Yesterday was the Boston Social Media for Nonprofits Conference at the Microsoft NERD Center at MIT. Despite the rain and the horrific traffic, I am happy that I attended.
Ritu Sharma (Co-Founder & Executive Director) and Darian Rodriguez Heyman (Co-Founder & Head of External Partnerships) put on a fantastic event, with a great roster of speakers, lots of time built it for breaks and networking plus a roundtable session where attendees could discuss problems and find solutions.
I have boiled down what I learned at the conference into 10 main takeaways. (You can get the full program with the list of speakers here.)
1) Consider how people experience media in today’s environment. Geoff Livingston (co-author, with Gini Dietrich, of Marketing in the Round), made the point that in 2012, people “experience” media simultaneously (watching TV while texting/checking email and Facebook). They no longer sit quietly and “consume” media in a traditional fashion. This is an important point for nonprofits – Be careful not to confuse your donors as they are getting messages from a variety of avenues, all of which need to feel the same way and work seamlessly together as part of a whole.
2) The Ellie Fund is a fabulous cause with an infectious, energetic Executive Director. Julie Nations’ presentation was undoubtedly the highlight of the day. No more complaints, small nonprofits – Julie commands a tiny bare bones staff, writes the blog, manages the social media accounts, coordinates the fundraising events and campaigns – and she runs a household with three children under 6 years old. (All while remaining upbeat, positive and never sounding like a martyr.) Small nonprofit organizations can learn a lot from Julie and The Ellie Fund – mainly that it’s all about your impact stories and having an understanding of what content will compel people to take action on behalf of the cause.
3) All nonprofit organizations should apply for Google Grants. Do it now: http://www.google.com/grants/
4) Links are the least-engaged-with content on Facebook. John Haydon, author of Facebook Marketing for Dummies, provided detailed tips on how to create a Facebook Page for your nonprofit, how to get people to Like it and how to get more engagement with the content that you post. Among the nuggets of wisdom presented: mornings/evenings are the best time to post on Facebook; posts with less than 80 characters get shared the most; people are less likely to click on a shortened link (using bit.ly for example) than a long link; use the Facebook Page Insights to measure what’s working and what’s not. As John said, “Your primary engine is passion. Check that passion with (Facebook) Insights.”
5) Brand Ambassadors are the key to credibility. Justin Ware, director of social media at fundraising consulting firm Bentz Whaley Flessner went over the 5 w’s (who, what, when, where, why) of cultivating and coordinating Brand Ambassadors for your cause.
6) Think about the Cs. Darian’s killer equation for social media success: Compelling + Concise + Consistent + Credible = Success!
7) Ask Dave Boyce of Fundly to beatbox, and he will gladly agree. I learned a lot during Dave’s presentation – mostly that I need to start recommending Fundly to my clients! Using Fundly, Dave explained how nonprofits can turn their donors into fundraisers, and how they can triple online giving by simply inviting people to give to the cause. A vital point made during his talk to launch the campaign first, and learn from it as you go. If you never launch the campaign, how will you know if it’s successful?
9) Plan ahead so you don’t have to miss the last speakers. I had to skip out early due to a child care conflict, and I was so sorry to miss Lee Fox of KooDooz and Debra Askanase of Community Organizer 2.o.
10) Social media is like exercise. I loved the analogy Darian drew between social media and exercise, namely: a) You get what you put in, b) You get results with consistent effort, and c) Don’t expect miracles to happen overnight.
I am looking forward to hearing more from Ritu and Darian, and to keeping in touch with all the fantastic people I met at the Conference!
If you went to the Conference, what did you learn? Please share in the Comments section below!