Jolkona’s Social Media Goodness

Every once in awhile, you come across an organization and you think: “Dang, they’ve got it going on!” One Day’s Wages, Not for Sale, and the Surfrider Foundation all come to mind.  (And keep your eye on a child’s right if you want to see some serious awesomeness…)

Seattle-based Jolkona is one of those can’t-take-my-eye-off-of-you organizations. And Laura Kimball, their Director of Communications & Social Media, elevates “social media goodness” to new levels. So I asked if she’d be willing to tell us how Jolkona has used social media to go from relative obscurity to can’t-be-missed powerhouse in such a short period of time.

Here are her top tips:

  • DO be human: This isn’t a new piece of advice, per se, but Laura and Jolkona show you how to do it on a platform like Twitter, which many think of as a glorified spambot fueled by ego-maniacal dolts.
  • DO get management genuinely on-board. Again, we’ve heard this before, but Laura explained how. Position it as an extension of your other efforts, as a logical extension of existing conversations, instead of New, Shiny, Possibly Distracting thing. If you’re meeting resistance, try something small and show the results. Make it easy for them to see how it relates to organizational goals and invite them into the conversation.
  • DO measure. Laura first joined Jolkona as a volunteer. She spent six months trying, tracking, and bench marking. Then she knew what worked and what didn’t. Which topics got the most comments on their Facebook page? Which Tweets sparked interest? Which blog posts got people excited? It’s not enough to have a bunch of fans and followers–engagement drives action which leads, eventually, to results (whatever that means for your organization). Measure early and often.
  • DO train volunteers well. It’s tempting to bring on volunteers and expect that they’ll just handle all the social media, liberating you to do other tasks. Laura explained that it doesn’t work that way. Her advice? “Make sure they’re social media savvy. This is easy to figure out because you can follow them on Twitter, Facebook, etc. You can tell if they genuinely love social media.” Once you’ve found a volunteer who is enthusiastic about social media AND your mission, plan on some QT. “Sit side by side with them at first. Explain to them why you use certain words and not others. Share your philosophy. For instance, Jolkona will never use .@ to get into someone’s stream. We care about conversations, not getting noticed. These nuances are what create your on-line personality and that reflects your values. Volunteers shouldn’t have to guess that stuff. Take the time to train them.”
  • DO create a social media persona. Are you a 26 year old music-crazy tech geek or a 57 year old gardening fiend? This informs both which channels you chose and how you act when you’re there. The persona can be used on-line and off to bring consistency across platforms.
  • DO give people trust, access, empowerment, autonomy and accountability if you ask them to contribute to your social media efforts. Laura uses these five elements as a filter. “When something isn’t going well, it’s usually because one of these isn’t happening,” Laura explains matter-of-factly. “And so we fix it.”
  • DO play! “No one has this all figured out. That’s what makes it fun. Try stuff. Social media is very forgiving. If you mess up, say so, and move on,” Laura counsels.

When I asked Laura what the biggest challenge she’s faced so far has been, she laughed and said, “Giving up control of Jolkona’s Twitter handle.  Since it had been me from the beginning, it was scary to open it up. But it’s going great! It had to happen.”

A big THANK YOU to Laura for giving us access to her great, big brain. Check out Jolkon’s site for a serious dose of inspiration.

Tell us: In your social media experiments, what have you tried that has worked well or totally flopped?


Thinking Big at #WSNPC

Earlier today, I spoke at the 17th Annual Washington State Nonprofit Conference. My goal was to offer up content that gave people something to think about and something concrete to do. Some big thinking and some let’s get ‘er done.

Sessions on trends are hard. There are a ton of trends so which ones do you highlight? My litmus was this: is this something that, if it goes to scale, could be a HUGE boon for individual organizations, the people they serve, and the sector as a whole?

I opened with what I hope will be a headline from Clay Holtzman of the Puget Sound Business Journal on May 6, 2012.

Donations & volunteerism at all time high
Nonprofits cite stories and smart phones as secret to success.

If we can think big yet stay focused, I really think we can make this happen. If we fall prey to shiny object syndrome, we’ll be looking at a different headline. And that’ll be a bummer for everyone.

Here is what Zan McColloch-Lussier (@zanarama) took away from the session. (And a big hat tip to Zan for drawing my attention to the importance of niche social networks.) And Jen Power (@comradebunny) did a super summary on her blog as well.

If you attended, what were your take-aways? If you didn’t attend, what jumps out at you from the presentation (handily available below)? What trends do you plan try or watch? Which ones would you advise nonprofits to avoid?

Going Viral at NDOA’s 2011 Winter Conference

We had a blast at the NDOA Winter Conference! In addition to seeing old friends and meeting new ones, Erica moderated a panel with some of Seattle’s savviest social media folks on “Going viral: using your social networks to ignite supporters”. Each of the nonprofit pros on our panel shared real-life stories about how they have used the power of social networks to maximize their organizations’ efforts to move ‘believers’ to action on behalf of their causes.

Following is a recap of our 75 minute whirlwind discussion. Thanks again to the amazing panelists and all who attended!

Some Video Highlights from Our Session Today

And here is Erica’s prezi (this is what is playing in the background if you watch the vid above)

Panelist’s Tip’s & Tricks for Social Media Success

How to Listen

How to Engage

  • Check out how Charity:Water engages their supporters for a great example.
  • Ask for opinions.  Spark a conversation about an issue related to your organizations’ mission.
  • Find out what kind of content your supporters want.  How? Ask them. (Have a Follower Meet-up Pizza Party!)
  • Give your organization a persona.  Ask: “If my organization was a person, who would they be?” It’s easier for an organization to “be real” if they imagine themselves that way.

Tools for Measuring ROI

  • Simply Measured: Easy Social Media Measurement. Reports built in excel.RowFeeder:  Social Media Monitoring and Analysis made Easy Social Media Data Exports.
  • Care 2’s Social Network Calculator: Use this tool to calculate an estimate of cost and return on investment for the recruitment and fundraising efforts of your staff in social networking sites.
  • Tweetreach: Guide to analyzing your Twitter reach.
  • Start with a simple monthly report, taking baby steps to figure out what is most important to measure for your organization. (Remember: go back to your goals!)
  • Constantly evaluate and re-evaluate – it’s a process!
  • Find out where online conversations about your organization or field are already happening and engage there.

Who are some Influencers and Experts on Social Media?

Our Favorite In-Person Social Media Resources

Download Session Handouts

HANDOUT #1: Common Nonprofit Social Media Concerns

HANDOUT #2: Four Social Media Tools for Nonprofits

HANDOUT #3: The 123 Marketing Mechanism Calendar

Did you attend the conference?

What did you learn? Share your a-ha moments below!

Fundraising, Social Media & Social Capital?

When Robert Putnam’s book Bowling Alone came out in 2000, ‘social capital’ became a social sector buzz word. We realized that social capital was what allowed nonprofits to ask volunteers for their time, donors for their dollars and legislators for their support. The more you had, the more you could do.

With its potential for such goodness, we wondered: how does an organization generate social capital? We learned this equation:

Trust + Reciprocity = Social Capital

Generally speaking, honest, effective nonprofits garner high levels of trust. The stumbling block has been reciprocity. This is where social media comes in.

When social capital came on the scene, social media wasn’t yet on our radar. Our ability to reciprocate was limited and, often, expensive, which hampered our ability to generate significant amounts of social capital. But with social media, we can now give updates, newsflashes, and tantalizing tidbits of information to people who care about our cause and ask nothing in return. We can reciprocate with abandon!

For instance, if your organization is using the Beyond Cash Fundraising Dashboard created by Peter Drury of Splash, this gives you an easy, low-cost, low-resource way to dramatically increase your Non-Ask Ratio (i.e. the number of times you interact with a donor without asking for financial support). If you’re an organization that relies heavily on volunteers–e.g. EarthCorps or Habitat for Humanity–think of all the wonderful ways you now have to show how important they are to your organization.

There is much talk about how to use social media for fundraising. Here’s how: focus on its ability to generate social capital. Rather than thinking of Facebook as a vehicle for asking for donations, think of it as a way to shine a bright, joyful spotlight on the impact you’re having in the community so donors can see on a regular basis how–by working together with you–they are making the world a better place. Then when you do make an ask, they will be excited at the opportunity to give.

We may still be bowling alone. But social media offers the social sector a golden opportunity to usher in an era of e-bowling together.

Social Networking

Participants’ Key Take-Aways

1. This confirmed my feelings about how social media is about establishing relationships rather than just getting followers.

2. I want to explore separating our online channels to focus each tool on one audience or creating two accounts within a certain tool that each target a separate audience.

3. I know I need to work with my board to talk about our long term goals. We need to know our key messages and audiences.

4. I like the idea of using a donor-centered approach to our social media rather than an organization-centered approach.

Conversation Re-cap

Social Media Concerns and QuestionsDiscussion & Conclusions
We have too many target audiences and we have a hard time figuring out what to post since we have different audiences.Pick one tool per audience. Find out where your audience is online and what they are doing before you choose a tool. [Tip from Erica: If your organization has more than 5 target audiences, you probably have more than you can manage well. Narrow your list!]
How do we get our supporters to be involved and share with each other on our online portals like Facebook.Know your audience so that the content you provide will spark a discussion. Some organizations have personally asked their best supporters to stimulate conversations online. [Tip from Erica: Be clear on your goals. Some organizations use their Facebook feed as a way to stay top-of-mind with supporters and therefore wouldn’t be concerned if their “likers” weren’t actively engaged in discussion. Lack of “likes” isn’t always a terrible thing.]
Older donors and supporters who are offline are saying that they don’t see any marketing materials anymore.Go back to your goals. Are you meeting them? If you are meeting your goals and you have a limited budget, you’re doing fine. [Tip from Erica: Just because you “could” doesn’t mean you “should”.]
We see other nonprofits doing matching campaigns on Facebook where you advertise that your organization is getting $1 for every new “Liker”. Is this effective?It depends. Who are you reaching out to? A local organization that was effective at this reached out to former tutors who were very engaged with the organization at one time. They asked them to like their page because they’d get $1 for every new like. This worked to engage the former tutors to become re-engaged. [Tip from Erica: Except in select instances, use Facebook as a way to deepen relationships so your asks are more effective, rather than a vehicle for making the ask.]
We’ve struggled with knowing how fun or personal we can be on social media sites. We’re not sure about what rules to create.Social Media Policies can be helpful. Once you are clear on your audience and messaging, that will inform your social media decisions. You’ll understand your audiences better and be able to make more informed decisions about what to post and where. [Tip from Erica: Having a Brand Dashboard can help you address this issue, as well.]
There seems to be new tools all of the time.Tools will change. Geolocation is becoming all the rage for example with tools like Foursquare and Facebook Places. Don’t over-invest in a tool because people will move on. [Tip from Erica: If you invest in knowing how to decide which new tools to use based on your goals and target audience(s), you’ll be in good shape long-term!]


November Handouts and Resources


1. Read the Nonprofit Social Media Decision Guide.


2. Watch Idealware’s Video: Facebook vs Twitter.


3. Read ‘5 Must-Follow Non-Profits Making a Difference With Social Media’.


4. Download and Review the ‘Claxon_4 Social Media Tools for Nonprofits‘.



5. Check out Social Media Club Seattle The Seattle branch of Social Media Club, a national organization with the purpose of sharing best practices, establishing ethics and standards, and promoting media literacy around the emerging area of Social Media. Our members are present across a wide variety of networks and we encourage you to reach out and join us. (Thanks for the tip Eileen!)



Thanks to our Special Guest: Carrie Zanger

Carrie Zanger of True Good Creative shared her technical expertise with us as well as a story about the It Gets Better Project initiated by Dan Savage. Why did this become viral? There was an authentic moment and people related to that very deeply. It immediately inspired and sparked great interest. Thanks, Carrie!