Monthly Archives: February 2009

Step 2: Get Organized

Narrow the Field
There’s going to be a lot of ways to be distracted on social networks, so plan your windows of time and choose your arsenal. Listening is a good way to get started, but there’s plenty to ‘listen’ to out there. Here are some tips for organizing your online listening and reading.
Consolidate your Reading Material
RSS, which I wrote about here, is a general term that means ‘really simple syndication’ or in plain English, Read Some Stuff. What it does is allow you to ‘subscribe’ to blogs and news sites. Much like the newspaper delivered to your door, new articles will be delivered to your inbox or your ‘feed reader.’

If you’re really into reading lots of blogs, try NetVibes, where you can categorize blogs by topic. Categorizing in this way would help me stay on task whereas my current RSS set up on my iGoogle homepage just throws them all together; as a result, I find myself going from a news article to a recipe to a business blog to a non-profit blog–ahgh!

Label your ‘Folders’
When you’re exploring things online, it can be like a messy desk. Once you can start organizing websites with topics like folders. For example, you can bookmark your favorite web pages. One way to categorize them is by adding ‘tags’ when you save them to particular locations, e.g. with bookmarking tools available online.

Tags are words that represent categories. You’ll often see these represented on blogs or sites in a ‘tag cloud’ where the largest, boldest words are the most frequently used. In Delicious, a social bookmarking site, you can tag things for other users by simply adding a tag

If someone else you know is using Delicious to tag similar interests, you could just ‘follow’ them on your RSS feed. To do so, you click the RSS feed button at the bottom of their account. Here‘s a page of sites referencing library diversity.

You can also tag pages at news sites. Here‘s a page where travel was used as a tag. By adding tags, you’ll have a page where your selected sites with similar topics–and tags–will be grouped together.

Lastly, you can keep your own running list of favorite pages on your web broser with the tool Zotero. If you’re doing research on a particular topic, I find this handy button an easy way to mark things for later reading, and to group them by subject tag.

You’re still going to have to ‘clean out’ your tags and feeds periodically, just like you clean up your inbox and email accounts periodically.


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Social Media Return on Investment

Another in the NTEN/TechSoup Storytelling & Social Media series, today on measuring your investment in social media by Beth Kanter

Metrics measure your investment over time by analyzing data. Usually we think of this as measuring overall payouts from the entire business. While this is worthwhile, it’s interesting to think of measuring just one component of a business and certainly makes the process of analyzing social media return on investment more difficult. But, it’s not impossible to be able to state the benefits and costs and savings, comparing methods and eventually getting to the bottom financial line.

We’ve talked before about listening–or in web terms, ‘searching’–here. Most social networking sites, and some other entrepreneurial sites, offer ways to count, track, and find your organization and keywords. A great example of organizations using this process is Red Cross post-Katrina. People were talking, and Red Cross started listening. Because the staff saw what people were saying about them, they then realized they could use online tools to build relationships.

If you pay for donor acquisitions, you’ll understand, and are probably already comparing the potential for lower costs of collecting contacts from social media interactions rather than purchasing lists.

Measuring Your Web Appearances

Author: Track your word counts–<350 words per post?; set a publication frequency that works for you, but be consistent. Tracking page visits is outmoded–there’s so much more meaningful data to collect!
Unique Readers: FeedBurner explains how to set this measurement up; for example, there are more than 2000 feed readers and FeedBurner pulls data from all these. The more tools you’re working with online, the more portals through which people can find you and thus the more info you’ll have when you start measuring this traffic. Try searching delicious for your organization and counting individuals who have tagged your information.
Engagement: PostRank assigns a number to the aggregate interaction around a ‘story’ or web post. This seems like a pretty advanced tool that would provide a positive ROI for organizations that are out there using multiple tools already. I’m not even quite sure what it does–this one I’ll put on the back burner for now.
Authority: Technorati is a search engine for blogs; if your blog is registered there, it assigns a comparitive number based on readers, comments, etc. Yahoo has a similar search engine for your blog posts.

By participating in the web and these measurement tools, you can get ideas for new programs, research your market base and increase connections to potential volunteers or donors. Compare the costs of conducting this research in the ‘old way’ to collecting this info via social media–this process can be translating into actual dollars. Numbers and stories–good ol’ quantitative and qualitative eval–make your point when selling the concepts of social media. Even WordPress tracks more specific visitor data right here on this blog. I have some posts that have received 100 views, others only a few. Those are the counts; examining why is the real ROI analysis.

Have a goal, and count measurements that support this goal. You can use baseline measures–e.g. we have 12 Facebook friends–and measure change over time. Number of emails added to your database, greater number of people mentioning your organization online, number of subscribers to a blog–pick what to measure so you’re not spending more time measuring than participating in social media!

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Sharing Large Files

Ha! Here’s a good use of the web in this internet age–sharing large files with your remote colleagues. Online. For free.

655505891_2b2be427001 Credit:
YouSendIt has a free version allowing you to share files with up to 100 people over one week with a maximum size of 100MB.
GigaSize also has a free version that holds larger files for longer, and their pay version is cheaper, $4-10 monthly.
DropSend holds your files indefinitely and has a range of capacities & pricing, starting with free.
And GoogleDocs is a way to create, share and collaborate on word processing & spreadsheet documents with a set of folks who have a log-in. You can upload entire folders as well as presentations, too.

Last but not least,
SlideShare is awesome! If you’re willing to post your content online (you can have control over downloads or who can view), SlideShare is fast with lots of capacity. It’s a great way to share graphic-heavy PowerPoints. And it’s free with no expiration date for your files.

And of course it’s a social networking site where you can create a network to share info with and find other presentations on travel, social media, whatever interests you!

This all started for me with the need to compress and send some large files–2-6MB each. I usually use WinZip, but found that it doesn’t compress files with lots of graphics or photos very effectively. And since I was not only barred from sending attachments greater than 10MB, but also worried about recipients’ ability to receive, I went looking for other solutions. If you haven’t used the utility WinZip, and need to compress documents in order to send them, it’s a small piece of software that walks you through zipping files use with a few easy-to-understand screens. It’s ‘shareware’ so you can download a trial before buying.

My other favorite ‘web sharing’ tool is SnagIt. Although it’s not a compression or sharing utility, per se, it allows you to capture screen shots of the web and save as files or insert to presentations. If you’ve ever wondered how to do that, this is your $40 solution to sharing info on navigating web sites–also easy to use!

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Facebook Apps

Want to build an app for Facebook?
Convio has some suggestions:

Here are tools and companies to help:
Social Agency’s SpredFast
Convio users have a tool built-in.


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TechSoup & NTEN Present: Creating a Buzz

How do you promote your story?
You need to first have trust in an online community before you can expect support for your message, or a viral spreading of a link to your website or info.

Take the press release, for example. Once you send out a press release, it can live on. Post to your blog, insert photos for visual interest, add keywords & tags, and link to other content. Then, you can post to social news sites like mixx, reddit and digg, where you’ll link to your story, insert a title and an inviting description.

Social News Sites
Digg: Need to be an active digg user (10+ minutes a day) in order to build a network that follows you personally. Digg doesn’t have a group function. It’s largely focused on political and current news. Check it out–search for keywords relevant to your organization.
Mixx: Not as many users, but you can establish a group for your organization where users can get your news stories directly.
Reddit: A third option; you can post to one or all three, which will boost your search engine optimization. Reddit doesn’t have groups, so you’ll need to develop a following.
There are also social news sites for different niches, like women. Propeller, Kirtsy, Newsvine and Tip’d are others; the more specific the niche, the more committed the readers are, in general.

Starting Out
The way to get involved in a social news site is to join and search and ‘vote for’ news stories. Stories with the most ‘votes’ appear on the site’s front page. You’ll begin to see frequent contributors or hot topics that you can begin to follow.

For example, I searched digg for the keywords ‘travel cheap’ and it returned three articles tagged with those words. Interestingly, nearly 1000 people had tagged these same articles, and 50-250 people had commented on these articles. Posting articles to these sites becomes like a blog post and opens more avenues for starting conversations.

Make it Easy!
There are shortcuts and add-ins that will link you to social media news sites. You can add in buttons to your browser within seconds, and then you’ll be able to pick where you share your news stories.
You can add these to your browser’s toolbar from any of the applications, and shareaholic is another add-in you can download.

You can also post your diggs to your microblogging tools like Twitter for additional oomph.

Social Media Bookmarking Tools
Delicious, SocialBrowse and StumbleUpon are ways to share your lists of favorites. SocialBrowse is really for a connected community; this would be great for a virtual research project or a staff workgroup. They aren’t news sites, per se. StumbleUpon can really drive traffic to you, so joining is really recommended. These sites really underscore the importance of accurate and plentiful tagging. When users search for a term, they only find your information if you’ve included tags that match their search words.

Thanks to Danielle Brigada of National Wildlife Foundation for today’s presentation. I echo her thought “If you don’t try these tools out, you won’t have an opportunity to learn from your mistakes!”

Lastly, if your head isn’t spinning yet, check out this short article about a blogger’s trip to NY, all enhanced by social networking tools.


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Readings in Virtual Volunteerism

Since only about a fourth of the U.S. volunteers, this writer posits that we’ve tapped out the market until we get a little more creative. There’s definitely a need with virtual volunteers to the ‘chunk it up’ theory of dividing volunteer tasks into tiny bits for our busy world.

While it’s still of the utmost importance to ASK volunteers to contribute, it’s also important to get a little creative with what volunteers are asked to do. Maybe you can’t sit with a kid and tutor them, but could you send them a word of the day via Twitter? SURE! But all of this creativity takes time, granted.

The original blog post was shared recently on ARNOVA (Association for Research on Nonprofit Organizations and Voluntary Action)’s discussion forum and created quite the outpouring. Ultimately, it will take time (and as was underscored in the discussion, new management structures and effective volunteer support) to reframe volunteer positions into smaller pieces. Human nature (until we’re implanted with chips) will still drive some to seek responsibility and others recognition, so it’s important that even virtual volunteerism connects like-minded groups and provides a ladder of opportunities. Well-known volunteer management guru Jayne Cravens added in that this ‘new’ form of volunteerism isn’t new at all.

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Research Report: Teens & Social Networking

For those of you who are intrigued by Facebook and MySpace’s clutch on teens, you may be interested in this dissertation describing their attitudes towards security and transparency online.

It’s hefty, but there’s a thorough index that you can browse.

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