Friday, March 21, 2008

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.

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