New Web Address, New Look!

image by Ambergris

image by Ambergris

Community Organizer 2.0 has moved! The new website is

www.commmunityorganizer20.com.

Please visit the new site and subscribe to our RSS feed over at the new place.  I look forward to continuing the conversation. And hey, feel free to comment on the site redesign, too!

Blog Metrics: Measure the Conversation

measuring-tapeWhat is the best measurement for a successful blog? Is it number of unique visitors, returning visitors, page views, incoming links, or Technorati ranking? Do any one of these typical measurement tools by themselves tells us what we need to know: who is engaged? Non-profit organizations want to engage stakeholders through social media and ideally move them to act on their behalf. We know that, without engagement, people are not moved to act.

Blogs are a particularly challenging platform for creating engagement. It’s easy to passively read a blog. How do you know if you’ve engaged?

Three metrics for measuring “blog conversation” are: number of unique engaged readers, average number of engaged readers per blog post, and number of posts that engaged readers in blog conversations.

1. What is an unique “engaged reader” and how should we count them? A blog reader that has commented at least once on your blog is engaged. When you count your “unique engaged readers” on your blog,  you can measure of the breadth of your engaged base. What does that mean for your organization?

  • The engaged reader cares enough about the topic to participate. This defines the commenter as  a “critic” in the Forrester Social Technographics paradigm.  He/she also cares enough about your organization to participate and add to the blog post.  *This is a potential volunteer, donor, activist or ally.*
  • The number of engaged readers adds weight to your organization’s credibility. You can call upon these readers to mobilize for a cause, or utilize this statistic for fundraising purposes.

2. Why measure “average number of engaged readers per post?” This tells you, in general, if your blog posts are engaging your stakeholders. Avinash Kaushik developed what he calls the “conversation rate” in his thoughtful piece on blog measurement statistics here. (Beth Kanter built upon Kaushik’s four blog metrics and wrote about this paradigm using her own blog measurements here.)

It is simply # reader comments that are not the author’s/ # posts. Discount pingbacks if they appear in the comments section. For example, I have a total of 23 comments that are not mine, divided by 25 posts.  This is an average engaged reader of less than one per post. Not a great statistic, but I’m just getting started.  My goal is three by the end of June, and I’ll let you know if I make it.

Why should non-profits care about this statistic?

  • It gives you a sense of whether or not you are engaging your stakeholders enough for them to put down what they are doing and comment.
  • It tells you whether or not your posts are generating interest in a conversation, which is really your goal. By involving your stakeholders, they are also contributing actively to the success of your organization.
  • *The higher this statistic, the more likely that you will be able to mobilize your readers to donate or act on your group’s behalf.*

3. Number of blog posts that engaged readers in “blog conversations.” Not every post will engage readers. It is a good idea to step back every quarter and look at the number of posts that engendered real conversations — where a back and forth discussion occurred between your organization and its readers.  How can we measure this?  I suggest initial segmentation by: total # of posts/ total # posts with more than one comment.  You can further segment by: total # of posts/ total # posts with more than X number of comments.

Why should you care about engaging in blog conversations?

  • Your goal should be a conversation that moves the post to another level and gives the commenter a real sense of contributing to the organization’s thinking and success. More than one comment per post leads to real conversations.
  • *Programming starts with conversation.* If you are considering new programs, evaluating old ones or looking for any type of organizational feedback, you need to know that you people will give it to you. The higher number that this statistic is, the better feedback you will get on any conversation you want to initiate. You have created engaged blog stakeholders who are eager and interested in commenting and conversing with you.

To sum up: Use these metrics to understand the depth and breadth of the stakeholders visiting your blog. Utilize this information to raise funds, mobilize.  mine your stakeholders for valuable feedback and ideas, and understand their needs.

I’ve tried to come up with some easy-to-use metrics for a non-profit to measure blog conversations and engagement.However, I’m not a professional statistician or analyst.  If you have other additions or suggestions, please feel free to tell me and I’ll add them!

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Evaluating Mr. (Good)Tweet for Non-Profits

What do we want out of Twitter? Can the Mr. Tweet help non-profits Twitter better?

I recently signed up for Mr. Tweet, a personal assistant of the robot sorts, who facilitates my search for Twitter connections. A day after signing up, I received a personal email: “Hi there! Mr Tweet, your personal Twitter assistant is ready for work” with a hyperlink for me to follow. After clicking the link, I viewed this screen:

My Twitteristics

My Twitteristics

Mr. Tweet analyzed my Twitter profiles according to a few key measurements:

  • number of links tweeted
  • number of conversation tweets
  • if I usually reply to non-followers, and
  • if I usually follow someone back

In addition, Mr. Tweet also recommends people that I should follow based upon who I am already following.  Recommendations include the “Twitteristics” of each person, and a list of who I also follow that follows the recommended person.

It made me think a bit about what the non-profits I work with want out of Twitter. It’s engagement.

For a non-profit organization, there are a few key reasons to use Twitter:

  • to connect with key donors, foundations and their influencers
  • to deepen stakeholder commitment
  • to publicize your organization and bring in new stakeholders
  • to listen for key words and respond
  • to meet and connect with potential collaborators
  • to converse with colleagues in the same field, and cross-pollinate ideas through Twitter

The National Wildlife Federation’s Danielle Brigida recently elaborated on its Twitter strategy and successes here. It is a fascinating, well-thought out interview with Social Ch@nge. The NWF uses Twitter to listen to conversations, repair reputation issues, publicize articles and events, nudge people towards their social media hubpage, and increased online activism. That’s quite impressive, and shows the potential of Twitter for non-profits.

How can Mr. Tweet help your non-profit? Mr. Tweet can help non-profits find people to follow who might become collaborators, who are colleagues, or possibly donors/investors. Mr. Tweet can help you find key influencers as well. What Mr. Tweet does best is recommend people based upon who you follow — its algorithms are set to analyze the types of people on Twitter that you already follow.  If you mostly follow social media thought leaders, then Mr. Tweet will recommend more of the same. Likewise, if you mostly follow people in your industry. If you want to publicize your organization and bring in new stakeholders, Mr. Tweet’s suggested “influencers relevant to you” could re-tweet, make introductions for you or provide relevant connections.

However, If you are looking for non-profits Twitterers, in general, then you might want to check out Chris Brogan’s creation, Twitter Packs to find others with your specific industry interests or in your specific location. The non-profit Twitter Pack list is here. Or, quite simply, look at the people you consider important colleagues/stakeholders/collaborators and with whom they converse regularly.

Mr. Tweet is a fine robot assistant, but not perfect. If you use it after you’ve been on Twitter a while, then the application will have more information to draw upon. However, it can’t do it all. It can’t find those quality influencers and connectors that everyone you know mentions, but Mr. Tweet may not know. It can’t recommend people outside of your areas of interest, and it doesn’t make introductions.

What would I love Mr. Tweet to do? Add a section showing the websites people in my network most often recommend or link. Show me conversation circles: what are conversational clusters and who usually participates?  Lastly, who (not in my network) most often tweets about others in my network? This information would be valuable to me for finding new connections, new websites and information about my industry, and enhancing my ability to participate in relevant industry conversation.

You have to do all that work yourself. What Mr. Tweet is, is  your general research assistant. And that’s a good beginning. I look forward to hearing if non-profits are finding Mr. Tweet useful, and other suggestions for finding non-profit Twitterers.

And…I look forward to making connections!

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Fundraising Envy

TheNew York Times’ article Utilities Turn Their Customers Green With Envy provides a few good pointers for social network fundraising, even though the article is about utility bills. The Sacramento, California utility company created a pilot program that issued personalized bills to some customers, using “smiley faces” and “frowny faces” on the utility statements in order to illustrate how a customer’s electricity consumption compares with his/her neighbors’ consumption. Those who received comparative, personalized statements cut their energy efficiency by 2% more than those who did not receive smiley or frowny faces.

The article article also cited an experiment conducted by social psychologist Robert Cialdini, of Arizona State University, and another colleague that illustrates the effect of peer pressure.  “…(Cialdini) and a colleague left different messages on doorknobs in a middle-class neighborhood north of San Diego. One type urged the residents to conserve energy to save the earth for future generations; another emphasized financial savings. But the only kind of message to have any significant effect, Dr. Cialdini said, was one that said neighbors had already taken steps to curb their energy use.”

Social network fundraising should include competition to reap higher rewards.

image courtesy of Cambodia4kids

image courtesy of Cambodia4kids

The concept of social network fundraising is leveraging one’s own social network to raise funds. Facebook and MySpace are two online social networks that have figured out that leveraging one’s peer network for good is good business…and raises funds. They utilize the concept of “people to people fundraising” — raising money from people you know, rewarding them and making it fun. Beth Kanter posted a summary of the concept in her post here, and be sure to read the comments which offer further amplification of the concept.

How can we leverage our networks to raise funds the most efficiently?  Think about what the municipality of Sacramento learned:

  • People react (and change behavior!) based on how they compare with their neighbors/friends.
  • People compete to be as good as their neighbors/friends, as long as the comparative results are public.

There are many great examples of organizations utilizing Facebook Causes, Chipin and other online donation programs and widgets which incorporate the two points. For example, the Facebook Causes application allows network friends to view who else has donated, what amount, and how close the network is to reaching the entire fundraising goal. Joe Green, founder of Facebook Causes says “Facebook and other social networking sites mimic existing relationships, making users feel more pressure to get involved.” (Beth Kanter’s Five Things I Discovered About Facebook Birthday Cause highlights all the best features of the Birthday Cause application.)

Can we quantify what difference the “public” aspect of people to people, or network, fundraising makes compared to non-disclosed givers and amounts? I’d love to hear of further pilot studies using online giving where one group knows how much its peers/network friends are giving and the other does not.

My bet? Peer pressure is just that, and it makes a big difference.

Further reading:

Online fundraising widgets at We Are Media and a toolkit for getting started linked here.

Social micro-fundraising tools: screen shots and compilation on Mashable.

Wild Apricot also compiled a List of Online Fundraising Tools to consider, many of which are peer-to-peer based tools.

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Proactive Reputation Management

image by dbking

image by dbking

ReadWriteWeb’s Lidje Davis recently posted a very thought-provoking article entitled The Unforseen Consequences of the Social Web. In the article, Davis notes the many ways that that one’s actions on the social web can adversely affect one’s own reputation.  The flip side is how other peoples’ actions on the social web can affect your reputation as well. “Reputation Management” means monitoring and tracking of one’s own brand, creating appropriate online personas, and developing an encompassing reputation strategy.  The best way to manage your reputation is by creating a proactive reputation management strategy.

Why should an organization spend its time to create a proactive reputation management strategy?

  • There is no delete button on the internet. Your posts, and comments about your organization live forever. A great example is when I searched under the terms “L’Oreal+Israel” using Google: the third and fourth listings were entitled “Boycott Israel Campaign” and “L’Oreal: Makeup for Israeli Apartheid.” These campaigns are at least 10 years old. Is this really what L’Oreal, Israel, wants its customers to see at the top of the search page?
  • Current comments about your organization can spread like wildfire and affect your organization’s ability to raise funds successfully. As Elaine Fogel writes in Network for Good’s blog here, “one negative media report on a nonprofit can set it back to the point where it may not recover. A nonprofit’s main asset is its reputation.” No one wants to give money to a company with a poor reputation.
  • Inability to react quickly to negative online publicity and conversation will damage your reputation as well. See my previous post analyzing two online reputation management cases for examples.
  • If your organization’s online brand is not up to date, it will also affect fundraising. Imagine soliciting major donors…but donors researching your company find negative listings in the top ten Google search returns.  Or better yet, what if Twitter searches for your organization’s name show many negative comments? Smart donors search online first for information about organizations. You want the top online results to be positive.

A little bit of proactive attention to your organization’s online profile can prevent problems down the road, and find allies, collaborators and donors. That said, how about getting started? I suggest a few starter actions, listed below.

  • Set up “listening posts” to monitor online conversations about your organization.
  • Buy your domain name, those related to your organization, and potential common domain name misspellings.
  • Create a blog so that your organization has a platform from which to issue its own stories.
  • Pick two social networking sites to join where your stakeholders hang out,  and begin to converse with people there.
  • Create an organizational social profile on a handful of social networking sites. You don’t have to be active on them, but you’re ready to be if need be, and it will help increase your organization’s search engine rankings.

Resources:
Ask Dave Taylor asks: What Is Reputation Management? Dave answers this question thoroughly.
Social Media Optimization’s blog post:  Five Steps to Managing Reputation Management.
Reputation Advisor’s Six Easy Steps to Personal Reputation Management.
Chris Bennet on Reputation Management.
Search Insider’s 17 Search Engine Reputation Management Optimization Tips.

If your organization wants to delve deeper, there is great information available online. Here are some of the best management reputation informational posts that I found:

  • The “mother of all” resources and tips to manage your online reputation was compiled by Jacob Share at Job Mob. He lists 170+ Resources and Tips to Help Manage Your Reputation Online. This post gives a thorough list of online tools to manage your reputation and specific steps of how to “clean up” one’s reputation in each participatory media sphere.
  • Brett Borders’ Copy Brighter blog speaks only to online reputation management, with wonderful posts about managing one’s online reputation, how to deal with “impossible” online reputation issues, and more. If you want to know more about this specific area, I’d start here first. Ditto for finding answers to your questions regarding online reputation management and strategies.
  • Marketing Pilgrim focuses on the search engine that determines all of our reputations, Google, and how to adjust one’s rankings within Google.  There are very practical ways to increase your organization’s Google rankings in the post Google Reputation Management: Fix Your Google Reputation and Remove Negative Results. Some are quite easy to implement. Though the article focuses on fixing a negative Google reputation, it is worthwhile to read and implement these strategies proactively so that your organization controls as much of its reputation as it can.
  • The New Zealand State Services has an article about monitoring social media buzz. The article focuses on creating RSS feeds for each social media tool, and specifically how to do this for Wikipedia. Since Wikipedia references boost Google search engine rankings, it is important to stay on top of the chatter on it.

I hope that this inspires you to dip your toes into proactive reputation management. Let me know what you find!

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Reputation Management in Times of Crisis

image by altemark

image by altemark

I once worked for a non-profit organization that created a particularly controversial education curriculum for the public school system. After launching the curriculum, the local newspaper published an op-ed piece criticizing it, and negative press soon followed. The organization is local to its city, offering varied projects and services, and funded partially by public funds.  All of its good work was lost, temporarily, in the maelstrom following the op-ed piece. This was in the days before social media and Web 2.0.  What could my organization do? They tried to get their own op-ed piece published, sent out a press release, spoke at the local city council, sent letters to their members and donors, and organized a neighborhood rally. Did it mediate public opinion? A bit.  The biggest problem was that of reach, not message. Secondly was the lack of opportunities to engage directly with its critics.

If this organization were to encounter the same problem today, they could achieve much greater reach and impact using social media applications.

Your organization can’t afford NOT to be on all social media sites relevant to your stakeholders.

Your reputation depends on it.

Let’s look at two companies that faced reputation problems, and what non-profits can learn from them: Network Solutions and Motrin. Jason Falls, at Social Media Explorer, wrote a comprehensive case study about Network Solutions’ reputation problem and analyzed their brand invigoration strategy.

In his case study, Falls explains that “Network Solutions reserved domains that are searched for over a four-day period if they aren’t purchased right away, preventing you from registering them elsewhere unless you call customer service to have them released.”  (They have since changed this policy.) Because of this policy, they increasingly encountered soured customers, negative online conversations, and a brand reputation problem. What did they do? They hired a communications firm to monitor and engage in conversations on-line, address issues directly on their blog, and they provided valuable information to their customers through their blog. They fully engaged, directly answered issues, and listened to their stakeholders, using all the available social media tools. Through this invigoration strategy, they directly addressed reputation issues, potentially creating more advocates.

The second case is more recent and public: The Motrin Moms. For those of you unfamiliar with this campaign, Motrin launched a viral video ad in November 2008 offering mothers with back problems from wearing baby carriers relief through Motrin.  However, many mothers (myself included) were offended by the implications of the ad:  we may not enjoy carrying our children and/or may not want to be labeled as “that kind of mom.”  (You can watch the ad here.) The backlash began immediately on Twitter and YouTube.  The social web waited while Johnson and Johnson (Motrin’s parent company) did…nothing…for a few days. Eventually, the subsidiary company that markets Motrin emailed apologies to bloggers, and the VP of marketing at Johnson and Johnson apologized to consumers on Motrin’s home page. Critics (myself included) agree that Motrin failed to listen to its critics in real time, reacted too slowly to the reputation crisis, and did not satisfactorily engage with its critics on the social web.

There are several interesting case analyses of this case: Jeremiah Owyang looks at the reputation backlash by the numbers, Pistachio offers her insightful  in-the-moment analysis of the issue (with later updates), and David Gelles of the Financial Times wrote a longer piece (reprinted here) that highlights the episode within a larger discussion of brand management.

What is the difference between Motrin’s and Network Solutions’ strategy? Did Motrin open up a special portal for its disgruntled consumers? Did Motrin engage in conversations on the web? Not at all. Motrin (and Johnson and Johnson) talked to consumers, not with consumers. Even today, Motrin’s website is primarily information- and sales-based, with a few FAQs. On the other hand, Network Solutions engaged and addressed critics where they posted in the social web, and learned from it: today Network Solutions asks for customer ideas and feedback on its Ideas Are Power portal.

Two different companies, two different situations, two different approaches. Motrin was hit with a brand reputation crisis, and Network Solutions was trying to raise its reputation and decrease negativity towards the brand. We can learn from these two cases, and hopefully react better than Motrin did.

Organizations must be ready to deal with brand reputation crises. In order to do so, you should have all the appropriate social media tools in place to listen, engage with your stakeholders, and broadcast messages if a crisis hits.  What tools should you have in place?

1. A Blog: the only media source fully controlled by you. See John Hayden’s post on 22 Ways A Blog Can Rock Your Non-Profit’s Social Media Campaign.

2. Listening Tools: I previously wrote about how to set up a “listening post” to monitor online conversations about you and your organization. For additional reading, try Chris Brogan’s 5 Tools I Use for Listening.

3. Participate in Social Media Spaces: Where are your stakeholders? Engage with them where they are spending time. Is it on Facebook? Twitter? Bebo? HiFive? LinkedIn? Maybe the local community forum or listserv? Set up a few accounts now and begin engaging with your stakeholders so that if your organization’s reputation is ever questioned, you are in the conversation and able to address the concerns quickly. A plus is that your stakeholders will be more likely to trust your response because you have spent the time building up their trust through your engagement efforts.

4. An Interactive Website: not the static website of old, but one that includes opportunities for engagement, clear calls for action, guest posts by stakeholders, and an Idea Portal.

If you have a great example of crisis reputation management through social media, I’d love to know of it. In another post, I’ll address the issue of proactive reputation management.

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Six Social Media Lessons Learned From My First Year In Israel

As some of you know, I recently moved to Israel from the United States. The first year here was amazingly difficult, including cultural, linguistic and societal challenges. The hardest part for me was finding a group of friends. I’m a social being, and surviving with only the love and support of my immediate family was hard. However, there are strong similarities to entering and adjusting to a new community online and offline. Here are a few things I learned from living in a new land that can help anyone entering participatory media.

1. When your organization decides to “live” in an online space, start with language first.

Listen to the online conversations until you find those that relate to your viewpoint, language and sensibility. Are you an arts organization? Find others conversing about the arts. Are you an advocacy organization for clean water? Find others who are talking about environmental issues, clean water and topics similar in nature to the ones you want to discuss. When I joined Twitter, I chose a few people to follow who tweeted about social media and non-profit issues, and then I listened. I followed conversations, researched the participants, and found others on Twitter who also spoke “my language.”

My mother tongue is English. Trying to communicate in Hebrew, of which I knew at most ten words upon arriving, did not make sense. Thus…I sought English speakers first.  I listened for them at the park, public spaces, and joined the English-speaking community lists . In this manner, I found “cultural interpreters” that introduced me to the intricacies of Israeli life. I still call them (frequently) when I don’t understand something here.

2. Network through friends from home.

When you join Facebook or LinkedIn or Twitter, the application asks your permission to search through your online address book and find your friends who are already members. This is great way to start. They will, of course, introduce you to others!

I arrived in Israel a list of ten or so people to contact. They were “friends of friends,” and I honestly had nothing to lose by calling and meeting them. This was a bit like blind dating, and though not every contact became a friend, many led me to new friends.

3. Join groups.

Every virtual community has groups within it. Wiki groups, Facebook groups, Bebo groups, and Twitter groups, for example. Find groups that talk about what you care about. Listen to the conversations. Through these groups, you’ll make connections to the individuals in the community, create identity and explore friendships.  Online groups are a great place to ask your questions about the community culture; group members want to help you acculturate and make other friends online.

Joining groups proved to be quite useful in finding community here. I found organizations that meet in English and are related to my professional goals. I made some strong connections and again found “cultural informants and translators,” this time in the business world.

4. Learn the language.

I previously posted a roundup of the social etiquette and cultural norms of each participatory media. By familiarizing yourself with the societal norms of each virtual community, you are learning its language. Did you know what a “tweetback” was before using Twitter? Did you understand what it meant to “Digg” something before using Digg? Who really is your “friend” on Facebook?

Obviously, in order to understand Israeli culture and people, I have to be able to speak the language. I currently take Hebrew classes, which gives me an introduction to the culture and the ability to truly enter Israeli society. I understand the uniquely Israeli word “friar” now. Unless I learn Hebrew, I will always be a an observer.

5. Community builds, one friend at a time.

The same is true of online communities. Commenting on others’ blogs will lead them back to you. Adding content to a wiki and getting good feedback on it means that they are introducing you to others. People listen in on your Twitter conversations and want to follow you. Your work will eventually transform into friends and communities online.

After a year, I am finally seeing some of my hard work paying off. I have a small group of good friends that I adore, and I continue to pester them with cultural questions! Friends have introduced me to other friends, professionals have invited me to new professional networking groups. I am starting to find community here.

6. Most importantly, don’t give up!

Many bloggers write about the first hard months of blogging: few readers, Google hasn’t found the blog yet, no comments, and no blogger community of friends. They all say that it is lonely and hard, but it gets easier after that.

Everyone told me that the first year in a new country is the most difficult, and that it will get easier after that.  What did that actually mean for me? I spent the first year here putting myself out there: finding new connections that sometimes proved valuable and often did not, working hard to learn a new language and familiarize myself with new societal norms, figuring out how to be myself in a new land but also blend with the societal expectations.

We’re all Strangers In a Strange Land every time we join a new community. But we’re all in it together!

photo courtesy of Striatic

photo courtesy of Striatic

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