The Blossoming of Video Rosh Hashanah Greetings

Did you notice the proliferation of vide0 this holiday season? Many congregations and other Jewish organization embraced the video greeting, with humor, seriousness, and calls to action. Video is a powerful medium for many reasons. First, it conveys personality, nuance, body language and intonation so much more powerfully than text or photographs. Further, a video can capture a user’s attention for 2 or 3 minutes at a time, rather than a few seconds at a time with text online. Thus, it has the potential to tell a much deeper story than you might achieve otherwise. Let’s take a look at a few Rosh Hashanah greetings from this year: The Community Synagogue, Port Washington, NY. This video got picked up by Perez Hilton, The Daily Beast, and local TV news, resulting in over 90,000 hits on YouTube. While total hits aren’t the ultimate measurement of success, they clearly got something right that generated this attention. There are three important elements to take away from this success: 1) The Rabbi’s message is personal, thoughtful and educational; 2) the central piece is humorous and playful. While it feels silly and lo-fi, it also give a sense that this is a fun place to be; and 3) it closes with a real community building tour of the people who make the synagogue run on a daily basis (including introductions of recently hired staff). While it’s slightly long (nearly 4 minutes), it is well paced and keeps your attention. The comments on YouTube are fascinating too — worth glancing at. Jewish Federations of North America put together videos that local Federations could use and adapt for their own purposes. You’ll notice that while the campaign is about a "call to action", the story being told is from people just like you and me, and less about the institution itself. This approach makes the video more compelling, personal and accessible than a pure solicitation. Congregation Rodef Shalom in Virginia made a video to a song, and invited any cameo appearances — the UPS guy, the gardener, and the entire summer camp – to give a feel of the community. How else could you shed light on the community, help people learn something, or develop new associations with your organization? What Rosh Hashana videos did you notice this year? Drop a link and your thoughts about what worked (or didn’t) in the comments here. What should orgs be thinking about for next year?

It’s Our Birthday – Party Favors For Everyone!!

Photo credit: Flicky user camnjeanaccess We’re 10 years old and positively giddy about it! To celebrate, we are giving out gifts throughout the year! We cordially invite you to our upcoming webinar, Foundations of Social Media, Oct. 19th, 1-2pm ET. This free event is open to everyone — Darim members and those who are not yet members. Click here to register and enjoy this taste of Darim as our guest!* The celebration continues with two more complimentary webinars: our November 3rd event featuring Allison Fine, co-author of The Networked Nonprofit (register here!*), and our January 11th event with the creative team behind Shalom Sesame (register here!*). Sign up for one, two, or all three – but hurry – space is limited!* *Can’t make these webinars? They will be recorded and available to the public; no need to register in advance, we’ll post the links on our blog. Check in for more goodies throughout the year! A very special thank you to our members for being such an important part of our community! As one of our gifts to you, we’re excited to announce our new Open Office Hours program. Drop by for free advice and schmoozing with Darim staff. Click here for our full list of Fall/Winter Events. These webinars are free to all staff and lay leadership of Darim Online member organizations. Not yet a member? Find out more and join us today. Feel free to be in touch with any questions or comments at learningnetwork@darimonline.org

Cleveland Jewish Federation Puts Community at Your Fingertips

Turns out Birthright Israel NEXT isnt the only Jewish organization with an iPhone app. In addition to BRI NEXTs Mila4Phone, there are hundreds of other Jewish apps available through the iTunes store. Some of them are Torah related, others are related to Shabbat, prayer, Kashruth, or learning.

One organization that is leading this trend in the Jewish community is the Jewish Community Federation of Cleveland. Its app, Jewish CLE, features a community calendar, interactive maps, a community director and links to the Federations YouTube channel, twitter feed and event photos.

JewPoint0 caught up Steph Dlugon, director product marketing of iNomadics, creator of Jewish CLE, to learn more about how the app came together.

A look at Jewish CLE's Calendar function

How did Jewish CLE come to be?

About a year ago, iNomadics had this idea about creating apps for places like nonprofits, and community and arts organizations. Because nonprofits always have events or time sensitive information that they need to get out to their constituents, we felt they needed to develop a mobile presence. We approached the Jewish Federation of Cleveland with the idea of developing an app. The Cleveland Federation thought it was a good idea and we started working with the people there to figure out what their needs would be and to develop the best features. A year ago was early on for nonprofit organizations to be thinking about the mobile web. One of our challenges was to find a forward-thinking group that saw the benefit of a tool like this. Even though it took some time to hash out the details, initial talks with the Cleveland Federation were really promising. They seemed to get the idea, the benefits and usefulness of having an app right away.
Whats so important about a mobile presence?

I think about the Internet of the 90s, when everyone scrambled to have a website. That same trend is happening now with going mobile, and its happening much faster than in the past. Its important for organizations, if they want to stay viable, to adopt a complete mobile strategy. And the ones that do will be able to stay relevant and thrive.

What was it like working with the Cleveland Federations leadership? We had talks with different groups within the organization throughout the whole process. Because the app was a pretty new idea, we had a bit of a challenge trying to explain its benefits to different groups in the organization. If we ever got stuck, we would regroup and bring in other people to help make it work… If there is one lesson learned its the importance of open communication from the beginning so that everyone understands what is happening.

What is Jewish CLE all about?

There are a couple layers to it. First is the news feature, which just gets information to people, and that is why I think its being downloaded all over the world. Second is the events piece, which has events from entire Jewish community, not just Federation events. That is an engagement piece that is really important. A lot of organizations in the community can benefit from the app, which should help to bridge all gaps in community. Another piece to the app is the call to action stuff. Were trying to direct people to different ways to get involved. Not just directing people to the Federation to donate. We are helping people learn more about the Federation, which helps to connect people and get them on the same page. If the end result is information or donations either way to us its awesome.

How are you evaluating or tracking the impact of the app?

There is not really a formal evaluation process on our end. Im sure the Cleveland Federation is tracking usage and downloads. We are looking for feedback from users from the Federation on how to improve it. But, measurement and evaluation is an interesting concept. Consider: do we look for ways to justify the printing of calendar, or of owning a phone system? No, that is just the basics of running a business. We have to get past the question of should we or shouldnt we? to the question of should we do it this way or that way?

So, readers: Have you downloaded the CLE app? Thoughts? This way or that way?

Social Media Workshops – Coming to a Federation Near You

I’m going on tour. Though I won’t have a tour bus or a back-up band, I am planning to be speaking at many local professional development events in the coming months. These events range from a hour workshop to a full day seminar. The goal is to answer this question: What Is Social Media, and How Can It Help Me?

The first of the series is part of the Wiener Educational Center’s series at the UJA Federation of New York on September 19, 2008. You can learn more about the event and register on their site.

Watch here for announcements of similar events in other cities which are currently being schedule. Interested in hosting a very valuable professional development event in your community? Give me a holler!