Tag Archives: Facebook

A feast of social media know-how

Megan Hubscher presenting at the Sustainability Trust office

Megan Hubscher speaking about how the Sustainability Trust use social media, in their central Wellington showroom/ venue/ office

In the world’s coolest little capital NetSquared Wellington hosted two talks this week. We showcased different approaches to social media as part of a programme of 40 events during the global #SocMedSep themed month.

From the the Sustainability Trust we had Megan Husbscher tell us about they are using to reach out to a broad range of customers, supporters, volunteers and people seeking to have greener lives.

So as not to get tangled in policies and procedures, Megan says the Trust has a philosophy of getting out there and doing it. Their motto is learn as we go.

Reflecting diversity and allowing people across the whole organisation to use social media is what Megan would like to see happening. It’s not as easy as it sounds, as people are busy doing their day jobs.

When asked what makes a good post, Megan said “anything that comes from your heart, that genuinely moves you, will move others.”

Helen Player pointing out sights in Wellington harbour, post talk.

Helen Player from Positively Wellington Tourism sharing the view of Wellington harbour after the #net2welly talk

Getting more people to get out and about in Wellington is the aim of the capital’s tourism agency Positively Wellington Tourism. Talking about their work Digital Marketing Manager Helen Player gave the impression they get to be very creative in how they approach this.

To run with this fresh approach Helen summed up their rules of thumb in these five tips:

  1. Beat print and other newspapers (otherwise you’re too late)
  2. Track what you do
  3. Be relevant – everything has a Wellington angle
  4. Cater for mobile – including any apps
  5. Make it easy to take action.

Competitions are a big thing – theses are used to attract people and encourage them to stay in touch. This included a virtual wishing well that mimicked a infamous fountain in grungy Cuba Street, where people outside the city can win trip. More are coming soon.

It was fantastic that both our #SocMedSep presenters shared fine-grained detail, including statistics.

The two talks were only possible because we had two people step forward from within NetSqaured Wellington willing to help. Thanks to to Justine from Plunket and Eileen from Kites.

We sounded people coming about being able to access personalised advice at a social media surgery. Despite being introduced to the idea by me wearing a medical mask and stethoscope, and wielding a plastic scalpel (though no rubber gloves, just yet!) people seem responsive. We’ll look to organise something before the end of the year.

PS I’ve been appointed one of four global NetSquared regional ambassadors – in this role I’ll support the active groups across region, plus can help if you’d like to set up a group in your town too. THe ambassador role is honorary, though I will be meeting other ambassadors in Washington DC next march, and attend the annual Nonprofit Technology Conference run by NTEN.

Register now – Beth Kanter workshops in Aotearoa, May 2013

Photo of author and master trainer Beth Kanter, wearing red stetson

As the sun rose on the New Year it was pretty obvious the upheaval caused by social media will continue unabated. People still flock online to connect with others in lots of different ways.

Looking ahead it is hard to know what will rise, what will fall. Will the effects of Facebook’s share float permeate even further? Could Bebo make a comeback alongside MySpace? Will Pinterest keep rising?

Whatever happens to individual sites and services, we can be sure that social networking is here to stay.

A deep understanding of how online networking works, along with awareness of the sweeping demographic and cultural changes bubbling underneath the surface, can really help organisations thrive when communicating through social media. On the other hand, without a grasp of the big picture, using social media is something of a lottery.

Having an impact also takes knowing what works well. What truly engages people? To count “Likes” or “Retweets” is a start. Bigger questions about whether it’s worth it need a robust approach to measurement. And time to reflect too.

To grapple with these types of challenges I’ve invited someone I consider a true leader in social media use to run two workshops for community organisations and NGOs in Aotearoa New Zealand. In May 2013 author, trainer and blogger Beth Kanter is coming to share her tried and tested frameworks, and knowledge of the practical application of social media practices from around the globe.

Ever since I met Beth at a workshop she ran at the Connecting Up conference in Brisbane in 2008 I’ve developed a very deep respect for her work. She generously shares her experience, is open to different cultures and always keeps a light touch.

I struggle to keep up with Beth’s prolific sharing on her blog, but I found her (short) book “The Networked Nonprofit” (2010), co-authored with Alison Fine, very helpful. I’m now half way through “Measuring the Networked Nonprofit: Using data to change the world” (2012), co-authored with KD Paine.

My view on the benefits of digging more deeply into social media is shared by my workshop co-hosts. I’m delighted Mangere East Family Service Centre and Volunteering Auckland are coming on board to each co-host one of the workshops. Support from The Tindall Foundation and Connecting Up is a big help too.

If 2013 is the year you want to extend your organisation’s social media use, come along to one of the workshops:

  • “Improving social networking practice with measurement” workshop
    A full day workshop and peer learning network, intermediate level, Saturday 11 May, Mangere, South Auckland. More information and registration page
  • “Be networked, use measurement and make sense of your data” workshop
    A half day workshop, introductory level, 1pm Monday 13 May, Auckland. Registrations open next week

Don’t expect Beth to tell you which social networks are best for your organisation. Nor to predict what is the up and coming one to get into. However, you will walk away with insights that will help you deepen your practice using social media.

What to tell a ‘friend’ when they’re not one

Small sculpture on four clay figures embracing each other in a circle, in friendshipIt’s something of an understatement to say the word friend is overloaded with intended and unintended meaning. With the term carelessly appropriated by Facebook and others, I feel the strong word is being diluted.

Yet, when it comes to telling someone she or he is no longer a friend buttons are invariably pushed. What it means to make friends may be irrevocably morphing, but taboos surround even talk of unmaking them.

If I was actually thinking about unfriending someone I’d want to know how to do this in, ahem, a considerate way.

Illinois romance writer Arlyn Presser might be someone to consult on this. She systematically purged de-cluttered her Facebook account, but only after contacting and asking to visit all 325 of her ‘friends’. (See “Facebook and Twitter: the art of unfriending or unfollowing people” from The Guardian.)

In this instance, it’s an awkward friendship of another sort that I’m thinking about.

I’ve recently come across two community organisations that seem to have accidentally set themselves up on Facebook using a Profile, rather than using a Page or Group.

As a friend, any of their friends can readily see what I share (unless I customise my privacy settings). I know the organisations’ won’t intentionally misuse any updates, strongly worded opinions or trivia, but I don’t know about all the friends the oragnisation is linked to.

Other reasons why an organisation with a Profile may like to switch to a Page or Group include:

  • being able to access tools to ensure your Facebook presence is well run, including setting up multiple admins and access to statistics
  • if you don’t do something, your Profile maybe deleted. It’s against the rules for an organisation to use Profiles.

Facebook take some of the pain out of switching. You can use an automated process to shift over your bio, and transfer friends to Likers (see Facebook’s Profile to business Page migration page). Everything you’ve typed in and uploaded can be downloaded, then manually uploaded (if you so wish). Instructions on how to covert are outlined in a short blog post by Beth Kanter.

But which way to go: a Page or Group. Each has pros and cons, which are ably set out by misty on the Social Source Commmons blog.

A dilemma remains: how do I tell my ‘friends’ they should sort out their presence on Facebook? Perhaps I’ll heed Oscar Wilde’s dictum: “True friends stab you in the front.”

Photo credit: drhenkenstein

Hanging on your every word? article

The rush to set up spaces on social networks to raise funds and engage with people is not necessarily a sure fire bet. Even if supporters do hang on your every word through Twitter bon mots it doesn’t mean they’ll reach into their pockets.

People from not-for-profit organisations I talked to for an article published in the August 2009 issue FINZ on Fundraising said they weren’t in it for the money (see “Hanging on your every word?” article). At least, not straight away.

Instead organisations are setting up Facebook fan pages and Twitter feeds to engage better with their audiences. This includes connecting with people that they wouldn’t be able to easily reach in any other way.

When choosing different online fund- and friend-raising options not-for-profit organisations Eric Rardin from Care2.com advised organisations to take an analytical approach rather than following fashions. In a lecture on “Creating an online strategy to thrive in tough times” run by Network for Good in May 2009, he shares detailed case studies of the costs of donor acquisition versus the returns.

Rardin, who is Care2.com’s nonprofit services manager, says organisations need to match goals with tactics.

  1. Goals include: branding or visibility, engaging people, generating donor leads, website traffic and/ or list growth, and fundraising.

  2. Tactics include: search engine marketing, banner ads, email list growth services (something I’m not aware of in NZ), and social network outreach.

There is no single tactic that will magically meet all goals. The tactics achieve different things.

Talking about social networks, he says they:

… have proven to be valuable opportunities for branding and connecting, and most people that I’ve heard talk about what they think of how things have done on MySpace and Facebook and elsewhere, they end up talking mostly about the community they built, the branding, and a lot less about traffic and donations.

When pressed Rardin says “I think that using email to drive traffic to your site to get donations is almost a self-fulfilling prophecy here, because it’s a loop here. So the question is: how do you grow your email list? That’s often the most critical step.”

So we’re still looking at a three legged stool. Laura S Quinn from Idealware suggests splitting your time and budget three ways:

  • website, with functionally to capture new contacts and accept donations
  • email communication, including e-newsletters
  • online marketing and outreach, including a social network presence.

(See “Prioritizing Websites vs. Email vs. Online Outreach”, 27 August 2008).

The Network for Good learning centre freely share lessons from the fundraising frontline, including presentations and audio lectures like Eric’s one. It’s good place to start if you want to explore these questions in more depth.

Browse like a sheep – ACE Winter Series presentation

List of participants favourite interactive websites from Virtual networks and digital forums session session

In the list of websites in the photo above you’ll find the curious saying ‘browse like a sheep’. Doug, a tutor at WelTech, didn’t share a favourite, interactive website during our round of introductions. Instead he described his appetite for websites in these omnivorous terms.

I was reassured to see that people still surf the net: that aimless, time-wasting wandering, leading from one site to another. One person honestly admitted he found himself delving into real estate in Findland, then was exploring visa rules for New Zealanders in Scandavia and elsewere. This all started at the Sanson Community Website.

Among the 20 or so participants at the “Virtual networks and digital forums” session – one of 12 in the ACE (Adult and Community Education) Winter Series – there was lots of enthusiasm for the Internet. David Barrow (NZFVWO communications manager) and I talked through the highs and lows of everything from venerable blogs to rapid fire twitter bon mots.

Conversation really fired up when we talked about some of the social changes brought about by the ubiquity of new technologies, including cellphones. Face-to-face exchanges are seen as becoming rarer for economic and environmental reasons so we’ll have less contact with people further afield. This has good and bad sides of course, but there was there was mention of a sadness at the idea that people may actual meet up less.

Leaving the best to last, David talked about how CommunityCentral is providing a friendly platform for people working in community groups to interact. It will mostly be about work and professional interests, but we’re trying to make it easy for people to bump into each other.

Some of the questions that came up included:

  • How to add a photo to your Facebook profile?
  • What steps can you take to make sure your children are safe online?
  • Can you hide personal details, like your birthday, in Facebook?
  • How do you set up a Group in Facebook?

I hope people swapped numbers as some individual tuition on Facebook was offered. I won’t attempt to answer these questions. To find resources on child safety online see New Zealand-based Netsafe, including the fabulous Hectors world cartoons.

For the full list of websites listed by participants and the slides see the “Winter Series presentation”.

Our cup runneth over – social media barcamp

Get 40 communicators in a room and try and stop them talking. At the ideasshop social media barcamp yesterday things ran over time because the conversation did overfloweth.

The format was simple: 16 slots for people to run impromptu 20 minute sessions about something they’ve learnt about social media or to raise burning questions. After a slow start the board was full of a range of topics. Participants included communications people from government agencies, businesses and NGOs, a few Massey University students, plus freelancers like me. There was a firm rule that nobody use the afternoon for solicitation.

I talked about a dilemma that CommunityCentral faces – we want people to come to our platform, but there is heaps of competition (from things like Google Groups, Yahoo groups, etc) which is much slicker.

The response was very clear:  the uniqueness of CommunityCentral being a local platform, aimed at a very distinct audience is its real strength. People who sign up are not dealing with a huge multinational corporate who are completely disinterested in what each organisation is actually doing (unless of course it’s illicit or objectionable). Instead people are coming to a platform aimed at everyone involved in tangata whenua, community and voluntary organisations in Aotearoa. It’s localness could mean you’ll actually come across people you know.

This perspective from communications people entirely removed from the project underlines a key promotional angle. We’re local, we’re friendly, we’re just like you. It’s good timing to hear this. We’re on the final stretch preparing two additional features for public release, namely private workspaces and discussion networks. The countdown is on.

I picked up on efforts by a few ngos to use social media:

  • two Massey University students helped create a video for Parkinsons NZ and upload it to YouTube
  • Wellington SPCA have included a blog on their visually attractive website – just for news at this stage, but turning on comments is being considered
  • Living Every Moment is an online campaign run by Hospice NZ to encourage people to create and send a “moment” to a special person.

The willingness to share between communicators was neat. I’m hoping Emma will organise another camp out.

On a parting note, I’ll rise to Emma’s challenge that we embody being good communicators and unashamedly plug the companies that gave away some promotional stuff for a ‘goody bag’ each participant received. Hat’s off to teza juiced teas, wagamama, service printers, trilogy and dusted and delicious catering.