Next “Tech Talk” on March 3

You may have already heard about a recent addition to the NonProfit Capacity Building Program, “Tech Talk” networking.  It began in December 2014–but it’s not too late to join in!  If you’d like to be a part of it and haven’t yet signed up, reply to this post, or Tweet us @ShiaNPCB or @awolber

The tech group will meet again on March 3, 2015 at the Shiawassee Arts Center (206 Curwood Castle Drive, Owosso, MI) where we’ll focus on Building Your Org Online.

Build your org online: Site + Social + Stats  by Andy Wolber (@awolber)

Step outside for a moment. Turn around. Look at your organization’s offices.

Is the location convenient for the people you serve? Do the people you serve find your organization’s presence appealing? Does it support the organization’s purpose? What can you change to make it better, easier, or more convenient? How many people do you help as a result?

Even better: ask the people you serve these questions. The answers should inform where — and how — you engage physically.

Pull out your phone (or laptop). Search for your organization. Explore the results. Ask the same questions as above. The answers should inform where — and how — you engage digitally.

Unlike the people you help at your physical office, you might not see the people you serve digitally. You need to seek stats — from the web and social media — to make these virtual people visible.

Online engagement often consists of three things: a site, plus social media, informed by stats. Here are a few ideas to consider as you build your organization to connect with people online.

Site+Social+Stats

Site: facts, stories & actions

Make it easy to find all the important facts about your organization on your site. Your event calendar, your programs, your address, your budget, your board, your donors, your staff, your mission, your history, your 990… you get the idea. (See a sample website content checklist here.) Use a content management system to share these facts without worrying about the form.

Showcase stories that demonstrate your organization’s work. Make sure that people can see, hear, or read every page of your site on a phone, tablet, or laptop. Build your team — and web tools — so that multiple people involved with the organization know how to create and share stories with video, pictures, sound, and/or text.

Support visitor actions. Make verbs easy: let people… plan a visit, sign up to volunteer, register for an event, donate money, request help, learn how to…, etc. You might want to add a database to your website to make information about these actions easier to manage (for examples, see tools such as NationBuilder, WildApricot, MemberFindMe, or Artful.ly). These systems make it as easier for people to act and for your team to support the action.

Social: community conversations

Find, join, and participate in conversations with people who share your organization’s concerns. In the U.S., these communities often are active on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. “The Art of Listening: Social Media Toolkit for Nonprofits” may help you connect with communities that share your cause.

Use social tools to listen, learn, and discuss… not to simply post press releases. Social media lets you work out loud and show your work, both of which allow more people to be aware of your efforts.

The best conversations on social media — or your blog — might merit a new post or page on your website. (Or even an article in your newsletter, if you still print one!) Ultimately, social media is all about engaging in a conversation with people, regardless of the platform.

Stats: measured change

Numbers measure different things. For example, popularity is not the same as support. A significant increase in traffic to your site following an announcement may indicate that people care about an issue — that it is popular. A poll on your site might measure each person’s opinion on the topic. Take care not to confuse the two.

Analyze your online stats as a total system. You might use Google Analytics to understand behavior of visitors to your website, Facebook Insights and Twitter Analytics to explore social media engagement, and MailChimp reports to analyze email campaigns. The whole system matters: an email link click might take a person to a Facebook post.

For advanced users, A/B testing and outcome analysis is also possible. For example, Google Content Experiments allow you to test how people respond to two different messages on a web page. Does one message prompt more people to donate than another? MailChimp’s A/B testing tool offers similar capabilities for email. Combine the two, and you can conduct rather complicated multivariate experiments. Test. Measure how people behave. See what works. Do more of that.

Site + Social + Stats = Engagement

Put all of the above together, and you’ll have a fairly complete picture of your online engagement. Don’t worry if you don’t have all the components fully mastered. Keep in mind that — much like a building improvement — an enhancement to digital engagement require people’s time, skills, and resources. Take things one step at a time: Update your website today; learn more about Twitter tomorrow.

Now, pull out your phone. Do a search for your organization — and start to improve your organization’s online engagement today.

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