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Case study: How to define an online communications strategy

Feb 23rd, 2012 | By

how to define a communications strategy
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A few weeks ago, I facilitated a communications workshop for the Challenge Program on Water and Food (CPWF), a research program from the CGIAR, the global partnership of nonprofit agricultural research centers.

CPWF’s research concentrates on “How to manage water more equitably, efficiently and sustainably”.

We locked ourselves up for a week, to realign the organisation’s key communications messages and tools, and to integrate an online communications strategy, as a key component of a strategic communication approach.

This case study summarizes the process we followed, from a redefinition of an overall communications strategy, into the online web presence, and further down to practical workplans, reach/impact measurement and risk mitigation.


How to define a social media strategy

Jan 15th, 2012 | By

young wheat plant

Long gone are the times where nonprofit organisations saw social media tools as a “nice add-on”. Time and again, social media has proven its potential in fundraising, advocacy, campaigning, live event reporting, knowledge sharing,..

Now comes the time where organisations’ media people are actively seeking to merge the “social” media with their more “traditional” media outreach.

Now, we have more social media tools on offer, than ever before. Which tools are the best suited for your cause? Which give the best return on investment? How do you use these tools best?

Now, more than ever, our management asks questions on our social media efforts. “What is its return?”, “What does it cost us”, “What is the measurable impact?”.


BlogTips Tutorial:
How to use Twitter

Mar 25th, 2011 | By

Twitter cartoon

Twitter is, with Facebook (but better :) ), THE most written about and the most cheered social media tool in the past years. But it is also one of the most powerful tools for nonprofit organisations to create a community, to propagate your core messages and to kickstart fundraising and advocacy. It is a conversation tool, a repository, a news source, and anything short of a combination of bread toaster and espresso maker.

And yet, it is not evident to get started on Twitter. Explaining what Twitter is all about, is not just going to a website, registering and experiencing a lift-off. It takes a while to grasp the enormous amount of tools, and how to use them right. It takes some skills to make the most of Twitter.

But.. if you use Twitter right, you will find it to be the “Black & Decker” of social media power tools, the “Ferrari” of speed dating a large social community and more fun than watching “Titanic” with your loved one on a Saturday night. Popcorn included.

So, what is Twitter, what is it about, and how can you use it? Specifically in a professional context where you want social media tools to work for your nonprofit organisation.


BlogTips Tutorial:
How to select your blog platform

Mar 25th, 2011 | By

picking potato seedlings

Alright! You recognized your organisation can benefit from a blog and you know what you will blog about. But… which “software” should you use to blog? From the many different blogplatforms on the market, which suits your needs?

In this tutorial, I explain the questions you need to ask yourself, the basic choices you will have to make and will give you practical tips to choose the blogging tool which is the best suited for your needs:


BlogTips Tutorial:
How to analyse your blog’s visitors statistics

Mar 25th, 2011 | By

Cairo traffic jam

A serious blog is geared towards its audience. As a serious blogger, it is important you understand your audience, your readers.
Simple and free tools like Google Analytics, will give you heaps of figures, but how do you make sense out of all that? What do these figures mean and what can I do with this?


BlogTips Tutorial:
Starting a blog from scratch

Mar 25th, 2011 | By

Kenya's oldest pupil

As a nonprofit organisation, you want to start blogging? In this tutorial, I collected a number of posts to get you on your way:

  • Does your organisation need a blog? How can a blog enhance your web presence? What is the difference between a blog and a website? What is the cost of making and maintaining a blog? What are the benefits of a blog?
  • What will you blog about? You can use blogs to cover projects, to publish stories from field staff, to bring a message from your management, to give visibility to events you organise, or to build a community for your cause. What’s your flavour?
  • Selfhost a blog or not? Will you start a blog on a server yourself, or do you want to use some of the free blogplatforms that do most of the system’s stuff for you?
  • Five things to do after you created a blog: just creating a blog is not enough. People need to discover your blog and it is good to keep track of some basic statistics…
  • How successful is your blog?A few months after starting a blog, you will want to know if your blog is worth the trouble. How do you measure that? Five concrete tips will help you.

I also created a tutorial to help you select which blogging programme or blogging platform to use.

For the more advanced users, there is also “Understanding the visitors statistics on your blog”, where I assist you in making sense of the statistics, and how to convert “occasional” to “returning” visitors.

And… after a few months, you might do a self-evaluation of your blog.

Picture courtesy Reuters

How to organise social reporting from conferences and other events

Mar 18th, 2011 | By

Social Reporting from Conferences, Workshops and Other Events:
A practical guide for organisers

Social media is not a goal in itself, but is a tool. “Social Reporting” is one of the ways we can apply our social media tool set. Social reporting is an increasingly popular way to report live from conferences, workshops or any other events.

Live social reporting from an event

Traditionally, events published their information through press releases, and post-factum proceedings. Thanks to the wide spread of social media, we can now disseminate information to a much broader audience, and in “real-time”. But there is more: using social reporting, we can also actively involve offsite (but online) people, into the discussions at the event itself.

Most of the time, this “social reporting” is done by the participants of the event, rather than the event organisers. In itself, that is a good thing, as it ensures a much more active role of the event’s audience. However, more often than not, all is left to the initiative of the participants, and social reporting is rarely organised from the onset.

The birth of a “Social Reporting” tutorial

It is a pity to see how many social reporting efforts are “voices in the desert”, while it would have been easy to reach a much wider public, and have a deeper impact if they’d be better organised.

In October 2010, I was fortunate to coordinate a very active social reporting team at the Addis Share Fair, dubbed “AgKnowledge Africa”. It all started with this shout-out post, asking for social reporters. Little did I know how large the response would be, both from people who planned to attend the Share Fair, as well as from off-site enthusiasts.

We went through an interesting process to organise ourselves before the event, and created an interesting social media buzz from the conference itself. Already from the onset, we realized how exciting this project was gonna be, but also how little documentation was available. Many things, we had to learn ourselves. So we made a conscious effort to document the steps we went through in selecting and testing the social media tools we wanted to use as well as how we organised our team before and during the event.

The end result of this documentation process is a practical guide “Social Reporting from Conferences, Workshops and Other Events”, downloadable from Slideshare or as straight PDF. It not only documents the lessons we have learned, but we also tried to make it an easy-to-read guide for anyone who wants to organise social reporting from any event.

Organising social reporting from events in five steps

The tutorial describes how to organise social reporting, and a team of social reporters in five steps:

Step 1: Define the roles and strategy of the social reporting team

  • Define the roles of the social reporting team in relation to the official reporting team (in charge of proceedings, if these are planned) and the media/PR team. All can get on well with each other as long as coordination is established right from the start.
  • The size of the team can vary depending on the duration of the event, the number of sessions on the agenda, and the social media channels selected for reporting.
  • Define the social media strategy: what will be covered and how, and through which channels.

Step 2: The social reporters get to work

  • Gather the team of volunteers from among interested people, participants and, if you can, a few seasoned professionals to coordinate the team and provide tutoring.
  • Create an online collaboration and discussion space for the team to get ready.

Step 3: Pre-event activities

  • Create the team and the “team spirit”: involve the team in defining the communication channels and the content to be reported.
  • Prepare the tools, accounts and tag standards.
  • Get information on the conference and its premises: the availability of wifi connectivity, a room for the team, a draft program to start developing a workflow.
  • Test the tools: don’t take for granted that everybody knows how to use the tools for their intended purpose. Some country authorities may block certain social media services, so you will need a backup plan.
  • Organise and keep the tool checklist up-to-date: before the event starts, the key information on what to use, accounts, labelling and tags should all be organised and made known to the social reporters.

Step 4: Onsite social reporting

  • Organise a pre-event team meeting to smooth out the final operational details.
  • Assign sessions to be covered and ensure a good media mix (e.g. a write-up for a blog post plus audio interviews) for each session.
  • Get a workspace for the team and organise daily meetings to review the workplan, check progress and assign sessions for the next day.
  • Monitor quality, engagement and outreach to “newbies”: make arrangements for some important and time-sensitive monitoring, such as checking that tags are correct, archiving the tweets, blogging write-ups in a timely way, etc.

Step 5: Post-event stuff

  • Hold an after-action review session to reflect on what went well, and what could have been done better.
  • Review the post-event activities such as follow-up tweets and blog posts, interviews still to be published, etc.

More on social reporting on BlogTips

More about the background of the project on the ICT-KM blog.
With thanks to the Addis Sharefair crew, Antonella Pastore and Enrica Porcari.

BlogTips Tutorial:
How to evaluate a blog

Sep 14th, 2010 | By

Fishing nets on shore

It is encouraging to see how many nonprofit organisations discover the power of social media and the added-value of blogs. Comes a time, though, where any blogmaster asks the question: “I am on the right track here?”

You can look at your own blog until you are dizzy. You still won’t see what someone else sees. You’re too deep into it. No wonder that often people ask others for help. “Have a look at my blog, what do you think”? Some ask for a subjective one minute glance, others request a more in-depth analysis and concrete help to improve their blog.

How does one approach a detailed analysis of a blog? How do you structure the areas you want to cover and offer suggestions?