Thursday, March 27, 2008

Why I Hate Facebook, continued...

*It's considered bad form to just publish your blog posts -- folks won't follow you if you ONLY do that.

*Twitter feed -- will automatically post blog posts.

LA Fire Dept is twittering! Crazy!

Used here in MN in 35W bridge collapse. Wow, I didn't know that.

RSS feeds... JSON, XML, RSS, ATOM (four things I really don't know much about--e)

FB is not doing this (except for the "status" feed)

Seesmic: video tweeting. Record short video, people follow you, you follow video (gives you a url so you can share with other people.) This could be really interesting for live events... also has a setting to send video urls to twitter.

Friendfeed: Aggregates all online, twitter, fb status, etc.--other stuff into one place. Several sites do this, but this seems to be the most user-friendly one.

Why I hate facebook or what social media shall we use today?

By Peter Fleck at MN Extension Service

Beth Kanter is attending this session...

My note: My blogging is a bit handicapped as I just gave myself the mother of all paper cuts on a fairly thick manilla folder. Ouch!

Social Network (Dana Boyd) (I've heard of her... great article about MySpace/Facebook dichotomy):
  • Construct a public or semi-public within a bounded system.
  • Atriculate a list of other users with whom you share a connection.
  • View and traverse your list of connections and those made by others within the system.
Cool, but specifically, what can you do?
  • Find long-lost high school friends.
  • Make new friends.
  • Find work.
  • Collaborate.
  • Market. Have to be careful, though... if you're blatantly marketing, ppl would chew you out.
  • Connect by sharing. Sharing a part of yourself in the network. Might be what you're interested in.
Some work cultures are not social media friendly. (How can you tell, though? --e)

Can find support from folks doing the same kind of work.

How private and sensitive is your data?
Issues in small towns: people know alot about you!

60,000,000 "active users" (what is an active user?)

Peter's problems with FB:
* Invites: so many aps ask you to spam your friends.
* FB interface is kind of clunky and nonintuitive; not a web interface. (My note: I think it's much better than MySpace.)
* FB "feels slow" (I wonder how so?)
* Irritating applications (e.g. "vampires", "zombies" aps) (My note: I agree! That stupid FunWall spam--telling me messages sent to other friends--so annoying!)
* Spam: friends using aps can be used in ads, as if they are recommending that program (also annoying)

FB doesn't share well--it's a silo.

Create your own social community.

Share maps
Share docs
Map out buildings of campus for other folks to use
Google Streetview (very cool--get 360 view of a point on the street)

Google OpenSocial -- work at MySpace, LinkedIn, etc.
* Apache 2.0 license. Owned by Open, open source.
* NYT, Nike, PayPal, others that use this standard.
* FB considering it.


* Officially about 1 1/2 years old. Answer question: what are you doing? Or answer question: what are you paying attention to at the moment?
* What's really amazing: can access it through multiple systems (e.g. IM, widgets, Twirl, texting from cell phone, etc.)
* Can follow like-minded people.
* Can direct message folks without others reading it. However, replies don't in themselves give context... context is timeframe in which you tweet, or you give context of reply.
* Status reports. Doesn't have to be open to the world.
* Aggregate and publish links from many posts.
* Announce blog posts and podcasts.

Q/A gleanings...

Beth Kanter's wiki

Easter Seals has a social networking policy that Beth will blog about soon.

A CEO who is the "face" of the organization on, say, Facebook, doesn't have to actually maintain the the profile... but have a staffer that maintains & briefs the CEO on what comes in from the profile.

How do you measure success, and how to document this?
Don't be obsessed about numbers... qualitative info helps to understand the numbers.

Twitter, continued again...

Beth talked about America's Giving Challenge... Beth started by blogging her ideas for winning the contest. Though there was a risk of other folks running with Beth's ideas... she's found that openness in the beginning is helpful.

Strategy was to make it personal. Not just about the charity, but the personal message of WHY this particular charity was connected to the fundraiser in a personal way.

Stories strategy: tell stories about the kids, the supporters and how they moved through levels of engagement, and about what was learned, mistakes, best practices.

Three Rs of Networking:
Relationship building

It's not support my cause... it's creating community.

Strategy: fun, easy.

What's better than a bday celebration? Beth asked folks to give $10.

Went to YouTube and tested four versions of videos:
* humorous
* 3 others

Twitter: can Beth get x number of folks to donate $10 by such and such a date?

Facebook: IDd evangelists fundraisers.

125 ppl donated
145 bday wishes
180 ppl clicked on Beth's baby birthday suit pic!

Beth's bday went, but still had time in the contest... so interacted with folks via blogs, twittering, etc. Beth fell into second place and did a Twitter run to put her back into first place.

Paypal integration really important. Makes it easier for folks to contribute.

Traditional campaign with Cambodia for Kids board members (did I get the right org name here?)--anyway, they did the face to face, pounding the pavement strategy.

Beth was unconnected from the internet for six hours on a flight... and landed to being on 5th place! Emergency outreach to her network... Twitter, Facebook, Hi5, bloggers came out--an Indian doctor retweeted Beth's request to thousands of other Indian doctors (in India) and they gave... and Beth/Cambodian Kids won!

Kids in Cambodia said "thank you."

Lessons learned:
Let the dogs out.
Stories work. Make it personal.
Urgency, fun, humor, competitive spirit. Thank people in fun and engaging ways.

Twitter, continued...

Can use Twitter to build community...
* Like NTC08... see all tweets related to the event in one place
* Qwitter (stop smoking support)
* Tweet what you eat (for folks managing diabetes or monitoring what they eat)
* Cancer support: Fridays, add a pea to avatar... raising money for cancer... so THAT'S what that pea stuff is all about!
* Used Twitter in natural disasters to hear if people are okay. Red Cross has pilot project--how can Twitter help in an emergency?

Erin's notes: Here's what I think is really useful about Twitter: you can text a group of people really quickly. The tech I've seen to accomplish that is usually subscription based -- but maybe I just haven't seen the full array of options : )

It also seems to be really great as a back channel of communication during a live event.

Beth says that after a community -- of your friends, or nptech colleagues, or whatever -- you can use it to find a quick babysitter, a quick response of particular case studies, to raise money for social causes.

A moment of truth...

I am live blogging from the MCN Tech/communciations conference today in Minneapolis. And so, I think my blog's title needs a few caveats.

First, it's not really my organization, Fresh Energy. I'm really the only one contributing. So, it's just Erin.

Secondly, I'm obviously not at the NTEN conference, which concluded last week in NOLA.

So, perhaps the title of the blog should really be "Fresh Energy Erin at Various Nonprofit Technology Conferences." You've been warned.

Currently listening to Beth Kanter give the morning plenary: Nonprofits in an Age of Social Media.

Side note: It is really, really cold in this conference center.

You know, I think part of this presentation was remixed from one I saw at NTEN in NOLA...

Liveblogging notes:
Don't just look at tools without knowing how you're going to use it.

Flickr: photosharing site. Flickr has a Flickr pro account for nonprofits. Creating stream of photos. Can tag content, and creative commons licensing (to allow others to reuse, with some rights reserved.) Can send photos to groups organized around a particular theme... like pets in cones. In nonprofit context,

* Can use for visual petitions.
* Build a community around an event, e.g. Relay for Life, documenting the event.
* Using Flickr group, can easily republish photos (if you've asked folks to publish photos with permissions to republish)
* 50 Million Missing (Women in India disappearing): photos of missing women.
* Contest: The Nature Conservancy -- nature photos. Be clear about how you're going to use photos.
* Community organizing: photo of someone making a statement.

Microblogging--or blogging by text message (under 140 characters)
Watch the geeks twittering at the airport!
Twitterpacks wiki to ID other nptech folks.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Working with Web Site Vendors and Consultants

Session description here

Apparently, this unlucky session is competing with free margaritas provided by Democracy in Action.

The session seems to be largely populated by nonprofits--only a few vendors in the audience. The panel includes a nonprofit staffer (Alicia McBride, communications director for Friends Committee on National Legislation), a vendor (Cindy Morgan-Jaffee, COO, Orchid Suites) and consultant (Jessica Harrington, Schultz & Williams, direct mail consultant, sounding board and reality check, as described by convener Mark Graham, who is with the AFSC.)

Alicia started out the session talking about her experience in selecting an email list vendor. Started by asking other nonprofits that do similar things, doing roughly the same task, to build a list of prospective vendors. For FCNL, a major goal was to consolidate email; however, in researching vendors, FCNL found that their new email vendor choice might affect what they were able to accomplish (e.g. they might lose the ability to see when an email spurred a constituent to write a letter to a Congressperson.)

Key questions: is the vendor a good fit for the organization, understand the organization, what's your gut instinct?

For FCNL, had a good relationship with both vendors... though both vendors were very honest about what they could and could not do, but ended up going with the vendor that was more flexible. Think about how you'd get your data out if you go with another vendor in the future. How will the new system affect staffing, support, etc. after you make the decision?

Adoption and Use. In this stage, know what you can expect the vendor, and how you manage the transition for staff. The new technology will probably mean a change in workflow. Manage transition so that people don't focus on the technology (and how much they don't want to use it.) Figure out what role the vendor needs to play, and what role you need to play.

Managing expectations down. "This is what it will do eventually, but right now these parts work really well..."

What would you change? Took too long to make a decision, agonized over too much. Want to be respectful of the vendor's time and dragging the process out longer than necessary.

Cindy Morgan-Jaffee, Orchid Suites. Vendor.
* A good vendor will be focused on the needs of the organization, rather than the technology itself, to be sure the vendor's solution will be a good fit. Needs should drive technology solutions, not the other way around.
* Fit. Personality, organizational philosophies, etc. need to mesh. Cindy compared it to "speed dating." Have a shopping list, and the more detailed your shopping list, the more successful you're going to be. (My note: I'm not sure about this. Sometimes, very specific ideas of how something could be done can limit options, instead of honing options.)
* Support. What kind of customer support can you expect? What kind of relationship will you have with the vendor after the product is built/deployed?

Jessica, Consultant.
* Vendors know product, nonprofits know organization, who you are, what you know about your org, and how to implement, as well as the needs that this technology is supposed to satisfy.
* Decide what you must have now, near future, and future future. Then, buy a system that will satisfy your must haves, and can accommodate the near future needs.
* Create a staged plan that's flexible... so that you don't overbuy and can make adjustments if money needs to be diverted (an issue common among nonprofits.)
* Get ED and Board buy in. If you don't have support from the top, then you need to stop.
* For Vendors: understand what kind of client (e.g. activist organization versus, say, service organizations) you want and would serve best.

Assess infrastructure.
For nonprofits: who is actually going to implement the product? Who will be in charge of the implementation, managing product and training staff? Tech person is good for installation; direct marketer good for managing product.

Do you have the hardware and software to deploy the solution, or does it require upgrades (which will of course increase total cost)?

Do you have the vision and plan to fully take advantage of what you are buying?

Vendor: Do you have the staff to provide the level of support nonprofits often need?

Be honest. Nonprofits: Know where org is right now: capital planning, strategic planning, reorganization. Staffing: adding/subtracting staff? Infrastructure: tell vendor how much time you're going to be able to spend on the product/system. Full staff person, couple of hours a week/day--vendors will adjust support plan with this in mind.

Vendors: staged approach allows for more satisfied customers. Give realistic timeframes. What the product does right now. Notify clients at beginning of a problem--they might be able to help you. Give options to upgrade: an org. may not need it now but they might at a later date.

Contracts. Nonprofits: look for hidden costs. Hardware, software licenses, staffing, training, time frames, software licensing, email storage, email deployment costs, training costs, upgrades.

Look for places you can negotiate; ask for flexibility. Ask about upgrade costs, increases in licensing and maintenance fees.

Vendors: Consider for flexibility-if no other client has asked for it, it doesn't mean it can't be done. Know your limits and what kind of clients you serve best.

Project management. Appoint a project manager who will clearly define system requirements, manage expectations, manage schedule internally and externally; provide what you need to and communicate if you can't; prompt vendor; alert management of cost overrun issues; hold regular status meetings for hte project, both internally and externally; document process in case you leave the vendor org or nonprofit.

Assess how long it will take recoup your investment.

Decide what you want out of the investment: volume, activists, donors.
Include added staff time (and vice versa, saved staff time because of upgrades) to the ROI.

Don't buy into the hype
Don't expect the solution to be a panacea
Social netowrks are not yet raising significant amounts online, and are difficult to maintain and manage
Text messages are not quite here yet

Be realistic
Vendors can only take you so far
Without the basics--promotion, marketing, solid communciation--you'll never increase your online exposure, revenue, email file
Benchmark yourself against like organizations (size, issue area, budget, etc.)

Bigger isn't always better

Tech vendors can

provide expertise/experience
push you to test

Tech vendors can't
run the system for you
make up for mediocre staffing
create an internal marketing plan for you (though they can help)
know your constituents
know your internal organizational status that would affect your relationship with your vendor

Slides included a list of resources.

Tips to get design vendors?: Be specific about feedback; what works and doesn't work; "I don't like it" isn't specific enough.