What’s that [email protected] ?

No, I’m not trying to swear in the headline of this post, though the three symbols in a row might have led you to question my professional judgment. More and more, I’m seeing people drop a period before the @ when starting a tweet with a username, such as “@estherk I wish I could be at #tribefest”. You might, as I did, wonder why some tweets appear like this “[email protected] reports on #tribefest”. (By the way, I’m making up these tweets as examples).

One Forty to the rescue! Laura Fitton (@pistachio) runs this smart “Social Business Software Hub”, which recently blogged 5 Common Twitter Mistakes and How to Fix Them. It’s worth reading. I’ll share the fifth one with you here, since it’s a juicy factoid I’m betting many people are curious about:

@ vs. [email protected] The way that Twitter is constructed, only people that also follow whoever you are @replying can see that @reply. Sometimes, people will start a Tweet with @ when its not intended to be an @reply, though. For instance, @CNNs coverage of the Egyptian riots. If you Tweeted that, only your followers that follow @CNN will see that Tweet in their timeline.

HOW TO FIX: Want everyone to see those Tweets? Use the [email protected] trick: stick a period in front of the @ sign and itll send the Tweet into the main Twitter stream for all to enjoy.

See? Simple and brilliant explanation. Now go check out their blog for many more.

[email protected]’all, see you on Twitter!

LAST CALL: Join the Schusterman Foundation and Darim Online at the 2011 Nonprofit Technology Conference!

Weve said it before and well say it again: the Schusterman Family Foundation and Darim Online will be at NTENs annual Nonprofit Technology Conference in Washington, D.C., March 17-19, and we think you should us join there.
While we wont repeat all of our Top 10 Reasons to Go to the 2011 Nonprofit Technology Conference, we do want to highlight the three exciting Jewish-themed gatherings weve got planned just for you.

1) The State of the Jewish Digital Nation. Thursday, March 17 8-11 am Washington Hilton

The Schusterman Family Foundation and Darim Online are hosting an affinity group meeting that will inspire, educate and assist you in your work. The agenda offers both an expansive and detailed update on the field, including:

  • A debrief of the Jewish New Media Innovation Fund from Adam Simon of the Schusterman Family Foundation;
  • New Rules of the New Media Game from Lisa Colton of Darim Online;
  • Case studies from accomplished organizations inside and outside of the Jewish community; and
  • A fantastic problem-solving adventure led by NTEN rockstar and Senior Manager of Marketing & Communications at TechSoup Global, Rachel Weidinger.

We know its early in the morning, but well make you a deal: you can come in your pajamas and well provide breakfast.

2) Field trip to the Sixth and I Synagogue
Thursday, March 17 Early evening 600 I Street Northwest

In anticipation of Purima holiday on which we are actually commanded to be joyful and engage in revelrywe will take a field trip to the historic Sixth and I synagogue for a private viewing of JT Waldman’s illustrated Megillat Esther. Wine, beer and noshes will be provided. Learn more about Waldmans work and Sixth and I

Thanks to the Jewish Communal Service Association for hosting this event!

3) Shabbat Dinner
Friday, March 18 6:00-8:00 pm Location TBD

Join your friends and colleagues for Shabbat dinner to share, schmooze, reflect and relax. Dinner location is being finalized, but it will be within walking distance from the hotel and kosher-style options will be available. This will be the perfect preamble to the many NTC after parties that will kickoff in the hotel around 8:00 pm.

So there you have itthree awesome events designed with you in mind. There is no cost to attend any of them (except perhaps a cab or metro ride to Sixth and I), and they are open to Jewish professionals and lay leaders whether or not they are registered to attend the full NTC conference. We do, however, need you to let us know if and when you will be joining us so we can plan for space and food, and forward details to you. Please complete this quick form to let us know where we can expect you: http://bit.ly/Jewish11ntc

Feel free to forward this information to those who you know are coming to NTC, or who are in the D.C. area and may be interested in participating. If you do plan to attend the entire conference, you can also still take advantage of our discounted rate by following these steps:

  • If youre new to NTEN, youll have to set up a free and easy account. (Or login to your NTEN account.)
  • Go to 2011 Nonprofit Technology Conference
  • Select Darim Online in the How did you hear? field when registering to receive the NTEN member rate.

Please do not hesitate to reach out with any questions. We look forward to seeing you in Washington, D.C., on March 17!

Warmly,

Your friends at the Schusterman Family Foundation and Darim Online

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?

No More Excuses: Importing Your Events into Personal Calendars

Guest post by Ellen Dietrick

The New Year is quickly approaching and with that comes the deluge of new calendars. Synagogue calendars, school calendars, board meeting schedules, and soccer schedules. Like me, you are probably used to dedicating an afternoon around this time of year to entering all of these lists of dates into your personal calendar.

Those days are over.

Set up a calendar for your organization in Google, post it to your website or blog, invite your members. One click and voila, each event on your organization’s calendar is instantly imported into their personal calendar. The events show up in a new color, so your organization’s events are easily distinguished from other entries on the user’s personal calendar. And the best part- as you add events to your organization’s calendar, they automatically show up on each individual’s personal Google calendar. You can even use it to send invitations to your events and collect RSVPs. It is all both cost free and ad free. For those that don’t use Google calendar, they can easily view events right on your website or print the calendar in any of three formats: weekly, monthly, or agenda.

Sample Google calendarTo get started on setting up the calendar for your organization, you’ll need a Google account. Then go to Google calendar and select “Add” in the “My Calendars” section. The investment of time is quite minimal. Spend a few minutes entering the events and then embed the calendar directly to your website. To try it out from a member prospective, visit a sample calendar at Kesher Jewish Community After School Program. Then just hit the at the bottom of the calendar. (You can easily remove it later.) Note that for Mac users, Google allows you to add a link to allow them to get the calendar through iCal too.

Ellen Dietrick is the new Director of Early Childhood Education at Temple Beth Shalom in Needham, MA, and is famous for her creative and practical uses of technology at her previous position at Congregation Beth Israel, in Charlottesville, VA, and through the Covenant Fellows program and the Jim Joeseph Foundation Fellowship.

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?

No More Scissors and Paste: Bringing the Shabbat Service Online

By Matthew Grossman, BBYOs Executive Director

Last week BBYO announced the launch of what I believe is an exciting, inventive tool available to engage teens in a meaningful Shabbat experience: Build a Prayer. As a free, online tool the site is designed to connect youth with prayer and Shabbat like never before by allowing them to build and customize their own service.

At BBYO, I constantly see teens, advisors and staff members using unique spaces and creativity to offer relevant, powerful Shabbat services, a unique challenge since most teens have only experience services within their synagogue. This challenge is only made more difficult by the fact that most teens arent comfortable in a traditional siddur they dont know where services start and end, what to include, or what is safe to leave out.

To meet that need (and often times to save money), these worship services are typically guided by a teen-designed collection of songs, poetry and prayers that is compiled through an effort of photocopying, cutting and pasting together old song sheets and prayer book passages. As an organization, we saw the need to provide Jewish teens with an accessible place to explore prayer and its meanings doing it online also happens to save some glue.

What makes this site so exciting is that it brings thousands-of-years-old prayers into a modern day realm that teens relate to. It is streamlined and easy to use. In a few clicks of a button, teens have a complete service in front of them in which they feel some much needed connections. While not every teen feels comfortable finding their way in a traditional siddur, Build a Prayer allows teens to put together a basic Shabbat service in a space they can easily navigate.

The site is designed for teens, educators, camp counselors, youth group advisors, JCC professionals, chavurah leaders basically, anyone who is interested in putting together a Shabbat service in a formal or informal setting. The site allows Hebrew, English and/or transliterated text to be compiled with ones own pictures, prayers or poetry toward the creation of a custom Prayer Service which can be printed and used anywhere.

With help from www.myjewishlearning.org and a series of videos, users can learn more about the traditions and tunes behind specific prayers. Additionally, a content library holds creative elements from individual prayer services as they are created. Because this is an online resource, people can collaborate on the development of each service and comment on them once they are placed in the Build a Prayer library.

While recent studies show that participation in traditional religious experiences decline during the teen years, the desire to connect spiritually on ones own terms remains strong. Build a Prayer is another resource we are offering the Jewish community as a way to better connect with Jewish teens. Organizations looking to reach the teen audience should look at this as a tool to literally bring prayer to life.

Matt Grossman is the Executive Director of BBYO. He began his career at Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life. Matt is also a member of the Darim Online board of directors. Matt currently lives in Washington, DC where he works at BBYO’s international headquarters.

Texting Snow

By Ellen Dietrick, Director of Congregation Beth Israel Preschool and Kindergarten

Its the season of inclement weather closings. The time tested ways of notifying families of school closings, announcing it through the radio, tv, and a weather closing phone line, produce mixed results. An issue remained: families had to consider that the school might be closed to think to check in with these information sources. At our school, a sudden unexpected flood meant those with flooding basements thought to check if the school was impacted, but those on higher ground went on with their usual routine, never considering that the school might be closed.

A little voice rang in my head: Go to your audience.

With the traditional systems, families had to come to us. How could we get the information straight to them? Email notifications helped, but with children to feed and dress, lunches to pack, and that pesky missing shoe to find, so many families keep the computer off during the early morning hours. Email again requires your audience to come to you. I considered a phone alert system, like those used by politicians, but they were expensive, requiring monthly subscriptions. And not everyone appreciates a 6am wake up call.

Text messaging to the rescue! Now parents receive a text message on their cell phones the instant the decision is made. We still maintain the traditional notification systems, but the text alert gets by far the most praise. From the parents’ prospective, it is direct and simple, and comes straight to them. The information in on hand the moment they wake up. For many they get the text before they go to bed, and can start planning accordingly for the next day. From an administrative prospective, it is easy to use, time efficient, and at 2-5 cents per message, depending on the type of message and the plan you choose, quite affordable.

Sample text messages from this unseasonably snowy winter.
Sample text messages from this unseasonably snowy winter.

So those childhood memories of sitting by the radio, waiting as lists of school closings were announced are no longer. An easier way has finally arrived.
How to get started:

  1. There are many text messaging alert options out there. We chose Ez Texting http://www.eztexting.com/
  2. Sign up now. Dont wait until you need to send a message. Advance preparations are critical.
  3. Allow families to opt out. Some phone plans charge for text messages, so not everyone will want to be notified this way. We offered the chance to opt out in our weekly school newsletter and out of 130 people, we had 6 choose to opt out.
  4. Consider your groups. In our case, there may be times we will want to notify just teachers of an emergency schedule change.
  5. Load the cell numbers onto the site, grouping as appropriate.
  6. Purchase credits.
  7. When you are ready to send a message, simply log in, type your message (the number of characters is limited, so keep it short), and hit send.

And remember to add a cell phone field to every registration form, so you have the information to use.

10 for 2010: #2 UNFRIENDING and UNFOLLOWING

Anyone remember the Burger King campaign last year — defriend (or unfriend) 10 people on Facebook and we’ll give you a burger? Regardless of what you think of the campaign or Whoppers, their ad agency jumped on the beginning of a trend that is really coming to fruition in 2010. The Oxford English Dictionary even named “unfriend” a 2009 word of the year (along with “tweetup”).

As Facebook and Twitter have become so mainstream, and friending so casual, our rolls of friends and followers have grown extensive. Maybe too extensive. Just at that time when we’re trying to manage our precious time and sort through reams of content to find the gems, it is our own “friends” weighing us down. Dunbar proposed that any individual could really only have 150 stable social relationships at any given time. Others propose that with tools such as Facebook we can manage higher numbers. In a recent update, Facebook set the number of people to show up in your news feed to 250 (which you can change). While it may be true that our maximum number is far over Dunbar’s 150, many people are starting to approach their limit and are pruning their social network gardens.

There are two things you should be thinking about:

  1. How should I pare my friends and people I’m following to get the most bang for my social-media-hour-buck?
  2. How are other people making decisions about paring their lists, and how should I position myself to stay on the friends list of those I care about? (note: you may not care about all of them)

How you answer these questions will depend on your business, your brand, your audience, your goals, and how you have been using these tools. People want value (which can be information, insight, humor, etc.). People also want to be talked with, not talked at.

One of the challenges is that when you’ve mixed company in your friend or follower list, there’s not one clear value proposition. For example, family wants pics of your kids, college friends want to know what you’re reading, business colleagues want professional insights, customers/clients/members want meaty information and connection. You cannot please all of the people all of the time.

Some people have dealt with this by creating multiple profiles — in some cases with hard lines (members of the congregation can befriend a staff person here but not there), and in some cases much softer lines (e.g. I tweet about Jewish social media and innovation at @darimonline, and I tweet personally about kids, chickens, music and other things at @lisacolton) where you’re welcome to friend or follow in both places, but at least you know what you’re getting (or as the writer, what you’re giving) with greater specificity.

I predict that the next waves of functionality and privacy updates from Facebook and Twitter will offer greater control over sorting these groups (they’ve already begun), targeting content to this group or that, and being able to hide or categorize friends and followers with greater ease to create customized feeds (how cool would it be to login to Facebook at work and see only updates from professional colleagues, and get home and login to see updates only from friends and family?).

In the meantime, put these on your to-do list:

  1. Be educated about privacy and friend list categorization opportunities on Facebook. There’s more control there than you probably realize or use.
  2. Set up friend lists, and each time you accept a new friend, add them to a list. When you use your settings you’ll be able to count on knowing who’s getting what info. See a tutorial here.
  3. Be aware that the functionality, policies, and culture of these tools will continue to adapt and change, so adopt a nimble stance (modern “sea legs”) and keep educating yourself.
  4. Think about how you can talk with your community, not just talk at them. Experts suggest a ratio of 1:12 (or even 1:20) — for every one self-promoting post (“come to our young adults event Tues evening…”) you should add value 12 times. What value can you offer? What questions can you ask to tap into your community? What conversations are happening related to your work and how can you participate? And don’t forget to LISTEN.
  5. Discuss among staff how people are managing these issues. There may be creative ideas, and you may or may not want to have everyone on the same page and taking the same approach. Either way, staff should be aware of expectations as employees if they are engaging with members, prospects, board members or donors. You should consider drafting a social media policy or guidelines, or revisiting to existing policies. See info here from Wild Apricot and info here from Beth Kanter and sample policies here.

How are you identifying what your target audiences want to hear, learn and discuss? How are you thinking about what to post and/or tweet? Where are you adding value and growing your online community? How will you know if people and dropping out and why?

10 Blips On Your Radar for 2010: #1 MOBILE

In the coming days and weeks we’ll be sharing 10 things you should have on your radar screen for 2010. If you’re already on top of them – mazel tov. Share with us what you’re doing in the comments. If not, time to get hip to the new decade. Don’t put it off. This isn’t the future, it’s the present, so pay attention.

To kick us off, mobile mobile mobile. Everybody’s got a phone in their pocket, and increasingly it’s a pretty intelligent one. The iPhone, Blackberry, Android and others are taking over the market, and shaking up the status quo. Assume that people are looking for and engaging with you while on the go, not just while sitting at their desk.

Some things to know:

  1. Compose your emails for easy reading on a mobile device. Send a test and check it out on a Blackberry and iPhone. Some Blackberry users are reporting a lack of patience with graphic emails because it takes too much time to wade through. “Give me the bullet points and important information straight up and in brief” seems to be the attitude.
  2. Start learning about fundraising via mobile. I just made my first donation by text message to a radio show I love, This American Life, when I saw a tweet. $5 went on my AT&T bill. So easy! Check out http://www.mobilegiving.org/ to see how they do it. Sophist Productions has been hosting events (a UJA Young Leadership cocktail party, for example) where people “text to pledge” their donation, and pledges are projected on the wall. Yes, it is a new world. And it works. Read more here on text-to-give programs.
  3. Redesigning or tuning up your website? Make sure you’ve got a mobile friendly version. Check out a Google tool here to see what your web site can look like on a mobile browser. Beth Kanter iPhone-ized her blog with an easy $200 IPhone app tool. Learn about it here.
  4. Twitter was conceived of, and largely used as a mobile tool. Thus, don’t neglect this community when you are putting together a mobile strategy.

Want to learn more?

http://mobileactive.org/ is a great org with useful resources and a discussion list on how nonprofits are using mobile in their work.

http://www.mobilecommons.com/ offers services for marketing, advocacy and fundraising via mobile (and thanks to Mobile Commons for donating their services for our Boot Camps)

http://www.mobilecitizen.org/ has excellent resources for mobile use in education and nonprofits.

Great resources from Wild Apricot: Is Your Nonprofit Website Mobile-Friendly?

Examples of cool, mission-centric mobile uses from nonprofits, on Beth Kanter’s Blog

The Social Sermon: An Innovative Approach to Community Building, Engagement and Torah Study

Picture 7Social media, like other major communication revolutions before it (think: printing press) have radically changed the way we learn, connect and organize. The impact on culture and behavior is significant – we have new ways to connect with our communities, find meaning, express ourselves and engage. The new ease of organizing is fundamentally changing the role that organizations play for their constituents. This is great news for the Jewish community, if we are able to take advantage of it.

We invite you to try a new approach to Torah study, community building, and perhaps even sermon writing in your congregation, The Social Sermon, an idea comes from acknowledging three things:

1) That many people can’t get to the synagogue for a lunch or evening Torah study class, but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t interested;
2) That people want the social experience of learning, not just passive reading or listening to a lecture, and that connection through learning enriches a local community; and
3) Social technologies can be a wonderful tool to enrich and augment Torah learning in local communities.

Imagine a Saturday morning sermon that’s the work of not only your rabbi, but you as well. Lets take it a step further: what if it weren’t just you and your rabbi, but also your fellow congregants, young and old, those new to the community and the stalwarts of your city? By the time your rabbi delivers his Shabbat remarks, he or she could be drawing inspiration from, or even representing the discussion of, hundreds of his congregants!

What does The Social Sermon look like? At the beginning of the week a Rabbi posts a question on his or her blog, or on Twitter with a particular hashtag (e.g. #CBSSS for Congregation Beth Shalom Social Sermon), or as a Facebook post on the congregation’s Page. The first post would describe a theme of the parasha, or link to some text, and at the end, pose a question.

As comments and responses start to be posted, the Rabbi then facilitates an ongoing conversation through the week — responding regularly with insight, text, links, answers to questions, and more questions to guide the discussion.

By the end of the week, several things will have happened:

  • New people are engaged in Torah study. Likely a portion of the online participants are a demographic that doesn’t often come to mid-day or evenig adult education classes. (On-site classes – adult and youth – can also participate);
  • Participants will have formed new relationships through the online discussion, perhaps following each other on Twitter, friending each other on Facebook, etc. which leads to ambient awareness, thus strengthening your community;
  • The Rabbi will have a better understand of what aspects of the parasha resonate with the community, and be able to design a Shabbat sermon that is the most relevant for the congregation, and will have ideas, quotes, context to make the sermon even more rich; and
  • More people may show up for Shabbat services, feeling more educated, connected and like they have some ownership over the sermon that week.

And for those that missed the service, they could read it the next day when the rabbi posts the sermon back on the blog or web site, with a link on Twitter and/or Facebook.

Interested? Use the SocialSermon tag on this blog to find posts about the Social Sermon, and for case studies and guest posts from Rabbis and educators who are doing it. Follow #socialsermon on Twitter for updates, links to these blog posts, and to connect with others who are doing it. Join us on Facebook to be connected others who are doing Social Sermons and get important news.

Feel free to adapt the concept — a confirmation class could do this throughout the week between class meetings, a youth group could do it with their adviser or a parent facilitator. Please report back and let us know how it’s going, and what you’re doing. Please let us know if we can help you at any stage – leave a comment here, or any other space mentioned above.

Want more “hand holding”? Darim offers hourly consulting, and we are working with interested Social Sermoners to find funding from a donor or Federation small grants program to work with a group of Rabbis in your local community. Holler if you’d like more information.

Ready, Set…. Social Sermon!