Facebook launches a newswire so it can help the media — while it competes with them

Have you used Paper? What do you think?

Gigaom

It seems Facebook (s fb) isn’t happy to just have a News Feed that is designed to be a newspaper, or a mobile app called Paper that is also supposed to be a newspaper. So it has launched a new feature aimed at journalists called FB Newswire, which is just what it sounds like: a real-time feed of content related to news-worthy events. And what would Facebook like media outlets to do with that content? Why, share it and embed it on their news pages, of course.

The new wire-service, which debuted on Thursday, is partially powered by a partnership with Storyful, a social-news verification service that News Corp. acquired in December for $25 million. As a Facebook post by Andy Mitchell describes it, the service will highlight content that has been posted by users and media entities who are reporting on breaking news events around the world, and…

View original post 636 more words

Using Social Media to Improve Service and Expand Reach in Health Care

It would be hard to make a case that hospitals are leading the way in innovative communications, but social media is becoming more important as 1) patients depend more on apps, websites, and review sites for health information and 2) the Affordable Care Act makes it more important than ever to add value and improve efficiency. Using social media is not just about having a Facebook page or a Twitter account — it’s about integrating online and offline strategies to improve health in real and measurable ways.

On Saturday I had the pleasure of leading a panel discussion on social media for the National Capital Health Executives at George Mason University. Other panelists were Ed Bennett of University of Maryland Medical Center, Shana Rieger of Inova Health System, and Joey Rahimi of Branding Brand. View slides from the presentation to see some of the latest uses of social media in the areas of health care marketing, reputation management, customer service, education, fundraising, and more. Ed has some great talking points for people who are trying to advocate for social media access in their organizations.

Nonprofits: Now Where Do We Go With Facebook?

fbLogoCh2In a new “Social Good” podcast, Allison Fine and guest Frank Barry, director of digital marketing at Blackbaud, take a look at Facebook a year after the company went public. Describing Facebook as “the social network so many people love to hate,” Allison asks: “Is Facebook more interested in us as a product than customers?” and “Is Facebook shifting more to shareholder interest than user interests?” My answer is yes. And yes. Listen to the podcast.

Several years ago, when I first heard that Facebook was going public, I expressed concern about what that would mean for nonprofits. So many charities were finding creative ways to leverage the free tool to engage and expand their supporters, but were also facing challenges because Facebook was making decisions that seemed less about meeting the needs of their users and more about developing revenue streams.

The truth is, Facebook will continue to make changes that are good for its bottom line. Many of those changes will also be good for nonprofits, but that will simply be a side effect. In 2010, Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes launched Jumo — a social network created specifically to allow people to follow and support causes — which some described as “a Facebook for causes.” At the time, I wondered, “Why can’t Facebook be a Facebook for causes?” (Despite Hughes’ success in raising $3.5 million in grants, the vision and execution of Jumo was flawed from the start, and magazine publisher and digital platform GOOD bought Jumo in 2012 for $62,221.)

As algorithms change for news feeds, what works one day might not work the next. What used to be free may now require a fee. But nonprofits have more influence than they may think, Barry says in the podcast. “If we started using the platform in different ways instead of just consuming it in the way they serve it to us, it would set off signals on their end that the users are changing, and we need to adapt.”

Listen to the podcast for other tips about how to leverage Facebook as it continues to evolve.

The Best Platform for Brands? a) Facebook, b) Twitter, c) G+, or d) none of the above

Image

According to a new study by SumAll, Instagram is the “clear winner” as the best platform for brands for 2013, beating out Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. Why? Because Instagram’s increases in fan and follower engagement is almost triple those of the other platforms, said SumAll CEO Dan Atkinson. “If a company has a visual product to sell and it’s currently not on Instagram,” Atkinson said, “that company is missing out on significant brand awareness and revenue.”

For businesses that use all four networks, Instagram showed the largest increase in new followers and engagement. The revenue impact of Instagram for U.S. businesses ranged from 1.5 to 5 percent.

With Facebook and Twitter becoming the big players, look for other platforms like Instagram, Vine, Tumblr, and Pinterest. And soon we’ll be talking about networks that don’t exist today. Which brand do you think is best for businesses and nonprofits?

What Can Ernest Hemingway Teach You About Blogging?

Image

One of the keys to a blog post is getting to the point (and, even more important, having a point in the first place.) Sometimes I edit an article or blog post by removing words and sentences that are redundant, uninteresting, or unnecessary — and find that there’s not much left. In fact, one of the things that prepared me to create short posts for blogs, Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ was writing and editing letters for President Clinton in the White House. There’s not much room on one page (or in one tweet) to make your point, so you have to be efficient with that limited space.

Ragan.com recently republished a post I missed the first time called “Ernest Hemingway’s Five Secrets to Good Blogging,” written by Erik Dekers, the co-owner and vice president of creative services for Professional Blog Service. Dekers says that If you blog or do any writing for the web, you can learn a thing or two (or five) from Hemingway. “Blogging is the new newspaper,” Dekers writes. “Posts need to be short, punchy, and interesting right from the very beginning — all characteristics that marked a Hemingway story.” The lessons:

  1. Write and speak with authority.
  2. Avoid adverbs.
  3. Don’t write for “the reader.” “Don’t worry about what the critics and haters are going to say,” Deckers writes. “Don’t anticipate what comments you might get, and how you can head them off at the pass. Don’t avoid controversial topics just because you think someone might disagree with you. Write for you, and make it awesome.”
  4. Have a set writing schedule. “Hemingway’s schedule was to get up early, get to the typewriter by 7 a.m., and write until lunchtime. Even when he was starting out and had to work odd jobs, he would only do them after lunch. He didn’t drink until he was done writing, and he would even get up when he was hung over.”
  5. Leave stuff out. “He would omit everything he could, including background information that was not relevant to the story. Similarly, as bloggers, we need to leave things out. Don’t use descriptions of what you were thinking when you came up with a certain blog topic. Explain why something is important, and what it means to us.” Read the full post.

A Walk on the Wild Side: Nonprofit Lessons from Lou Reed

Image

photo by Thierry Ehrmann

I never know what to say about celebrities who die. It’s always sad, of course, especially if I admired their work, but what do I have to add the tributes I see all over Facebook, Twitter, and the web?

Lou Reed, who died at 71 on Sunday, and his band Velvet Underground made some of my favorite music, and influenced my tastes as I discovered other music. I admired Reed as an intelligent writer (he was an English major) and as an unabashed observer of American society. As I’ve listened to his music over the past few days, it occurred to me that several of his songs contain lessons and insights for nonprofits. Can you think of others?

“Pale Blue Eyes”
Thought of you as my mountain top,
Thought of you as my peak.
Thought of you as everything,
I’ve had but couldn’t keep.

This is one of Lou’s most melodic and popular songs, but what many people don’t know is that it was inspired by a female muse – who had hazel eyes.

Lesson: Be honest in your communications, but also creative. “Pale Hazel Eyes” just doesn’t have the same ring to it.

“Dirty Blvd.”
No one here dreams of being a doctor or lawyer or anything.
They dream of dealing on the dirty boulevard.

Reed loved New York City, but he was also realistic about the underbelly of the city, and the gap between the haves and have-nots. In this song, Pedro at first seems doomed to a life of poverty and drugs, but finds a book of magic and dreams of flying away. It’s all relative, but for Reed, that almost qualifies as a happy (or at least hopeful) ending.

Lesson: Share the grim reality of the problems you’re trying to solve, but also give your supporters hope and show them what’s possible.

“Perfect Day”
Oh it’s such a perfect day.
I’m glad I spent it with you.

Whether this song is a simple love story or an ode to heroin addiction, it’s one of Reed’s most upbeat and most covered songs.

Lesson: Celebrate your successes, and thank your donors for making them possible.

“Walk on the Wild Side”
Holly came from Miami, F.L.A.

Sex, drugs, and rock and roll – it’s all here, and it’s also one of Reed’s most melodic songs. Quintessential Lou, it’s a simple narrative with interesting and offbeat characters.

Lesson: What stories can you tell that haven’t been told before? Think differently. Surprise your audience. Take a walk on the wild side.

This One Word Could Help You Raise More Money

Image

As much as I enjoy reading blogs, journals, newspapers, and magazines about nonprofits and fundraising, I think some of the most interesting lessons come from other sources. For example, Psychology Today‘s blog recently published a post titled “The Power of the Word ‘Because’ To Get People to Do Stuff.” According to author Susan Weinschenk, PhD, “Because is a magic word when you want to get people to do something.” Could that include asking them to support your cause?

She cites a 1978 study in which people on a college campus tried to cut in line to use a copier. There was 60 percent compliance when someone asked, “Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the xerox machine?” But that rose to 93 percent when the person asked, “Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the xerox machine, because I have to make copies?” And it was 94 percent with “Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the xerox machine, because I’m in a rush?”

Next, they tried the experiment with a person with 20 pages. In that case, only the “…because I’m in a rush” increased compliance. Dr. Weinschenk concludes, “When the stakes are low, people will engage in automatic behavior. If your request is small, then follow the request with the word ‘because’ and give any reason. If the stakes are high, then there is a little more resistance, but still not too much. Use the word ‘because’ and try to come up with at least a slightly more compelling reason.”

How does this affect your requests to get support for your organization or your cause? Are you explaining WHY someone should support you? And do you think the word “because” makes a difference?