Social Media Best Practices: PR Group Project

29 11 2010

This semester my PR class is working for a client, Safe Harbor.  In addition to the Pepsi Refresh Project, the class has split up into groups to produce deliverables for our client.  My groups is working on a social media best practices guide including a calendar of when to post to Facebook, Twitter and the blog and a section on how to launch a social media campaign.  We are also creating a document with recommendations for their website including the addition of a press room and a discussion forum.  The first step in completing these deliverables was research.  We looked extensively at Safe Harbor’s Twitter, Facebook and blog.  We also looked at other nonprofits and specifically domestic violence shelters to see how Safe Harbor compared to the competition.  We found that the American Red Cross was a great example for nonprofit organizations hoping to get involved in social media.  This organization is very active with social media and even has a social media plan and how to for its branches.  We are using this organization to help us give suggestions to Safe Harbor.  Safe Harbor is doing a fairly good job with social media.  We have just a few suggestions on how to make their Twitter, Facebook and blog more effective and align them with each other.  We think that these social media sites need to be more conversational and work as a team to promote Safe Harbor and domestic violence.  Many of our tips include marketing their social media accounts, how to make posts on these sites more strategic and how to increase followers, friends and comments.  We hope that our suggestions help Safe Harbor to become more involved and a better networked nonprofit.





Update on our Pepsi Refresh Project

22 11 2010

In an earlier post I mentioned the year-long social media campaign Pepsi has launched tiled the Pepsi Refresh Project which will donate more than $20 million to charity projects.  My PR class has applied to win a $25K grant for our class client Safe Harbor.  Safe Harbor is a domestic violence shelter in upstate SC that provides shelter, counseling and other services to abused women and children.  The 2 Safe Harbor shelters are in desperate need of revitalization as more than 500 women and children sleep and stay in their 2 shelters a year.  If Safe Harbor wins the grant they will use the money to purchase new mattresses, playground equipment and carpet for their 2 shelters.

To help Safe Harbor win this competition my PR class is leveraging all of our individual social networks as well as Safe Habor’s social networks.  We set up a plan to strategically post on Safe Harbor’s Facebook and Twitter 3 times a week.  We have also asked Safe Harbor to post on their blog about the project and tell others through their email networks.  Individually we have sent emails to our networks, posted on our Facebooks, Twitters and blogs.  We have also tapped into to Clemson University’s networks by emailing departments, campus organizations and even the president to ask them to support our effort and vote daily.  In addition, we sent press releases to local media.  Our press release was published in The Tiger, Clemson University’s newspaper.

So far our efforts have been successful.  We have moved from number 207 to number 85 and continue to climb.  We have to be in the top 10 by November 30th to win the grant.  Please visit our page on the Pepsi Refresh site to vote!  We need your help!





Governing Through Networks

22 11 2010

This is the final chapter of The Networked Nonprofit.  In this chapter the authors talk about governance and how it is critical to organizational success.  However, often governing boards represent only the view points of the elite and don’t seem to get much done.  This chapter outlines ways that social media can open up governance and make it more representative of the communities that the organization serves and to better guide the organization.  Here are some ways that governing boards can worked in networked ways:

  • Create a place where board members can share information online and have conversations with each other outside of the board meeting room.
  • Join a public online social network like Facebook.
  • Create an open invitation to meetings on your website and other social media sites you may have.
  • Post agendas online so others can see what the meeting will be about and offer suggestions.
  • Train board members how to use social media.
  • Share information and data from the meetings with other audience members.  If they are well-informed, audience members can better provide assistance.

I think these tips are excellent points.  Being a networked nonprofit means breaking down the walls and being truly transparent.  When I served as a board member of the Clemson chapter of PRSSA we implemented many of these suggestions.  Before member meetings we would post agendas and during our meetings we live blogged and tweeted so that people who could not attend the meeting could follow along from home.  Live blogging is very easy to use and could be a great way to broadcast what occurs in meetings without streaming video.  Nonprofit organizations like Safe Harbor could benefit greatly from implementing a few of these strategies.  Some organizations are still wary of being completely transparent, but things like posting agendas and minutes from meeting could be the start for these organizations to break away from their fears.





Turning Friends into Funders

22 11 2010

Online fundraising has been growing quickly over the past couple of years.  For example, after the earthquake struck Haiti the American Red Cross reported that it raised $22 million through a text message campaign.  Social media fundraising must begin with relationship building, however this takes time.  According to the Networked Nonprofit building an online community of supporters who may want to donate can take 6 to 18 months.  In this chapter Beth Kanter and Allison fine (authors of The Networked Nonprofit) outline some tactics to help make your organizations fundraising successful.  Some of these include:

  • Establish trust and credibility with potential donors.
  • Make sure that your message is simple and compelling.
  • Build urgency around your fundraising effort.
  • Spread out the giving: request small dollar amounts
  • Recognize donors publicly and personally.  Be thankful throughout the whole effort, not just at the end.
  • Use stores to put a face with your fundraising effort.

An example of how an organization has used social media to fundraise is the Jingle Bells Run/Walk for Arthritis.  This campaign utilized social media to raise funds that sponsored teams in the run/walk.  All the money went to fund research.   The Arthritis Foundation (the sponsor of the event) had a Facebook, video on their website a kit with ideas for raising funds and even a fact sheet on how to utilize social media.  The social media fact sheet contained sample Facebook statuses and Tweets.  I thought something like this would be very useful for our client, Safe Harbor.  If they choose to launch a campaign to raise funds this website would be extremely beneficial.  Check out their website for more useful information:  http://www.arthritis.org/jingle-bell-run.php





Learning Loops

16 11 2010

This chapter discusses learning loops and how nonprofit organizations can use this to help them elicit social change.  Learning loops monitor and analyze a process as it unfolds.  Learning loops involve tracking, monitoring and reflection of a project.  There are different steps in the process of learning loops.  These include:

  1. Planning: Organizations should carefully consider their goals and objectives for using social media prior to beginning a project.  They should identify a specific target audience and decide what key questions they attempt to learn about their use of social media throughout the project.
  2. Measuring Engagement and Connections: In order to build relationships an organization needs to connect and engage with people.  Blogs have multiple options for measuring engagement.  The number of subscribers tells the organization how many people have made a commitment to reading the blog.  Monthly trends of the most read posts are helpful for helping the organization to understand what readers are interested in.  There are also many free online tools to measure engagement.  Comments are the most obvious way to measure engagement.  Last, influential blogs link to other blogs.
  3. Reflection:  This is the last step in the learning loop process.  Organizations need to reflect on what happened and how they can move forward.  Analyze the successes and failures of the project to help make the design of the next project more helpful.

I found this chapter particularly helpful.  My group is designing a Social Media How To Guide for Safe HArbor.  In this guide we are including tips for Twitter, Facebook and blogs.  The section that discusses measurement and engagement on blogs is very helpful to organizations that are just getting their feet wet in the social media world.  I am going to incorporate these tips into our How To Guide.  Also, I found this blog post on generating comments, which the chapter states is the easiest way to measure engagement, very helpful.  Please visit this post to learn more about increasing comments and online engagement.





Working with Crowds

16 11 2010

This chapter discusses how nonprofits can utilize crowds to inexpensively lift some of the weight off the shoulders of staff members.  This process is known as crowdsourcing or the process of organizing people to participate in a joint project, often in small ways.

The chapter discusses 4 different types of crowdsourcing:

  1. Collective intelligence or crowd wisdom: This is the concept that more heads are better than one when it comes to problem solving.
  2. Crowd creation: crowds can help create original works of knowledge or art
  3. Crowd voting: crowds love to vote for their favorite things
  4. Crowd funding: Crowds have a collective pocketbook and can help to fund ideas that benefit others

Working with crowds takes practice and trust.  The organization should break their strategic goals into smaller pieces that the crowds can help with.  First the organization must make it clear what they want their crowds to accomplish/do. Second, Organizations need to connect with the right crowd for the job.  Last, the organization needs to make it clear to the crowd how their input will be used.

After reading this chapter I realized that my Communication class serves as a crowd for Safe Harbor.  They have given us small goals that they would like accomplished and then have given us the freedom to expand and add to these goals.  Safe Harbor has a lot of trust in our class and has allowed us to act as free agents on their behalf.  I would categorize our crowdsourcing as collective intelligence, crowd creation and crowd voting.  We are creating content for them to use, collectively solving problems on their behalf as well as voting for them to win a $25,000 Pepsi Refresh Grant.  This semester Safe Harbor has benefitted greatly from crowdsourcing.





Pepsi Refresh Project: Do Some Good

8 11 2010

The Pepsi Refresh Project is a single year-long marketing campaign that was launched January 2010.  Instead of participating in Super Bowl advertising, Pepsi has allocated that money to embark on this project.  By the end of the year Pepsi estimates that it will have given $20 million in grant money to winners of each monthly competition.  I think this has been a bold and successful strategy for Pepsi.  It has used this online campaign to build new relationships and strong ties with the groups who have received the grants.  To read more check out this article.

Our class is competing to win $25,000 for Safe Harbor, our class client.  We are utilizing all of our social networks to ask friends, family and acquaintances to vote for our project.  If we win we will use to money to purchase new mattresses, carpet and playground equipment for the 2 shelters located in upstate South Carolina.  To learn more about our project and to vote please visit: http://www.refresheverything.com/studentsforsafeharbor





Building Trust through Transparency

8 11 2010

Transparency is one of the hardest things for organizations to embrace, but also one of the most important  if the organization wants to embrace a larger network of individuals and organizations.  Transparency is a way of thinking and being for organizations.  It is often very difficult for organizations to embrace being transparent because they do not want to reveal their mistakes and flaws to their audiences.  Also, being transparent allows someone to say anything they want about the organization and everyone can see it.  This chapter compares a transparent organization to a sponge.  The organization is anchored, clear about what they do and know what they want to accomplish.  They let people in and out easily and both are enriched by this ebb and flow.

Transparency builds trust.  It allows audience members to learn whatever they want about an organization.  It allows audience members to trust the organization because they are not hiding anything from them.  In addition to building trust, being transparent takes a lot of trust by the organization.  The organization has to trust that by being transparent its audience members will not be out to get them.  In a sense the organization needs to jump off the edge and hope that its audience members will be their to catch them and support them.

However, transparency can be difficult for some organizations because of the line of work they do.  For example Safe Harbor, a domestic violence shelter, would have a much a harder time being completely transparent because it needs to protect the confidentiality of its clients.  It can be transparent in other ways.  For instance, a news room on its website with fact sheets, press releases, photos, ect. would help audience members have better insight into this organization.  Also, I think Safe Harbor can be more transparent by sharing success stories of clients and by allowing a place for people to comment.  These would offer transparency while still protecting the safety and confidentiality of its clients.





Chapter 5: Listening, Engaging and Building Relationships

8 11 2010

The purpose of using social media and other outlets on the Internet is to build relationships.  This is the ultimate goal.  Online relationship building begins with listening, then moves to engagement and finally action.

The key to building any relationship is good listening.  Organizations should listen to what people are talking about, what their interests or concerns are, and most importantly how they view your organization.  Listing also helps organizations who are new to social media orient themselves.  It can help the organization to become more comfortable with using these new tools.  There are some tools that can help organizations listen.  Some include Google Alerts, RSS readers, Twitter search, Delicious tags and Technorati blog mentions.  I personally like Google Alerts and Good Reader.  These two applications help to organize all the things you want to listen to and put them in one place.  Google Alerts can be sent directly to your email.  Google reader allows you to monitor and organize all the blogs and websites you like to keep up on.

Engagement is the next step in building a relationship.  This can be thought of as “being human through your computer.”  Engagement means getting involved online.  You are not only listening, but also are participating in conversations.  Organizations can share information, enter or initiate conversations, thank people, educate and raise awareness or ask people to do something.  Currently our class is engaging with potential audience members of Safe Harbor by asking them to vote online for our Pepsi Refresh Project.

Lastly, relationship building calls for action by the organization and the audience member with whom the organization is engaging.  Organizations need to be intentional about their efforts online and need to expect that online people will march to their own drummers.  Building relationships takes consistency and practice.