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Nonprofits and Social Media, Part II

If you've had a friend suggest lately that you become a fan of the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Southern Florida, you're not alone -- it's part of a new strategy by the local nonprofit to get involved in social media.

In six months, the group has created thousands of fans and even seen individual giving increase since it established a presence on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Richard Kelly, 42, the vice president and chief operating officer, dabbled in Facebook for a few months to get an idea of what he calls the ``nuance and power'' behind the site before the foundation created its page.

Kelly said initially the idea was to delve into social media just to create awareness about the organization, which fulfills wishes of children with life-threatening illnesses.

``We understand the demographics and the way that people get their news has changed,'' Kelly said. ``People get their news in many ways and we're going to deliver it that way.''

In the past year, the local arm fulfilled 479 wishes for the children and families it serves in 13 counties in the southern half of the state.

The staff of the nonprofit, based in Fort Lauderdale, modeled its page after the national Make-A-Wish page, which has more than 86,000 fans.

Once the local page was created, Make-A-Wish reached out to a core group of staff, board members and volunteers and asked them to suggest to 10 friends that they become fans of the Facebook page they created. In the past six months, the page has gained 4,250 fans.

``We're looking to share our stories and our mission -- and if fundraising comes with it, that's great,'' said Kelly, who said they have seen a small increase in individual giving to the local foundation in the six months since they've created a social media presence.

The Facebook and Twitter accounts are updated at least once a day by Kelly or other staff, who also monitor the comments and interact with other people.

The local Make-A-Wish Foundation is just one of many nonprofits that have started to establish a presence on social media sites. Recently, an Atlanta-based social media company called EVERYWHERE came up with a fundraising idea: for every mention of the phrase ``beat cancer'' on Twitter, in Facebook status updates and on blogs, they would have sponsors donate a penny.

Over a 24-hour period that started on Oct. 17, the group was able to get more than 200,000 mentions. The #beatcancer hashtag, a keyword that Twitter users use to keep track of similar topics, quickly became one of the most used terms of the day.

EVERYWHERE's Tamara Knechtel said the goal now is to use social media to generate large mass donations: ``If we were able to generate $70,000 in 24 hours, what do you think we could do in 365 days?''

Do you work at a nonprofit? How are you using social media to spread your message?

Oh, and if you made it this far: Kelly was also a guest on my Business Show that I host each week on MiamiHerald.com:

Posted by Niala Boodhoo at 06:17 PM on October 27, 2009 in Facebook , Twitter , Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

How local Make-A-Wish Foundation is using social media

I spent some time last week with Make-A-Wish Foundation of Southern Florida's Richard Kelly talking to him about how the organization has developed its social media presence. In the past six months, the group has created a local fan page on Facebook, a Twitter account and a YouTube channel.

I'll post the entire Poked column about what Kelly is doing later, but in the meantime wanted to share some video clips of my interview with him talking specifics of how they did it.

Here's Kelly talking about all the practicalities of how they got started, especially with Facebook:

And here, he speaks about how they were able to grow their local Facebook fan base to more than 4,000 people in six months:

Posted by Niala Boodhoo at 12:13 PM on October 26, 2009 in Facebook , Twitter , Web/Tech , Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Mashable gets a peek at Facebook's new design

It's been what, a few weeks, so it must be time for Facebook to roll out an entirely new look. Ok, I jest. But Mashable's got a details of a new Facebook design.

Among the changes: "The new home page emphasizes on toggling between views and feeds in order to personalize the experience," Mashable reports. "It also decreases Facebook’s load time, which will likely have a major impact on time on site and bandwidth costs."

Probably the most noticed changes will be to the news feed, Mashable said, including adding in a lot of more information that previously had gone away, such as photo tags, new friends and relationships. 

It seems like Facebook has heeded complaints from previous redesigns - but I wonder how many more headaches this will cause.

Posted by Niala Boodhoo at 11:24 AM on October 21, 2009 in Facebook , Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

How have your social networking habits changed?

A year ago, Bridget and I set out on a mission to help two kinds of people: Those who get social media and those who don't.

We've been poking and prodding you (and each other) for a year now to behave better not only on sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, but also on the devices we use that keep us constantly wired.

We used data from Compete.com to compare those three sites' traffic over the past year since we began writing this column.

Facebook--twitter-linked Facebook topped the trio, with growth of more than 200 percent in average unique monthly visitors. (Facebook itself releases data on the number of active users, which it estimates at 300 million, which, if it were a country, would be the world's fourth largest.)

Twitter was next -- much smaller -- at 23.5 million, but with exponential growth of 660 percent. LinkedIn clocked in last at 15 million, and a still-respectable 85 percent growth rate.

All of this shows that our entire communications culture is continuing to evolve rapidly. Networks are converging faster, with Facebook incorporating Twitter-like features onto its site, and more applications are being created to blur the lines between networks for the sake of saving time.

Case in point: I don't even go directly to Facebook's site that often anymore, because all of my Facebook friends' news feeds show up through Tweetdeck, a Twitter application she uses.

And people aren't just sharing news and information via these networks -- they're increasingly making real-life connections there -- especially during work hours.

So where this is all going?

We don't know. What we do know is that social media clearly isn't a fad that's going away, and we want to make sure that people think about how they act online.

Our advice until then is the same we've had when we first started: Think before you post, tweet or tag. When in doubt, use common sense: Treat others the way you would want to be treated. And don't get too mad at people who offend or commit faux pas, because we're all still getting used to the current networks -- until next week, when a new one pops up.

How have your social media habits changed over the past year?

I've been looking forward to this for 364 days

Posted by Niala Boodhoo at 11:16 AM on October 20, 2009 in Facebook , LinkedIn , MySpace , Twitter , Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Facebook Group updates will show up on your news feed

So Facebook announced today that its Groups pages will look more like Fan Pages... meaning you'll be seeing Group updates on your News Feed. It's a slow roll out, with only a few members seeing the changes today.

So what's the difference now between a Group and a Fan Page? Not much.

Here's how Facebook differentiates it:

Keep in mind that while Groups and Pages now look the same, they still serve different purposes. Groups are for fostering member-to-member collaboration, while Pages remain the best way to broadcast messages to your fans if you are a business, organization, public figure or other entity.

Niala and I have been discouraging people from starting Groups, because it ends up being something that most people join and then forget about -- although these changes mean Groups will probably be more active. But the bottom line is, if you're all about broadcasting messages, then you're still better off with a Fan Page.

If you created both a Group and a Fan Page that serves the same purpose, it's probably best to delete the one that doesn't best fit your purpose, so newcomers won't be confused by which to join since they'll look similar.

Posted by Bridget Carey at 04:40 PM on October 19, 2009 in Facebook | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

Don't repeat your Tweets. It's against Twitter Terms of Service.

I sometimes hear folks talk about how they like to re-post a tweet from the morning again in the afternoon, just in case someone missed the message before.

Don't do that.

It's against Twitter's Terms of Service, and they consider it spam. If you're scanning Twitter's TOS, you might miss it, cause it's just a quick bullet point:

  • "If you post duplicate content over multiple accounts or multiple duplicate updates on one account."

Twitter reached out to the SocialOomph service this week to remind them that repeated tweets are against the rules -- they add to the clutter and won't be tolerated. If you haven't heard of SocialOomph before, it's a tool that lets you set your tweets to be sent at specific times, track keywords, or use other tools that Niala and I are not fond of -- like auto direct messages. (Robots are bad netiquette!) One of those services was to auto repeat your earlier tweet.

Here's what Twitter said to SocialOomph, according to SocialOomph's blog:

Recurring Tweets are a violation no matter how they are done, including whether or not someone pays you to have a special privilege. We don’t want to see any duplicate tweets whatsoever - They pollute Twitter, and tools shouldn’t be given to enable people to break the rules. Spinnable text seems to just be a way to bypass the rules against duplicate updates and essentially provides the same problems.

So SocialOomph is taking off the feature starting Thursday.

There's enough noise already on Twitter. If you really need to get the word out about something and want to send it twice, make the effort to give it a different spin the second or third time around. Don't annoy your followers with an echo of your earlier posts.

Posted by Bridget Carey at 07:41 PM on October 14, 2009 in Twitter | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

Wired and Well-Mannered, a Recap of our Weeklong Experiment

Is social media the new cigarette? That was the enticing email subject line of a Retrevo.com study I got yesterday, just as Bridget and I were preparing to write a recap of our week-long experiment in how to be wired and well-mannered.

101309_gadgetologySocialMedia2 According to that study, we're definitely addicted: among the under-35 crowd they surveyed, 64 percent said they Tweeted, texted or checked Facebook while at work. Almost the same amount (65 percent) said they did so while on vacation, and a whopping 36 percent admitted to using social media after sex. Whoa.

Check out all the results here.

This segways nicely into what Bridget and I realized after our week-long experiment of trying to ban our bad cellphone behavior - we are pretty obsessed.

Bridget vowed to stop taking her phone out at the dinner table. I  was trying to stop using her phone while driving. The basic operating principle was that the priority was real-life people in front of you -- and if there were any around it, the phone wasn't to come out.

What we learned -- as well as the several readers who joined us in the experiment -- was we're so attached to our phones, so much so that we often sacrifice in-person conversations.

I had to resort to hiding my phone in her purse or glove compartment while driving to curb the temptation to check it -- even while the car was stopped. Bridget found herself driven crazy with the impulse to check her phone every time a text alert chimed.


What we realized was that the vast majority of these messages aren't that important. In our minds, and those of many others, we've created an inflated sense of priority with this age of instant communication.

Susie Gilden is an account manager at rbb Public Relations in Miami, and self-admittedly obsessed with Twitter, Facebook and her Blackberry. She's never taken out her Blackberry when seeing clients, so she focused on not using it in the car and during other meetings. When she mentioned the experiment during one meeting, everybody put their phones away. ``We all got a lot more done,'' Gilden told me yesterday,  when we chatted by phone to discuss how the week went.

She's still grappling with her Blackberry in the evenings, away from work. She knows her husband, Spencer, can't stand it when she's checking messages while they're watching television.


"I get a lot of rolled eyes and dirty looks," she said.

What did we learn? We had a lot more great conversations during the day. We became much more aware of the false dependence we've created with our phones. And, hopefully, we're working toward being wired and well-mannered. Did you learn anything? Let us know.

In the meantime, for your listening pleasure, Bridget and I also did a recap for our news partner, WLRN-Miami Herald News. Here it is:

Wired Manners - WLRN Recap

Posted by Niala Boodhoo at 04:55 PM on October 13, 2009 in Facebook , LinkedIn , Twitter | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Twitter timeline glitch

Twitter seems to be down this morning... or more like frozen, considering you can log on but no updates are coming through. But as Mashable points out, the search is still working -- you can see all the folks complaining that something is wrong. And my list of followers/following are at zero. o_O

Wonder how glitches like this impact Twitter's current talks with Microsoft and Google.


Posted by Bridget Carey at 12:05 PM on October 8, 2009 in Twitter | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wired and Well-Mannered, Day 3

Just an update to let you know how the experiment is going: Bridget and I did a segment with our radio partners at WLRN-Miami Herald News that aired this morning:

Poked on WLRN

Anyways, as soon as it aired, of course, my cell phone started going off. I couldn't bear to put my phone in the trunk as I had previously suggested, but I had stuck it in my purse, instead of keeping it out, to avoid texting temptation. Since I was at a light, and in the car by myself, I did answer the phone. Is that cheating to talk on the phone?

Lots of colleagues and folks on Twitter are talking about the experiment. If you're doing it, let us know how it's going?

Posted by Niala Boodhoo at 01:43 PM on October 7, 2009 in Facebook , LinkedIn , MySpace , Twitter , Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Can you be wired and well-mannered?

We attended a conference last week in Orlando that centered on ubiquitous computing -- basically, the idea that the next generation of technology will be built upon devices you typically carry with you. (Here's the story that Bridget wrote about it.) We saw technology that use phones to test air quality around you, record medical information or even help maintain a long-distance relationship. Organizers call it the ``post desktop'' model of human and computer interaction.

That got us thinking about how attached we are already to our cellphones and how badly we behave. We're so obsessed with informing and checking in with the rest of the world that we forget about the people right in front of us.

You don't have to convince us about how great technology is -- but as Poked columnists, we also we want to do our part to remember the importance of balancing that with the way we treat others.

Bridget realized this during the conference while we were at dinner -- so much so, that when I said something funny, she asked permission to immediately share it with her brother, via text. Before you say how lame this sounds, think about the last time you've had an impulse to do the same.

It goes beyond manners at the dinner table. Why we have lost the ability to be patient about sharing information? And at what expense are we doing this? Those who text while driving are risking lives -- we'll admit that we've sneaked in a quick reply or read a text behind the wheel, and we're not proud of it.

Don't assume that our standards of behavior have fallen so far that people don't care if you're flipping through your e-mails during a meeting or checking fantasy football stats while you're waiting for dinner to be served.

So this week we're proposing a call to action to reform this atrocious behavior and giving you a challenge to put down the phone.

Before sitting down to dinner, put your ringer to silent and don't glance at it at the table.

And especially ignore that phone in the car. If it's too hard to resist the urge to text someone back, stick the phone in the trunk.

Try to see if you can make it for one week, and let us know how it goes. We'll let you know how well this experiment goes for us. Hopefully we can all try to train ourselves to be have better manners -- and sense -- while wired.

Oh, and if you're curious about the conference, check out this video I did with Bridget about it:

Posted by Niala Boodhoo at 01:15 PM on October 6, 2009 in Facebook , LinkedIn , MySpace , Twitter , Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

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