Five Must-Have Skills for Nonprofit Social Media Managers

Reprinted from NONPROFIT TECH 2.0


Your nonprofit’s social media campaigns are only as good as the social media manager running them. Facebook, Twitter, and Foursquare are not miracle-producers. They are simply tools that can result in high ROI for your nonprofit, but only if the person sharing Status Updates, Twittering, and Checking-in on behalf of your nonprofit has the right skills, experience and training to make social media produce results. These are just some of the required skills necessary for a successful social media manager:

1) The ability and desire to blog.

Fresh content drives the Social Web. Old news does not get shared on Facebook or retweeted on Twitter. Your social media manager needs to be willing to create content on a somewhat regular basis in order to tap into the 24/7 breaking news cycle. Blogging allows your social media manager to easily do that and if the blog is well-designed, then the ROI from blogging can transform your social media campaigns. For many nonprofits, blogging is the missing piece of their social media strategy, and consequently their social media ROI is lackluster at best.

2) Is mobile.

The Mobile Web is here. It’s not some abstract concept of the Next Big Thing. The Internet has gone mobile. That said, the best nonprofit social media managers are sharing and tweeting from location. Some are experimenting with mobile photo and video-sharing and if they aren’t yet, then it’s high on their to-do list, as is experimenting with Foursquare, Gowalla, and Facebook Places. Half the battle of social media success is being an early adopter, and now is the time for early adoption of mobile technology.

3) Is passionate about social media.

A good social media manager must like social media. You can not force staff that have no interest in social media to use it. Their lack of interest will shine through in their tone and personality, or lack their of. That’s the last thing your nonprofit wants.

4) Has experience in Web 1.0 communications i.e., website, e-newsletter and “Donate Now” campaigns.

No offense to the interns (really), but one of the biggest mistakes nonprofits have made is assuming that because someone is 21 and has been using Facebook since they were 17, then they of course they must also know how to use Facebook for marketing. Wrong. So wrong. The best social media managers have at least one or two years experience in crafting Web content, managing an e-newsletter, and launching “Donate Now” campaigns. Those skills and background are absolutely necessary to get the bigger picture of successful online communications and development in the era of the Social, and now also Mobile Web.

That said, if your nonprofit can not afford a social media manager with experience in Web 1.0, then please at the very least make sure your interns are properly trained. Trust me, as someone who monitors hundreds of nonprofits on social media daily, many are in desperate need of training. Whether you take my webinars, or those offered by TechSoup or Idealware, the vast majority social media volunteers and interns with no professional experience in online communications and fundraising absolutely need professional training.

5) Is friendly, patient and responsive.

Over the years I have experienced all kinds of personalities on social media, and the one’s that stand out and have enticed me to become more interested in their nonprofit are those that are friendly and readily available to respond to comments and questions. The collective nonprofit online personality is one of courtesy, generosity, and humility. A good social media manager keeps their ego in check and approaches their communities from the prospective of providing service and fostering social good.

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The Ecologist guide to turning ‘clicktivists’ into activists

Reprinted from Ecologist

Christine Ottery

25th March, 2011

Continuing our series on how to successfully campaign, Christine Ottery reports on the best ways to motivate armchair activists to take offline action – and gets tips from some of those who’ve pioneered new forms of protest

Online activism has recently scored a massive win with the 38 Degrees campaign to stop the government’s plans to sell off the UK’s forests. The campaign garnered half a million signatures for their petition, and asked members to email their MPs. Activists also donated their money to fund a public opinion poll and adverts in national newspapers.

However, 38 Degrees members also took ‘offline’ action: they put up posters in their local woodlands and organized local events.

In the light of this recent success and others such as stopping the mega-dairy in Lincolnshire, it is difficult to agree with sceptics that online activism, known as ‘clicktivism‘, does not work. Sceptics criticize online activism as ‘passive’. They argue that one click of the mouse to ‘like’ a Facebook page, sign a petition, or follow a campaign on Twitter creates a generation of lazy armchair activists who don’t know how to get involved with real world protest.

It is true that there is very little personal cost for individuals to sign up to show their interest in campaigns, informally or on a formal petition. It is common sense that getting people to part with their large chunks of their time or their money is more challenging.

However, David Babbs, executive director of 38 Degrees says:
’There is a natural continuum between online and offline, which I think is sometimes forgotten when we talk about clicktivism.’

‘I think that people get involved with 38 Degrees not because they want to do stuff on the internet but because they want to make change happen, and sometimes that’s about doing things online, or sometimes that’s about doing things offline,’ says Babbs. For example, Babbs tells me that you can have an impact by emailing your MP, but if your MP has heard from lots of people then the next step is to meet them and put pressure on them face to face.

In fact, most campaigns are online and offline hybrids. At one end of the spectrum there are organizations that channel the bulk of their activism online such as AVAAZ and 38 Degrees on one end – at the other, the UK Youth Climate Coalition (UKYCC) and Climate Rush use an online presence alongside meetings or direct action, which are the main event. The cuts protest group UK Uncut seems to effortlessly straddle the online/offline spheres, conducting meetings over Twitter and growing their website alongside their nationwide protests.

I spoke to campaigners from these groups to find out how they engaged with their members to try and motivate them to commit to getting up out of their armchairs and into ‘offline’ action? Here are their suggestions:

Tips for motivating clicktivists to take offline action

Empower people to take action

Knowledge is power. Tamsin Omond, founder of Climate Rush, says that, ‘To join our Facebook group or to follow us on Twitter is easy but a bit superficial in comparison to getting in the deep end with direct action.’ But, she says, people can find out about their public-facing events online, and once they have learned more, they can get involved with weekly meetings. Online support materials also help empower activists in the case of UK Uncut, who provided a video about planning your own protests that quickly went viral.

Get input from members

Asking your community what they want to do – rather than just marketing your ideas to them – to them is what Babbs says is the secret of why 38 Degrees has been so successful to engaging large numbers of people and motivating them to take action. Members of 38 Degrees choose the campaigns they want to focus on and then thousands of them steer the strategy via online polls.

 

Spread peer influence

Marketeers have identified that sharing news of a purchase over Facebook or Twitter is an important advertising strategy for the future, as reported in Wired UK. Could this work for activism? David Babbs agrees: ‘The more you can see that other people are raising money or exerting influence then the easier it is to believe in.’ Peer-to-peer sharing online also breaks down barriers between groups of friends with different interests, enabling everyone to get involved. In theory, if you share that you are taking part in a real world action, others will follow.

Keep it positive

When you are composing your Tweets, Facebook updates or other online communications, try to keep a positive tone and tell people about specific opportunities to get involved with taking action. ‘One thing we do is we try not to spam and overload Facebook, we only publish a few times a day so that it’s not clogging people’s newsfeeds,’ says Andy Hix, communications coordinator from UKYCC.

Respond in a flash

UKYCC’s Andy Hix tells me that: ‘Social media allows a new form of campaigning that was never possible before, to mobilise people all around the country immediately.’ One example is a two-hour campaign started on Facebook and Twitter to make sure Chris Huhne stayed at the Cancun climate summit when it was rumoured he might return to the UK. UKYCC members bombarded Chris Huhne’s office and Downing Street with phone calls to tell him to stay at the Cancun negotiations – so many that the Downing Street switchboard was closed and UKYCC leaders were invited for an emergency meeting with Chris Huhne’s advisors. Chris Huhne ended up staying in Cancun.

Focus on local action
A recent survey on community action found that people are more likely to be interested in helping their local community than society at large. Campaign groups such as UK Uncut and the Yes to Fairer Votes – both of which have relevance to the green movement – send out email mailouts specific to actions going on in your local area. The False Economy website on cuts shows crowdsourced material on how the cuts will local environmental services.

Visualise the problem – and the solution

You can create your own maps to show people how an issue affects people in different areas – and most importantly in their own area. The Save the Forests campaign had a map of forests under threat and the False Economy campaign has a map annotated with different places affected by cuts. See the Ecologist’s guide to digital activism for more guidance on this.

Avaaz has a ‘Happening right now’ counter showing people power in real time as people all over the world sign their petitions, including the petition on climate change, while 38 Degrees has a prominent counter of how many people are taking part in its actions.

Awareness-raising

Don’t forget the traditional media as a channel for publicizing your campaign. For example, the Save England’s Forests campaign managed to get a letter of support signed by various celebrities printed in the Telegraph, which helped create momentum around the campaign. Also, Daniel Garvin from UK Uncut says: ‘Local papers are always hungry for stories about the cuts.’

Christine Ottery is a freelance journalist

Seven Firefox add-ons that improve online privacy

by Joseph Guarino, CSO Mar 12, 2010 10:30 pm

Editor’s Note: The following article is reprinted from CSO.

As strange as it might sound, there are times when I wish for the old days of the Internet circa the early 1990’s. The days of Mosaic and Lynx, where there was no Flash, no JavaScript and no Java. A simpler time where protecting your privacy and security wasn’t as essential as it is today.

Time travel isn’t an option for securing my browser. But Firefox gives me it all and then some. The number-two browser (with 32 percent market share), Firefox is a cross platform, standards based, open source browser. It is feature rich and has supernumerary add-ons to extend its functionality. In the spirit of Open Source, its community maintains a focus on security and has a strong record of swiftly patching known vulnerabilities, faster in some cases than most others in the market.

Firefox isn’t just a killer app; it’s also a pillar of the Internet community. When it comes to security and privacy, the Firefox picture is compelling, with over 600 add-ons related to privacy and security. Acknowledging the current state of privacy and security, these add-ons are a welcome addition to any browsing experience.

My goal in this article is to highlight a few of my favorites with the hopes that you too will take advantage of them.

NoScript NoScript is a powerful add-on that blocks and blacklists JavaScript, Java, Flash, and other plug-ins by default. It features protections against Cross-Site Scripting (XSS), Flash XSS and clickjacking, to name a few. With most websites relying on these plug-in technologies, you effectively have to whitelist the sites for them to function. Using the NoScript status bar icon, you can whitelist on a temporary basis or add sites to your permanent whitelist. This preemptive script blocking tool is a must for any Firefox user.

BetterPrivacy BetterPrivacy is an add-on that lets you manage LSO-cookies — or, as they are commonly known, flash cookies. Flash cookies are a newer and more enhanced way of storing information about you and your online activities than traditional cookies. Unlike the traditional Web cookie, flash cookies don’t expire and can’t be deleted within the browser’s interface. Even “delete your recent history” doesn’t remove these “super cookies.” Adobe currently only provides an online-only website storage panel to manage them, which is hardly user-or-privacy friendly. Thankfully, BetterPrivacy helps us chomp on those pesky cookies, allowing us to manage and remove them.

Adblock Plus Adblock Plus is a simple add-on that gives granular control over page elements such as ads/banners content in your browser experience. Although it does use a region-specific block list, you can configure filters with great flexibility, blocking or allowing content as you see fit. Adblock is a God-send for those of us who don’t want a Web littered with poorly targeted ads.

Foxproxy Foxproxy is a feature-rich proxy management add-on. It allows ease and customization in managing your proxy setting. For example, you can add multiple proxies and to define how and when they are used based on URL patterns, wildcards, expressions, etc. Added support for Tor provides some privacy and anonymity. Foxproxy even supports Tor in conjunction with Privoxy, the non-caching Web privacy enhancing proxy offering even greater potential for online privacy and anonymity.

Firebug Although Firebug is technically a Web-development tool, it certainly holds its weight in helping protect our privacy/security. This tool allows us to monitor, debug and edit the content of any website live in any webpage within the browser. We can see all the details on the regarding HTML, CSS, JavaScript and related webpage resources in great detail. It does help the more nerdy among us ascertain what’s going on under the hood of a website with nicely detailed, color-coded and organized displays. It’s helpful in investigating websites that seem slightly fishy.

Torbutton Torbutton is a simple add-on that allows you to configure Firefox to use Tor. For those unfamiliar with Tor, it is a distributed, community run network that provides relative anonymity/privacy to those utilizing it. Torbutton allows for a Firefox user to easily and quickly turn on Tor for some basic anonymity in their Internet activities.

FireGPG FireGPG is an add-on that allows integration with the cross-platform, free software encryption suite GnuPG. (GNU Privacy Guard). GnuPG is an OpenPGP standards-based free software encryption tool that allows you to encrypt and sign your communications. FireGPG allows you to encrypt, decrypt, sign, etc. directly within Firefox. FireGPG also supports direct integration with Gmail, with more webmail applications planned the near future.

Firefox is a great choice for those interested in a feature-rich, stable and secure browser. With the addition of these add-ons it proves to be a powerful tool for protecting your security and privacy. If you’re not already a user I encourage you to give it a try. The dedicated nature of the Firefox community promises more innovations to look forward to in the future.

Joseph Guarino is the owner and senior consultant at EvolutionaryIT and is based in Boston.

Reprinted from Macworld

An Open Letter To The Kashmir Interlocutors

By Javed Naqi

22 December, 2010
Countercurrents.org

I am a voice from Kargil, an isolated barren island of forgotten people and I want to be heard. I have several questions.

I strongly believe that the call for Azadi/Freedom or for that matter political resolution and other similar demands is a concern that is secondary to us. The primary concern is on the issue of basic survival, which is threatened and remains at stake due to the geographical isolation and harsh climatic conditions of Kargil. Kargil is connected to the outerworld via Zojila pass, which becomes inaccessible atleast for six months in winters due to heavy snowfall and hence begins a period of isolation for the people of Kargil. This isolation results in great loses in terms of education, health, rural infrastructure and most importantly sustainability. During summers, the people and the government become more involved in stocking basic amenities for the winters. Thus, energy and time are invested into it and other major development issues in different sectors get ignored. We have little choice but to consume stocked stale food items, thus raising health concerns among the people of Kargil. Can you imagine how this impacts our well being and bodily and mental developments? This tragic existence rests far from the reality in which rest of India and the world lives.

The people of Kargil have been demanding construction of a tunnel through the Zojila pass or an all weather road for years but ability is forced into disability and disability is made more difficult. People who can make this happen have no justification to give. Pleas and requests find their place in the dustbin. The well-being of the people is a lip story. It hasn’t reached the hearts and the minds of those who have the power to turn the tables. The situation is gross and needs to be assessed.

This is what I feel is a sheer injustice and violation of Right to Life depriving Kargil of all weather connectivity. This gives an impression to a youth like me that the powers at New Delhi have always viewed Kargil as a battle field rather than a human inhabited territory. The aspirations and concerns of the local mass are always pushed back in the priority list and hence leaving the inhabitants to struggle for the survival.

If our country can give grants in millions of dollar in the neighbourhood for infrastructure vis-a-vis road development and connectivity, isn’t it possible for the nation to spend a minute sum of it for its own people to connect them with the outer world round the year. The construction of tunnel at Zojila or all weather road will result in a dramatic shift in socio-economic development of the region. The dream tunnel will save crores of state money, now being spent for air maintenance and winter stocking of the region both by army and civil administration.

I wonder when looking at stories of technological developments in our country, isn’t it possible for this technology to break the centuries old isolation of Kargil. As a youth who believes in change plus follows and admires wonders of mankind’s ingenuity, I can’t take that Zojila tunnel is an impossible venture owing to the geo-climatic conditions. There are many examples of similar and much difficult projects carried out by different nations. China made it possible the miracle train to Tibet which traverse a mountain pass sitting 5,072 meters (16,737 feet) to rise up to the Tibetan plateau. Zhongnanshan Tunnel in Shaanxi province, China, is the longest two-tube road tunnel in the world. The 18,040-metre long tunnel, crosses under the Zhongnan Mountain.

I dread the winter isolation more than a war happening in Kargil. The war would come once in a while but this isolation knocks at the door every year. The war would kill during the war but this isolation kills every year. I often ask myself a question. What is happiness and what is national pride?

I want AZADI from the six months isolation during winter. I don’t want to see it as a fate as it has been accepted by my people for this long. This isolation has rendered us as the most backward district in the entire country.

Why are we quiet? Winters are there and Kargil, my destination is cut off from the rest of the nation. I raise my voice to save lives that perish due to approach being blocked in winters and so unavailability of basic amenities, for educational institutions shut down due to harsh climatic conditions, roads are completely blocked with no resources reachable, cultivation and irrigation comes to a standstill. Under such climatic conditions year after year human life is always at stake.

Javed Naqi
A Voice of an inmate youth from the freezing prison, Kargil.