Tech Tips for Reaching Teens

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[Image: Flickr user moriza]

How do you reach your constituency when they’re teenagers, don’t use e-mail, aren’t on Facebook and the cost of texting is prohibitively expensive? It’s a good question that came in to me today.

One option is to set up a Twitter account and start promoting it to your audience. This is a service that you can access from your PC and send short messages that your teens can subscribe to. Think mini-blog. Check out this handy list of questions from Twitter’s site.

Otherwise, most cell phone providers give e-mail addresses to their subscribers, with their cell phone number at the beginning and their provider name at the end (something like It’s generally free to receive e-mailed text messages for them and free for you to send them. Ask your teens who they have service with, and this will go a long way to connecting with them.

Great Idea from a Reb on the Web

Major props to Rabbi Eli Garfinkel for using technology in a creative and forward-thinking way. The Ask My Rabbi Show lets the inquisitive anonymously send their Jewish-related questions to the reb, who will answer them in front of a camera and post the answer online.

My question: why aren’t more Jewish organizations thinking so creatively about web technologies?

Today’s Gadget – CherryPal PC

Anyone who has tried to go for a walk with a portable CD player knows how nice MP3 players are. No jumping, no expensive batteries, nothing to break because there are no moving parts.

You’ll love the CherryPal cloud computer for all the same reasons. It’s a great little energy-efficient machine that’s super simple for the technically intimidated, only costs $249 and uses just two watts of power (most computers use 65 watts).

From the press release:

The CherryPal desktop is dead simple to set up and boots in 20 seconds. Users simply enter a username and password to access the CherryPalCloud, which offers an incredibly simple, intuitive interface. CherryPal has no exposed operating system, so all application and functions are managed solely by a Firefox-based browser. CherryPal does all operation system and application upgrading and installation, meaning there is no maintenance required. Because there are no moving parts, there is little possibility of hardware failure. CherryPal also offers a free 24/7 helpline.

Perfect portable solution if your organization is strapped for cash but you need something secure and portable to move around the office.

Introducing … Gadget Monday

Now you can look forward to Mondays – this week marks the beginning of Gadget Mondays on the Friendly Web Tools blog. We know that the Web stuff doesn’t work unless you have the technology to make it happen, so we’ll start to cover the hardware that will make your computing life less confusing.

On this inaugural Gadget Monday: the Flip video camera.

Flip Video Camera

With this ultra user-friendly gadget, converting lectures, presentations and conversations into YouTube-ready movies is a snap. Keep this little guy handy so you can record any action and turn it into a simple presentation for your constituency or colleagues who can’t be there. One client of ours is already using the Flip to create quick videos and distribute them on YouTube.

The best part? These things start at $129.99 – more manageable than you might have thought.

Choose Your (Tech) Weapon

We’ve been invited by a client that serves synagogues to put together a series of quick-hit webinars based on common problems their constituency has with technology. We’re still not sure which will be the most welcomed by the community, so I wanted to open up to you for your vote. In exchange, we’ll host a presentation on the same topic for no charge. You can post your thoughts by clicking the comments link here or by contacting me directly.

Which would you rather learn?

  • Put your first video on YouTube
  • Create your first podcast
  • Start your first blog
  • Understand search engine optimization
  • Create a Facebook group/cause
  • Put photos on Flickr
  • Understanding RSS
  • Effective e-mailing

Thanks for your vote!

Three No-Brainers for Website Promotion

When going over the designs for his website, a client of mine said, “If we put our newsletter on our website, why do we need to e-mail it to people too?”

My answer: “Because they don’t know it’s there!”

It’s a very common question, and a common misconception. Just because you build a website doesn’t mean that anyone knows it’s there. And it’s not a guarantee they’ll come.

In fact, people are fickle. You have to beat them over the head to make them visit your site, and then you have to make it easy for them to read your site, navigate your site and anticipate what they’re looking for.

All this takes a lot of research into knowing your audience and working with a company that understands the way humans interact with technology, but here are a few tips and tools you can follow to help bring people to your site and help keep them there:

Learn SEO. Make sure you write the copy on your site to attract the most people and the most search engines with search engine optimization (SEO). We’re hosting a free online seminar on this topic on August 5, 2008, so sign up to learn how.

Send a Newsletter. If you didn’t have an electronic newsletter before, get one now. Publishing news regularly gives you a chance to connect with your audience and connect to them while they’re at their computer. That’s the best time for them to click through to your website. We build newsletters into our content management systems, but many independent companies provide powerful newsletter tools, such as Constant Contact.

Advertise Widely and Often. Advertise your site everywhere. On your invoices, business cards, sticky notes, voice mail recordings, newsletters – everywhere. Slap your URL on it. VistaPrint is one of many companies that provides cheap promotional materials that you can use for advertising.

Learn About Social Media

One of the most frequent questions we get at Talance is, “Why does social media matter to my nonprofit?” Well, it matters for many reasons, which I regularly expand on in these pages.

N-TEN is also trying to address the relevance in a new curriculum project called We Are Media. Here’s a blurb from a release I received on my Facebook account:

We are Media is NTEN’s Social Media curriculum project where the community is the curriculum! We invite you to join the conversation each week as roll we out a new theme related to social media and nonprofits.

The first module looks more in depth at social media any why it does (or doesn’t) make sense to fold it into a social media strategy for a nonprofit organization’s overall communications plan.

It’s an interesting initiative, and one that aims to provide some guidance for a question that’s commonly asked but not so commonly answered.

Scary Computer Threat – and Reassuring Fix

It’s no ordinary occasion that Microsoft, Sun and Cisco engage in a project together. But this is no ordinary occasion. Hackers have discovered a potentially very dangerous ways to take people to different websites even when they think they’ve typed in the right address. For instance, you may type into your webpage, but you may be redirected to a fake site that can steal your identity or money in a technique called spoofing. The BBC reported the story; an excerpt:

The flaw, discovered by accident, would allow criminals to redirect users to fake webpages, even if they typed the correct address into a browser.

Internet giants such as Microsoft are now distributing the security patch.

Security expert Dan Kaminsky said that the case was unprecedented, but added: “People should be concerned but they should not be panicking.”

Here’s a bulletin from Microsoft that details the patch and security threat. Not a bad idea to install that one.

A Fun Lesson in Social Media

If you’re anything like me today, you’re obsessively checking the clock waiting for July 4th and the long weekend to get here already. The last thing I feel like doing is to find a new friendly web tool to help me with my work.

So, with that in mind, I give you We Feel Fine, a brilliant time-waster that contains a hidden lesson about social media and how we’re all interconnected online.

We Feel Fine

Here’s information on the project’s mission from co-creator Jonathan Harris:

Since August 2005, We Feel Fine has been harvesting human feelings from a large number of weblogs. Every few minutes, the system searches the world’s newly posted blog entries for occurrences of the phrases “I feel” and “I am feeling”. When it finds such a phrase, it records the full sentence, up to the period, and identifies the “feeling” expressed in that sentence (e.g. sad, happy, depressed, etc.). Because blogs are structured in largely standard ways, the age, gender, and geographical location of the author can often be extracted and saved along with the sentence, as can the local weather conditions at the time the sentence was written. All of this information is saved.

The result is a database of several million human feelings, increasing by 15,000 – 20,000 new feelings per day. Using a series of playful interfaces, the feelings can be searched and sorted across a number of demographic slices, offering responses to specific questions like: do Europeans feel sad more often than Americans? Do women feel fat more often than men? Does rainy weather affect how we feel? What are the most representative feelings of female New Yorkers in their 20s? What do people feel right now in Baghdad? What were people feeling on Valentine’s Day? Which are the happiest cities in the world? The saddest? And so on.