On Thursday last week, Twitter, the company that lead the world in an effort to compress text communications into 140-character snippets, announced their newest way to miniaturize human communication: 6 second videos. Their new service, called Vine, makes it very easy to create extremely short video clips on a mobile device and then instantly share them with the world on the Twitter network.
Unlike the longer video clips that you’re probably producing and then distributing via other channels such as YouTube or Vimeo, Twitter purposefully intends to make you focus on getting to the point very, very fast. Your video displays directly within your Tweet, and directly within your Twitter stream. The videos you produce on Vine loop, and for those that remember the good old days of Web 1.0, definitely have a feeling of the animated GIF returning to popular culture. Twitter describes Vine like this:
As communication professionals trying to move supporters and donors up the ladder of engagement, how might Vine be useful for your online communication strategies? Here’s a few ideas that could be useful for organizations starting to explore the benefits of these short video clips.
When we started PICnet back in 2001 (well, technically in 1999 over pizza near UCLA, but lest I digress), we made a decision early on that set the tone for our company moving forward: if we can aim to crush inefficiencies in non-profits, maybe, just maybe, we can help our social sector move towards improved outcomes that can lead to a more just and peaceful world.
Pretty lofty stuff, right?
What I think is most interesting, however, is that we were talking about increasing operational efficiency for organizations as a tech startup growing at the height of the dot-com boom. That was quite different from what other Web development firms were doing back then, most of which was pitching hip things you can do with a Flash-based website, imploring the need to invest deep 5-digit budgets into shiny bells and whistles for websites, and encouraging the building of custom or proprietary software.
So when Nancy Schwartz, publisher of the Getting Attention blog, shared her request for feedback on this year’s Nonprofit Blog Carnival, I thought it would be good for us at PICnet to share one of our dreams for the social sector in 2013.
Incredibly enough, in a few weeks, our company PICnet will be 12 years old. Considering that the idea for it started during a student government campaign at UCLA in May 1999, I’ve been working at the same job for almost 14 years. To put that in perspective, on average, most folks in my generation are on their fourth job at this point in life.
I’ve experienced it all in growing a small business, as most boot-strappers have before me. From the soaring to the highest of highs, to the falling to the lowest of lows. Through the process, I’ve learned more than I ever could have imagined about business, but more importantly, about the relationships you build with others that keep you moving forward. I’m so incredibly thankful to have been blessed with such a great support network of people that truly care about me.
As I say quite often, the relationships we build are more important than the tools we build.
But even with friends, family, and loved ones there to support you, few, if any, really understand what is running through that entrepreneurial head of yours. No matter how fantastic your business is doing, as an entrepreneur, you’re always working harder than you were the day before. Running through our minds is often the quote from Andy Grove: “only the paranoid survive.”
If you’re a fellow entrepreneur, or you’re getting ready to venture off into the startup of your own business, I have one small bit of advice for you. Don’t go it alone. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not speaking about your business partner decision. I’m talking about starting right now, today, your very own entrepreneurial social safety net.
In the past few months at PICnet, we’ve been focusing heavily on increasing our marketing efforts, particularly in our blog. Just as we do for most top-level programs, we’ve set goals, take regular measurements, analyze the results in detail, the rinse and repeat. Our tool of trade for building our metrics for success is Google Analytics, and it’s been serving us amazingly well.
As we’re seeing further increases in traffic, we’re interested in knowing what people were searching when they found our site. Knowing that information allows us to better define our content strategies for the future, and give us a sense of what content is most interesting to those searching for answers online.
It seems, however, that the most popular search keyword, by huge margins, is “(not provided)”. And when I say huge margins, I mean it’s 58x more popular a keyword than number two. What is this “(not provided)” keyword in Google , and why are we getting so much traffic from it?
With this week’s second inauguration of President Obama, and the announcement of the new Organizing for Action nonprofit, the world has seen first-hand that the future of advocacy is data, data, and data. As the President begins his second term, we’re likely to see the debate over important social issues of our time become even more competitive than before. Now is the time for organizations to gear up for the next wave of advocacy.
Earlier today, we covered how the Obama campaign successfully utilized it’s strong database tools to run important A/B communication testing to determine message effectiveness. While it’s going to be rare for an advocacy group to have the war chest of funds that the presidential campaigns had this year, there’s a powerful database tool that we believe is about to see a significant uptick in the advocacy world in 2013: Salesforce.com.
The question: how can your advocacy group get started using Salesforce, and even the open source Nonprofit Starter Pack (NPSP), to build a successful campaign database and platform?
Here’s three ideas you can implement right away to start using Salesforce for your advocacy work.
If you’re one of the thousands of organizations using the Salesforce Foundation’s open source Nonprofit Starter Pack, you have a good understanding of the great features and power that comes under the hood. It’s one of the world’s best fundraising apps sitting atop one of the best cloud platforms, and it’s improving every day.
For some of you, open source software might be a new and somewhat mysterious concept. Luckily, there’s a not-so-well-kept secret to but the immense power of it is what enables so many fabulous organizations to use the Nonprofit Starter Pack (NPSP): you have the power to contribute to it and make it better. The question is, how?
I’ve often found my self saying the words, “technology is not a panacea”, whenever I hear organizations looking to focus what I think are excessive energy on search engine optimization. My thoughts have been that spending that time and money on writing great content, rather than trying to manipulate search engine rankings.
But what if a simple technology switch could more effectively highlight your organization’s website content in search engine results, and thereby make it more likely that visitors would click on your links rather than others? And what if the solution was easy and affordable?
I figure you’d probably try it.
So, what’s this differentiator you can implement immediately for your website? It’s called Rich Snippets.
Way back in 2004, at the first Advocacy Developer’s Summit, I remember sitting in a circle with some really bright non-profit engineers that were promoting the future of a Friend of a Friend (FOAF) protocol, in which thinking a few years down the road, would easily help you discover relationships between you and your friends and potentially provide insight to help you make buying (and supporting) decisions.
Unfortunately, FOAF never really caught on. Instead, the world became smitten with a walled garden called Facebook, which provided an easy and user-friendly experience for making connections between your friends, and sharing your likes and preferences.
One of the grand visions of FOAF, at least for me, was the idea that as a FOAF network was built, you’d be able to have rather organic connections between individuals that could allow you to be informed based not on advertising, but on the choices made by your friends. These connections with your friends, while are not expert opinions, tend to have a better correlation with your own interests, and ultimately (hopefully) making your life in a complex choice world easier.
Well, 8 years and hundreds of millions of users later, I think Facebook is now on the verge of providing one of the most compelling discovery tools we’ve ever seen, and the effects of it likely will be profound for organizations, especially advocacy organizations.
It’s all about search.
With Joomla!Day Melbourne 2013 taking place this week down in Australia, and with my upcoming travel to speak at Joomla!Day India in early February 2013, I took a little time this weekend to reflect on the incredible success of the Joomla open source community. There’s a lot that goes into an open source project that moves it from mediocrity to superstardom, not the least of which is actually the code that people enjoy writing and using.
In thinking about my presentation for Joomla!Day India, one key metric of success stood out amongst all others for the Joomla community: empowerment.
In my relatively short 15 years in the open source world, I have yet to find another project that is able to as effectively strike the solid balance between attraction of new members that know little-to-nothing about software development, and the hardcore engineers looking to leverage a power web framework. Based on my years within the Joomla project, and my term serving as a leader of it, I’ve come to realize that the key differentiator for me has been the community’s focus on empowering anyone to contribute.
Ever wondered how the more than 10,000 organizations across the US are using Salesforce to improve their fundraising, membership, and advocacy results? Interested in seeing first-hand some of the powerful data metrics you can measure right from your smartphone or tablet? Have you already received donated Salesforce licenses but not sure what to do with them?
It’s time to get your Salesforce learn on.
On January 30, 2013, at 9am ET, we’ll be providing a FREE guided tour of Salesforce for non-profits, associations, foundations, and advocacy groups. As official Salesforce Foundation partners, our team will walk you through the features included in Salesforce and the Non-Profit Starter Pack: a customization of Salesforce specifically made for non-profits.
This is an in-person introduction at our Washington DC offices, so come for the Salesforce, stay for the coffee.
You’ll leave the session with three key take-aways to report back to your team:
This session is open to everyone, but you’ll need to act fast as space is limited! Please limit two individuals per organization.
Register now at http://www.picnet.net/about-us/upcoming-events/event/90
See you there!