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Making the web smaller by getting to know your neighbors

27 Jan

Lately I’ve been attracted to local, neighborhood online communities. They seem to be the only venues where people care passionately about drive-by posts and action happens. For example, I recently became acquainted with someone whom I’ve long admired, Steven Clift. He’s all about networking offline communities using online tools. He also happens to have the enviable twitter handle, @democracy, because he claims he was twitter user number 600 or something. So, he launched to help local communities connect and collaborate. There are also a few other tools I’ve been playing with, along similar lines, and  These all serve slightly different pruposes, but they share a goal of helping you get to know your neighbors and your neighbors’ neighbors.

Such is also the case online, and I’ve been playing around with a new network mapping tools like SocialBro Twiangulate and Tagwalk. These tools help you find adjacent tags and common followers which will help you not only map your social graph, but also will help you be more directed in your social media marketing.

For example, you may know three hashtags related to a certain topic, but not know any more and not have a firm grasp on all the most influential tweeters who are strong advocates for that topic. Knowing the neighboring tags and users will help you contact the best people to help you drive your campaign.

Similarly, if you want to find advocates in a specific interest area, go to slideshare and see who has presented on that topic, or go to to see who is curating the best content on the topic, because they’re expert-level candidates with already engaged networks to help you share your message.

So, as is the case with local neighbors, if you can find your virtual neighbors, who reside by you on a social network map, due to their interests, you will have stronger advocates for your cause and more efficient messaging in outbound campaign asks.


Monitor Misspellings and posting aloud

17 Oct

In my preparation for the talk I’m giving today at the Hawaii Social Media Summit, I was thinking about Social Mention, Hootsuite and Netvibes and how I don’t only monitor the correct spellings of names, I also monitor misspellings and names without an @ symbol. For example, I’m certain that the person/team monitoring Facebook’s sentiment does it with a sentiment analysis tool. However, when you set these tools or dashboards up, you need to account for common misspellings, people forgetting to put an @ in front of the twitter account, adding a space btw Face and Book, etc.

Similarly, when you are publishing a post to a social network, remember that you are posting aloud and you have an audience, so when you are tweeting, why not make it easier for the subject whom you are tweeting about to find your comment?

Make sure you @mention them, so they can easily hear and reply to your tweet. Another benefit of this is that those who are reading your posts will also have a clear path to that subject matter expert and potentially follow them.

It seems obvious to some but not applied by many, whether due to laziness or ignorance, but my point is not to chastise whom is tweeting incorrectly, but more to point out the importance of these three important factors:

  1. Monitor various spellings and misspellings
  2. Make sure to search for correct twitter account name or page and @ mention or link to it, if you are mentioning a person or company in twitter.

Of course, in cases like Facebook or Twitter, I’m not so concerned about their ability to hear what I’m saying or to drive traffic their way, which is why I choose to not @ mention them. I’m a rebel that way.

Storify compilation of the tweets from my talk at Cabrillo College

4 Jun

Here are the tweets compiled from my lecture that I gave at Cabrillo College on the Business of Art. I was a guest lecturer on the topic of social media for artists. 

Tweets from the Cabrillo College extension class I led on the Business of Art on Storify


In case you missed the webinar…

30 Apr

In case you missed our webinar last week on Social Media for nonprofits on Social Media Today, here is the slideshare and audio archived post.

Thoughts around Community Values and the Lifecycle of Online Community and Social Media work

24 Apr

I recently presented on a panel of community managers at the Storify offices last week, and this morning on the Social Media Today webinar on Social Media for Nonprofits.

I’ve been thinking a lot about having community values lately. I’ve been thinking about a set of core attributes for our team to focus on when we do our work. We already have a team mission, which is:

– Connect the nonprofit community to each other while amplifying the messages and missions of this community
– Amplify the message of a variety of TechSoup partners, including global NGO and corporate (donor)
– Amplify the message of TechSoup programs and internal departments to the broader NP Tech Sector

But I’ve also been thinking about the pillars behind making a good and sustainable, thriving community.

I created this infographic to illustrate what I’ve been thinking about.

In a growing and scalable community, you also need to think about speaking the local language of each platform you are engaging in, recapping all of your events and archiving those recaps in a searchable place (like TechSoup Community Wiki and having a live, transparent back-channel with all your events (as in, visible on twitter, projected if it’s a live event via Twitterfall.

Most importantly, and I discovered this by hitting my head against a wall, being constantly shocked at how many social media “experts” don’t do this well, enable all aspects of your work for easy sharing across social networks. Make this sharing configurable by the user, and thank them when they do follow or share.

For example, after you register for a webinar, there should be a page that is an easy landing page for you to share with your community. The webinar I presented on today chose to not have this enabled, so once you registered, you couldn’t share the webinar page easily. Although this was their decision, to prevent confusion, I was confused, as I’m a prolific and compulsive sharer with my social networks. Apparently, I was not the only one confused, as you can see here in this tweet by Karen Sequira

Also, if you have new followers, if people add you to a twitter list, if they ReTweet you, if they favorite or download or share something you’ve posted on Facebook or Slideshare, they are already bough-in as a member of your community of evangelists. Help them share your work. Make it easy for your super fans to help you!

Here is my latest presentation that talks a bit more about this stuff:

17 Nov

Here is the video from my panel at Columbia University’s Engaging Constituencies: Inspiring and Mobilizing Talent and Capital panel at the conference on Social Entrepreneurship last month in NYC>

Presenting today at: Conspiring for the Common Good: 2011 Marin Nonprofit Conference

2 Nov

Here is my presentation on Common Social Media Pitfalls and some simple tricks to avoid them


Case Study on the TechSoup Digital Storytelling Campaign

1 Nov

We are approaching our third year doing the TechSoup Digital Storytelling Campaign and I was asked to write a case study for the NTEN Change Journal.

Here is the direct link to the article A closer look at an online engagement campaign from TechSoup Global

First published in NTEN: Change, June 2011, CC BY-SA 3.0

28 Sep

I just presented at the Florida Housing Coalition’s Annual Conference on social media capacity building for nonprofits, yesterday. Here’s my slide presentation.

15 Jul

(This is cross-posted on the TechSoup Blog)


The Future Of Nonprofits, by my friends and collagues, the very smart and innovative, David J. Neff and Randal C. Moss, is a must-read for any leader or a staff member that has ambitions of being a leader at a nonprofit. It is an accessible read and reassured me that much of what I thought was unique to my innovative team is happening all around. We all make up systems as we go along, we all look for inspiration at non-parallel models, we all incorporate game-theory into our work, and we enjoy thinking about how to bring incentives into the act of participating in our communities. We are thinking in the correct framework of nurturing and cultivating innovation.

What I didn’t know prior to reading this book, however, was how to spot innovation and help staff members stay focused and motivated on growing our programs. We all know that we are never at completion with a web product. All of our projects are a work in progress and if you are only about creating a PDF and calling your report a signed, sealed, delivered product, you are probably missing some valuable opportunities. The book reminds us of the value of transparency in our everyday work processes and the benefits of letting your staff have the freedom to re-think your existing model.

David and Randy (I’ve presented with them several times, hugged them, had beers with them, I’ve even hung out in our Nonprofit Commons in Second Life virtual island with them, so yes, we are on a first name basis) reminded me that innovation doesn’t just happen. In fact, there are organizations that build innovative discovery into their structured work day (think of Google’s 20% rule that all stafferes are encouraged to spend 20% of their work day doing a project that is of their design and choosing, without the approval of leadership.) The Future Of Nonprofits identifies the essence of good product design and loyal, passionate staff members as having this kind of freedom.

This is a book that will speak to the leaders in your organization; and not only the C-level leaders, but also the people like me, David and Randy, who are innovative program managers and directors, but not executives. In fact, this book often takes that vantage point, and it’s a unique position to be in (to be a visionary and also an implementer, worker-bee).

This book also talks about how having innovation steeped in the culture of the organization (all the way up to the Board of Director level) is more important than having people with top-notch tech skills. It is much harder to harness and retain passionate staffers and they are the ones who will be thinking about work on off-hours, trying to come up with creative ways to share and amplify your mission with a broader sector than your existing constiuency.

The book has a good balance of interviews and case studies with leading experts from the field, talking about their day to day work (like Wendy Harmon, social media manager for the American Red Cross and Danny Ingram Chief Mission officer of the American Cancer Society) and practical tips about how to think about your work within a framework of innovation. The authors break down broad topics like Communications, Fundraising and Staffing and “futurecast” ways to re-think these high-level, common nonprofit strategies with an eye toward a supporting a paradigm-shift.

I also appreciate that the book sets the reader up with a few, manageable personal endeavors and challenges to take on right away, removing the theory from the abstract and giving sample worksheets and questions to help you quickly arrive at practical solutions to help your organization futurecast, promote broader awareness and achieve action-based results, while remembering that there is nothing wrong with celebrating the element of fun. Remember, I have not simply had beers with these guys, I’ve flown around Second Life with their avatars and had virtual beers with them. And those kind of rewards are what make us continue to look for new models and reinvent our work.

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