Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Making Your Social Media Strategy a Reality: Reflections, Challenges and Next Steps

The symposium wraps up with reflections from Mitch Hurst and Milt Sharp. Participants will be challenged to think about how they can get started with their organization's social media strategy. Plus three lucky participants will win Flip Video Camcorders!

Community Engagement 2.0

Check out this quick highlight from the Community Engagement 2.0 session. Noelle Haille of IMPACT Silver Spring captures some of the dialogue with Charles Lenchner, Director of Online Organizing for the Working Families Party in New York. The afternoon session highlights the work of Noelle along with Monica Garreton Chavez from Logan Square Neighborhood Association and Reemberto Rodriguez from the Silver Spring Regional Center.

Online Communications

Demetrio Maguigad, New Media Manager for the Community Media Workshop helps participants understand how nonprofits are using online communication tools to advance their mission and build their organization.

Overseeing Your Organization's Social Media Strategy

Angela Siefer, Founder and Chancellor of Shiny Door helps Exewcutive Directors and organizational decision makers examine the basic tenets of establishing a social media strategy for their nonprofit organization. The afternoon portion of the session will feature a discussion with Kim Brumber - NeighborWorks Rochester, Justin Massa -, and Bill Traynor - Lawrence CommunityWorks.

Introduction to Social Media Strategy

Demetrio Maguiguad and Lovette Ajayi of the Community Media Workshop introduce participants to social media strategy through an interactive session modeled after the ever popular social media game

New Media, New World: What's It All About?

Follow the opening session of the NeighborWorks Symposium Social Media and Web 2.0: Engaging Community and Achieving Mission. Mitch Hurst, VP of Interactive Solutions with the Scofield Company will set the stage for the symposium via a live chat with Gavin Clabaugh, VP of Information Services with the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Making Life Simpler with RSS

For many of us, checking our favorite online news sources has become as much a staple of our morning routine as that strong cup of coffee. Although many of our frequently visited sites are easily accessible from our past browsing history or stored in our internet browser Favorites, RSS feeds, short for Real Simple Syndication, eliminate the need for us to navigate to multiple sites in order to get our fix.

The key to managing your RSS feeds is setting yourself up with a good reader. Google Reader is a great tool (and a personal favorite) to easily keep up with all your favorite blogs, but there are also a number of other subscription services available. These services pull the latest news and updates from all your favorite sites directly into one page, making information easy to manage. Once again, the folks at CommonCraft have another great video that sums it up in less than four minutes and provides a step-by-step how to set up your RSS feeds.

Although a little dated, this piece from Tech Soup gives ten solid reasons why the non-profit world should be using RSS feeds. The No. 1 reason on TechSoup’s Top Ten is top for a reason: RSS makes the web easier to read – saving all of us time. And of course, if your organization has a blog, having an RSS feed available to your readers, is critical if you want to get your site noticed and build some buzz on the Web.

You can get started by setting up an RSS feed of NeighborWorks news.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Use Your Voice

When asked to contribute an entry to our Social Media Symposium blog about, I happily said yes! I manage this professional networking site that launched earlier in March 2009. It is designed specifically for emerging and established community development leaders. The goal of the site is to facilitate communication across all types of community development corporations (CDCs) and among people with diverse backgrounds and skill sets. It provides the industry with a platform upon which to share ideas and experiences, access professional development and career opportunities, and create a more effective and diverse field.

That first paragraph reads so nicely because I lifted much of it from a press release that went out shortly after we launched the site. It's a very well-written, manicured introduction, but when contributing to a social or professional networking site, the voice of the contributor tends to become much more familiar, less this blog entry. I think that's part of the appeal of belonging to an online community. In fact, I find that the more conversational and relaxed users are with their tone on the site, while maintaining the appropriate level of professionalism, the more interested I am in reading.

Recently, we surveyed our site members to find out what they had to say about

“I love to hear what is happening across our nation in the housing market...I love being able to bump ideas off of others who may have already gone through what I am going through with my organization. Being young and new to the non-profit housing market, it is great to learn from seasoned individuals and organizations.”

“The opportunity to network with other non profit organizations has assisted in increasing my capacity and that of the organization.”

“Good platform for exploring our work and movement for change.”

These are the voices of our site members speaking to the impact a well-managed professional networking site can offer. This is why people join and engage. Users contribute, comment, ask, answer, and learn from one another. It reminds me of the model our instructor used in my Community Economic Development class to represent a well run community where capital circulates and helps the community to flourish. In this scenario, the capital is information and the members of the community are the ones who govern the process.

This is the part of the blog where my supervisor stops and thinks to herself, “Ah, very good grasshopper. You are learning!”

And, I am learning…as we all are. That's the whole point., as with many professional networking sites, subsists mainly on user-generated content. I learn from you, and you learn from me. That’s why it works.

Debbie Wise writes a blog for called, New to the Neighborhood and this is her voice.

A Bit About Blogs

If one measure of an organization’s effectiveness is its ability to communicate frequently with its constituents, then an active blog is an important tool. Blogs have become one of the most powerful sources of news on the web.

Short for “web log,” Merriam-Webster defines a blog as “a Web site that contains an online personal journal with reflections, comments, and often hyperlinks provided by the writer.” Probably the most straightforward (and ubiquitous) tool in social media, blogs are only as strong as their content, readership, and ability to connect with other sites.

While most successful blogs allow readers to comment on postings, blogs are noticeably more static than some of their social media counterparts. This static structure demands that bloggers keep their site interesting. While an eye-appealing web design and interesting topics (along with solid writing, of course) are huge, the key lies in keeping content fresh. (and yes, this blogger can attest to the challenge!)

According to EchoDitto, there are three basic keys to building a successful blog:

  • Engage with other blogs and your own readers
  • Keep the material fresh and exciting
  • Give people a reason to return

For more on non-profit blogging, check out the Non-Profit Blog Exchange and blog tips at Have Fun-Do Good.

If you're headed to the Chicago NTI, don't miss the Blogging 101 workshop with Shirley Sexton of See3 Communications Tuesday from 4:30-6:00 at the Palmer House Hilton.