Google is Old, Yahoo is Young, but Lifestyle is better determiner of social media usage

http://www.freefoto.com/images/04/19/04_19_23_prev.jpgJoel Cere’s headline, “Poor Young People Use Yahoo; Rich Old People Use Google,” in response to recently released research from Hitwise leads back to an issue I promised Beth Kanter I’d ponder this last weekend: lifestyle versus age when examining how people use social media.   This issue arose after Beth informally polled a group of teens about their social media usage.  Not one of them used Twitter, yet all used text messaging (SMS).  I’ve gotten into the “age” issue before, in my post on email is for old fogies.

Nonprofit Focus: Social media is “place” not “promotion”

As nonprofit marketers, the focus is not how to get people to use certain web 2.0 media.  It’s about creating “customer” loyalty and communicating the value of what you do—to the right people at the right place.  And, in the old lingo of marketing (product, price, promotion, place), the right social media becomes “place”  rather than what we might think of as “promotion.”

Age, Influence Groups

Yes, age is one demographic we can’t overlook when trying to understand where to reach new volunteers, donors and advocates for nonprofits.  But as I noted on Beth’s blog, “influence groups” are an important determiner of consumer behavior: 

“I know my late adoption of Facebook (or MySpace) was influenced by who I saw using it: teens in my classes and how they were using it (for hooking up).

Really, we’re talking consumer behavior, and the myriad of reference groups that influence behavior. Friendship groups, work groups, virtual communities, advocacy groups—they all influence behavior.”

Even though maintaining friends is a fundamental drive for teens, they may still feel more grounded in face-to-face contact for those times when they want validation (although there is also a role for anonymity in expressing yourself). And, there may be an avoidance to Twitter, given the “watchdog” aspect (given the proliferation of “helicopter parents,” how do you say “no” to a parent who wants to “follow” you?).

Bigger Picture: Lifestyle

An individual’s pattern of living might be even more important to nonprofit marketers.  It also explains why some people over 50 seem to be heavy users of new technology when younger folks are not.  A Pearson marketing textbook I use by Armstrong and Kotler references Forrester Research Inc.’s framework for looking at consumer adoption of online technolgoy.  Forrester has a well-developed “Technographics©” series of research data that looks at how to segment consumers in a variety of ways.  In 2005, they developed 10 categories that segmented tech users including (this quote from text) :

  • Fast Forwards (biggest spenders on tech. Time-strapped, driven, top users).
  • New Age Nurturers (big spenders too, but more of a focus on home use, whether for education or entertainment)
  • Mouse Potatoes (those dedicated to interactive entertainment)
  • Techno-strivers (career advancement oriented use of technology)
  • Traditionalists (small-town folks, suspicious of technology beyond the basics)

Looking at the landscape of social media and users in these terms makes a lot of sense.  For nonprofits to build relationships, we need to be in the right place.  But where that is depends upon who we are trying to reach. 

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Risks, rewards involved in adopting new business models–even in Web 2.0

A couple of “down” days with a cold followed by watching the Superbowl led me to ponder new business models and web 2.0. 

online learningAs you recall, the Superbowl was played at University of Phoenix’s stadium.  UOP was one of the first educational institutions to adopt the distance learning model.  The upside to pushing the envelope is their phenomenal growth and still cutting-edge usage of technology (there are no regular textbooks, just e-books).  The downside: traditional institutions scoffed at degrees earned online.  Some business processes (such as incentives for recruitment) had to be tweaked for an educational model. 

Standards for online learning didn’t exist when they began some 30 years ago, but we’ve come a long way.  Departments of education (state and federal) now recognize these degrees through accreditation.  In some quarters, UOPs e-learning reputation overshadows the fact that they have 200 physical campuses too.  (What, a football stadium?)   (Disclosure: I am a part-time business instructor for UOP Harrisburg campus..but for that reason I know first-hand how stringent their academic standards are). 

When bloggers write about Web 2.0 business models, they generally mean how an entire business is modeled via the web 2. 0 world (Twitter, Google, Facebook, any new startup taking advantage of trends).  But I’m more concerned with how individual nonprofits have adapted to use web 2.0–and I’m not just talking about marketing or fundraising. A couple of years ago, Dion Hinchcliffe wrote this:

There’s a whole aspect of Web 2.0 that can drive genuine business value and significant competitive advantage

This applies to nonprofit as well as for-profit organizations.  

Awhile back, I did a presentation to a statewide network of family service agencies focused on adoption of technology in service delivery.  We examined internet “counseling,” which was first emerging. It usually consisted of sort of of email communications with a therapist.  I thought e-therapy had potential to reach consitutencies not reached through ordinary means—rural residents (if they had internet access), people without transportation, or those otherwise resistant to sharing personal information face-to-face. Well, the suggestion didn’t go over too well. 

Since then, e-therapy has moved forward.   A check of sites (I’m not endorsing these, as I have no knowledge of the quality of their services) such as asktheinternettherapist  and letstalkscounseling show added services including internet video counseling via instant messaging, Windows Live, and Skype. 

Certainly, there is a need for local services and face-to-face counseling where human service providers can make appropriate local referrals and interventions.  Many family service agencies end up dealing with unexpected issues–domestic violence, child abuse, and thoughts of suicide.  But I can’t help but wonder how these agencies can benefit from selective use of these technologies to reach clients in need.  Isn’t that where hotlines came from years ago? 

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Social Media in Action 2: Pedal to the Metal for America’s Giving Challenge

On a post last week,  I reported on Social Media In Action, where Beth Kanter’s passion for kids in Cambodia stood to benefit from participation in the online fundraising contest sponsored by America’s Giving Challenge.   Beth’s passion is for The Sharing Foundation, which is benefiting from her networking on Twitter and her blog. 

The contest is intented to encourage better and more use of online fundraising for nonprofits.  The four fundraisers with the highest number of unique donors will receive $50,000 from the Case Foundation. The 50 projects that get the most total donations will each get $1,000.

 As of this moment in time, The Sharing Foundation is at #2 in terms of unique donors, with 1,490–nope, make that 1,495 (just changed) unique donors. 

  • To donate or check out the action, click here (be patient, with last minute donations, the site is a bit slow).  

The leaderboard is here, if you want to check it out.  

The contest ends this afternoon at 3 p.m.  (if you are reading this after that time, still check out the links…there is much to learn). 

If you are reading this in time, please consider giving the $10 minimum donation to help ensure The Sharing Foundation receives the extra $50,000!  It’s the number of donors that counts.

And if you are with a nonprofit, check out all these links above, including Beth’s Blog to see how you too can take advantage of web 2.0 media. 

Are “late” adopters “twits?”

At least I am. 

I confess, I’m “late” with getting on board with Twitter (ok…it launched in late 2006; only in the cyberworld is this late).  Lots of reasons: 

  • Concern with time management 
  •  Already have plenty of work flow interruptions
  • Too busy to take the time regarding how it all works. 
  • Not sure if there was anyone to tweet with (as most of my peers don’t use it)
  • Fear that the Twitterati will regard me as a late adopter that should just go away (blog posts on how Twitter should get back to how it was a year or more ago instilled that one…..)
  • Okay, and maybe the concern that I won’t be able to keep up with the fast-paced lives of others.  I’d look quite boring online. 
  • I need to detach from my electronic devices quite frequently during the day to stay sane.

You get the drift.

Why I’m taking the plunge.

Darren Rowse at problogger   has a recent post that he worked on over several days.  He discusses the Benefits of Twitter to bloggers, showing how, during his blog writing, things were popping.  Other recent posts include:  How to Use Twitter: Tips for Bloggers and 35 Twitter Tips from Twitter Users.   I’m still digesting these tidbits, diving in nonetheless and hoping to find my “voice” and time management tips for getting the most from the technology.  Still figuring out which desktop client, if any, I should use.

And the ever savvy Beth Kanter again showed how we can all benefit from Twitter.

Journey of a Newbie: Installment 1  

What I’ve figured out so far, in terms of Twitter use:

  1. I’ll use Twitter for mostly professional reasons. (You don’t need to know when I’m running to the grocery store).
  2. However, I’ll be a little more informal then my blog (which is in itself more informal than my presentations).
  3. For now, I’m using Web access only. 
  4. I’ll follow a couple of key people, lurking a little but tweeting concepts I’m working on.
  5. I will start to “tweet” links I find interesting for upcoming blogs, maybe even items that don’t yet make it in, in the hopes of getting other perspectives.
  6. I will learn to think in 140 words or less….but will communicate enough info that followers get the drift.
  7. I will “tweet” more on what I’m thinking, than what I’m doing.   (Advice from Todd Mintz).
  8. I need to learn the lingo.  We use Twitter where we “tweet,” and we are “tweeting,” were “tweeted” but never “twit?”   😉

Stay tuned.  Tips for productive use of this medium actively solicited! 

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BAM: Board Buy-in for Social Media, Part Two

In my previous post, you began to lay the groundwork for board signoff on your web 2.0 initiatives.  

It’s a myth that boards won’t support (increased) usage of web 2.0 technology.  They are simply unfamiliar with the potential of what exists.  They may have seen their teenager use MySpace or a school blog. Your job is to connect the dots. Ultimately, they are accountable for the financial well-being of the organization, which includes ensuring resources are available to achieve the mission.   In BoardSource’s “Twelve Principles of Governance That Power Exceptional Boards,” they state:

Linking budgeting to strategic planning, they approve activities that can be realistically financed with existing or attainable resources, while ensuring that the organization has the infrastructure and internal capacity it needs.

Coupled with the fact that the board’s duties include advancing the public perception of the organization, why wouldn’t they provide the resources and support to more-fully utilize social media?   Now you have your background, let’s get the rest of the ducks in a row:j0314273.jpg

 Questions your presentation should be able to answer:

  1. What do you want the board to sign off on? 
  2. How does this (your web 2.0 suggestions) solve problems or allow staff to do their jobs better?
  3. How does it further the organization’s mission?
  4. How does it link to the organization’s strategic plan?
  5. Are the costs justified? Remember costs include time and money.  Address concerns about learning curves.

Who should do the presentation?

You have two options.  An internal staff member or someone from outside the organization.

  1. Internally, who “owns” your web 2.0 initiative and will be knowledgeable and passionate about it?  It may be the marketing or fund development staff.   Make sure this person presents from an overall strategic standpoint, not their stovepipe, however.
  2.  Sometimes, it might be beneficial to use someone who is perceived as an outside, impartial expert.  You know best.  Consider a consultant (we’re out there) or someone from a larger nonprofit association (perhaps you are a member). 

By getting your Board “on board” with web 2.0, you’ll feel more confident as you build your initiatives. 

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BAM#1: BAM your Board of Directors

Yesterday, I made this comment in response to others on Ken Goldstein’s blog:

In a perfect world, even smaller nonprofits have some semblance of a strategic plan, signed off on by their board of directors. Web2.0 usage would be integrated into the plan (in general terms-I don’t want to indicate micro-management or, heaven forbid, sound too corporate). Buy-in in general terms by the board really frees up staff to do what they do best. In reality, most usage of Web2.0 is probably first seen coming out of the marketing and fund development staff (or consultants). The staff using it (including the Exec. Director) gets put in the position of have to explain where it fits, why resources are being used, etc. No resource is completely “free”—staff time, at minimum, is required.bam.jpg

  

There are many steps to strategic planning, but we’re only requiring small, incremental steps here on your journey to get buy-in from your board.  I envision a presentation that would be done in more than one part.  Once you “hook” them, you’ll need to then layout what resources you need and what your results will be.

In preparation for step 1, examine your external operating environment and how it is being or will be impacted by web 2.0.  This would include:

  • Identify your key constituencies.  Volunteers, donors, potential supporters, advocates–you know best. 
  • Lay out the external environment in which your organization functions.  You’d need to look at:
    • Social Factors, such as the lifestyle, attitudes and values of your key constituencies (the need for transparency, engagement,  shift in giving patterns, loyalty, etc. Back yourself up with facts.)
    • Technological Factors, such as the innovations that now exist in web 2.0
    • Contending Forces (in the private sector, I might call this “competitive factors”).  Who else is out there who deals with your key constituencies? Who is vying for funds?
    • Economic factors, such as the need to seek alternative ways of fund development. given local and regional trends.
    • Best Practices–how others with similar missions are effectively using new social media technologies.  A quick review (and demonstration) of some select best practices that best serve your purposes.  Should also include bullets on ease of implementation.  
  • Where possible, cut the jargon.  Even the term web2.0 might not be used in a board presentation, at least not at first.

In BAM#1, Part 2, we’ll talk about how to and who should present this to the board and subsequent steps.

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