Archive for the social media Category

Social Media the Tool, not the Solution

Friday, October 22nd, 2010 | Permalink

Recently, I came across a question regarding how to best use social media for a nonprofit organization. The subsequent replies and comments were enough to make anyones head spin. I believe this was due to the false mantra that we’ve all heard, “you need to get on social media, because once you do, the gates to nirvana will open and you will find floods of people just waiting for you!”

Over and over again, I hear the confusion of “I’m here! What am I supposed to do now?”

This confusion is due to the notion that social media is the solution. I argue that it is but a tool.

Social media is a simple way of referring to computer programs that allow people to interact and converse in a variety of ways. It is a form of “media” that has a “social” component. That social component is what makes it so powerful. Suddenly I am able to respond to the “media” that is presented to me rather than just receiving it.

This is all well and good, but what about the question. How should a nonprofit organization use social media? I regret to inform you that I will be answering a question with a question. What does your organization want to do?

Are you trying to organize a future event? Distribute information to volunteers? Show donors the successes you’ve had this year?

If you know how you’d like to make improvements to your organization, your chances of finding a social media tool to get you there will sky rocket. So first determine what “solution” you’d like to achieve, then go find the “tool” that will help you get there.

On a final note, don’t forget the content. Your organization is full of amazing people and amazing stories. Make your social media dabblings more engaging by going beyond words and photographs by including web video. And if you need help putting the video together, gimme a call, it’s what I do.

7 Social Media Myths

Monday, August 9th, 2010 | 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!

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

Friday, July 9th, 2010 | 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

Wednesday, June 30th, 2010 | 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.

Old friends and new iPhone apps

Sunday, April 4th, 2010 | Permalink

VolunteerMatch Our friends at Volunteer Match whom we have discussed here have recently taken the next step in connecting with a new market of interested volunteers by being available in their palm of their hand. Smart phones, in particular the iPhone, allow for new custom software to be created and made available to a sea of cell phone users.

The free iPhone application for Volunteer Match can be downloaded here and allows iPhone users to connect and volunteer with causes/nonprofits that share their passions.

And Volunteer Match is not the only one.


Another old friend that we discussed in a previous blog post is kiva who helps micro-finance entrepreneurs around the developing world.

This micro-finance system “alerts” interested donors of when new opportunities to micro-finance are available, and these “alerts” are now available on the iPhone. The application can be downloaded here.

The moral of the story is: stay connected, stay in touch, and interact with your donors/volunteers. Smart phones offer a free platform for engagement, don’t pass up the opportunity.

Online video and the art of storytelling

Friday, January 22nd, 2010 | Permalink

In an article by merc strategy group the art of storytelling and its new found friend, online video, are discussed. This discussion sheds light on the sheer numbers behind online video as provided by comScore’s August 2009 Video Matrix report.

The statistics for 2009 include:

- The month of August seeing 161 million viewers watching 157 videos each.
- Over 80% of the internet audience watching online video
- 10 billion videos watched on YouTube by 120.5 million viewers
- The average video was 3.7 minutes
- The average viewer watched almost 10 hours online in August alone

So what do these numbers mean? The fact that a change in how people are exposing themselves to information has occurred. The days of TV commercials owning the advertisement arena are coming to an end. It is the same content being provided during the same activity (watching video), but the delivery system is no longer cost prohibitive.

The cost of producing and distributing a TV commercial has left small businesses and nonprofits out of the playing field for years. However, the situation with online distribution is very very different. The cost to produce the video is now simply knowing how. The reason that the barrier for entry is now the “know-how” is due to the fact that the computer you are using to view this blogpost is able to produce an internet quality video.

As stated by the merc strategy group, “…it doesn’t take expensive cameras, lighting equipment and a makeup artist to produce great video content. All it takes is a Flip cam, or an iPhone camera… and good content.”

You have the technology, you have the content, all you need is to know how to make it happen. At let’s dabble, we are more than happy to show you how.

Social Media: Fad or Revolution

Monday, November 9th, 2009 | Permalink

So in stumbling upon a blog post discussing the video below, I have to agree with the opening comment about getting “chills”.

The post discusses the infancy of social media and some of the common ideas revolving around it: self-proclaimed experts or consultants, is it a fad, and the notion of twitter or facebook-aholics; we all know one.

However, the “chills” that I mentioned did not come from merely reading about social media, but rather from this video compilation. Enjoy.

Hey, nonprofits! Want to learn how to make your own web videos for YouTube?

Wednesday, October 7th, 2009 | Permalink

If your nonprofit has ever entertained the idea of creating web videos for YouTube or your website, you’re in luck! let’s dabble recently launched our video tutorial program that teaches nonprofits how to do just that.

To learn more, click the video below:

Peruse the full list of video tutorials and some free samples, here.

Or for more information, feel free to contact us at

VolunteerMatch: find the volunteers you need

Tuesday, August 4th, 2009 | Permalink

Someone somewhere wants to help, they simply may not know it yet. When your story touches their heart, a volunteer can be born. VolunteerMatch is here to help make this transformation happen.

Their story is simple, beautiful, and strong. VolunteerMatch,

"…strengthens communities by making it easier for good people and good causes to connect. The organization offers a variety of online services to support a community of nonprofit, volunteer and business leaders committed to civic engagement. Our popular service welcomes millions of visitors a year and has become the preferred internet recruiting tool for more than 71,000 nonprofit organizations."

It’s incredibly simple. A potential volunteer enters their zip code and the keywords about who, what, or how they’d like to help. Then they are connected with the appropriate nonprofit organization. Done and done.

The nonprofit section has a link in the upper left corner for registering so that you can add your nonprofit to their list and start being paired up with eager volunteers.

If you would prefer to learn more before you jump into the waters of VolunteerMatch, they offer a few webinars for your learning pleasure.

You have nothing to lose and volunteers to gain, so let a world of volunteers know who you are and what are doing.

I have a website, now what?

Monday, July 6th, 2009 | Permalink

The key to being found on the internet is being ‘indexed’ by search engines. This means that search engines like google are aware of your site and suggest it when someone searches for you. Building a website with your information on the site is the first step. Additional steps include: links to/away from your site, social media activity, and blogging.

Linking: A great way to gain internet exposure is to have other sites link to your site. This can be achieved through partnerships, affiliations, contacting online directories in your field and submitting your information. You can also use your involvement with organizations, fundraisers, and events to have your website posted in relevant web listings pertaining to the organization, fundraiser, or event.

Social Media: A highly active and updated arena is social media. By using twitter, facebook, linkedIn, and many others you can use the economies of scale to increase the chances of a link to your website being found by someone or indexed by a search engine.

Blogging: The internet likes activity. The more you interact, post, and add to the internet the more you will be indexed and found in searches. WordPress and blogger are great free ways to start blogging.

But be careful, it’s addictive.