Twitter and nonprofits – Jim Says

Shelby and I are on the road this week but have no fear because #shehechat will take place at its normal time at 8 p.m. CST Thursday. We’ll just be tweeting from a pretty cool revolving bar in the French Quarter in New Orleans.

Recently I was asked to participate in a panel discussion about social media for nonprofits by the Grantwriters Roundtable of Greater Milwaukee. As a small business owner I was a little surprised at the request but agreed after speaking with the event organizers. Nonprofits, after all, have the same goals as a small business.

The goals

First, you want to spread the word about the work you do. You want to build a loyal following of fanatical fans. Then, you want those fans to help you bring more revenue into your enterprise so you can keep doing the good work that you do. It’s funny that when I stopped focusing solely on the profitability of my business, it became more profitable. The same is probably true of nonprofits. Stop focusing on the fundraising and focus instead on the mission. Notice, I didn’t say ignore the fundraising. That would just be silly. Instead, integrate fundraising in everything you do passively.

Social media is not for closing deals

The most important lesson I’ve learned in social media over the last few years is that you don’t sell there. Self-promote? Sure, just don’t overdo it. Figure out where your donors are online and go there. Participate in the forums they do and engage with them. Answer questions, ask questions and be part of the conversation. Don’t – and I stress this – don’t ask them for money there, at least not directly.

Raising nonprofit donations with social media

You might be asking yourself, if I don’t ask them for money in social media, then why am I there? There are only so many hours in the day and I need to make sure the donation engine is always running. Well, try this: Organize an event with a local business that will benefit your charity. Write a blog post about what you will be doing. Make sure to include the basics in the post: time, date, venue and how the donations generated will be used. Then, working with your event partner, promote the blog post and the event. See how that works? The event will generate the donations but you never directly asked for a donation in the social space.

One week from today Shelby and I have an event at IVY Milwaukee that followed exactly this formula. Our nonprofit partner is the Pancreatic Cancer Network Milwaukee Affiliate. We should generate upwards of $500 for them and they never asked anyone for a single penny in the social space. On top of that, everyone gets to have a good time on a Thursday evening checking out a new local club and seeing Shelby and I perform “She Said, He Said” live.

How social sharing can be a sales tool

Spotify allows you to listen to the playlists your social media friends create and share. While this can save you time when you aren’t sure what you want to listen to, it also allows you to get to know a person better. Music can be as personal as religion. Knowing what kind of music a person likes helps you to understand that person on a different level.

B2B business case for social sharing

Spotify uses social sharing as a way to both increase its user base and the usefulness of the service. I’d much rather listen to a friend’s playlist than some of the music the iTunes genius picks for me.

Yet when I look at our ColorMetrix color verification service, ProofPass, I wonder how we could leverage social sharing as a business tool. Obviously, all we can do is provide the enabling technology such as a “share this” button in appropriate places on the site. After that, it’s up to our users, friends and fans to share something. The question is: What will they share?

I’m not sure what the relevance would be for the person doing the sharing or with whom they are sharing. How does one make a site like ProofPass relevant and sharable in the social media universe? Do we model Spotify and let them share the results of a proof or press sheet analysis? That information resides behind our login page, so users would need to decide how much of their data should be viewable by friends or even made public, much like a Spotify playlist.

A Spotify playlist allows me to learn more about you and your musical tastes. Armed with that information, I may even suggest a song I think you’d like. While looking different on the surface, sharing ProofPass color verification results could become equally useful. Say you are having a problem achieving the color balance you need. Share the results with a group of friends and let them see your data. It’s likely one of your friends can point you in the right direction to find a solution to your problems. Social sharing could increase the usefulness of the service in this manner.

It’s about the what and why, not the how

Don’t get caught up on the technology of social sharing. Relatively speaking, that’s the easy part. Ask yourself this question:  What would my audience share with their friends and why? If you can answer those two questions, you’ll be well on your way to increasing site traffic. Once you’ve got the traffic, it’s time to evaluate the effectiveness of your conversion engine. Before you can have enough conversions to matter, you need to have enough traffic for the numbers game to work.

Social sharing can be a powerful tool to boost your site traffic but first you must answer the what and why questions.

Photo Credit

Why your Klout score matters

Your Klout score matters for the same reason your bank account balance matters or, for that matter, the level of your car’s gas gauge. Klout is a measure of how far you’ve come in social media and more importantly how far you can go. I’m not one of those people who thinks we should all just get ribbons for participation. The real world grades on a curve and that’s what Klout is all about.

News Flash 1: It’s not all about having a high numeric score

Klout might be suffering from a perception problem that it’s all about your numeric score. It’s not. Drill down into the details of your profile and your score. For example, Klout labels me a “specialist” and when you read their definition of that label it’s spot on.

You may not be a celebrity, but within your area of expertise your opinion is second to none. Your content is likely focused around a specific topic or industry with a focused, highly-engaged audience.

So, while I may not like the label, I can’t argue with it’s accuracy. Social media is still a relatively new tool and most of us are still learning the ins and outs of the technology. Klout is even newer and, in the year or so I’ve been watching them, they’ve done nothing but grow and improve with few – if any – missteps.

News Flash 2: Klout is far from perfect, but way better than nothing

Of course, Klout is not perfect. They don’t follow me around and know me like I know myself. That’s not their role or mission. Their goal is to give others some idea of how you utilize social media and how effective that utilization is.

If you’re my friend, I could care less. If you are someone I am thinking about doing business with, what I learn about you on Klout will probably matter more; especially if I’m hiring you to manage my public relations and social media.

Think about it this way: When you hire a person, do you look at just their resume or college transcripts? No, you look at those things and take the time to interview the individual and maybe even reach out to those with whom they have previously worked. There is no single silver bullet to judge a person. Klout is just one tool in your arsenal.

News Flash 3: You can game your Klout score

I’m not going to share the details, but it’s pretty darn easy. Funny thing is that it takes just as much effort as being yourself and being active on a daily basis in the social media space. If all you want is a high numeric Klout score, just google for information on gaming the system. Have fun with that. I’m just going to stick to being me and see where I end up.

Wrapping it up

Your Klout score matters because it’s a fairly objective look at how you utilize social media and to what degree that utilization is effective. Sometimes I want to know how I look to others in the social space and Klout helps me see that. It also let’s me take a fairly objective look at you.

Selling and Social Media

Selling happens in the social media space every day just like selling happens in the face-to-face world every day. Most of the time, people buy things from people not businesses. Sure, at some point, I head over to a website and provide my credit card information to complete a purchase; but that’s just the transactional part of the process. What got me to that site in the first place?

People buy from other people

When I recently purchased a new car, I shopped about six dealerships before making a decision. I didn’t make that decision because I was tired of shopping for cars. I love cars and could have shopped another six dealerships. Instead, I made a decision to proceed because I found a salesperson willing to take the time to explain what needed explaining.

In my case, I was buying a certified pre-owned vehicle, which would be only the second used car I’ve ever purchased. The salesman took the time to explain all the features and benefits of the pre-owned program this manufacturer offered. I was impressed. The extra $2,000 it would cost me was well worth it. It turned out I was in essence buying a slightly used new car with brand new tires, more warranty and lots of other pluses and perks. It took a person to explain all this to me and help me part with my hard-earned money.

The other salespeople failed

I contend the other salespeople just failed to understand what I needed to know. The gentleman I ended up buying from did very little talking early in our conversation. He was listening for what I needed to know and what would make me comfortable enough with him, his product and his dealership to part with a significant amount of cash.

Some of the other salespeople listened and some didn’t. The key is my guy ended up listening the best and offering the answers I wanted to hear. He differentiated himself from all the previous sellers very early in our conversation.

He also got to know me as both an individual and a business owner. This proved to be critical when the financial part of the transaction dragged on for more than two hours. He was able to talk to me about his past and tell a story that was compelling because there was some overlap with my story.

Social selling is the same thing

Wherever you live in the social space, you need to be listening at least as much as you are talking. Help people, answer their questions and point them to people who might be able to help if you can’t. What you’ll find is that you begin to understand what they need. I endeavor to do that here each day before I write a blog post. I try hard to write what I feel you want and need to hear today. Sometimes I write about what I want to; and honestly those posts don’t do so well.

Photo Credit

How do you incorporate Google Plus in your blogging strategy – Jim Says

I decided to jump in the Google Plus (G+) waters fairly early. Based upon Google’s two recent failures in the social space, Buzz and Wave, this was a relatively risky use of my time to learn and grow with the service through its beta and limited invitation period. It’s been a good decision as I don’t see G+ going away anytime soon. As a matter of fact, I see it doing nothing but growing over the next 12 months.

Google Plus and Blogging

As a blogger, I use existing tools like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn in two primary ways. First, I share my new posts so those who have chosen to follow me know when it’s time to head over to the blog for new content. Second, I engage in conversations about both my content and that of others. So, I utilize the social media networks for promotion and audience curation when I’m wearing my blogger hat.

I’m using G+ in exactly the same way. Right now, it’s actually my best performing social network. While I believe that will remain the case in the long run, I think there will be some downs before the permanent uptick. See, right now G+ population is heavily skewed to include social media savvy folks. As we pass the 10 million user mark (I heard that happened today), that’s going to start changing.

Until the audience composition changes here are the G+ advantages I see: Lots of meaningful engagement with the 100+ people I’ve already connected with. Because the G+ population is by and large socially savvy, I ask questions about social media topics and get answers that help me improve and get closer to “doing it right.” These folks also like to share and are loving trying out the new +1 button in G+.

Sure every blogger would love all the engagement about their blog posts to appear in the comments that follow the post. However, reality is that your readers are going to comment where it’s easiest and most convenient for them to comment. That means you need to be willing to spend time where your customers (readers) spend time. It’s either that or lose on engagement with your most loyal readers, who are the ones that help grow your audience most.

The Argument for Google Plus Now

Back in 1995-96, shortly after the release of Windows95, we had to make a decision at then startup ColorMetrix. We had to decide if we would develop our first product in Windows 3.11 or Windows95. You’d think the obvious answer would be Windows95, but remember that at the time corporate America had yet to take Windows95 seriously. We decided the future was in Windows95 and took a leap of faith. Because of that decision to be an early mover, we can still sell you a version of ColorMetrix that closely resembles and is a cousin of that software developed 16 years ago.

We stand today at a similar crossroads. I feel the tides of social media shifting. Google is not going to lay another rotten egg (remember Wave and Buzz). Instead this time it’s going to be a golden egg. I see a strategy emerging that integrates G+ with all things Google, including the Android operating system. Imagine every Android phone being delivered fully G+ enabled.

Social media is changing. All the hype around G+ is not just Buzz, it’s a Wave you want to catch.

Make sure to read Shelby Sapusek’s take as well – How do you incorporate Google Plus in your blogging strategy – Shelby Says

Photo Credit

Social media signal and noise

How do you separate the signal (those messages that matter) from all the noise that exists in the social media universe? Without a strategy and some tactics to back it up, it’s very easy to get lost in the noise. I’m not saying the noise isn’t interesting and even fun. Instead I’m personally concerned with how productive I can be when the noise overshadows the signal.

image of social media signal and noiseFiltering strategies to find the signal

The idea of filtering signal from noise was originally presented to me by Phil Gerbyshak almost a year ago. It’s one of the best pieces of advice I have received and followed up on to make social media more manageable.

Filtering Twitter for signal vs noise. When I met Phil I was following less than 500 people on Twitter. Still a pretty manageable number to monitor in a single stream. At the time Phil was following thousands. He provided two pearls of wisdom. First, use Twitter lists to make sure you see what those people important to you are saying. Second, Never go back. He’s right, the important message will be re-tweeted by your network. Twitter is not something you “catch up” on. It’s now, it’s real-time. Today, I have several lists and I almost never go back in the stream.

Which social proof matters? I recently read Mitch Joel’s Experience has nothing to do with your social media status and was intrigued by his final sentence.

“The trick is in not thinking that someone with many followers or lots of Blog posts with comments is a seasoned professional. They may not be.”

Mitch is of course correct. I, however, thought to myself or “they may be.” A perfect example is Mitch himself or his fellow A-List blogger Chris Brogan. These gentlemen have lots of followers on Twitter and lots of comments on their blog posts for a reason. They walk the walk, so when they talk the talk people listen. The trick is in being sure the following is authentic and the comments are real and not from a bloggers network. If every post is commented upon by the same five people you may want to think about what that could mean.

Do your part. My RSS reader is full of great content as I’m selective about which blogs I follow. Even then, if I miss reading for even a few days there are hundreds of articles to scan. Then I need to decide which ones to read. I strive to share carefully. I share no more than a dozen articles in my RSS feed each day. Then, I share no more than three or four of those articles via Twitter. These are the best of the best as I see it. So, if you trust my judgement I can be part of your filter. I know when Phil takes time to share an article in my RSS feed I make sure to at least skim it.

Your turn, how do you filter the great from the good each day?

Photo Credit