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It’s Not Worth Doing…

I attended a social media workshop last week, hosted by Patrick Bieser of Northwoods. Bieser reviewed some of the top social media tools and gave, in his opinion, ideas as to who should be using each tool. I noted that he thought highly of non-profits who use Facebook. He also gave examples of groups who, in his opinion, should NOT use Facebook. Like anyone in the finance industry.

As Bieser went on he suddenly said, in regards to using social media, “It’s not worth doing if you’re not doing it right.”

BAM! This was my take-away. You know how sometimes you hear something and you know it was just for you? This was for me. I needed it. I needed to be reminded of it. Hopefully I will do a better job because of it.

I’ve been working with a small non-profit organization in growing their Facebook page. They want more followers, but they don’t know how to grow their fan-base. After evaluating their site and coming up with the following list of recommendations I thought I would share it with you; it can apply to nearly every organization out there.

1. Only update once a day. People like you, that’s why they follow you. But they like you in small doses; don’t overdo it.

2. No need to update on weekends (unless you have an event taking place). People get that you take the weekend off. They do too.

3. Include photos when possible. Pictures tell the best stories.
-Don’t show lots of photos of the staff. It’s ok to show staff, especially if they are at an important event. But remember that you are promoting a mission, not the people who work to keep it going.

4. Use variety in what you post about. We get that you have an amazing mission. But sometimes it’s nice to hear about the different aspects of your mission.
Here’s a few ideas of what to post about:
*mission-focused stories; stories with photos are even better!
*asks for donations, both cash and in kind
*shout out to donors
*notification of future volunteer trainings
*’Save the Date’ for future events
*FYI’s, Did You Knows, and other statistics about the organization

5. Look for tie-ins to timely events. (Have a volunteer who is a veteran? Give him a shout out on Veteran’s Day. Is the month of May rolling around? Tell the story of a mom who has made an impact on the Foundation for Mother’s Day. Getting cold outside? Talk about what’s going on inside to stay warm and cozy.)

6. Be transparent. If someone complains on your wall, address the complaint. People appreciate an honest answer.

7. Keep posts short. I think that one is self-explanatory.

8. Don’t forget to do a grammar check. It might be ok to use incomplete sentences on your own page, but keep it professional when representing the Foundation.

9. When possible, link back to your website. Always look for opportunities to drive traffic to your website.
-Likewise, when you mention other organizations, link to their FB page or website as well.

10. Follow other organizations. Chances are, they’ll follow you back.

11. Make a calendar to keep track of what you will talk about, and when. This helps in making sure that your content is fresh and relevant.

12. Host an online contest – see if there isn’t something around the office you can dig up and offer as a free gift. Encourage fans to ‘share’ with their friends, which in turn gives them a second entry into the prize giveaway. Contests can be simple: “Like” this picture to win a $5 gift card to the Smoothie Hut. OR Ask a question that is mission-related. A wish granting organization might ask, “If you could go anywhere you wanted, where would it be?” Every person who answers will automatically be entered into a drawing for 2 free movie tickets.

I might finish by adding that every time you print promotional material you should include the Facebook logo next to your contact information. This helps your constituents to know where they can find you online.

Before and After

15th Anniversary Invitation_BeforeI’m currently working on an invitation for a client planning a formal dinner event for their 15th Anniversary. While the event takes place in December, the non-profit organization has been very clear in making sure that this event in no way feels like a Christmas party.

Instead, I’ve been instructed to focus on a setting sun, stars, circles and the number 15. Ironically enough, while searching for a background image to work with, I came across this little gem, courtesy of iStockphoto.

Anniversary InvitationThank you to the power of Illustrator I’ve removed all feeling of the Christmas nativity and turned the Christmas background into this setting sun behind a small home (which is actually pulled out of the non-profit’s logo). There are 30 stars in the sky, 15 are simple stars, 15 more have circles behind them. I love how well it’s coming together and can’t wait to share the final project!!!

Sometime around the 19th of September I received an email from Linkedin. You know the kind.

“Click here to receive a free upgrade!”

“One month free service at no cost!”

“Want to know who’s been looking at your profile?”

Truth is – I DID want to know who had been looking at my profile. And I KNOW how these things work. They require your credit card information up front, your service receives an upgrade, you check out who has been looking at your profile and then forget to cancel the free upgrade.

I didn’t forget to cancel, but I waited until the last day. After all, they said I had a free month, right? So I wasn’t going to cancel after 3 weeks and 3 days. I was taking advantage of the full month long service.

Linkedin errorProblem is, we went out of town just before the 19th of October. And when it came time for me to cancel my service I had to do so from my handheld device. Now I don’t think that should matter, but when I clicked the link that said ‘click here to downgrade your settings’ this is the page I landed on. With no way of moving forward I had to give up on cancelling my upgraded service and accept the fact that I was going to be charged the monthly fee.

When I returned home I took time to sit down and write Linkedin. I kept my email professional, but prepared for the response:

“We’re sorry. It’s not our fault you waited until the very last minute to cancel,” (I imagine a snickering 20-something year-old punching away at his keyboard, snickering through the reply. “Ya big idiot!” he laughs to himself.)

“While it’s not our policy to issue refunds, we are happy to give you an additional month of free service.” (A slightly kinder, also 20-something year-old female might be behind this response. She is nice around the edges, but all business on the inside.)

“Sorry. You agreed to the terms and conditions when you applied for the upgrade.” (I’m not sure who would be behind this response – but it is the one I was most certain I would hear.)

It’s safe to say, not only was I surprised to get a response, but even more surprised to get a very nice response!

Linkedin Reimbursement Reply

Just a few days later the refund showed up in my checking account.

reimbursementI still can’t get over how quick and pain-free the process was. I can’t believe some big shot at Linkedin actually took time to reply, let alone look up my account information and issue a refund within 48 hours.

Will I consider upgrading in the future? Absolutely.

Will I be likely to refer Linkedin to my friends and colleagues? You know it!

Now that I think about it… I think I just did.

“Six-year-old Jenny gives two thumbs up as her wish to swim with dolphins comes true.”

“Nine-year-old Jeremiah grins from ear to ear as his wish to go on a shopping spree becomes reality.”

“Seventeen-year-old Karissa, who wished to visit Australia, stops to pose with a koala bear.”

[insert photo of cute wish kid who grins from ear to ear]

While working for a local non-profit I was tasked with providing daily Facebook updates for the Foundation. In general, finding things to write about was easy. We granted wishes for children facing life-threatening medical conditions. As long as the family had given the thumbs up for publicity, there was usually a recent wish recipient I could write about. The pictures we received showed children who had found hope, strength and joy during the wish process. It was easy to generate ‘likes’ from our fans, due to the simple nature of the mission we supported. But it was also easy to start sounding like a broken record.

In order to break up the regular posts featuring the wish kids I found other ways to keep our followers engaged. I wrote about donors. I wrote about ways our followers could get involved. I wrote about things going on around the office.

HalloweenBy working for a children’s charity we were always looking for excuses to dress up (or dress down). Basement needs cleaning? Guess we’ll have to wear jeans. Boss is out of the office? Sounds like a jeans day to me! Halloween is just around the corner? You better bet we’ll be tracking down the best costume in town. Festivus for the volunteers? Better pull out the ugly sweaters.

Then I had the crazy idea to turn that ugly sweater contest into a Facebook contest. I had no idea that we were about to launch our most popular post to date.

Each staff member wore an ugly sweater to the volunteer Christmas party, and then we posted pictures online and asked our fans to vote for their favorite. The ‘likes’ quickly added up. Volunteers, wish families and friends of staff members each had their favorite person in the office, and no one was going to let someone else win. Within 24 hours the voting slowed, but the Insights page showed activity on our page had skyrocketed. The post had nothing to do with the mission we all worked so hard to support, yet generated more online activity for the Foundation than any other post we had shared since the page was created.

Are you stuck in a rut with your status updates? Do you find that you are not sure what to share with your fans? Have you noticed that it’s the same group of people who ‘like’ each thing you post? Perhaps today as you wear your Halloween costumes to work you might consider posting your photos online and asking fans to ‘like’ their favorite. Want to get even more activity on your page? Turn the post into a contest for your followers; offer a gift card or service discount for one lucky person who votes for their favorite photo.

I’m convinced that a simple change from the regular posts you create each day will greatly help the activity on your Insights page. Be sure to report back and let me know how it goes – I can’t wait to hear all about it!

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

Let’s be honest. I left a great job with an amazing non-profit organization in an effort to support my husband as he pursues his love of working in the medical field. For the 8+ years we’ve been married, I have always been the breadwinner. Until now. Jobs always came easy. We moved around the western United States and at a very young age I found myself in a managerial position. I spent a decade working for local television stations in both Utah and Wyoming, and then changed careers.

That change in my professional life was the best thing that could have ever happened in my personal life. My new job allowed me the flexibility I needed to support a husband who had recently sustained an injury while serving for the United States Army. It gave me the opportunity to have nights, holidays and weekends at home with my family. It gave me personal satisfaction in serving others and knowing that at the end of the day, I truly had made a difference in the lives of those I served.

Today I find myself in a foreign place of high unemployment rates and lots of employers searching social media sites to find the best candidate for their organization. That’s why it’s imperative that I am on my ‘A’ game when it comes to what I put online.

An article published by Michele Cuthbert of Baker Creative(1) points out how employers are using social media to track down potential employees. As Cuthbert points out, the obvious place for professionals to network is Linkedin. But job searchers are also strategic in how they use Twitter.

Francesca Krihely was offered a position at 10gen, the company behind open source NoSQL database system MongoDB, after connecting with key decision makers from the company via Twitter.


“I had heard about and been following 10gen for quite some time on Tumblr, Facebook and Twitter, so naturally I started following two executives — the two most public-facing people in the company,” says Krihely. “I also followed the company’s LinkedIn group and saw how the popularity and legitimacy of MongoDB had grown. After months of lurking on the sidelines, I started re-tweeting Meghan and @mongodb’s tweets in hopes of getting their attention.”

Her tactic worked, and after five months of searching, Krihely landed a position as a community manager for the company, Cuthbert writes.

But it’s not just what you share on Linkedin or who you follow on Twitter that will lead you to your next position. It’s also what you write in your blog that could catch the attention of a future employer. Dan Fonseca(2) believes that your blog can be more powerful than your resume. That makes sense – if you think about it. While going through the job search process employers take time to scan resumes. Here you list your past experience and name all the things you achieved. But do you practice what you preach? What kind of a person are you when you’re not on the clock? Does your personal belief system mirror the mission and values of the place you would like to work? A quick look through your personal writings can give a future employer a very quick look into who you really are.

So where to start with the blog? Fonseca narrows it down into three concise points:

1 – Values, Character and Personality That’s three points in one, really, but what he’s getting at is that which I’ve just mentioned. If you don’t stand for the same things the company believes in, you might not be the right fit. My personal experience has taught me that no matter how much the pay, no matter how great the benefits, at the end of the day if you don’t leave your job feeling personal satisfaction then you will never achieve true happiness. So save yourself the heartache of coming home grumpy everyday and skip the application process if the job isn’t the right fit for you. Keep writing about your passion, but know when to separate the personal from professional.

2 – Communication Skills and Thinking Process The idea here is simple. But I’d like to refer to a personal experience from a few years ago.

A former employer (who shall remain unnamed) was looking to hire a part time tour guide. As a tour guide, the employee would show guests around the facility and talk about the organization. The employee would then write a report and document the things that were mentioned by guests during the tour. While we went through the hiring process we were very impressed with *Derek’s resume. He had prepared a beautiful cover letter and really impressed us during his first round interview. The second interview was held and Derek was offered the job. Within days we noticed several incompetencies with Derek. He struggled to use the computer. He didn’t know how to use email. His writing was, well, to put it nicely, horrible. While Derek continued to amaze and impress those he encountered with his people skills, his ability to sit and write plundered. The 90-day probation policy was utilized and Derek was relieved of his duties.

The one thing I will never forget of this experience comes from my co-worker, Derek’s direct supervisor. He said, “My biggest mistake in hiring him was not issuing a writing exercise.” We later learned that Derek’s mom had helped him prepare his cover letter. Maybe Derek is wise to not keep a blog, because we would have caught this problem right away. Then again, we were at fault for not giving him a writing test. My point is this – you are what you write. Derek didn’t keep a blog and now we know why. But if you are an excellent communicator and love to write – more importantly – if you want to achieve a job that requires strong writing skills – then surely you are keeping a blog that allows you to share your love of writing.

3 – Ideas and Creativity A resume is restrictive in that there are only so many things you can write about before you run out of space. A blog allows you expand on the ideas you have and strategies for accomplishing greatness. Cuthbert shares a perfect example of this idea by referring to a gentleman who put a video on YouTube:

James Purdy, a recent hire at UIEvolution — a mobile, tablet, TV and automotive applications development company in Kirkland, Wash. — decided to look for a new job when his new interests waned from the direction of his day job.


“On some occasions I would even come home for lunch to work on my iOS project. I didn’t feel the same intensity with my work projects, which made the work week less personally rewarding,” Purdy says in his blog, MyiPhoneAdventure.com. “I suppose one might say I was suffering from the-grass-is-always-greener-on-the-other-side-of-the-fence syndrome, but it looked so green in the neighboring field, and I couldn’t look away.”


Purdy utilized both traditional and social media job search techniques when doing his search, and he came across the listing for his current UIEvolution position on Craigslist. To demonstrate that he possessed the skills needed for the job, Purdy made a YouTube video showing his most recent project, a nearly completed iPad app.

About a week later, Purdy heard from several companies and had several interviews, ultimately resulting in a job offer.

For now, I enjoy my time at home with my little ones as my husband attends school by day and works at night. I find joy in keeping this blog, where I can stay up-to-date on social media trends. And when I tired of writing and changing diapers, there’s always a new park to play in or a trail to discover. Happy writing!

*name has been changed

1. How Gen Y Scores Jobs With Social Search, Mashable Business, Michele Cuthbert. http://mashable.com/2012/06/24/gen-y-social-media-search/?goback=%2Egde_80941_member_177467192

2. 3 Effective Ways to Make Your Blog More Powerful Than Your Resume, Reviewz ‘N’ Tips, Daniel Sharkov. http://www.reviewzntips.com/2011/05/benefits-of-blogging.html

Fox News debate

MSNBC debateJust like those little school projects you used to do in the 3rd grade… how many things can you find that are different? I’ll give you a free one – one photo is taken from a screenshot of Fox News, one photo is taken from a screenshot of MSNBC. Now that the obvious one is out of the way – how many other differences can you find? I see at least seven.

 

Ready? GO!

 

Leave a comment and let me know what else you can find.

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