let’s dabble speaks at Chicago COUNTs: A NetSquared Camp and SWARMGlobal

September 9th, 2010 by Anthony Bernas | Permalink

Mark those calendars and get there early to find yourself a comfy chair, because let’s dabble will be presenting this weekend on Saturday September 11th at SWARMGlobal Action Worth Taking and on Sunday September 12th at Chicago COUNTs: A NetSquared Camp. If you are interested in knowing what web video can offer your organization, there are two events where you can find an introduction to web video and how it is changing the way we are able to share our stories with the world.

How is web video evolving? How is this impacting the nonprofit sector? You have two options to find out.

Saturday highlights the SWARMGlobal event that invites you to,

"Come for a one-day change-agent centric event about making positive social change happen. It’s the conference for individuals and organizations that are engaged in the art of making the world a better place."

The SWARM will begin at 10 A.M. and continue until 4 P.M. at the The Experimental Station.

Then on Sunday join us at the Illinois Institute of Technology from 9:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M. with Chicago COUNTs. It will be a day of social media basics and stategy, tools for donor/volunteer management and collaboration, global networking and crisis management, and using video to tell your story.

For more information and to buy a ticket visit the Chicago COUNTs Eventbrite page.

Don’t miss out on this opportunity to hear about the basics of web video, their implications in the nonprofit sector, and how your organization can begin making their own web videos for fundraising, custom donor thank you’s, video grant proposals, web promos, and more.

Love SEO? Then you better love video!

August 30th, 2010 by Anthony Bernas | Permalink

Search Engine Journal

Search Engine Journal posted a recent article discussing the importance of online video and incorporating that video into your website or blog. The article entitled, “If You Care about SEO, You Need to Know about Video” was written by Yaniv Axen.

I love the opening Q and A.

"Q: Do you have video on your website?

A: The only right answers are, “yes” or “we will soon.” "

His points are simple and direct. In 2007 Google integrated video into its universal search offering. This leads to websites with video being favored over those without. The result increases their search-based traffic. He further supports this concept with hard numbers. In 2008, only 18% of the top 50 retailers were using video. In 2009, 68% were using video. That is a 375% increase!

The prevalence of online video has changed the way google provides search results. When searches are made on Google, 40% of the time a video is in the results.

After providing the statistics on the importance of video, Yaniv then discusses the six things you need to know when concerning search engine optimization (SEO) and video.

1) Video creation, and especially web video, is not resource intensive as it once was.

2) Embedding a video on a website is insufficient for affecting SEO. Online retailers need to cover their entire product line with videos that match keywords to better target specific customers.

3) Video should not be static. Keep them as up to date so that they are consistently in first place on universal search engines.

4) Don’t stop at the video. The title matters, the description matters, and very important but often over-looked are the metadata and tags. Remember that having the video searchable is of the utmost importance. A video is of no use if it is never found and watched.

5) Videos need sitemaps. Sitemaps aid in publishing information from one central location and make it easier for search engines to find you.

6) YouTube is not just funny pet videos. It’s just that simple. Online video is a powerful way to engage people.

If you follow this blog regularly, then you know that I am nonprofit focused and that this post is more “business” focused. The connection is to replace “products” with your mission. Instead of providing videos about that latest product line, think about a video about your latest update to how you are achieving your mission. How are you changing peoples lives, the community, or the environment. Web video can be used throughout the organization. It is much more than one video on the homepage. Have videos of your events and fundraisers on their own page. Have video testimonials from your volunteers and staff about the work they do. The videos will not only share your story, but they will increase your SEO as well.

7 Social Media Myths

August 9th, 2010 by Anthony Bernas | Permalink

While reading an article in the SocialMedia Examiner I came across this article by Rich Brooks discussing 7 claims regarding social media that can be ignored. Amazing! All too often opinions regarding new technologies become rock-solid facts when they are nothing more than someone’s popular opinion. So let’s revisit Rich’s discussion and continue to spread truth into the sea of opinions.

1) Social Media has changed EVERYTHING

To quote Rich, “Balderdash.” Social media has presented a new way to approach and connect with the public, nothing more and nothing less. The idea that social media has made traditional methods of conducting business obsolete is a misunderstanding of the greatest measure. Social media has not changed the methods, it has changed how we use them. (I love analogies, so here we go!) The creation of a typewriter did not make the written word obsolete, it merely changed the way we put the words on paper. The same goes for social media, the content is unchanged, we simply have new and powerful ways to share that content.

2) You Can’t Sell in Social Media

Firstly, I am not trying to contradict my recent discussion of not taking advantage of the online community, but rather would like to build upon it. The simple fact is that if you put your content in front of the wrong people they will throw it away, delete it, or even “block” you from contacting them again. On the other hand, if you use social media with tact and build genuine relationships your content can be spread, forwarded, and find its way in front of the right person who would like to be your customer.

3) You Have to Stay On Message

To again quote our friend Rich, “…you know who stays on message? Politicians and boring corporations.” This speaks for itself. Humanizing yourself, adding personality, and discussing your passion for restoring a 1965 Oldsmobile into the ridiculous lowrider you dreamed about when you were 16 doesn’t make you less professional, it makes you a real person who happens to drive an old car that bounces. With that said, keep in mind how you meet and interact with new people, treat social media the same. Be personal, be authentic, and above all be yourself.

4) You Need to Have a Lot of Followers

The premise is simple. The more followers you have the more people that will be exposed to your content. Ok, this is true, but the counter argument is simple as well. Providing your content to huge numbers of people means nothing if they are not interested in what you have to say. Having 100 followers who read what you have to say is better than 10,000 who delete it without opening it. It’s the basic premise of quality over quantity.

5) You Need to Have a Lot of Comments on Your Blog

I blog at let’s dabble for many reasons. Comments are not one of them. Are they nice? Sure. Are they the goal? Sadly, no. Although interaction with the community is a beneficial side effect of blogging, tweeting, and new content creation. They exist without interaction for a very important reason, SEO. Search Engine Optimization is what ranks websites when a search is made in google. If you would like your lemonade stand to be the first one listed when “lemonade stand” is searched in google, your site needs to be considered the best. How does google decide who is the best? Content, web traffic, and links to your site from reputable sites, just to name a few. So get out there and keep getting out there. The more good, relevant content you provide the higher google will rank your “lemonade stand” in google search results.

6) You Can’t Measure Social Media ROI

Have you ever asked? If you want to know how people hear about you, ask them. You can send out a survey to recent clients/donors with a list of ways you are promoting your organization and ask them to “check a box”. You can also set up google analytics which can monitor your website or blog and will provide you with a myriad of information regarding the traffic you are getting.

7) You Have to Be on Facebook (or Twitter, or Have a Blog…)

The only thing you “have” to do is what works best for you. If you find that your demographic does not tweet, stop tweeting. If they are not on Facebook, why have a page? But if they love photos, can you justify not providing them with a few pictures to show them the new office building? If they are searching YouTube for your videos, can you justify not have a YouTube Channel with relevant videos?

Listen first, then provide your content where it is appropriate. But above all, provide that content. The hardest way to be found is to tell no one where you are. So dabble with Flickr, dabble with Youtube, and once you start, keep dabbling!

The Paperless Choice Challenge

July 22nd, 2010 by Anthony Bernas | Permalink

Has your organization embraced digital marketing? Then win some money. No really, Paperless Choice is hosting a contest to reward organizations with great digital marketing. In their own words,

"Through the Paperless Choice Challenge, we are rewarding successful, creative, and replicable campaigns that use email, websites, video, social media, widgets, and mobile —
anything that is moving your organization away from traditional paper-based direct mail fundraising."

20,000 dollars will be awarded on October 15th and submissions end on September 15th! So put together your organizations portfolio and win some money! You can describe your digital campaign and submit an entry on their submission page. Or if you need a little more information you can peruse the contest details.

No matter what your digital dabblings are: web video, social media, widgets, or mobile devices. You can win some money! So don’t let this opportunity slip away.

Be a part of the community, don’t take advantage

July 9th, 2010 by Anthony Bernas | Permalink

I was recently reading an article written by Tom Foremski at zdnet in which he discusses the misstep of corporations jumping into the world of social media with the intentions of social sales and nothing more.

His comparison comes from an individuals desire to use the social qualities of social media versus the corporate vantage point of commercial purposes. I particularly like the following quote,

"At parties, people will avoid that person that is selling something. Friends that invite their friends to tupperware parties, or multi-level marketing, are tolerated for a while, but not for long. Similarly, companies that use social media as sales media must understand there is a time and place for it, or they risk harming their brand."

His point is valid but is there more to take away other than “corporations use social media for social sales and that’s bad”? I believe there is.

In the realm of nonprofits there is a grey area to be found. A nonprofit exists because of a community that supports it. Therefore, it stands to reason that nonprofits should embrace social media and become a part of the community. We now stumble upon the fine line.

Be a part of the community, don’t take advantage of it. When a corporation finds a target demographic that has come together using social media their gut reaction is, “like shooting fish in a barrel.” But this backfires. Why? The answer is in the question. Why is a target demographic coming together? Have they come together to discuss how much they love fly fishing, for example? If so, this group would naturally attract companies selling camping equipment, but they don’t want to talk about camping, they are there to discuss fly fishing, any talk otherwise will only annoy them.

So if you want to reach out to new groups make sure they want to talk about what you are bringing to the conversation. Just because a group exists in the community where you have a volunteer garden, does not mean that reaching out to them will result in finding gardeners.

The point: Although social media offers hundreds of groups, communities, and avenues for sharing information, deny the temptation to interact with them all. Successful social media is having a strong community and this comes from similar interests, trust, and good content. Focus on what you are “putting out there” rather than how many times you are putting it out there.

Moral of the story: As a nonprofit use social media to share your story, show the world how you are making a difference. And in doing so, attract new donors and volunteers, just make sure they are joining the conversation; don’t try to sell camping equipment to fly fishers.

…just about anything, using twitter, in 12 easy steps

June 30th, 2010 by Anthony Bernas | Permalink

Social Media Club

The Social Media Club defines their mission as connecting the worlds media makers to advance media literacy, promote industry standards, and encourage ethical behavior while sharing their lessons learned. Local chapters are located throughout the country but I am here to discuss the Chicago chapter which hosted a meeting with The British Council during their visit for the TN2020.

The British Council was present for the Annual Transatlantic Network 2020 Summit, otherwise known as TN2020. The theme of this years summit was “Using Technology to Create Social Change.” Speakers addressed the crowd on topics of online video, using twitter for fundraising, the future of social media, and “how to stop the Mexican Congress from doing just about anything by using twitter, in twelve easy steps.” (yes, that was an actual title haha)

The talks are a great collection of how social media is being used in a variety of ways around the world. Luckily for you, I was there with the camera in my pocket just in case; gotta love small, inexpensive camcorders.

Below is a short web video of the event, and if you are interested in what they all have to say, I highly recommend watching all the speakers give their talks.

Make your own Choice. DonorsChoose.org

June 9th, 2010 by Anthony Bernas | Permalink

DonorsChoose

You give to a classroom project. They deliver the materials to the class. The kids learn and show it through photos and thank-you notes.

DonorsChoose.org was started in 2000 by Charles Best, a social studies teacher at a Bronx high school, who saw a problem in people willing to help but frustrated with where the money was going. Therefore, he created a means for people to directly connect with classrooms in need.

Disconnected donors are unhappy donors, engage your support base with contact, personalized notes, photos, and online video. Technology has empowered us all to share our story in new and exciting ways; for good reason because an engaged donor is a happy donor. Happy donors have led to a simple goal of students everywhere having the resources they need to learn to generate over 54 million in donations, over 135,000 projects funded, and over 36,000 schools impacted.

But if that is not enough to get you excited, how about a 30 second online video narrated by Morgan Freeman?

Don’t search, GoodSearch

May 27th, 2010 by Anthony Bernas | Permalink

GoodSearch

Do you use the internet? Do you search for information? Then you are doing everything that is needed. That’s it.

Really? That sounds crazy, what’s the catch? To answer this question, I went to their website, entered the name of a charity, checked their statistics for May, then made a search. When I returned and again checked the statistics for May, they were a penny higher. I was shocked. A penny is not much, but the I am one person who made one search!

GoodSearch, powered by Yahoo!, donates 50% of it’s sponsored search revenues to the charity of your choice. When you go to their homepage, you can type in the charity you are supporting, verify that they are setup and you are done. You and the organization you are supporting spend nothing.

If I could find the hidden catch, I would tell you about it, but it really is that simple and this easy. The truth is that the searches we make every day generate over 8 billion dollars annually for search engines from online advertisers (and that was a few years ago). By using GoodSearch a portion of that is going to help the charity of your choice.

To go a bit further, in 2007, they expanded to GoodShop where online shopping merits the organization of your choice 3% of your money spent on average but in some cases 20% or more!

It is not often that I come across something this painlessly easy to add to my routine. However, my homepage has been changed, and since I have been known to buy things online, I will be checking back to GoodShop next time I do.

Non Profits need a Voice, V3 Campaign

May 6th, 2010 by Anthony Bernas | Permalink

V3 Campaign

The V3 Campaign highlights much needed facts about the nonprofit community that are all to often unknown, disregarded, or simply not acted upon. The truth is that 70% of American households donate to nonprofits, each year 80 million volunteers give of their time, nonprofits employ 7% of the workforce and are in the top 3 employers in many states.

So what does this all mean?

It means that nonprofits need a voice in the democratic process. As said by the V3 Campaign, the nonprofit sector needs to work towards engaging candidates that will strengthen, support, and partner with the nonprofit sector.

The campaign is described well by Kayla Klein,

" The mission of the V3 Campaign is to help people appreciate that a large part of our national productivity is already generated by philanthropic organizations and to encourage more and better support for the charitable sector. "

Nonprofits work towards improving communities, they employ Americans in these same communities, and they add to the economies of these communities more than we ever knew. It’s time that had a voice as well.

Five “Must Knows” in 2010

April 19th, 2010 by Anthony Bernas | Permalink

ClientTrack

ClientTrack hits the nail on the head as it offers a prescription for what’s ailing social service organizations. To quote Scott Anderson, PhD, “My intent is not to incite fear… but rather encourage a healthy fear… that will move social service organizations from potential complacency to concerted action, survival, and progressive sustainability.”

When it comes to management a simple school of thought is whether to react or to be prepared. Issues arise whether we want them or not; our options are to be ready for them or to wait and just react as needed. 2010 is a year for preparation, not for reaction.

Back to Scott and his “Must Knows” of which he has five for Social Service Organizations.

1) Social Service organizations are not likely to see an improvement in 2010 funding. Based upon research done by The Foundation Center funding for social service organizations will not be as favorable as other sectors in the nonprofit community.

2) Non-profits must implement fundamental changes in how they do business. Based on the Chronicle of Philanthropy, radical changes are needed to maintain and strengthen the nonprofit world in the face of economic upheaval.

I can’t agree with Scott more, funding trends are already changing, as I discussed in February of 2008, online donors have arrived and they are but one facet of the what nonprofits need to embrace.

3) Accountability and transparency are the new reality.

Again, I agree, and to say it as simply as possible, post it. The internet-age began years ago and the reasons for not having information available at the click of a button are fading away. Donors want to know how you are using their donations, being able to scroll through pictures is expected, and seeing a video of the organizations progress in the last quarter is the norm.

4) Non-profits must seek creative collaborations.

The cost of bartering is nothing yet helps both parties. Providing your talents to an organization that can offer you a service in return is a relief on the wallet as well as a solution to a problem.

5) If you don’t have a current technology solution, get the right one… quick.

Did I mention that I agree with Scott? Technology is our friend, as aggravated as it can make us, it is here to help. Organizations have come to be expected of a certain amount of online activity. This activity strengthens the transparent presence that Scott discusses in point three. It is difficult to avoid transparency when information, photos, and videos are made available to all.

Need help with adding technology to your organization, I’d be happy to start a conversation.