on Vimeo.

Demo Usability Test by Steve Krug from Larmon VanWinkle on Vimeo.

History of the Internet from Melih Bilgil on Vimeo.

Why Video Content Is Important from WebDesign.com on Vimeo.

Non-profit Wisdom from Wikipedia

Monday, April 12th, 2010

Wikipedia logo

Wikipedia is ranked the 6th most popular in the world (fifth most popular in the US), so it might come as a surprise that it has only a staff of 10, and the rest of it’s enormous success is built on volunteers. Wikipedia is a non-profit. (Cash-strapped non-profits: think about that next time you’re wondering how you’ll get everything done on your current budget.)

Of those 10 employees, almost all of them are focused on keeping the website up and running. They manage the site, handle design, manage servers, babysit the network – generally make sure that the information goes where it needs to. The volunteers, on the other hand, feed the site, make sure the copy is correct, handle bite-sized tasks, which in the aggregate, are enough to make Wikipedia one of the biggest sites on the planet.

The important lesson here is not just that you can accomplish great things with volunteers, but that they need to be applied to the correct task. If something is as integral to your organization as your website, pay for it. You’ll free up volunteers for other tasks that meet their individual skills without weighing them down with such a complicated task as a website, but you’ll never be emotionally beholden to someone who’s donating their sweat (and possibly tears) to your site.