Social Media

Posted by Paul Brindley
on October 27, 2015

Nonprofits: On the Go with Heads in the Cloud

Following is the unedited version of my article for the October 13-26 edition of the Long Beach Business Journal.

A PDF of the published article is included underneath.

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Nonprofits: On the Go with Heads in the Cloud 

Most nonprofits are constantly striving to do more with the same level of resources – if they are lucky. Studies show that in many cases they are having to do more with less.

New technologies and the rise of social media have provided low-cost tools for nonprofits to outreach, spread their message and cultivate stakeholders and supporters. The latest in cost saving innovations are mobile technology and cloud computing.

In April of this year, the Pew Research Center reported that … 64% of Americans adults own a smartphone of some kind, up from 35% in the spring of 2011.

Mobile-stats-vs-desktop-users-global-550x405

 

The worldwide usage of mobile devices outstripped desktop and laptop computer usage during 2014. All the statistics reveal that mobile search, shopping, customer engagement and communication continue to trend past static device usage.

We have been told for a while now that the future is mobile. Welcome to the future.

So there you have it, the vast majority of your customers, clients, partners, funding sources, influencers, mavens, and the public at large are walking around and using their tiny computers as they go about their day, and keeping them close when they are not. The portal to the whole spectrum of your audience is open and accessible whenever and wherever. Your audience is mobile so should you be.

What are some strategies for “going mobile”?

  • Make sure you have a mobile responsive website. When a website is responsive, the layout and content responds or adapts based on the size of the screen it’s presented on. A responsive website automatically changes to fit the device you’re reading it on.
  • Provide a way for your clients to sign up for courses and events or to donate through their mobile devices via a mobile optimized online form or third party service like Eventbrite.
  • Design your emails and marketing collateral with the mobile viewer in mind. Will people be reading it on the phone, or is it something to be sent via email as a mobile download? Don’t try and do too much. Keep fonts large, sentences short, use single columns and get the recipient to click to your website for more information.
  • Try a text message fundraising drive. An article on the Nonprofit Hub website states that the Human Rights Campaign found that text message subscribers are 2.5 times more likely to donate than a non-text message subscriber. The Humane Society of the United States found that members who received a text message reminding them to donate were more likely to give online by 77 percent. I have no experience with SMS fundraising campaigns so do your due diligence on infrastructure, security and practices.
  • In managing your nonprofit, mobile technology is allowing team members to remain connected wherever they are. This results in more time servicing with clients and networking with donors and less time stuck behind a desk. Depending on the sensitivity of the organization’s information, put in place policies and practices for mobile communication by voice, text or email.
  • Ensuring that your communications, systems and practices are mobile friendly sends the message (excuse the pun) to your stakeholders and supporters that your nonprofit is a professional organization that is responsive and sensitive to current trends.

What is cloud computing? What does it mean that “something is in the cloud’?

Cloud computing means that instead of housing software, applications and files on your computer or your own server, they are hosted by someone else online or “in the cloud”. You gain access from anywhere using the internet. Gmail is a good example. Office 365 is another program that offered as a cloud based subscription. You don’t need your own servers or storage.

So what are the advantages?

  • Portability and convenience – you can access your files and programs from anywhere using an internet connection. Team members can access files from home, on the road or in the office. Work flow is increased by easy file sharing. Team communication is sped up with secure messaging programs.
  • Cost savings – this is a big selling point for the nonprofit world. There is little IT cost when using the cloud. There is no server. Installs, upgrades, back-ups and other maintenance are done for you. You are not paying to power your own network infrastructure.
  • Security – all your files and programs are saved off site. If there is a system crash at the office or one of your computers fails, everything is safely stored and ready to be downloaded.
  • Environmentally friendly – with cloud computing, you only use the server space you need which decreases your carbon footprint and can result in at least 30% less energy consumption and carbon emissions than using on-site servers.
  • Low cost options – there are many low cost, no-cost solutions like OneDrive, Dropbox, Hightail, Gmail, Office 365 subscription service, VaultPress.

How about the disadvantages:

  • No internet connection, no access – this is a problem. Make sure you have a proven and reliable internet provider.
  • Security and privacy – many people are frightened that their information is not secure. Cloud services providers have made security their top priority. Make sure you have strong password protection.
  • Incompatibility of some programs – some applications that don’t run well in the cloud or need significant conversion to migrate. For example, certain systems might rely on local file storage. Fortunately, many cloud providers assist with migration.

If you are a little jumpy about this new amorphous cloud universe, don’t go all in. Pick and choose which cloud based solutions you are comfortable with. That’s what I have done. The more I have used cloud services, the more comfortable I have become with giving up important emails and documents that I used to hold tight on my laptop.

Cloud computing solutions are maturing and improving all the time. As the technology continues to evolve, costs will continue to fall and reliability and security standards will improve. I am certain that in the future, operating in the cloud will be as routine as all the other technological advances that used to bamboozle many of us.

There is an old Latin saying, Tempora mutantur, nos et mutamur in illis, which translates to “Times change, and we change with them”. We have changed a lot with the technological advances of the past 20 years.

The portability, flexibility and cost savings of mobile technology and cloud computing will ensure they are two of the most profound and lasting changes so far. They have the potential to relieve nonprofits of the time, energy and costs that can be redirected towards their irreplaceable missions that assist so many in need in our communities.

Paul Brindley
paul brindley consults
paulbrindleyconsults.com

PDF: Nonprofits: On the Go with Heads in the Cloud – NonprofitPageOct13

Posted by Paul Brindley
on August 05, 2015

Social Media Marketing: The Essential Tool for Shaping Your Message

Here is an article I wrote for The Nonprofit Page of the August 4-17, 2015 edition of the Long Beach Business Journal.

The page is curated by the Long Beach Nonprofit Partnership.
——

Social Media Marketing: The Essential Tool for Shaping Your Message

What they do and the way they get to the bottom line may be different, but there are many similarities to operating a forprofit business and a not-forprofit business.

To survive and be effective, nonprofits strive to exceed the objectives and needs of their various stakeholders in a timely fashion as small businesses do with their customers and clients.

The vast majority of nonprofits and small businesses must carefully manage limited funds in order to meet goals within budget.

The importance of effective and efficient human resource management is just as important in the nonprofit sector as in private enterprise.

I could go on but it is clear that the time, money and team management challenges are the common denominators of most businesses regardless of their stripe.

If there are common challenges, then it follows that there should be common solutions. One of the common solutions is the relatively new and sometimes perplexing universe of social media.

Relatively new? You may ask. Isn’t it old hat? Absolutely not. Social media marketing is less than 10 years old, and many business people are still coming to grips with integrating the right platform options and practices into their operations. Hasn’t social media marketing proved ineffective? Definitely not. Sure, social media hasn’t turned out to be the low or no cost panacea to product marketing and brand messaging that many envisaged when the social marketing first overturned traditional promotion methods. It doesn’t matter. You don’t have a choice.

A business, for profit or nonprofit, must have a social media presence. Just as 10 years ago when you didn’t exist as a business if you didn’t have a website, a lack of social media presence tells the world that you aren’t really there, or worse, don’t really care. Above all, the social media universe has personalized and democratized the ability to get your message out to the world. This is the most exciting aspect. Frame your own message, tell your own story, present your business in your own way. The opportunity is to be embraced and celebrated.

Most nonprofits have one key element of successful social media market inherent in their being – differentiation of message. Most nonprofits exist to support a cause. Cause marketing is one of the most powerful tools in branding and messaging. Nonprofits can point directly to their mission and say “we only exist for this”.

It is immediately identifiable, direct, demonstrable and often local. The social media revolution has conditioned customers and clients to want to know who they are dealing with these days. People are now given the opportunity to know you and what you do like never before. And you have the opportunity to present yourself and your team and your business to your target audience like never before. Nonprofits are perfectly placed to use social media to relate their passion and commitment to their causes while inviting engagement from the public.

So how do you implement a social media strategy with the omnipresent time, money and resources constraints?

Here are my top five easy things that you can do.

  1. Pick a channel, the right channel – research which social media platform most readily reaches your target customer and concentrate your efforts. If you are in the tech world, it’s probably LinkedIn. In fashion, design and textiles it’s Instagram. Use the linking capabilities on the different sites and spread one post across many. For example, when I post to Instagram, I can opt to post the photo on Facebook and Tumblr. Then Tumblr auto posts to Twitter. Savvy use of the technology saves time. There is no need to pay for any of these services.
  2. Always include a Google touch – Google is the most powerful search engine there is. Make sure you feed the beast. YouTube is an excellent option. It is a Google product and very Search Engine Optimization (SEO) friendly. YouTube has resources and special offers just for nonprofits at youtube.com/nonprofits. Consumers love the video option for messaging and branding. Make sure you also post everything on to Google+. It might be a user desert but it is very searchable.
  3. Allocate who and how long – choose your most social media savvy team member and give them an allocation of time every day (15-30 minutes is plenty) to be creative on your social media platforms. Let them have their head and play. Keep restrictions to a minimum. Creativity and spontaneity and regularity of posts are the key.
  4. Make sure all your online presence is up to date all of the time – if you commit to having a website, social media platforms and an email strategy, please make sure that the information on all the outlets is consistent and current. Out of date or stale content reflects badly on your business.
  5. Track your progress – most social media platforms have free activity tracking services. Make sure to review the statistics weekly to ascertain which sites and types of posts are most active. Link your website up to the free Google Analytics service.

Nonprofits are in a unique position to benefit from the unfiltered access that social media provides to their communities. Nonprofits are overwhelmingly staffed by passionate and committed people determined to create a better world for all of us. They have stories to tell that move and inspire. The world needs to hear their voice. There are infinite voices seeking to be heard. Social media can be their bullhorn. (pbc helps designers launch, position and accelerate in the U.S. apparel market.)

Paul Brindley
paulbrindleyconsults.com

Posted by Paul Brindley
on December 11, 2013

WWD.com – Facebook Ranks as Top Platform in Social Media Survey

There are some very interesting social media usage stats in this article on today’s WWD.com.

According to the survey, Facebook is the most trusted for brand recommendations.SM icon from website

What I find interesting is the personal connection to both the information givers and the stories that they tell. People trust those closest to them; no surprise there. But the fact that the research shows that people want to hear personal stories about product and service recommendations from their friends and social circle rather than from bloggers and experts is refreshing, and something that was predicted to change by the advent of social media.

This sea change in product marketing should also be exciting for brands because it shows the value of direct engagement with their customers. Brands should be spending at least as much time on strategies that generate authentic feedback (positive or otherwise; remember to keep it real in social media) from their customers as cultivating bloggers and seeking industry validation.

Paul Brindley

paul brindley consults

 

December 10, 2013

Facebook Ranks as Top Platform in Social Media Survey

When it comes to product and service recommendations, Facebook scored highest as the most trusted platform, according to a new survey conducted by Social Media Link, an advocacy activation company.

Some 10,337 people who are active in social media were surveyed online. Ninety-three percent were women, and 70 percent of all respondents were between the ages of 25 and 44.

The survey found that 68 percent said they trusted Facebook over blogs (63 percent); retail Web sites (63 percent); Pinterest (56 percent); YouTube (51 percent); Twitter (41 percent), and Google+ (41 percent).

“During the holidays when everyone is looking for trusted information on what to buy, recommendations from your social circles on Facebook will carry the most credibility,” said Susan Frech, chief executive officer of Social Media Link. “Undoubtedly, the survey found that people don’t need hundreds of recommendations and reviews to entice purchase. It’s really about receiving a quality message from a trusted source.”

Jordan Herrmann, marketing director of Social Media Link, added, “The data we found showed a few points that we believe demonstrate how recommendations from Facebook friends can drive transactions. The results showed that Facebook is the most trusted platform, and, when it comes to making an actual purchase decision, friends and family were ranked as having the highest impact. When thinking about your Facebook social circle, friends and family are an enormous part of it, if not all of it.”

According to the study, reviews by friends and family have the biggest impact (86 percent), followed by professionals (58 percent); Web site reviews (54 percent); acquaintances (42 percent); bloggers (39 percent), and celebrities (11 percent).

Herrmann explained that the reason Facebook has the most impact is because the network is one of the most closed, where relationships are valued. The implication for brands, she said, is that they may be missing the opportunity to use small social circles because brands often focus on bloggers and influencers in social media. However, the study showed their opinions may carry less weight. The idea isn’t to discount bloggers, which she said are so important to fashion, beauty and luxury, but rather to explore the huge additional opportunity to leverage social recommendations through an individual’s social circles and to implement this tactic with scale.

Forty percent of those surveyed said the most valuable reviews are those that contain personal stories, rather than a list of product benefits, which were most valuable to 34 percent. Star ratings are less influential; just 15 percent said they’re the most valuable in influencing purchases.

People trust online posts and reviews most for household products (23 percent); personal beauty items (18 percent); electronics (16 percent), and restaurants (15 percent), according to the survey.

According to the study, people trust product recommendations from people they know (92 percent), more than e-mail (50 percent), TV (47 percent), print (47 percent), outdoor ads (47 percent) and radio (42 percent).

The survey examined why people share their opinions online and found that a positive experience with a brand was the primary driver of online reviews. Some 78 percent said they shared their opinions based on their experience. Less than half, 47 percent, said a negative experience prompted a review. Forty-six percent said they like sharing their opinions with others, while 43 percent said they shared opinions online to help inform others.

Finally, some 77 percent of those surveyed said they needed to see less than 10 reviews to prompt them to make a purchase.

Among the key takeaways are that rather than focusing on the overall number of recommendations for one’s brand, one should concentrate on how to generate content that will have the strongest impact. In addition, brands should focus on encouraging their consumers to share personal stories, mobilize advocates to share within their close social circle, and look for those who have had a great experience with one’s brand, according to the survey.

Posted by pbc_admin
on March 21, 2012

Is Social Commerce Fact Or Fiction?

Here is an excellent post on the effectiveness of social commerce at this point in time: Is Social Commerce Fact Or Fiction?.

There’s a lag between the realization that social commerce is the next major increment in the e-commerce evolution and the cold, hard facts.

Why? Trust on the part of the consumer, and the effective social media strategies on the part of the e-tailers seem to be the main reasons. You’ll see more in the infographic.

Let me know if you agree.

Paul Brindley

paul brindley consults

Posted by pbc_admin
on May 19, 2011

The End Is Nigh — For Computers, at Least

Mashable tells us that in ten or twenty years, what we now call “computers” and how we do our computing are both guaranteed to be radically different and almost unrecognizable – like DNA or nano- computers – http://mashable.com/2011/05/11/end-of-computers/

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