5 Social Media Lessons for Early Childhood Centers (Plus a Little Healthy Attitude)

When I was first asked to write a blog, I started paying more attention to what other bloggers were writing about and what I liked about their blogs and what I didn’t like.  It became very clear, very quickly what I liked were the ones that were written with a bit of snarkiness to them.  Not sure if snarkiness is even a word [editor's note: for the purposes of this blog, snarkiness is 100% legit], but found out through blogging, that it is used quite often. I also found that I liked the blogs to be short and to the point and of course be relevant to my interests.

I am the Director of Temple Beth El’s Early Childhood program located in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan.  My assistant Heather and I participated in the Detroit Jewish Early Childhood Social Media Academy this year that was coordinated by the Alliance for Jewish Education at the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit and generously funded by the Hermelin-Davidson Center for Congregation Excellence.  When I first heard the words "Social Media Academy", the thought that came to mind was Facebook and Twitter, and who doesn’t know how to use it Facebook, and why do I want to be bothered with Twitter? I felt confident in Facebook and how I was helping to promote my school by posting cute pictures of the kids and promoting Temple and school events.  Who knew it could be so much more. 

We were assigned a coach to help us discuss our goals.  We focused at first on Facebook because that was what we knew.  Our Facebook page was off to a pretty good start, but one of our goals was to get more parent involvement.  The first thing we realized was that our pictures were getting a lot of likes and views, so we started using Fotor.com, a site that allows you to easily create a photo collage and upload it to Facebook.  No more photo albums!  The next thing we did was add cute quotes to our pictures, using Quotescover.com and PicMonkey.com to help us layer quotes on top of our pictures.  Sure enough, we began to see that we were getting more likes, more hits, but still not a lot of comments.

The next thing we did to increase our Facebook audience was to make sure that we add a FB pin to the bottom of our e-mail correspondence that we send out and a reminder to Like us on FB on all written correspondence.

Once we felt we have exhausted FB, our coach suggested we try to involve not only our ECC audience, but our Temple audience as well.  Each month I am responsible for writing a monthly article for our Temple and I have begun adding educational tips for parents.  Each tip is then entered to our newly created Pinterest Boards.  Who knew Pinterest was even considered a social media site?  Now we are connected through Facebook and Pinterest.  I must say, it does become a little addicting but mostly rewarding to see my staff, parents and people who I don’t even know, following us on Pinterest.

So to summarize our goals and accomplishments in 5 easy steps, here they are for all you newbies:

1. Bulletin articles. We are all writing them, but what for? This is the place to start. Begin here by writing an article with the purpose of recycling it throughout your social media outlets. This article can LIVE ON! Include monthly “tips.” Include text that could be a subtitle to a photo.  An example:

Lauren’s monthly learning lessons are all about socialization.  Enjoy! 

Lauren’s Top 7 Tips to encourage Socialization:

  1. Teach kids words like: “Please help me,” “I need to learn this.” Model the language you would like the kids to use when they need help.
  2. Ask one child to ask another child a question about the toy they are playing with.
  3. Pair two children together and ask them to find a toy to play with together.
  4. Play follow the leader.
  5. Have children take turns making facial expressions and ask the other children to tell you what type of expression that child is making.
  6. Play the “Name” game.
  7. Talk about feelings.  Sad, embarrassed, surprise, hesitant, overwhelmed. Give them the vocabulary they need to express their feelings.

 

2. Facebook Pictures Next step …… this is where things get easier. Use the article to establish a story that you will share throughout the month. The tips section of the article will be used as an outline. We know Facebook fans prefer pictures, in fact, photos get 39% more interaction according to Fast Company. Start by reviewing your school’s photos, set up photo opps of your students that represent your tips. Use Quotescover.com or PicMonkey.com to caption the photos. No more drafting up the best caption. The captions can be verbatim to the tips in your article.  Remember, you are not generating content but REUSING your own!

 

3. Facebook Campaigns. Psst! Did you know you can schedule posts on Facebook? This makes campaigns so much easier! Simply draft your post, with your photo that represents your article, and then schedule it. By reviewing Facebook Insights, you will know the very best times that you should schedule your posts. Schedule these posts to “fire” all through-out the month. [Editor's note: make sure to remember what you've scheduled.  On rare occasions a worldly or local event may make your scheduled content appear insensitive or inappropriate, so keep in mind you may need to unschedule or edit if needed.]

4. Pinterest. Ready? Simply set up a board with theme of your tips. Spend a few minutes searching for tips that relate to your tips. A few pins are all you need to get started. Add a few more each week. By spacing out your Pinterest activity, you will increase your visibility. When you share often, more people will see your pins and those pins lead people back to your page by displaying your details about the pin. http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/how-to-get-more-pinterest-followers/

5. Promote it.  Mention it in-depth in a bulletin article, this will give your readers a clue that you are doing more and are setting trends on social media. Include social media buttons in your email signature. Connect your social media networks. Include it on everything you send home to families. Personally ask your families to comment on your social media.

Is this cheating?? NO WAY! First, you are probably reaching different audiences by spreading your article out this way. Second, no marketer should rely on one method to spread their word. Third, remember the Rule of Seven. (http://thebabyboomerentrepreneur.com/258/what-is-the-rule-of-seven-and-how-will-it-improve-your-marketing/)

What I’m dying to find out is how to continue to improve my monthly article. Do you have any ideas? Moving from “a review of the month” to parenting/educating issues and ideas has been a start, but what is the next level? How can I increase my readership? How can I increase my readerships engagement levels to more than just a “Like”?  Share your thoughts in the comments!

 

It’s Everyone’s Job. Plan For It.

As we often say at the Davis Academy, life is a journey: a journey of learning and discovery; a journey that embraces family and community; a journey that broadens our world.  As we embarked on the 2013-14 school year, our advancement team joined together on a year-long journey to better define what social media looks and feels like at the Davis Academy. This journey has provided us the opportunity to reflect on how we utilize social media and how we can better engage our constituents via the various avenues of social media. Prior to embarking on this journey, we were already using social media (Facebook and Twitter, in particular, to various degrees); however, we had not been very strategic about our approach.

This journey, our Jewish Day School Social Media Academy experience, has given us the coaching, guidance (and nudging) we needed to go outside of our comfort zones and to experiment with new approaches, strategies, and projects. Our biggest takeaway has been the simple realization that social media is everyone’s job and that timing is everything. That being said, with the guidance of our amazing coach, we have taken a closer look at defining our social media policy, developing our content curation strategy, and are striving to further empower the members of our community to authentically become involved in the SM storytelling through formal trainings. 

Many members of our community (faculty, parent ambassadors, alumni and administrators) have an established social media presence, and it has been a yearlong goal to streamline this activity into a more collaborative effort.  All of our constituents have amazing content to share individually, but by sharing collectively the impact is significantly more powerful. In order for the shared effort approach to work, we have quickly realized that some formal training is imperative.

We have identified a core group of Host Committee Members/Parent Ambassadors/Faculty Members who already recognize the tremendous value and the impact that social media can have, and we are using this core group to train and engage others as well.  While much of this training took place midway through the school year this year, we recognize that there will be much greater momentum in future years when these trainings occur right from the start. In the fall, as part of our Host Committee kick off, our parent Co-Chairs will begin with a dialogue around social media (as we have done for the previous two years).  This dialogue will then be extended into a hands-on application session in our Tech Lab where the co-chairs will walk parents through the ins and outs of Facebook and Twitter (aka Facebook/Twitter 101).  Together, they will have the opportunity to explore the Davis Academy Facebook page, Twitter handle and grade level specific hashtags, interact with the already existing content, and curate new content themselves in a supported setting.  We want our parent ambassadors and host members to feel empowered to post, share, tag, like, and comment as they go about their everyday activities. In a similar fashion, our faculty and administration also are taking a more formal approach to SM training and are holding sessions for other key players like parents, grandparents, and teachers to join in the collaboration. 

Thanks to the monthly webinars, coaching calls, and ShareFests with other JDS Social Media Academy schools, we feel we are better equipped to use social media as a communications tool to reach more families and community members.  We look forward to involving more constituents and improving our practices to tell The Davis Academy story through these valuable channels.

 

The Jewish Day School Social Media Academy is an intensive program designed to help Jewish Day Schools advance their strategic use of social media in areas such as communication, marketing, community building, alumni relations and development. The 2013-14 nationwide cohort of 15 schools was generously supported by The AVI CHAI Foundation.  Each of the schools will be sharing insights from their experience through blog posts here with the tag #jdsacademy

Keep Momentum Over the Summer

The Jewish calendar is great for pacing our lives, for embracing the seasons, and appreciating things in their own time.  Summer, however, sometimes feels like it can derail the communications momentum we've worked so hard to build over the year.  Especially in educational organizations where classes don't meet over the summer (and where staff may be only working part time, or not at all), it's important to pay special attention to your summer social media plans.  Thus from our staff, and the wisdom of the crowd!

CONSISTENCY  Maintaining consistency is important both to keep up your ranking so your content will appear in newsfeeds, but it's also important to keep people in the habit of being engaged.  You've worked to get people engaging with your posts — keep it up.  It's also a great way to introduce and integrate new families into your community.   Make a point of posting at least once or twice a week.  Use the scheduling function in Facebook or a third party tool like HootSuite to schedule posts if you need plan ahead.

CONTENT  If you've used the POST planning process to identify the "sweet spot" of content that's both mission centric and of practical value to your audiences, you know how important it is to find the right content.  What do your audiences need over the summer?   Tips for events and opportunities in your local community?  How about ideas of fun summertime care packages to send to camp?  Or links to back to school preparedness? Tova Otis suggested in the JDS Social Media Academy Facebook Group that she posts links to school supply sales in their community.  Even links to fun activities like this list of creative things to do for under $10 or how to make quick kosher dill pickles with your cucumber harvest, other fun things you can find on Pinterest. (Got links to share?  Add them in the comments)

CONTRIBUTIONS  How can you get people participating in your Page even if they are not walking through your door?  How about a photo contest to have people submit a picture of their adventures over the summer, or wearing their school t-shirt in exciting places?  Invite your audience to send a postcard — a real one which you can scan and post online, or a virtual one by posting on your Page.  Do a virtual scavenger hunt.  Promote these invitations both on your page, and through email and other vehicles with links to help them take immediate action.

CONVERSATION  Keep the conversation going.  What questions can you ask that inspire people to speak up ("Where are kids going to camp this summer? What's your favorite ice cream flavor?) or chime in?  Ellen Dietrick asked her community to vote on the color t-shirt for the coming year and got dozens of responses – some serious, some silly!  Remember to be LISTENING as much as TALKING. If you're not in the office make sure you're getting notifications (by email, or on your phone or tablet) so you can monitor and facilitate conversation as people chime in!

How will you keep momentum during the summer?  What kinds of content will you post?  How do you structure your time over the summer to keep momentum?  Share in the comments.  Happy summer!

 

 

Social Media Super Powers

It’s Monday morning and the children are eager to come to school.  On a normal day, they are greeted with a “Hello” or “Good morning.  How was your weekend?”  But today Ben walks through our doors and I say, “Hello Ben.  How was your day out with Thomas the train?”  And right then, something amazing happens. 

Ben looks at me like I am almost magical.  How did I know that he saw Thomas over the weekend?  Is she psychic?  Clearly she must be magical!  Little did he know about my secret super power known as Facebook.  Instead of simply saying hello back to me, Ben went into an excited story about his weekend adventures.  This is what I call the Facebook connection; a special moment that would not have happened so easily and naturally without the super powers of social media.

So how did we gain these super powers?  It certainly did not happen overnight and we weren’t bitten by a spider.  It was a complex formula of trainings from the Jewish Community Center Association and Darim Online, mixed with dedication, teamwork and trial and error.  We began by posting more and simply having a more visible presence on Facebook.  Then, with the encouragement of Darim Online, we included more people to be admins and curators on our page and asked parents and staff to be intentional commenters.  Along this journey we started to find out what worked well for our program and what posts were reaching farther outside our norm.  Those that were successful we would duplicate when we could.  For example, our Monday Morning Mystery.  

Each Monday we would post three clues about a teacher and encourage our fans to guess who it was and the winner would receive a free challah on Friday when we revealed the teacher.  We had so much fun with this that it actually evolved into baby pictures of staff rather than clues.  Through this our families were learning more about our teachers and seeing into their lives a little more.  And we were beginning to learn more about our families’ lives outside of the JCC through their posts, too.  The Facebook connection was happening.   Teachers and parents began to playfully banter through our posts.  Parents began to see a more social, but still professional side of our staff.  Relationships began to grow and our overall sense of community became stronger.  Throughout the year we have heard our parents and fellow JCC staff tell us things like, “I love what you are doing on Facebook,” and “I check your page every morning to see what fun things you have posted.”  For that alone we will continue to grow our community and keep our posts alive and fun.  We have hopes of infusing more educational pieces for our fans and continuing to create an environment of discussion through our page.  Until then, we will keep letting the children think we magically know what they do when they are not at school!              

 

 

Shannon Hall is the Assistant Director of the Infant and Toddler program at the Pitt CDC.  Shannon, along with Fredelle Schneider, Director, Robin Herman, Assistant Director of Preschool and several of the Pitt CDC teaching staff has participated in the Detroit Jewish Early Childhood Social Media Academy this year, coordinated by the Alliance for Jewish Education at the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit, and generously funded by the Hermelin-Davidson Center for Congregation Excellence.

 

 

 

A Place for Us to Listen

JCDS started off the 2013-2014 academic year with what I would have considered a strong social media presence. While the school has been active on many social media channels for some time (Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, LinkedIn), most of my focus had been on Facebook, as it is a quick and easy way to share photos, videos, and important updates with our parents, grandparents, donors, and alumni.

Looking back, I wasn't thinking about social media in the right way. While I posted nearly every day, the most engagement I got was a couple of likes here and there. I was posting, not connecting.

Through experimentation over the last six months, I've learned that my role, as the voice of the school on Facebook, is not to be a news source, but to create an environment that starts conversation. Once I was able to get the conversation started, Facebook became a tool unlike any other. It became a place for me to listen to what our audience values, which in the end, is the most important thing of all.

By analyzing the engagement levels and analytics of our recent posts, here are the top 5 Facebook strategies that have been successful for JCDS:

1. Tag those who are involved, and those who you want to be involved.

When you tag someone in a post or photo, it will show up on their Facebook page. Not only will it directly call attention to the person you want to be involved, but your post will also be visible to their network, and therefore, reach many more people who you otherwise would not have access to! I’ve had success asking people to tag themselves and their friends. The benefit of this is twofold: they are actively engaging with the post, and they may tag people who we are not yet connected with.

2. Ask questions.

Asking specific, pointed questions is a great way to get the conversation rolling. Sure, I’ve had a few flops, but those helped me learn what our audience likes to talk about. I've seen success in action in many of my #ThrowbackThursday posts, where I've asked (via tagging) people in the photo specific questions about what's going on in the picture. One comment leads to the next, and pretty soon anyone who sees the photo gets a deeper understanding of what was happening when the photo was taken, and hopefully feels more connected to story I am trying to tell.

3. Be genuine.

In January, JCDS students were surprised with a visit from the 2013 World Series Trophy. First, I posted that we had big news with a photo of one of our staff members dressed as a Red Sox player. The next day, I posted a photo of excited kids (and tagged their parents) and shared that the trophy would be coming. Then — the most successful post of all — was a video of a 4th grade teacher telling the kids that the trophy was coming. Seeing their pure and genuine reaction definitely resonated with our social media audience: 38 likes, 19 comments, and the jackpot, 12 shares. The video was even written about in the local newspaper, the Watertown Patch. This kind of engagement was unprecedented for us.

4. Repeat successful themes.

Between the regular daily posts, I've committed to a few repeating themes. One universal theme, #ThrowbackThursday, has been a great way for us to connect with our alumni and alumni parents. I’ve gotten a tremendously positive response from our throwback photos. Because this is a weekly theme, the audience knows to expect it. And because there are usually a lot of comments, people are not shy to participate.

I also created a new theme, called #JCDSCharacter. I felt it was important to celebrate our students through short stories that capture the spirit of our school. Parents love to see that they are sending their kids to a school that helps them grow into mensches. It's also a great tool for prospective families. Every time a #JCDSCharacter post is shared, a whole new audience is exposed to the great things that happen in our school.

5. Engage with other organizations.

Celebrating successes of other schools and organizations is a beautiful thing! Just as much as we want people to engage with our school Facebook page, it's important to interact with others. While I am on Facebook, I make sure to take the time to look at what other organizations are posting. If they post something that relates to our school or community, I share it on our page. Fostering good-will between organizations is priceless, and the favor is almost always returned.

 

The Jewish Day School Social Media Academy is an intensive program designed to help Jewish Day Schools advance their strategic use of social media in areas such as communication, marketing, community building, alumni relations and development. The 2013-14 nationwide cohort of 15schools was generously supported by The AVI CHAI Foundation.  Each of the schools will be sharing insights from their experience through blog posts here this spring with the tag #jdsacademy

Also, check out the Jewish Day School Social Media and Video Academy website, which includes a free self-assessment to help your school focus on key areas of growth in your social media work.

20 Fun Ideas for Great Twitter Content

This Tuesday, the Jewish Day School Social Media Academy cohort participated in a Twitter tutorial, digging into the tool and exploring ways of maturing your practice on Twitter. Among other things, we talked about ways schools can develop new content to share on this fast-paced, link-driven network. Here are our top twenty. What are your suggestions?

20 fun ideas for Twitter content:

  1. Post your school's sports scores, plays and results.
  2. Tweet photos and bios of your new teachers.
  3. Post your daily lunch or snack menu if you have one.
  4. Tweet school cancelations or delays due to weather.
  5. Tweet articles from local newspapers that discuss your school or issues you care about.
  6. Share a classroom highlight or insight with a photo or Vine video. 
  7. Tweet a unique school picture of the day for a caption contest.
  8. Take photos of rehearsals for a school play or concert and/or post a short Vine video to encourage people to attend.
  9. Tweet quotes from school meetings that are informational or memorable.
  10. Tweet job openings at your school.
  11. Tweet upcoming admission, alumni, and other events as reminders.
  12. Gather "Questions of the Day" from teachers to post (for students as an assignment, or just to model curiosity and learning for your community!). 
  13. Develop a personal learning network by following colleagues and experts in your area (education, Jewish education, specific ages or subjects).
  14. Conduct research using Twitter Search. Ask questions to tap your network.
  15. Create a Twitter List of Alumni, and share it!
  16. Curate and retweet items from related sources (parenting, development, local, Jewish, etc.).
  17. Do #FF (Follow Friday), #SS (Shabbat Shalom) and other weekly traditions.
  18. Share news about alumni and their accomplishments.
  19. Welcome new families to your school community. 
  20. Follow other teachers, schools, alumni, and people in your community and listen to how they use Twitter.

Above image credit: Flickr user MKHMarketing

Let’s Give Them Something to Talk About

Originally published in EJewishPhilanthropy

During Open House season, schools are looking for ways to stand out among the crowd of institutions trying to reach prospective parents. Talking about a school’s “warm and nurturing community” and the “academic excellence” is only going to get the school so far.

So what else can schools do to rise above all the noise?

When we are faced with many choices, we often rely on word of mouth from friends in our social networks to help make our decisions. So it was clear to us at The Jewish Education Project that in order to promote the school in a unique way, we need to have the parents involved and we need to get the parents talking.

As Bonnie Raitt writes and sings, “Let’s give ‘em somethin’ to talk about.” Or in the 21st century version of this, let’s give parents something to Facebook about.

Parents who are part of the Parent to Parent (P2P) network have been learning about the power of social media to share their stories about Jewish day school education, and adding their voices through local parenting blogs and the Parent to Parent site. The challenge has been to keep them talking, especially during peak periods, such as open house season. Here’s where the campaign approach comes in.

The P2P campaign model organizes parents for a specific time period to talk about a value, an idea, an event – any focus point unique to the school that will help prospective parents get a better idea of what that school, and the community it fosters, is all about.

A very creative campaign can promote the school, without necessarily talking about academic excellence or the nurturing environment. Take for example a marketing campaign for Mercy Academy, an all-girls’ Catholic school in Louisville, Kentucky. In an article about the campaign, the writer explains “The campaign, created by Doe-Anderson, a Louisville-based advertising agency, is meant to reflect one of the school’s core goals: to help its students become independent, productive women in the real world.” And as you can see in the ad, they didn’t need to show science labs or innovative technology to get the message across.

Jewish day school education is first and foremost about imparting positive values to our children. You know it when you experience a Jewish day school education. We need to give parents a framework to convey those values with their friends.

A P2P Campaign in Action: Mazel Day School

The highly engaged and motivated parents of Mazel Day School (MDS) of Brooklyn were the brave pioneers who first experimented with this approach. When I asked the parents what they love about the school, most of them had a real, emotional reaction to the question and talked about the school’s successful approach to imparting positive values. They are extremely proud to see their children grown into mensches.

It was no surprise that they suggested a Photo Mitzvah Campaign promoting the value of the children doing good deeds by inviting parents in Brooklyn to submit pictures of their child doing a mitzvah or good deed. The Mazel parents wanted to reach parents from Jewish early childhood centers in the area, so they partnered with several of them on the campaign. The submitted photos were shared on Mazel Day School Facebook page. The photo with the most “Likes” on Facebook won a $400 Amazon Gift Card.

Mazel Day School parents gave out fliers in the early childhood centers, emailed their friends, sent Facebook messages and talked to other families. The parents now had something to talk about.

The campaign ran for five weeks and opened new doors for the school to reach prospective parents. For the first time, Mazel Day School officially partnered with early childhood centers in the area: KingsBay Y, JCH of Bensonhurst, and Shorefront Y. These new relationships can now be leveraged for other partnership opportunities and for reaching prospective parents. The campaign increased exposure of the school to the broader community. Mazel Day School Parents overheard parents who were not part of the school talking about the contest. The Mazel Facebook page experienced a significant boost during the competition period, including 50 news likes on the Facebook page. The last time they had so much traffic was when their school was destroyed during Hurricane Sandy; now the attention was due to a positive story that truly highlighted the school and the community. In their reflection about the implementation of the campaign, the Mazel parents wanted to organize a larger group of parents to lead and implement the campaign to reach an even larger audience of prospective parents.

At their upcoming open house, the school will ask prospective parents how they found out about the school. At this time, the Mazel parents will be able to evaluate more specifically the reach of their campaign and where they need to focus their future outreach efforts.

Action Steps: Running a P2P Campaign in Your School’s Community

Consider experimenting with this campaign approach to promote your school. Here’s how you can get started:

  • Invite a minimum of three parents in your school to run a campaign.
  • The parents should identify a value, event, or other unique aspect of the school that excites them and would be appealing prospective parents. If it doesn’t galvanize your current parent body, don’t do it, because they won’t be talking about it with their friends.
  • Identify your target audience; be very specific on who you want to reach with the campaign. Mazel parents aimed specifically for parents of children in local early childhood programs, for instance.
  • Get talking! Play around with different social media tools to spread the word about the campaign. Empower parents with the tools they need to keep the conversation rolling.
  • Most importantly, make it fun! Turn it into a competition, make it into a game. Let the parents get really creative and make it their own.

Best-selling author Seth Godin writes: “Stories are the way we navigate our world, our chance to make sense of who we are and what we do.[…] Nonprofits make change, and the way they do this is by letting us tell ourselves stories that nurture our best selves.” Creating a buzz and chatter around your school requires giving parents a great story to talk about. Day school parents are part of a movement committed to giving their children the greatest Jewish education possible. Let’s build that movement; let’s help parents get their stories out.

What will your community share?

Parent to Parent is an initiative of The Jewish Education Project and is made possible by a grant from UJA-Federation of NY. Learn more about Parent to Parent on our website, blog, Facebook and follow us on Twitter. If you are a New York area day school and would like to get staff assistance to implement this project, contact Irene Lehrer Sandalow, Project Manager in the Day School Department of The Jewish Education Project at isandalow@jewishedproject.org.

3 Rules for Buying New Technology

Originally published on Sage70.com

Whether you’re just switching over from Constant Contact to Mailchimp, or taking the plunge and implementing a custom Salesforce solution, change is hard. For all the promised benefits of new technology, the success rate for adopting new tools is low, and that’s frightening.

What can leaders do to help staff adopt new technologies successfully?

Technology change isn’t easy. Workers need to adopt a new workflow, re-learn how to perform familiar tasks, sometimes on new equipment that they’re not familiar with. To help ease the transition, here are three rules for IT change management.

 

3 Rules for Users and Technology Change

  • New tools must be generous to the user. If users need to put information into the system, then they must be rewarded with useful and relevant information out of the system right away. If users need to interact with the system frequently, it should be user-friendly and accessible from within the user’s normal workflow.
  • Systems that are used prospectively are adopted more easily than systems that are used retrospectively. In other words, tools that ask people to report on their work are less attractive and relevant to users than tools that make their work easier to do.
  • Everyone who uses the new tool has the right to give feedback and receive training. If you need a lot of people to stop using one system and begin using another, getting their feedback about the move, providing training, and then getting feedback again is critical. It helps buy more people into the process, allays some fears, and can help identify unexpected problems or issues. Remember, some users will need training for even the most intuitive tools.

Technology change is really about people. New tools should help them do their job by providing new data and insights, simpler workflows, and more time leverage. If you’re considering a technology “upgrade” that doesn’t provide that to your organization, you may be headed down the wrong path. Listen to your employees, provide training up front, and let users experience the benefits of the new tool as soon as possible.

Isaac is the president and founder of Sage70, Inc. Isaac brings over a decade of experience in the non-profit and for-profit venture ecosystems. Isaac has served as Executive Director of Storahtelling, COO of Birthright Israel NEXT and is an experienced technologist and strategist.

Monday Web Favorites: 2013 Imagery and Inspiration Edition

As we come closer to the end of 2013, sites are releasing their obligatory "best of" lists. Here are a few of our favorites, for your inspiration…

First off, Tumblr's Year in Review is well worth checking out. Tumblr is a hip, funky, user-friendly and lightweight blogging platform that excels at imagery and attitude. Here's a bit about the "best of" list they're producing

The retrospective starts Tuesday at http://YearinReview.tumblr.com with an exploration of 20 categories ranging from the most popular musical groups to the most interesting architecture of 2013. Boasting a plethora of images, the review will continue through December with daily posts that will culminate on New Year's Eve with the best fireworks displays featured on Tumblr during the year.

Our take-aways for the Jewish communal set?

  • Scan the most-reblogged posts and people. What can you learn? What do these posts have in common? What kinds of images, what types of language, etc., really work?
  • Are you using Tumblr? It's a great place to connect with teens. Tumblr is also flexible enough to be used to produce a full website, or can easily pop up for the sake of a single event, conference, or trip.
  • Are there ways for you to capitalize on what Tumblr thinks is hip? What kind of connections can you make between "trending topics" and your work to help get the word out about your organization or cause?

And up next: we normally wouldn't re-post something from Buzzfeed, the site we all waste time on and love to hate/hate to love, but this one seemed especially apropos: the 21 Most Creative Instagram Accounts of 2013. Honestly, this post is not really about the photo-sharing service Instagram, or even about photos, but about the role of surprise and delight. Take a look at these accounts, what do they have in common? To us, they both surprise and delight their viewers. How can our social spaces do the same for our communities?

 

…and we'll close with some good ol' nonprofit video. Enjoy the winners of the 2013 DoGooder Awards!

What have been your web favorites lately? Share in the comments, or send them to Miriam directly, and they could be featured here next time!

Being Thankful

Thanksgiving may be over and Chanukah is winding down, but it's ALWAYS a good time to show your organization’s supporters how grateful you are to have them onboard.

Just like receiving a handwritten note is a lot more special than a text message “thx,” getting personal with your supporters, and letting them know how each contribution is having an impact, is a great way to show them you really care.

There are so many creative directions to explore — but here are some fun ideas for going the extra nine yards in saying thanks to your biggest cheerleaders:

Personalized thank you video
Every year, charity: water staffers get in front of the camera to say thank you — dedicating videos to the class of 3rd graders who donate their lunch money and the bloggers who get the word out about their crowdfunding campaigns. It looks like they’re having a blast producing this series — and it’s a great way to retain supporters and keep them engaged.
 

Connect support to impact
A striking infographic is a great way to illustrate how the money you’ve raised this year is being put to use in the field. Connect the dots between clicking donate in your email inbox and tangible outcomes on the ground — and get ready to brainstorm some evocative analogies for your work.

A personal note
Bring your supporters together with the people who are seeing your impact firsthand. Maybe your organization works with refugees, or vulnerable children, or homeless families — let your constituents and staffers share, in their own words, how much the support of your donors means to them. You can forward their note in an email, or collect short video testimonials to share — like these messages from Nature Conservancy scientists around the world.

Saying thank you isn't just a nice thing to do — many organizations, like the International Rescue Committee, see a real return on investment when they share messages of gratitude with their donors.

We hope this gives you a jumping off point for putting together a heartfelt thank you campaign. And to all of our clients and friends of See3 and Darim Online, thank you, so much, for the work you do to make our world a better place.

What's the best thank-you you ever received from an organization? What made it so special for you?