Tag Archives: twitter

Four Strategies for Engagement with Location-Based Services

This article originally appeared in the April 2012 issue of onPhilanthropy.

Four Strategies for Engagement with Location-Based Services

By Stacy Dyer

You may be hearing about a popular new social media activity. Multiple apps, including Foursquare, Facebook Places, and Gowalla, allow individuals to check in at various locations using their smart phone, and then share their check-ins with their friends. Players can collect points and organizations of all kinds are offering real benefits for virtual check-ins.

Location-based games and services have seen exponential growth over the last three years. Nonprofit organizations are using them to increase their visibility to a growing audience of relatively young, affluent, and highly engaged supporters.

Getting started is easy.  Here are four strategies you can use to maximize your engagement with constituents using location-based services.

#1 Promote it at your event

Special events are the ideal time to take advantage of location-based services. During busy events, festivals, or other gatherings, the more individuals who check in, the more likely the location will become designated a “hot spot.” Hot spots are promoted to the top of the list whenever anyone in the area checks in, thereby piquing the curiosity of a wide audience. Promote your participation with visual signage in prominent locations. It reminds casual players to pull out their phones and check in.

#2 Offer a special

Offer a special to encourage folks to check in at your event. It can be a free drink from the concession stand, or a free give-away. Be creative. For a more long-term investment, consider offering a reward to the person who checks in most often (e.g. called “the mayor” on Foursquare) at your location.

To ensure an exceptional experience for those who check in and attempt to redeem the special, be sure to train all staff and volunteers.

#3 Drop an item or create a badge

As previously mentioned, Foursquare is not the only location-based service. Gowalla, an Austin, Texas-based company, has its own service, allowing users to unlock badges and encouraging players to leave or swap items when checking into locations. Facebook Places allows you to use Facebook to “check-in” to locations, as well as tag them in posts and photo uploads.

Consider creating a special item just for your event. Players may carry your item to a distant place and drop it off for the next player who comes by. Consider this example: a South by Southwest Music Festival (SXSW) badge from Austin is dropped off at the Sundance Film Festival in Utah, or even farther away. How could such an activity spread brand awareness for your organization?

#4 Make it an adventure

Are you part of a collective of city theaters or museums? Consider creating a trip including all of your participating locations. You can highlight key attractions and direct players to hidden gems. Combine your trip with a special to create a special scavenger hunt game.

You could also develop adventure tours for volunteers to target parks for clean-ups, or donors to visit locations being benefitted by their support.

“One thing I like best about location-based networking is that people often link their check-in service to their Twitter accounts,” says Kristen Britt O’Donnell, director of public relations and marketing for Goodwill Industries of Southwest Florida, Inc. in North Fort Myers, Fla. “Having the Twitter link gives our organization yet another opportunity to engage with supporters one-on-one, by thanking them for stopping by, asking them how their visit was, or offering them suggestions for a future visit.”

Your options for using location-based services are limited only by your creativity. If you keep it fun and engaging, your forays into using this dynamic social media activity will open a new channel for you to connect with your community and donors.

To read more about different ways organizations can get started with Foursquare, specifically, check out this post on the Sage Words blog: “Foursquare is open for business! Not-for-profits take note.”

Get the Word Out: Event Fundraising Using Social Networking

This article was originally published by Fundraising Success in September 2011


Get the Word Out: Event Fundraising Using Social Networking
By Stacy Dyer

Fundraisers know the key to successful special events is good attendance. A well-attended event garners not only more revenue from registration fees or ticket sales, but also broader exposure for your cause to your community and their networks.

But, event fundraisers are on a hard deadline. Unlike an annual campaign or endowment drive –which can be ongoing throughout the year – in order for supporters to participate in your special event, they must be aware and take action before the big day.

How can you best spread awareness to as many potential supporters as possible when you have limited budget and resources? Leverage social media to get the word out quickly and efficiently throughout your nonprofit’s network.

In The Networked Nonprofit, authors Beth Kanter and Allison Fine write, “Networked Nonprofits work as social networks, not just in them.” According to Kanter and Fine, by connecting individuals with common interests and goals, nonprofits create an ecosystem of organizations and people eager to help.

And, by utilizing “free agents”individuals working outside the organization who can organize and raise funds – nonprofits can capitalize on the power of social media to get their message out.

Social Networks Disseminate Information

Individuals are more likely to support a cause when asked by someone they know, even if it is not a cause they would have otherwise supported. This is especially true if the audience you are trying to reach is Millennials.

According to the 2011 Millennial Donor Survey, a recent study from Johnson, Grossnickle and Associates (JGA) and Achieve, 56 percent of young donors between ages 20 and 35 report they get information about organizations to support from their peers.

The same study found that 33 percent of donors in the same age group learn about organizations to support from Facebook. Ninety-three  percent of those surveyed report giving to nonprofits in 2010. The power of social networks to disseminate information and motivate supporters to act is clear.

Case Study: Habitat for Humanity Winnipeg

While using social networks to maximize event fundraising may seem like a new concept, it actually is not. Habitat for Humanity Winnipeg is a nonprofit utilizing a team-based fundraising structure.

Since 1993, Habitat for Humanity Winnipeg has organized an annual special event called the Cycle of Hope.

“Riders journey 1,600 km and raise enough money to enable Habitat for Humanity Winnipeg to build a new, affordable home for a very deserving family,” says Heather Scott, the organization’s database and administration supervisor.

Each Cycle of Hope rider is required to raise a minimum of $2500 to participate. Habitat for Humanity Winnipeg encourages team members to tap into their own social networks for support.

“The cyclists said the easy-to-use, peer-to-peer fundraising tool we put in place made it easier for them to reach out to more people they knew,” explains Scott. “We also host about four meet-and-greets in the office, so new riders can talk to and learn from experienced riders. They discuss fundraising and other tips and techniques.”

The above-mentioned team members function as Kanter and Fine’s “free agents” for the nonprofit.

Enabling supporters with online fundraising tools they can share through their various personal social networks (email, Facebook, Twitter) is critical to Habitat for Humanity Winnipeg’s success.

“Using an online fundraising and event management tool made it very easy during the postal strike that occurred during this year’s Cycle of Hope,” says Scott. “Some supporters who would have normally mailed in cheques used the online system and I’m hoping they now see how effortless and quick it is to give in that way.”

Cycle of Hope participants can even embed special fundraising forms directly on their own blog or web site, allowing them to capitalize on people’s tendency to donate to causes their friends ask them to support.

“We raised $60,000 more this year over what we had hoped,” says Scott. “We received donations from all over Canada, the U.S., and Europe. In the past, I had only seen one donation come from overseas. Next year, I’m looking forward to seeing that market grow even more.”

The donors reached by these “free agents” may not have any particular affinity for Habitat for Humanity Winnipeg itself, or may not even live in the same country, but they have a great affinity to support their friends, so they contribute.

Social Media is a Contact Sport

As you can see, using social networks to increase support for an organization’s special events is quite powerful. If your organization has been sitting on the sidelines, now is the time to stand up and start engaging.  As Kanter and Fine say in The Networked Nonprofit, “Social media is a contact sport, not a spectator sport.”

Method Tweeting: Using theatre techniques to engage your social media audience

At SXSW interactive festival in March, I attended a great panel discussion, Method Tweeting for Non Profits (and Other Players)
Click here to view the slides from this panel on slideshare.
Panel presenters included: Carie Lewis, Dir of Emerging Media The Humane Society of the United States (@cariegrls); Dan Michel, Digital Mktg Mgr Feeding America (@dpmichel or @FeedingAmerica); Eve Simon, Creative Dir Beaconfire Consulting (@NaiEve or @thebeaconsxsw); Geoff Livingston, CMO Zoetica (@geoffliving); and Jennifer Windrum, Founder WTF? (Where’s the Funding) for Lung Cancer (@jenniferwindrum and @wtflungcancer).
We have recently been witness to a great example of method tweeting in action, as Eve Simon pointed out via her Twitter handle, @NaiEve. The twitter sensation, @BronxZoosCobra is a prime example of developing an online persona that inspires a fanatical response.   
The facebook page contains many comments of fans, similar to this one:
Despite the Bronx Zoo’s accident, the right social media capital has turned this potential public relations disaster into a gold mine for reaching new audiences and future donors for the organization. 
While most of us do not necessarily want a quarter of a million followers, most of us aren’t going to so far as to impersonate a snarky snake, either.  And with results like that, you cannot deny the method clearly works.

What exactly is method tweeting?

Method tweeting is the concept that nonprofits must create a brand persona via their online presence that embodies a voice for the cause. 
If Shakespeare tweeted would he use his voice or characters? Method tweeting is based on the theory of method acting.  It is about starting a dialogue and tweeting based on authentic emotional and intellectual ties.

Nonprofits use of social media

There’s no doubt that the use of social media among nonprofits in on the rise. In 2010, 60% of nonprofits were on Twitter, up from 38% in 2009 and have on average 1800 followers. But what do they do with those followers? What do they say to them?

To thine own tweet be true

To create authenticity, there must a real-world tie between the person at the keyboard and the cause.  Carie Lewis pointed out, “In order to do my job well, you have to love social media and love animals…tweet what you love.”
The key is to select a staff member or free agent who is motivated by the charity’s cause to promote the organization on social media. If that individual doesn’t believe in what they’re tweeting for, they cannot be authentic. And your entire Twitter presence is based on deception.  To be successful, they must take on the identity of the organization on Twitter and truly embody all for which it stands.

Conflicted loyalties

There are inevitably times when choices are made with which not everyone in an organization may agree. These are the times when it is most important to believe in the organization. Tweeting is believing and anyone responsible for an organization’s public social media persona must have the passion to support the organization even if they disagree with the choices being made.
There is a balance to be struck between personal voice and professional tweets.  Many folks manage multiple twitter accounts.  Dan Michel pointed out that your personal tweets are everyday expressions of your casual self, while your organizational twitter voice is more “like me at a wedding – on my best behavior.”  It is fine to publish snarky commentary on your personal twitter account (as long as it doesn’t conflict with the organization’s position) but institutional tweeting requires more a conservative approach. Talk to people as you would at a job interview or other formal setting.


Personalities blur across accounts when you manage multiple twitter handles.  What happens when your personalities cross?  It happens to everyone at some point.  You know – that tweet you meant to send from your personal account accidentally gets posted to the wrong twitter account.  
This happened to the Red Cross when a staff member accidentally posted to the @RedCross account:
You can read about the faux pas and how the Red Cross dealt (BRILLIANTLY) with the error on the American Red Cross blog.
While it may be impossible to avoid the inevitable twitter mistakes, one thing you can do to avoid crossing your personalities is to use different tools for personal and organization twitter accounts. For example, I use TweetDeck for personal tweets and Hootsuite for organization tweets.

Avatars define voice

How does your avatar represent your social media voice?  Is it a photo? Is it a logo?  What does it imply?  For example, if you are an individual tweeting for your organization, do you use a personal photo so followers know the person behind the tweets? Or do you use a corporate logo and speak with a broader organizational voice?  
Many celebrities use their headshot as an avatar, but very few actually tweet for themselves.  Set the proper expectations instantly by selecting a powerful avatar image that defines your twitter voice authentically.

Emotions and tone

Personality is key to successful tweeting. Greatness doesn’t necessarily translate on twitter.  People like to follow people – not brands. Tweeting for your organization should be a mix of the institution’s founding principles and speaking in a conversational way. 
It is true that personal spokespeople get more followers.  Michel pointed out the clear example of Livestrong’s official twitter which has over 100,000 followers vs Livestrong CEO’s account which has over one million!
The most important takeaway to remember is that authenticity and personality go a long in effectively using social media, such as twitter, to reach your audience. Maintain an appropriate and approachable tone and let personal passions that align to organizational objectives drive content.
My words fly up, my thoughts remain below.
Words without thoughts never to heaven go.
-          Hamlet, Act 3, Scene 3