Tag Archives: marketing

14 (was 13) things you do to annoy me on social media

handstopMore than a dozen things that annoy me regarding the use of social media by too many nonprofits, government initiatives and other mission-based programs:

1) You don’t post at least one item a week to your Facebook page.

2) You have created a gateway where everything you post to Facebook goes out on your Twitter feed. Never mind that every message ends up being truncated on Twitter, so that Twitter users see things like this: Join our staff, donors, participants, volunteers & allies as we march on Saturday to support the vital issue in our community regarding… with a link for more information. Most people will NOT click on that link to find out what in the heck you are talking about!

3) You don’t list every public event by your organization on the events function on Facebook, so that people can mark “interested” or “attending” and, therefore, receive automatic reminders of the event as the date approaches, or get an idea of who else is interested or who is attending. It also makes it easier for others to share those event details with others via Facebook.

4) You don’t have your organization’s full name in your Twitter profile. That means, if anyone wants to tag your organization in a tweet or wants to follow you, it will be difficult to find you, and they may even use the wrong Twitter handle, driving traffic to someone else instead of you.

5) You post only “one way” messages to Twitter and Facebook, rather than posts that encourage engagement, like questions, or posts that say “Tell us what you think about…”

6) On Twitter, you don’t participate in Tweetchats, you don’t respond to other organization’s tweets, you don’t retweet other organization’s messages – you don’t ENGAGE.

7) On Facebook, you don’t “like” or comment on the status updates of other organizations. You want them to do that for you, but you don’t do the same for them.

8) On Facebook, you don’t reply to or even “like” comments made on your status update. That means no one ever knows if you care that they’ve provided feedback on your activities.

9) You don’t thank people that share your Tweets or Facebook status updates.

10) On Twitter, you don’t spend any time reading tweets by others – you just tweet your own messages. That’s like going to a conference, shoving your brochure into people’s hands and walking away, never listening to them, never meeting anyone, never attending workshops.

11) You post far more messages encouraging donations than you post about accomplishments by your organization, things your volunteers have been up to,

12) You work with teens but don’t use Instagram.

13) You don’t experiment with GooglePlus or YouTube or Snap Chat, because you couldn’t figure out the value a year or two ago.

14) You have something awesome in your email newsletter and I want to share just that item via Facebook, but it’s not on your Facebook feed nor your Web site (except as maybe in a PDF version of your newsletter, which no one reads online) Feb. 22, 2017 addition

If you changed your ways regarding social media:

  • your donors and volunteers would feel more strongly about supporting you,
  • your donors would be more motivated to continue giving and volunteers would feel more motivated to complete assignments and take on more,
  • the media would be more inclined to contact you regarding a story or for your comment on current events,
  • you are more likely to attract new donors and volunteers,
  • your staff would become even better versed in talking about their work,
  • other organizations would be more inclined to refer others to you, to collaborate with you and to rely on you

Also see:

Folklore, Rumors & Misinformation Campaigns Interfering with Humanitarian Efforts & Government Initiatives


Preventing Folklore, Rumors, Urban Myths & Organized Misinformation Campaigns From Interfering with Development & Aid/Relief Efforts & Government Initiatives

Folklore, rumors and contemporary myths / legends often interfere with development aid activities and government initiatives, including public health programs – even bringing such to a grinding halt. They create ongoing misunderstandings and mistrust, prevent people from seeking help, encourage people to engage in unhealthy and even dangerous practices, and have even lead to mobs of people attacking someone or others because of something they heard from a friend of a friend of a friend. With social media like Twitter and Facebook, as well as simple text messaging among cell phones, spreading misinformation is easier than ever.

Added to the mix: fake news sites set up specifically to mislead people, as well as crowdsourced efforts by professional online provocateurs and automated troll bots pumping out thousands of comments, countering misinformation efforts has to be a priority for aid and development organizations, as well as government agencies.

Since 2004, I have been gathering and sharing both examples of this phenomena, and recommendations on preventing folklore, rumors and urban myths from interfering with development and aid/relief efforts and government initiatives. I’ve recently updated this information with new information regarding countering organized misinformation campaigns.

Anyone working in development or relief efforts, or working in government organizations, needs to be aware of the power of rumor and myth-sharing, and be prepared to prevent and to counter such. This page is an effort to help those workers:

  • cultivate trust in the community through communications, thereby creating an environment less susceptible to rumor-baiting
  • quickly identify rumors and misinformation campaigns that have the potential to derail humanitarian aid and development efforts
  • quickly respond to rumors and misinformation campaigns that could derail or are interfering with humanitarian aid and development efforts

And, FYI: I do this entirely on my own, as a volunteer, with no funding from anyone. I update the information as my free time allows.

Also see:

Relationships take time, even via social media

Stop looking for the magic social media management tool, the one that allows you to send one message to “all” the social media platforms and magically get lots of likes and followers. The one that keeps you from ever having to actually log in to Twitter, Facebook, Instragram, etc.

Stop it NOW.

That approach to social media is like walking into a room full of people, making an announcement, even a powerpoint presentation, never taking questions or looking to see if anyone is listening, walking out when you’re done, and then wondering why no one gave your nonprofit money, came to your next event, provided input on your programs, joined as a volunteer, etc. – and using that same experience to say, “Well, I guess everyone likes us or they don’t care, because no one said anything to me!”

Timo Lüge blogs at Social Media for Good and in a recent blog: says this:

“Social media is about building and sustaining relationships. It is not a one-time interaction. In other words: you need to stop thinking about how you can get people to ‘like’ a post and instead develop a long-term strategy for how you want to interact with the community. You and your management need to accept that that will take time. Focus on the quality of the interactions instead of the quantity.”

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use a social media management tool to schedule tweets or Facebook status updates or anything else in advance, or to create analytics – I use Hootsuite to schedule my daily tweets in the morning and afternoons, as well as bi-weekly posts to Googleplus and, sometimes, to Facebook. But I still take the time log into each of those platforms, individually, and to read messages by people and organizations I follow, like those messages, comment on them, share posts by others, reply to comments that have been made to me, etc. I also make sure I tag people and organizations related to what I’m posting on social media, so they know they are being talked about, and might be encouraged to reply. In other words, I spend time with the audience, just like I would in a room full of people, to hear their feedback, to hear what they are doing and thinking, to acknowledge their points of view and to get a sense as to whether or not I’m really connecting with people. That’s what building and sustaining relationships look like, online or off. And that’s what it takes to make social media worthwhile for any nonprofit (or for-profit, for that matter).

vvbooklittleFor more about building relationships online, see The Last Virtual Volunteering Guidebook, by Susan J. Ellis and myself. The community engagement principles offered here work with the very latest digital engagement initiatives and “hot” new technologies meant to help people volunteer, advocate for causes they care about, connect with communities and make a difference. Tools come and go – but certain community engagement fundamentals never change.

Adopt a dog. And Don’t Just Ask for Money.

Lucy next to my blueberry bush
This is Lucinda. We adopted her in December of last year. She’s just 18 months – a lean greyhoundish brindle at 40 pounds or so.

One of the joys of working from home: my pre-work morning has been spent watching Harry, a little 10-year-old dog that I’m dog-sitting for a few days for a friend – he’s not even 20 pounds – playing with Lucinda, and it’s been absolutely hilarious. I love my still-a-puppy for adjusting her play for a smaller, slower dog, and I love Harry for being oh-so feisty. And I wonder yet again why more people don’t adopt older dogs.

Lucy is my first puppy – I got her at seven-months old. But she’s my fourth dog. My first dog, Buster, was probably two when I adopted him off the streets of a town in Massachusetts, my second dog, Wiley, was almost six and been shuffled around and neglected in three homes before me, and my third dog, Albi, was almost seven, rescued from the streets of a small town in Hungary. Adopting those older dogs was actually much easier in many respects than adopting a puppy: they were already house-trained, they were grateful for absolutely every milligram of love that came their way, and they had personalities that had allowed them to survive all those years before. They were each groovy, and happy to learn new tricks. I’ll never forget when my second dog, Wiley, had to go to another room with a vet without me, and he started to cry – big loud wails – because he didn’t want to leave me. And the vet said, “Wow, I haven’t seen a dog this bonded to an owner in a while.” And I thought, yeah, there’s that whole older-dogs-can’t-bond-with-new-families myth going down in flames.

Families with children that are concerned about introducing a new dog should really look into adopting an older dog. So many rescue groups know the personalities of the dogs in their care – do they like children? do they like other dogs? do they get along with cats? do they enjoy long walks or just need a few short ones? do you want a dog that’s quiet and sleeps a lot or that’s really active and needs play time every day? – and can match you with an older dog that would be perfect for your particular family and home. The big pet stores now have dogs from these rescue groups for adoption – they don’t use puppy mills anymore – and the volunteers there will be happy to answer your questions.

And with all that said… I’m really disappointed in the ASPCA TV advertisements. They never encourage you to adopt a pet from a shelter, they never encourage you to get your pet spayed or neutered – they only ask that you give them money. Just as volunteer engagement shouldn’t be only about getting work done (it should be about cause awareness-building, building trust in the community, etc.), TV advertisements for nonprofits shouldn’t be only about “give us money.”

Also see: Don’t just ask for money

Taking a stand when you are supposed to be neutral/not controversial

handstopSo many people responsible for communications at nonprofits, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), government programs and international development agencies like the United Nations do their work from a place of fear: fear of negative publicity, fear of reprimand from supervisors or partner organizations, fear of controversy, etc. One of the consequences of this fear-based work style is that these communications professionals overly-censor themselves on social media, avoiding messages that relate directly to their program’s mission, simply because they don’t want to make anyone angry.

It’s impossible to work in communications and not make anyone angry. Impossible. While I think it is very important to be culturally-sensitive/appropriate in communications, the reality is that the work of most mission-based organizations is meant to grow understanding and change minds – and that means, at least sometimes, being challenging, even provocative. I long ago accepted that not everyone is going to like the messages of whatever program I’m representing, even messages that seem quite benign and non-controversial to me. As long as I make all messages reflective of the mission of the program, and ensure all messages come from a place of sincerity and honesty, I make no apologies.

If you want to post a message to social media that promotes something that relates to your program’s mission, but you want to keep negative responses to a minimum – or have a solid response to anyone who complains about such a message, including a board member or donor, here’s what you do: find the message you want to say on your headquarter’s Facebook or Twitter account, or a partner organization’s account, and share it or retweet it.

Here’s an example: I’ve had colleagues at the UN say, “We cannot talk about rights for gay people. It will make too many people angry.” Yet, the UN has a human rights MANDATE that includes rights for gay people. So, what could an office in such a position do in order to promote that human rights message and have a firm defense for doing so in the face of criticism? Follow the United Nations Free & Equal initiative on Twitter (@free_equal) and on Facebook. This is an initiative of the Office of the High Commissioner for United Nations Human Rights (follow that initiative on Twitter and Facebook as well). Share and retweet the messages that initiative says that you feel you cannot say yourself, such as this video from the UN Secretary General in support of the Free & Equal initiative. No one can argue that you shouldn’t share it – unless they can point to a specific, verifiable threat as a result of such a message that could endanger staff.

Another example: while working in a country with a lot of armed conflict going on, our communications office decided that celebrating the UN’s international day of peace with our own messages could be seen as taking sides in the hostilities – saying “We hope for peace” could be interpreted as encouraging one side to “give in” to another. So we decided not to post our own messages – but to share and retweet official UN messages related to international peace day.

It’s a good idea to make a list of Twitter accounts and Facebook accounts that interns and/or volunteers could monitor and whose messages they could share or retweet without pre-approval from a supervisor. You might want to also make a list of accounts they should absolutely *not* retweet or share; for instance, at one work site, I would not allow articles from a certain media outlet to be shared or retweeted via our official account, because I felt the media outlet was profoundly biased against our work and because I felt their articles were often riddled with misinformation.

No matter what: keep communications mission-based. Think about the intent of your message: To educate regarding an issue related to your program’s mission? To encourage someone to do something related to your cause? To celebrate your program’s activities or accomplishments? To create goodwill with a certain community? Always be able to justify any message you want to send.

And did you see what I just did there?

Also see:

Why you should separate your personal life and private life online



How to Handle Online Criticism / Conflict

Volunteers can help you reach more people on Facebook

Most nonprofits, NGOs, government agencies and other mission-based organizations have taken a big hit regarding their social media outreach because of changes to Facebook’s newsfeed algorithm. These changes greatly affect how many people see a status update on a Facebook page that isn’t sponsored through paid advertising. That means that, even if people have “liked” your organization’s Facebook page, they won’t see most of what you post, because of how Facebook has newsfeeds configured now. According to the International Business Times, the reach for many Facebook pages posts was at about 16 percent, but over the last few months it’s down to 2 percent or less. Facebook is a for-profit company – they want you to pay for people to see your organization’s Facebook page posts.

I’ve read some comments from nonprofit managers that say they will stop updating their organization’s Facebook pages as a result. But Facebook is a primary communication method for oh-so-many people – to stop updating your organization’s page means you are cutting yourself off from current and potential volunteers, donors, clients, and other people who care about your mission.

In How a Few Tiny Horses Bucked the Facebook Algorithm, the nonprofit TechSoup does a great job of talking about what your nonprofit can do to greatly increase the number of people that see your Facebook page updates, and TechSoup profiles a small nonprofit that’s done it all with great success. I won’t repeat their recommendations here – but I will make an additional suggestion: involve volunteers in your efforts.

The TechSoup article talks about how much sharing images can increase your organization’s Facebook page reach. I can immediately hear so many people saying, “We don’t have any photos to share.” YES YOU DO. Or you should. Are volunteers taking photos during their service time and sharing those photos with you? You need to be encouraging volunteers to do this! And another volunteer can maintain the archive of these submissions, make sure photos have keywords so that they can easily be searched, etc., if your marketing staff has no time.

I hear someone saying, “We’re a domestic violence shelter. We can’t do this!” Yes, you can: a photo of a massive amount of dirty dishes in the sink, with the description, “Tonight, we fed more than 20 people staying at our shelter this evening.” A photo of hands holding each other, with a description about how your shelter is there to help. A photo of a group from the knees down. A photo of your Executive Director. A photo of artwork created by children at your shelter. I came up with that list in two minutes (I timed it). Imagine the ideas your volunteers could come up with that would allow photos that show impact or reflect your mission, but completely protect the identity of those you serve and of your volunteers.

The TechSoup article also talks about leveraging holidays, pop culture events, memes, “or even just plain old Friday. International days as designated by the United Nations is another good source for leveraging events or themes by others to generate content for your own Facebook page – these often come with ready-to-use logos, photos and keyword tags. Many of these posts that can be created days, weeks, even months in advance, and scheduled in advance to be posted by a tool like Hootsuite. This is another place that volunteers can be a huge help – most nonprofit marketing staff will tell you they don’t have time to leverage holidays, memes, UN days, etc. – so why not welcome volunteers to submit ideas? The marketing staff can still have final say on what will be posted, of course.

And, of course, ask your volunteers regularly to like your Facebook page status updates, to comment upon them, and to share them – this all leads to your page getting more viewers!

Involving volunteers in social media is, of course, yet another example of virtual volunteering!

Facebook’s days as a primary online communications tool are numbered, of course. It’s already been abandoned by millions of teens. Just as the dominant online tools America Online and MySpace ultimately fell out of favor with most users, so too will Facebook. But, for now, it’s worth sticking with.

Marketing staff: either help promote volunteer engagement or GET OUT OF THE WAY

logoMy blog today is actually for public relations and marketing staff at nonprofits, rather than those managers of volunteer programs. And my message is this: either help promote your organization’s volunteer engagement OR GET OUT OF THE WAY.

I talk to people managing their organization’s volunteer engagement activities – recruiting volunteers, supporting those volunteers, creating the majority of opportunities for those volunteers, helping other staff engage with those volunteers in their work, etc. – and among the many complaints I hear about challenges to their success is this one: the public relations and marketing staff won’t support me.

Those leading volunteer engagement at your organization need a variety of support from marketing and public relations staff:

  • in using the organization’s Facebook page, blog, web site and other online activities to recruit volunteers and tout the accomplishments of such
  • in reaching out to the media about what volunteers are doing
  • in connecting media to those working with volunteers at the organization when the media says they want to do a story about volunteerism
  • in understanding when volunteers are doing something particularly special or innovative, or staff working with such are, such that it would be worthy of external attention (or internal attention, for that matter)
  • in including information about the organization’s volunteer engagement in all traditional publications, including paper newsletters and annual reports
  • in talking about volunteer engagement as more than just the monetary value of volunteer hours

Yet, I hear from staff again and again that the outreach staff won’t create a link on the home page to information on volunteering (though they will regarding donating money, no problem!), that they won’t include any volunteer-related messages on Facebook, that they won’t use any photos from a recent volunteer engagement event in outreach materials, and that they will include information about volunteerism in the annual report only regarding the monetary value of the volunteer time given.

Public relations and marketing staff: if you are not going to create a detailed strategy for supporting your organization’s engagement of volunteers through all of your various outreach methods, then let the manager of that engagement do it him or herself, and stay out of the way as they execute that strategy. If you aren’t going to include information about volunteer recruitment and accomplishment in social media channels as often as you do about fundraising campaigns, then say nothing as staff in charge of managing volunteers at your organization create their own blogs, web sites, Facebook pages, Twitter accounts and Instagram or Flickr accounts to share the information they want out.

What would be FAR better than forcing managers of volunteers to do marketing and public relations on their own? If you, public relations and marketing staff, sat down with the staff that work with volunteers at your organization and said, “How can I support you? Tell me what you’re doing. Let’s meet once a month and talk about it.” What you might find is that, instead of additional work, you get much-needed information to raise your organization’s profile online and in the media. Maybe volunteers are taking amazing photos of your organization’s work that you could use in a variety of ways. Perhaps there is a really marvelous story waiting for you to discover: maybe your organization is engaging in virtual volunteering in some really innovative ways, or is involving someone as an online volunteer who could never do so onsite. Maybe some hot current trend, like micro volunteering, is happening at your organization but you don’t even know it. Maybe volunteer engagement has helped your organization engage with communities or demographics you never would have reached otherwise. An organization that involves volunteers can be seen as more transparent and open to the community than one that doesn’t – are you leveraging that image properly in your outreach work?

No more excuses, public relations and marketing staff: support your staff that recruit and engage with volunteers – or get out of the way and let them do their own publicity themselves.

This message brought to you by: Grumpy Jayne

Call for Papers : Social Media Adoption, Utilization & Consequences in Nonprofit Sector

Call for Proposals, Special Issue on: Social Media Adoption, Utilization, and Consequences in the Nonprofit Sector, International Journal of Public Administration in the Digital Age (IJPADA)

Paper Proposal Submission Deadline: December 1, 2014

Guest Editors: Dr. Hugo Asencio and Dr. Rui Sun (California State University, Dominguez Hills, USA)

As a group of internet-based applications, social media (Web 2.0 technologies) allow individuals to create, update, and exchange content. They also help facilitate the development of social networks in an interactive way. Compared to traditional websites (Web 1.0 technologies), given their stakeholder engagement, community building, and mobilization potential, social media can better help nonprofits accomplish their goals and fulfill their missions. Given the dearth of empirical evidence available, systematic investigations are needed to better understand social media adoption, utilization, and consequences in the nonprofit sector.

Objectives of the Special Issue:
This special issue seeks to contribute to the discourse among researchers and practitioners on the antecedents and consequences of social media adoption and utilization in the nonprofit sector. That is, what are the internal and external environmental factors that affect social media adoption and utilization in nonprofits? What are the impacts of social media adoption and implementation both within and outside nonprofit organizations? Quantitative cross-sectional or longitudinal studies using secondary data or original surveys are preferred. Qualitative multi-case or mixed-methods studies are also welcomed.

The editors invite systematic investigations on social media adoption and utilization in nonprofits providing services in areas, such as: education, healthcare, social services, environmental protection, advocacy, public awareness, human and civil rights, and so forth. Cross-country comparative studies are also welcomed.

Recommended Topics:
Topics to be discussed in this special issue include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Internal, external environmental factors and social media adoption
  • Internal, external environmental factors and social media use
  • Social media use and marketing
  • Social media use and communications
  • Social media use and fundraising
  • Social media use and volunteering
  • Social media use and advocacy
  • Social media use and civic engagement
  • Social media use and organizational learning
  • Social media use and organizational capacity
  • Social media use and collaboration
  • Social media use and performance evaluation
  • Social media use and collaborative governance

Submission Procedure:
Interested authors are invited to submit paper proposals (500 words) for this special issue by December 1, 2014. All paper submissions must be original and may not be under review by another publication. INTERESTED AUTHORS SHOULD CONSULT THE JOURNAL’S GUIDELINES FOR MANUSCRIPT SUBMISSIONS at


All submitted papers will be reviewed on a double-blind, peer review basis. Papers must follow APA style for reference citations.

About the International Journal of Public Administration in the Digital Age (IJPADA):
Created in 2014, IJPADA is an international journal that examines the impact of public administration and information technology (IT) in developed and developing countries. Original research papers published in IJPADA focus on the impact of new and innovative technologies on improving public service delivery in public and nonprofit organizations. This journal will also provide case studies examining technology innovations in specific countries. The editor invites author(s) to submit original research papers that examine important issues in public administration and information technology.

This journal is an official publication of the Information Resources Management Association

Editor-in-Chief: Dr. Christopher G. Reddick (The University of Texas at San Antonio, USA)

Published: Quarterly (both in Print and Electronic form)

IJPADA is published by IGI Global (formerly Idea Group Inc.), publisher of the “Information Science Reference” (formerly Idea Group Reference), “Medical Information Science Reference”, “Business Science Reference”, and “Engineering Science Reference” imprints. For additional information regarding the publisher, please visit www.igi-global.com.

Important Dates:
December 1, 2014: Paper Proposal Submission Deadline (500 words)
December 15, 2014: Proposal Acceptance Notification
May 1, 2015: Full Paper Submission
July 1, 2015: Peer Review Results
September 1, 2015: Final Chapter Submission
September 15, 2015: Final Acceptance Notification

Inquiries and paper proposals should be forwarded electronically to Dr. Hugo Asencio (hasencio@csudh.edu) or Dr. Rui Sun (rsun@csudh.edu).

Why I hate Flickr now

Why I hate Flickr now:

When I send people to look at an album on Flickr, they see only photos – no descriptions. There’s now no way to send them to a view that gives them lots of photos AND descriptions on a screen, as there was on the old, far superior Flickr. That means people don’t know anything about what’s happening in photos, other than what is seen. Something very big happened to me on my recent vacation, but unless you read the descriptions on some of the photos, you don’t know that. How many other big stories are missed because photo descriptions are now SO hidden? This is something nonprofits need to keep in mind if they are still using Flickr – it’s become a not-so-great way to tell your story.

What photo-sharing site do you use, and does it have a view where someone can see lots of photos AND descriptions on a screen?

(tried ipernity, but they don’t take American Express)

Me in Europe in Fall 2014

Happy New Year! (and Happy birthday, Elvis!)

I’ll be in Germany in the Fall of 2014 for a visit of a few weeks. I’ll make a trip to Barcelona, Spain as well for a long weekend in that time. I’m not sure if this will be in September or October.

I would love to combine my trip with presenting or consulting! I’m willing to go wherever German wings or any discount airline flies from Cologne (Köln) or Frankfurt Am Rhein, or wherever I can take a train in 5 hours or less, provided your organization covers airfare/train fare and accommodations. That means I’m willing to travel just about anywhere in Europe: England, Scotland, Ireland, France, Spain, Portugal, Poland, Turkey, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Slovakia, Bulgaria – and more!

I will do an onsite consultation or presentation pro bono, provided your organization covers all travel and accommodation expenses! 

Right now, my dates are flexible; if an organization really wants me to come in October then that’s when I would come to Germany.  My flexibility will change, however, around April 2014, when I have to make a decision about my dates.

More about me.

More about my consulting services.

More about my training areas.

Interested? Email me at jc @ coyotecommunications.com with what you have in mind.