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.

A quick note about last night...

In the last moments of this session, I wanted to post a picture I took at last night's NTEN After Party at Tipitina's. We were treated to the Preservation Hall Band, which played live dixie music and was incredible. I was also able to connect with a few Minnesota peeps, and honorary Minnesota peep David Geilhufe (David, I'm sure I just slaughtered your last name--apologies.)

I have some cell phone video (yep, picture, above, is also from cell phone... oh well) that, if I'm smart enough, will be eventually able to upload in Youtube. We'll see!

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) session

Session description here.
Kevin Lee from Didit is presenting this session. Usually, this content is presented over 11 hours, so we'll be moving quickly here!

I'll admit that I really don't understand SEO--we want to be sure that folks who want to reach the RE-AMP Commons are able to do so, especially as we're creating content for public consumption.

The search engine's number one priority is relevance.

SEO is not a system to be gamed; rather, it's an ecosystem designed to pick out the most relevant results.

If you are truly the most relevent for a keyword and not in the top results, fix what's wrong.
Find good content, ID content and separate from extraneous information, grade content for clarity, extract the essence of content, assign the content a source reputation score; etc.

Google Webmaster Central: most of what you need to know about SEO is available at this page.

Google Toolbar shows page rank plus more useful SEO info (including back links and cached version of page) within the toolbar. Orgs that link to your competition might be willing to link to you.

Page rank is acutally named after Larry Page from Google, who wrote an algorithm (sp?) which actually tells you where you'd like to get links from, and on a relative basis, how you're doing.

Content must be readable by search engine. HTML, names of elements embedded in HTML and alt tags are all preferable. This refers to ANY webpage, including .asp, .js, etc. pages.

Content search engines can't read include images (except name and AltTag), graphics, animations, fancy Flash movies, Javascript DHTML content, dynamic content and media (ajax, iframes).

Inverted pyramid style for copy: start with the meatiest part of the story, even the story's conclusion, and then support that conclusion or th eessense of the story with more facts or emotional copy. Search engines prioritize copy it encounters in the beginning of the page.

CMS that allows titles are better for SEO.

The almighty anchor tag: any hyperlinked text. Serves two purposes for SEO: 1. within sites and across sites, it transmits page rank, and... well... the second seemed to have been derailed by audience questions.

SEO Status Research:
Yahoo, msn live:

This search can be done with a keyword, eg. kevin will return each page on the site with the word "kevin"

Remember that search is rarely spontaneous! Consumers search because...
they saw media/advertising, read/heard something in teh news or magazines, potentially PR-driven; word of mouth conversations (online or face to face); online surfing stimulates a search (content, blogs, etc.); interacted with an offline mar-com (what the heck is a mar-com?? Marking communications effort?)

Conclusions: stay educated on best practices, consider a request for services at or Some vendors do pro-bono or reduced-fee work.

Building, Growing, and Sustaining a Vibrant Online Community – How to Reach Beyond Traditional Tools into the Web 2.0 Sphere

The next panelist is Abby Sandlin, Charity Dynamics. Abby was a fundraiser and grassroots organizer for several policy related nonprofit organizations. Founded organization in Houston on consumer protection issues. Challenge: making technology work for you, instead of you working for your technology.

Why explore social networking?
Building communities and connecting new audiences, new voices, adding more touch points with your constituency.
Increase transparency.
Develop new channels for exposure, etc.

Lots of questions before jumping in...
How long will it take, cost, how to guarantee success, what will legal think about it, etc.

ROI is a moving target--there are no industry standards and benchmarks. Reporting standards and tools are young.

Define engagement value internally. Get stakeholders together and figure out what you really want to accomplish with a social networking venture. Possible goals: see what's out there, stake a flag, be part of a conversation, raise awareness for an issue/organization, be more transparent? How is this community going to be different from your web 1.0 presence?

Document those objectives, goals and expectations: internal transparency and support for initiatives; tell the story of how these impact your organization (easy justification available for the work invested); analysis and fine-tuning.

Reporting: document results, both quantitative and qualitative. What worked and what didn't? What was learned?

What to measure:
Recency: timing, duration, consistency
Quantity: web analytics, how many viewers, participants, contributors, followers, tags, etc.
Quality: presence, type of conversations, tone of conversations, etc.
Response rates: How many engaging in organizational initiative, immediate and long term conversion.
Origination: Identify participants as coming from 2.0 initiative vs. other channels - are 2.0 generated constituents providing more / less value to organization?

social media : social media metrics resources.

Kami Huyse is a good blogger to follow about social

Radius is an expensive tool to track flickr, youtube, etc. : plug in different websites, more for pageview metrics
Technorati... Beth will add these to the wiki.

Had to attend to a few other online community coordination obligations and so was not as thorough in blogging questions/answers. Sorry!

Building, Growing, and Sustaining a Vibrant Online Community – How to Reach Beyond Traditional Tools into the Web 2.0 Sphere

Here's the workshop description

I'm running behind in my blogging to attend to my online community management responsibilities... but I'm happy to be in yet another Beth Kanter workshop. The room is quite full, though there are still some empty seats (this room is larger than the previous Web 2.0 ROI workshop I attended yesterday.)
TechSoup is starting a "Flickr for Good" program that gives nonprofits the pro Flickr account for free. is a great resource for Flickr training (or other web 2.0 sharing). Yahoo! TOS are violated if you create an organizational account under your personal profile. A good way to start using Flickr are uploading pictures from events.

Flickr Groups
Can use Flickr groups to create a Flickr pool. Be clear up front about copyright guidelines, what you're going to do with the photos, photos of children require releases from their parents, and when pictures would not be appropriate for a group (and when they might be removed by administrators.) Flickr groups are great for photo contests as well. For example, The Nature Conservancy received 6,000 pictures in a contest among nature photographers on Flickr for TNC to use on their website. Creative Commons had a photo contest with folks modeling CC swag.

Community organizing: "Wear a red shirt to support Burma monks" campaign -- pictures connect other people also participating.

"Microblogging" --to me, this seems like text message blogging. This is a great tool for following events live. The conference here has used Twitter as a backchannel generally, and several workshop presents have used Twitter in the same way. "Social presence" tool -- "what are you doing now," or "what surprises you now?" Be careful when you set alerts to be sent to your phone--you can receive a lot of messages! This tool is great for reaching out to people on a short turnaround.

Twitter packs (organizing): a wiki of self-identified folks in a particular field (e.g. Nonprofit tech folks) who have added themselves to the list of that user.

Twitter is very useful for disaster (e.g. floods, etc.) communication--who's okay and breaking news from the ground.

Also used for folks trying to lose weight and stop smoking (Tweet what you eat and "Qwitter.")

Use influential Twitter users to reach out to their networks to fundraise -- be careful of donor fatigue; build up lots of social capitol to fundraise successful.

Keith Morris, with the American Cancer Society, coordinated the Second Life Relay for Life, which has raised $170,000 over three years. Second Life is a virtual world in which users receive an avatar. The moderators of Second Life, Linden Labs, creates the air, water and land, but users create everything else--buildings, activities, etc.

To be honest, I've had several problems with Second Life. The last time I tried to get on Second Life, my computer didn't seem to have enough memory (or something), and/or my internet connection wasn't fast enough (on our work T1 line, even) for motion to be seamless. And secondly, I think that Second Life is tough to figure out. I still don't know how to get to different locations, and I just don't have the time to figure it out for what it offers. For smaller nonprofits, and for nonprofits whose members/constitutents/targeted audiences don't have access to the powerful computing or internet connection required for Second Life, or aren't tech uber power users, I don't know if Second Life will be a good outreach or fundraising strategy.

The American Cancer Society had to figure out how to convert Second Life currency (Lindens?) to real money. Otherwise, the relay is much like real life. Teams of up to 15 members do four months of fundraising. Closer to the relay event, a design phase creates the relay environment in Second Life. At the actual relay, the avatars walk around a track.

Making a donation in Second Life
Kiosk in second life -- choose how much you want to pay -- money goes into an account, which is then translated into real money (not sure by who.)

Other examples of fundraisers in Second Life:
* Relay clothing fair
* Auction
* Concerts/parties
* Jail and bail (avatars are "sent to jail" and have to get their friends to bail them out.)
* One of a kind Second Life car was auctioned off.

Support group of survivors in Second Life. 180 members so far.

Fundraising Stats were listed on slides too quickly for me to type--have to get those off of the conference thumb drive.

$271 Lindens to $1 USD. Linden provides the website to create this exchange.
Time investment? : Lots of volunteers.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

We Need a New Web Site: Doing Your Redesign Right

We Need a New Web Site: Doing Your Redesign Right

I actually think I heard one (or both?) of these presenters at last year's NTEN--quite fortuitous since I only heard the very end of their session last year!

The Development Process: RFP
Identify stakeholders, conversations with stakeholders, and what do you really need? Out of that will come the RFP. Highlight different features/functions that are necessary in the RFP. 5-7 page document.

RFP Selection Process
If you go out of house (most nonprofits do): get a short list (5-7 firms) and get RFPs from 3-5. Request not just credentials but solutions to particular problems you want to solve. If you can tell vendors their budget, tell them, so that vendors aren't guessing what solutions are too expensive/too modest.

Discovery process: End goal is a statement of work. Set the breadth of the scope. You will have to revisit your RFP conversation... there will always be a key person who raised another issue, vendor will give you a better idea of what's possible, etc. etc. Set up a parking lot of items that are not a priority right now, but can revisit later; website is scalable and can be added. No design at this point; just paper.

Functional spec: Take breadth of that scope and go into the depth. The "What"--as in what is going to be built? Identifies audiences, personas; each piece of functionality. Then build wire frames and content inventory. Allows one to look at pages from content layout standpoint--no pictures, colors, graphic design, etc. Important to go through that before design, because design is emotional--won't pay attention to content.

Information Architecture: THE most important step in web design. Should not be skipped. Wireframes are NOT the sitemap. Wireframes are not hand-drawn. Break down flow of site and how people are going to go through it. Designers love wireframes because they don't have to think about the IA of the page, and know what IA the client expects.

Now come the pretty pictures (and everyone has an opinion.) By far the most emotional and difficult phase. The people who said "I don't care about this" suddenly do. Keep the cooks in the kitchen to a small group. Come with good sites/elements from other sites you'd like to emulate.

The longest phase of the project -- could be an equal amount of time to the planning phase. Client role is to be available during reviews, answer questions, and a little quality assurance.

Typical Timeline (these can overlap):
Integration 2-4 weeks
Content migration: 4-6 weeks
Custom development: 4-6 weeks
Quality assurance: 4-6 weeks
Stabilization: 2 months, and there WILL be bugs.

Now we're ready to manage the site... or, we think we are...

Support and management of site is at least as important. How does workflow work? Who repairs things when it breaks? Who manages what parts of the site? Work with vendor for ongoing support, care and feeding of website. Especially important with web 2.0 "stuff." Determining processes and producing content are equally important to the redesign.

Top 10 dirty little secrets of software vendors:
* Buying a CMS is still harder than buying your first house! There isn't even a uniform definition for CMS. Knowing how you use content will help you decide what solutions are best for you.
* Most CMS vendors don't help customers be good website managers.
* Most CRM, CMS, Hosting and web analytics implementations STILL go unsupported after launch.
* Open source solves the wrong problem -- everybody uses and installs open source because they think it's free. Who is going to support and maintain the solution will determine whether free and open source software is a good option. FOSS shouldn't be used if it's only to solve a budget issue (because FOSS costs money to implement and maintain.)
* Customers overpay for features that they'll never use, and rarely deliver the results they really need.
* Buying CMS to have a better website is like buying a mop to keep the kitchen clean. If you don't use it, and use it effectively, it's not going to improve the website.
* Implementation is easy; management is hard.
* Most organization have few, infrequent site management software users. Training is ongoing, and planning the training system is part of maintaining the site. Effective adoption/rollout is very important.
* Companies buy software based on ROI, but don't ever measure it.
* Content migration sucks. It will take you more time to automate the process (probably) than to manage the page. Worst part of the project, and it's hard, and anyone who tells you it's easy are lying.

Launch and Rollout
* Usability: beyond the software solutions and website. Whatever solutions you fit, the interfaces are appropriate for the audiences you want to reach (e.g. tech savvy vs. folks who aren't as familiar with tech.)
* Review, measure. Iterate. Web sites are a process, not an end game. Launch small iterative launches. Launch what you can effectively and well; your audience will tell you what they want. Measure the five or ten most important things to your organization and keep a dashboard.

Go for best of breed, not "all in one" solutions.

Small: $10,000-50,000
Large: $50,000-100,000

Time is money. These projects take time.
Negotiate rates but hours are hours. Compare apples to apples.
$20/hr to $200/hr.

Erin's Note: This is all helpful information, but I'm finding a great deal of it a reiteration of the presentation I saw last year in DC. The description suggested to me that this might be a workshop for folks who had gone through the design process, and how one would know if they are just tweaking, or really required a real redesign.

The presenters here are spending a great deal of time saying that FOSS is not free, and one can spend as much money on proprietary licensing as on implementing FOSS. I have to say that this has not been our experience--the proprietary solution we used before was MUCH more expensive and more restrictive than our Drupal solution, even with a great deal of customized work, and while Drupal has limitations, it is more flexible than the solution we used before. This sentiment has already generated rumblings in the audience in the back of the room, and it will be interesting to see how this plays out in the Q/A and comments time.

I was a little disappointed in this presentation. The two takeways listed in the NTEN program--knowing when tweaking, instead of a complete redesign, is appropriate; and managing redesign implementation--were really not addressed. We heard about why managing redesign implementation was critically important to making a redesign successful, but we never went through how this would happen with the same kind of clarity and depth as the redesign process. Though the redesign checklist was thorough and excellent information, consistent with my own experience, it really dominated this session, and was almost the same presentation I remembered in DC last year.

Social Media ROI: Humane Society United States

Panelist hired to strategize online social networking outreach, as well as paid online outreach strategies.

Most recently, HSUS uncovered abuses to downed cows at slaughterhouse that prompted largest beef recall in US history. Also involved with Michael Vick/dogfighting case.

Case story: Wanted to reach out to public during Vick case to raise issue of dogfighting. People looking for an outlet to express feelings on this issue. Needed low cost, high impact campaign that could be created on the fly to capitalize on public attention. Created "Knock out animal fighting" video contest on YouTube. Advertised on website, social networks, email list and television ads. Asked people to go to website, read info/contest rules, and create a video about how they felt about dogfighting/Vick case. Entered videos were posted the video as a response to HSUS ad--PSA done by Hulk Hogan. And then, folks filled out a form on the site to fill out a form to say that they submitted the video.

Two awards: picked by HSUS, and "people's choice" popular award. People's choice award allowed folks who didn't have equipment to create video could still vote--broader opportunity for participation.

Special page on website featured on homepage.

(Loosing battery soon... darned conference room outlets that don't work!!)

Also made available banners for folks to add to their sites, directing their traffic to HSUS campaign.

Outcomes: Increased email file (don't spend any money on online advertising unless tied to listbuilding or donation campaign); raised awareness about dogfighting; obtained original content; gave people an issue that folks really wanted to do something about.

Tangible outcomes: 2200 submissions. 16,494 page views of video winner page on HSUS; 18500 people's choice award page (watch videos & vote); 90,000 of views of winning video. 22 videos submitted.

Intangible outcomes: Bloggers commenting, buzz online, conversation on MySpace, Facebook (both HSUS and "friends of" pages); what does the blogosphere think?

Measuring buzz: "Link love": Google search to find out who's linking to you. Most of the HSUS videos linked from Youtube; lesson to reach out more to bloggers. Looked at referring URLs (from StumbleUpon) though HSUS doesn't have a SU campaign.

(My battery gave out at this point. Have to get the rest from the conference thumb drive!)

Social Media ROI: National Wildlife Federation

Using social media to drive traffic to the site, mainly using and

Members are typically 65-year-old women; but wanted to experiment with different audiences.

By using a traffic driving strategy, don't have to create another culture on a social networking site like MySpace or Facebook.

Digg is 65% male--different demographic--and if a page is "dug" often enough, the page appears on the Digg homepage. Difference between undug and dug page--same page--traffic increased threefold (15,000 to 45,000) when appeared on Digg, and comments increased exponential.

Being popular on doesn't just mean being on the homepage--your content is then pushed through feeds, and bloggers look at Digg for new content.

Digg is a community--have to determine what your niche is, always submit content, and create relationships within the community. Download a tool bar, click it, and get sites tagged with your interests. Take a web 1.0 page and turn it into web 2.0, because you can see comments that StumbleUpon users leave. Also, SU users spend more time on your site than users on other social sites.

Challenge: Developing profile is something that takes time every day over time.

Success: Social media can push a campaign out for relatively low budget overhead.

95% new visitors on site.

Takeaways: Everyone should invest in community and reciprocate; consider your niche; be sure to listen to comments/feedback.

Q: What is the call to action? A: Varies; diggers are not activists. Listening audience -- hungry for information -- so just trying to use the strategy to introduce the organization.

Q: How do you plan on sustaining a presence if you leave NWF? A: Have one point person, but encourage other coworkers to be on Digg to pick up if an employee leaves.

Q: Have you seen a definite rise in constituents? A: Made more connections through these sites because of the conversations, but don't have numbers because it's almost a "handshake" relationship.

Q: Categories that work? A: Usually post under environment; have done "pets and animals"; best to submit to all applicable categories to cover all bases.

Social Media ROI: Red Cross case study

Hurricane Katrina hit NOLA, and Red Cross wanted to know how to respond to the critiques made of Red Cross and increase organization transparency in their relief efforts.

Listening to what was being said in social media about the Red Cross was a huge part of this project. The Red Cross wanted to correct misinformation, what was working and not working about communications, identify influencers, track communication trends.

Have been able to correct information and build relationship with folks who are very passionate about the organization, and to understand communication patterns. Internally, been able to teach about social media adoption to colleagues. Compile data about customer service issues, and this has started to inform PR strategies (e.g. with response to lawsuit from Johnson and Johnson regarding red cross logo.)

Culls through searches and creates "daily blog update" by topic and distributed throughout organization. Out of the daily blog entries, decide who responds to blog entries, whether that's a thank you or responding to criticism, etc. Also avenue decided (e.g. leaving comment, emailing, not touching, etc.)

Tagging: to find what people find compelling about the Red Cross such that they write about it.

Recording: Every month, aggregate conversations that month, segmented by markets--e.g. general public vs. pharma folks.

Feedback: Colleagues remark how valuable these reports are. Folks outside of the organization do this as well.

Challenges: Culture shift, takes a long time to change. Lots of baby steps. Serious firewall within the organization, too; most employees can't access, for example. Presenter thought that removing this Firewall would increase transparency (my note: aren't there problems with employees, generally, not thinking about how to respond to criticism about their company and "shooting from the hip." What kind of guidelines would minimize this issue/behavior?)?

Transparency increased by responding to critiques that appear in social media.

Q: In blog updates, are blog posts shared verbatim or is there an interpretation? A: Blog posts are distributed as is (perhaps shortened, but not annotated.)

Q: Any way to categorize the responses? A: In, comment whether that given blogger has been contacted. Panelist does do the response, but reaches out to appropriate folks in organization to find out what could be changed or more information to form a response.

Q: How, if doing broad outreach, to identify trends? A: Haven't conducted any campaigns, because focusing on creating groundwork of trust... but... ???

Q: How do you know when to respond, when should not respond, avoid "feeding the trolls"...?
A: Use gut to figure out if question is authentic, or just trolling for a response, or responding won't make anything better, then won't respond.

The New Web 2.0 ROI: Are these tools really delivering value to the sector?

This panel session, moderated by Beth Kanter, is packed to the gills--people are sitting on the floor. I got an outlet, but no chair, so I'll be alternating between blogging and actually seeing the slides.

Beth is using a "case study slam" format--20 slides/about 6 minutes (not sure if I got this right).
Wow, folks can Twitter @Kanter for changes in format, etc. during the presentation and Beth will be following it!

Assumptions in workshop: not explaining what blog/facebook, etc are (basic level of knowledge assumed)--but want to focus on ROI this session. Also, ROI/measurement/results are the focus of this session--not strategy.

Only a handful of the audience actually have a formal ROI business plan for their social media strategy.

ROI: Post evaluation process that uses metrics to understand the costs and benefits of a particular strategy.

Side note: why do so many of the wall outlets in the conference rooms not work???

Not agreement in the field about what standardized metrics should be... audience, engagement, loyalty, action...

Data is hard to collect, though tools getting better. There should be a tool to grab stats from major social media sites!

Intangibles: stories, qualitative information, the learning.

Panelists will talk about low-risk experiments to figure out social media ROI.

Eve Smith, Easter Seals, manage online fundraising campaign and integrated projects. "Do as I say, not as I do" presentation. Maintains Facebook profile. Challenge Foundation competition on Facebook and Parade Magazine for orgs to create the most new supporters/donors; either get the most unique donors in 24 hour period, or raise the most over 50 days. Easter Seals decided to do a Facebook Cause campaign.

Wanted to see how well known Easter Seals brand was known in FB
Hone message/build cause for FB messaging.

Only had 24 hours for people to learn about the cause and donate. Published to their blog and FB page. Because of tight timeframe, decided not to involve affiliates and use houselists (which usually responds in about 3 days.) Did send out message to MySpace friends as well, but getting MySpace folks to move to Facebook is tough.

Did thank folks who contributed, but the orgs that really did this well kept poking, motivating supporters to ask others to get involved. Involved about 24 hours of work (responding to emails.)

Got 68 folks to join the cause.
Easter Seals now measures effectiveness differently. 163 members already. Influencers are more valuable than donors. (My note: Not sure how they identified influencers, or if their outreach strategy was somehow segmented for identified influencers.)

Strategy matters. Picked wrong date to do challenge. Had to carve out more time than anticipated. Needed to have more snippets of content to push out to supporters ahead of time. Learning the tools took more time than anticipated. Small experiments do add up--know how much time, resources required to do this well now.

Side note: It is *packed* in this room! Standing room only!

A number of folks commenting from the audience start experimenting on their own--legal depts, etc. don't know about these efforts because the experiments would be greatly hindered by the processes. Beth Kanter commented that in SXSW, staff often ran small pilot programs under the radar and presented it for broader adoption within the organization once there were preliminary results.

At the NTEN conferece! and first sessions: David Pogue & Usability workshop

I made it to New Orleans after the seemingly requisite travel drama late yesterday afternoon. This morning's session started out with David Pogue, technology writer with the New York Times (a very sad cell phone photo, left, shows Pogue giving his address.) More on that soon.

I'm listening now to a panel convened and moderated by a group called Sea Change, who talks about usability. "Don't Make Me Think" is a book that describes how to create usability tests (which we will be using for the Commons!). A great deal of emphasis is placed on a few core items that don't seem to apply to the RE-AMP Commons, like "how to donate" buttons. However, there are a number of takeaways.

According to this workshop, a compelling web page has three basic elements:
* Introduce the organization. A user should be able to walk away knowing who the organization is and what they do without digging or clicking on a link.

* Compelling call to donate. This isn't applicable to RE-AMP (except, perhaps, for prospective large funders).

* Effective layout. This is a bullet point on the slide, but I'm not quite sure how this is quantified yet.

After 5-7 links on a page, users start to "turn off" and become overwhelmed.

We're looking at examples, now, of live websites. There are folks with Environmental Defense and several other folks on the panel, and a few other brave nonprofits--DARTS, YouthNoise, and American Friends Service Committee--are currently being discussed as case studies (brave folks!).

MobileActive, a group that uses cell phones as advocacy tools, was another group that was used as a case study. This was especially useful because this site is also based on Drupal, the same platform as the RE-AMP Commons; Drupal is also undergoing usability testing. An update on Drupal's usability efforts here.

A few nuggets from the q/a session:

Analytics is used to formulate questions; user testing answers the question "why." takes pictures of your site in different browsers/platforms. allows folks to take mouse heatmaps of websites to see where folks actually mouse over on a particular page.

People scan for headlines after looking at pictures and expect pictures to be clickable.

That's it--off to lunch!