5 Stories Nonprofits Should Be Telling On Social Media

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photo credit: armadillo444 via photopin cc

Storytelling has been receiving a lot of press lately, as a content marketing tool and as an effective way to engage audiences on social media.

Brands and businesses are getting their stories out there – stories about their origins, their values, their customers.

So why are most nonprofits so bad at storytelling?

I think the reason is that many nonprofit staff and volunteers are uncomfortable talking about themselves. They feel icky asking for support, asking for help, patting themselves on the back and sharing the great work they are doing every day.

This needs to change.

Here are 5 stories that your nonprofit should be telling everywhere you do fundraising and marketing – including social media.

1)     Values & Ethics Stories.

In these stories, you depict the values and ethics that are at the core of your organization. Examples of core values can include integrity, excellence, empowerment, respect, embracing diversity.

Good examples of nonprofits who clearly lay out their core values on their websites are the North Carolina Center for Nonprofits and Greenpeace.

Value stories will help people identify with your organization. One main reason that people give to specific charities based on shared values – how can you express your unique values to supporters and potential supporters?

A great example of value storytelling can be found on the Environmental Defense fund website.

EDF was created by a passionate group of conservationists in Long Island who wanted to save the osprey, bald eagle and peregrine falcon. This small dedicated band of people went to court and go DDT banned in Long Island in 1966, and subsequently played a large role in the nationwide ban.

They play up the “strong foundation” and grassroots value, which continues to inform their work today.

Save the Children values authenticity and integrity in it’s executives. They often share photos of their President & CEO in remote areas of the world, on the ground.

By starting a Pinterest board called Carolyn’s Corner, they can document their President & CEO’s travels, work and inspiration and share it with their online community.

Carolyn Miles

Pin caption: Follow our President & CEO Carolyn Miles for an inside look at our work for children in the US and around the world.

2)     Social Proof Stories.

Which influential community members have been moved by your work? Who are your biggest supporters?

The Robin Hood Foundation has a great video front and center on their website. It starts out immediately featuring stories of those impacted by its work and philanthropy. It also intersperses clips of Geoffrey Canada of the Harlem Children’s Zone and the Chairman & CEO Of Goldman Sachs describing why they support the Foundation.

You may not have nationally know supporters, but I’m willing to bet you could get the mayor, a state senator, a local TV news celebrity or sports figure to explain why they support your nonprofit. (And if they don’t know about you, make them know.)

Offering this kind of social proof makes donors and supporters sit up and take notice – especially if you are a small, community-based nonprofit.

3)     Founder Stories.

In telling your founder story, you need to ask the following questions:

  • Why was your organization started in the first place?
  • Who identified the need?
  • What was that like for them? What were their struggles in the beginning?

A perfect example of telling this story in a compelling way is Billy Starr of the Pan-Mass Challenge. In an inspiring video made by 50 Egs and Babson College, Billy’ s compelling story, and how he created the now multi-million dollar PMC as a tribute to his mother and his childhood.

4)     Continuous Improvement Stories.

Show your supporters that your nonprofit is continually learning and improving.

Did you start our in one direction and then found another, greater need? How have you adapted to the needs of your constituency throughout the years?

An example of this kind of story is The Denver Foundation’s video series, 10 Years 10 Stories.

These videos are stories told from the nonprofits who have been awarded grants. Not all the grants and programs worked out the way they were meant to, but the great part of the story is how the nonprofit leaders discuss what they learn and what they still have to work on.

5)     Impact Stories.

These stories are by far the most important. Donors, volunteers, staff, stakeholders – they all want to know what impact your organization is having on the problem, the cause and the world.

Are you affecting change? Are you pushing the needle in some way? How can you showcase the great work you are doing through those that you have helped?

Charity Water uses Instagram to tell their stories in 15 second chunks – not fancy stages, lighting or narration involved.

UNICEF Canada uses Pinterest to share their successes and the impact of their work.

UNICEF Canada

Pin caption: Children dance in a child-friendly space in Central African Republic. For a little while they can forget the horrors of conflict. Thanks to UNICEF Canada for the photo.

Too few nonprofits share their impact stories. Let’s change that.

For more great examples of nonprofit storytelling using video, check out the winners of the 2013 DoGooder Awards on YouTube.

What stories does your nonprofit tell on social media?

JuliaCampbell01web (1)Guest post by Julia Campbell (originally appeared on the J Campbell Social Marketing blog). Julia Campbell is Principal of J Campbell Social Marketing. Her blog is at www.jcsocialmarketing.com and she is active on Twitter at @JuliaCSocial

Meet #umbsocial Speaker – Robert Bochnak

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Tell us a little about yourself and your background?

I’m a graduate of the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and the Tufts University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. For the past two years, I’ve managed social media—Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram—for the Harvard Business School’s (HBS) Alumni Office as an Assistant Director of Alumni Marketing and Communications. Before HBS, I was a Senior Writer and Communications Manager for the Tufts University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS). Along with managing social media for the school, I was the co-editor-in-chief and contributing writer of Alma Matters, the magazine for Tufts arts, sciences, and engineering (AS&E) graduate alumni, editor of Graduate E-News, the e-newsletter for AS&E graduate students, and project manager for a number of GSAS marketing materials. I was also the editor and writer of Grad Matters, the blog for GSAS alumni.

In my free time, I like to hang out with my children and wife, play golf (poorly), and write about social media through my blog, Social Media Matters.

Bobpic2When did you start to work in social media?

I began my social media work in 2010.

How does a typical work day of you look like?

Each morning, I typically “run my numbers.” This involves reviewing alumni social media activity from the previous day and adding this information to my tracking sheets (for more on tracking sheets and its relationship to social media ROI go to https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/article/20140710175047-38520837-making-the-case-explaining-the-return-on-investment-roi-of-your-social-media-efforts?trk=mp-reader-card). Once I complete this process, I spend the rest of the day reviewing my Twitter lists looking for engagement opportunities, pushing out questions to our alumni on Twitter, posting content on Facebook and LinkedIn, and conducting social media research.

Do you have a role model in social media. Someone who inspires you?
I wouldn’t say I have social media role models, but I do appreciate people who pursue creative projects in this area. A perfect example of this is my colleague Allison Matherly from Texas Tech University. She helped spearhead the #IAmARedRaider project which I’m a HUGE fan of.

What is the hardest thing about social media?

Being okay with failure. I do a lot of experimentation on social media and sometimes my strategies work and sometimes they do not. But even when I fail, I try to learn something from the process so I increase my chances of success the next time around.

What do you see as some up-and-coming trend in social media?

An increased focus on big data in social media. I’m not sure what this will look like but it seems like a likely direction.

Did you make any social media mistakes in the past or is there anything you would avoid in future?
Yes, I’ve definitely made mistakes in the past! I’ve actually blogged about a few of them at https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/article/20140627123836-38520837-my-favorite-social-media-mistake-and-what-i-learned-from-it?trk=mp-reader-card and https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/article/20140905185607-38520837-my-favorite-social-media-mistake-and-what-i-learned-from-it-part-2?trk=mp-reader-card.

To be successful in social media, you need to ….?

Take chances and always be willing to try something new.

What is your favorite book and why?

Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. It’s a terrific read.

What is your favorite quote?

Either…

“Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value.” –Albert Einstein

or

“I AM AN F.B.I. Agent!” –Johnny Utah (Keanu Reeves) from Point Break

What is your favorite movie and why?

Shawshank Redemption. Great dialogue, great music. Let’s just say it gets REAL dusty at the Bochnak residence when Red and Andy reunite at the end of the film.

Where can we find more about you and you work?

You can learn more about me on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/robertbochnak/ and by reading my blog, GradMatters, at http://robertbochnak.wordpress.com/.


Meet #umbsocial Speaker – Edward Peters

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Tell us a little about yourself and your background?photo2

First thing to know: I’m a native Californian. That means I HATE New England winters! I still have this [completely rational by the way!] mindset that if you want snow, you drive a few hours into the mountains to get it—and then leave it to go back to the warm comforts of home. That being said, I love it here in Boston – there’s lots of energy, innovation and ideas in the air.

Growing up, I first wanted to be a musician, then later a writer, and then a few years after that a filmmaker. So, it’s insanely awesome that my job writing, producing and scoring videos and documentaries allows me to do all three.

Studied Sociology and Economics in College – I’m sure the interviewer was probably entertained about my earnest, world-changing plan to write the next Das Capital – only this time fully reconciling Marxism and Capitalism into one harmonious whole. Never happened – obviously—I gave up after Chapter 2.

CD coverStarted as a writer, created the revenue department’s first website in 1995, then co-created the video production studio in 2006. Social media soon followed. Started my own production company  –Shadowfisher Productions – in 2008 for both personal and client-based video and music production.

When did you start to work in social media?

I started with social media in 2007, when we created our first YouTube account for our videos. Soon after, Twitter followed, then a blog, Facebook, LinkedIn and, now, Flickr and, soon, Vine.

How does a typical work day of you look like?

I’m not sure I have “typical” days! On any given day, though, there is usually some combination of writing time, studio time (production and post) and administrative time, with a healthy dose of location filming and meetings.  Later on, a lot of my time is spent writing or doing music production in my home studio.

Do you have a role model in social media. Someone who inspires you?

I’m oddly role-model-free in the social media world.

What is the hardest thing about social media?

1. Actually doing it rather than talking about it.

2. Being consistent- both in quantity and quality

3. Finding relevant and useful content to post  – for some reason, it’s like pulling teeth to get anyone in my agency to ante up content.

What do you see as some up-and-coming trend in social media?

Easier-to-use interactive engagement tools that are better integrated with websites; increased use of video social media to create short, high-impact content e.g., Vine; more focus on quality content.

One trend I would love to see is more employee involvement and ownership of social media within their workplace.

Can you name us a brand or company that you admire for their great social media strategy/execution?

Not a company using it in a campaign per se, but, rather, a company creating the toolset to do it – and that’s Google. I’m in awe of Google – what they’ve done with YouTube and how they work to integrate their vast toolset.

Did you make any social media mistakes in the past or is there anything you would avoid in future?

Plenty. Number one was waiting four years to develop a coherent and scalable social media plan.

To be successful in social media, you need to ….?

Think about who your audience is and what their needs are. It’s easy to post self-absorbed stuff that resonates with no one (I should know!)

What is your favorite book and why?

I have two:  The Sun Also Rises and Dharma Bums.

Sun Also Rises was a real eye-opener as a teenager — not only about the Lost Generation in Paris theme, but because it’s a book that made me want to be a traveler, not a tourist, to explore and to live truly well. Every time I read that book it feels so real I feel like I have to wipe Sangria off my chin.

Dharma Bums is a favorite not only because it’s placed in my original backyard – the Bay Area and the Sierras — but because it’s a fabulous book about people – some good, some bad, some crazy – trying to look past the rampant crass commercialism of modern America and find an organic and spiritual way to live. Sounds cliché now maybe, but the book was truly prescient – it was written in the late 1950’s!

What is your favorite quote?

Easy, the opening two stanzas of Whitman’s Song of the Open Road; to wit:
Afoot and light-hearted, I take to the open road,
Healthy, free, the world before me,
The long brown path before me, leading wherever I choose.

Henceforth I ask not good-fortune—I myself am good fortune;
Henceforth I whimper no more, postpone no more, need nothing,             5
Strong and content, I travel the open road.

 What is your favorite movie and why?

Hmm, let’s see… Breathless?  Godfather?  Citizen Kane?  Nope, better than all those, it’s….  The Outlaw Josey Wales!

OK, y’all done snickering?  I love this movie, it has a fabulous core story about a wronged Civil-War era farmer exacting revenge, but it’s also about love and loss, honor, finding a family in unusual places, not to mention the tragic consequences of war.

Is there anything else you would like to add that I haven’t included?

Sorry Ben Franklin, but it’s Oysters and Chablis that “prove that God loves us and wants us to be happy.”

Where can we find more about you and you work?

www.shadowfisher-productions.comG57A9722_1

… and a few other links that should give you a flavor of my agency work:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aPWxs8FVSJM

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TR2wnMhn2q4

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-VMZwSnZD9w

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FtK31bZZR04

10 Qualities You Need To Become A Stellar Storyteller

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b75b9e8b438627f929c10647c9d474c2Storytelling is not only a fantastic way to relate to other humans on a personal level, it is also a fantastic marketing and fundraising tool for nonprofits and other companies

When done strategically and in harmony with online channels, storytelling can and will help you raise more money and strengthen relationships with your supporters.

Great nonprofit stories:

  • Convey impact and outcomes;
  • Elicit emotion and compassion;
  • Inspire further action and commitment.

Nonprofits of all sizes need to start thinking of themselves as storytellers and not “development professionals” or “communication coordinators”. A 10-page communications strategy is of no use without the gasoline of good stories to fuel it.

How can you go from Communications Coordinator or Development Director to Stellar Storyteller?

I came up with 10 characteristics of great nonprofit storytellers. Notes that there are few people who will embody every single characteristics – they are simply guidelines to inspire you on your journey to improve the way you craft and share stories.

To be a Stellar Storyteller, you must:

Be a true believer in the cause. They must be an outspoken and passionate advocate – the kind of person whose zeal is infectious.

Be authentic and truthful. We tend to want to listen to others with whom we can see parts of ourselves; people that come from similar backgrounds and have faced similar obstacles.

This is why major donors tend to listen to other major donors, and volunteers are able to recruit other volunteers. They speak each other’s language and understand where they are coming from.

Truly understand what it’s all about. It’s not all about your organization’s agenda and what you want to convey. It’s about your audience.

A great storyteller takes time to understand the audience – what they care about, what they want to hear. Stories should be crafted and delivered with these elements in mind.

Prepare, prepare, prepare. Preparation is key when delivering a great story. However, Stellar Storytellers are able to improvise and are not rigid in their delivery.

Practice being open-minded, enthusiastic and motivated. You want others to feel what you are feeling, and you will always try new methods and new techniques to reach that end.

Remain skeptical. Always be asking yourself the questions that your audience will be asking: “How did that happen? Why did that happen? Why couldn’t something else have happened?”

By looking at your story with a critical eye, you will be able to anticipate the concerns and apprehension of your critics

Remain generous. Stellar Storytellers are generous with their emotions and their willingness to be vulnerable. They often share personal stories of their own struggles and obstacles.

To touch other people’s hearts, you must be willing to expose your own.

Understand the context. Are you telling the story in front of a group of 100 people, at an intimate dinner, or during a Twitter Q&A tweet chat?

Molding the story to fit the context is a huge part of being successful in storytelling.

Don’t think you have to be perfect to be a Stellar Storyteller. Who wants to hear a perfect story from a perfect person? (I know I don’t.)

As long as you are authentic, truthful and passionate about the story you are telling, people will connect with you and be inspired to take action.

Do you have any other storytelling qualities to add to this list?   

JuliaCampbell01web (1)

Guest post by Julia Campbell (originally appeared on the J Campbell Social Marketing blog). Julia Campbell is Principal of J Campbell Social Marketing. Her blog is at www.jcsocialmarketing.com and she is active on Twitter at @JuliaCSocial

Meet #umbsocial Speaker – Mark Forrester

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Tell us a little about yourself and your background?Forrester

Left Comcast after 16 years in TV advertising to start my own ad agency

When did you start to work in social media

When my clients expressed frustration in not being able to “meet” website visitors!

How does a typical work day of you look like?

Sales calls, edits, meetings, edits, networking-repeat!

Do you have a role model in social media. Someone who inspires you?

Hmmm, Not really-not yet

What is the hardest thing about social media?

Time poverty Vs. multitude of choices

Forrester2-MCan you name us a brand or company that you admire for their great social media strategy/execution?

upworthy

To be successful in social media, you need to ….?

Start with “why” you are doing what you are doing. People will make a deep emotional connection w/ you and/or your brand when they attach themselves to your “why” because it matches up with their “why”

What is your favorite book and why?

Bird By Bird” by Anne Lamont, because it inspires

What is your favorite quote  

“My religion is simple. My religion is kindness”   The Dali Lama

ConelyAD_1
What is your favorite movie and why?

“Field of Dreams”

a) because it moves me emotionally every time I watch it.

b) because it is redemtive and allows us all to touch parts of our own story that we wish we could get a “do-over” on

Is there anything else you would like to add that I haven’t included?

“The greatest title will ever hold is Father” I think of this everyday….

Where can we find more about you and you work?

My website is MarcusMylesMedia.com

Marcus Myles Media

℅ Quincy Center for Innovation

180 Old Colony Ave.  Suite 300

Quincy,  MA  02170

MMMedia_final_slogan_xsmall

Web Videos – the Story behind the Story

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screen-capture-8Guest post by Edward Peters

If you’re looking to make web videos, here’s something to keep in mind:

Each video tells two stories

There is, of course, the narrative, the basic story you want to tell. But there’s another story too – a bit less concrete perhaps, but just as revealing – the level of craft and professionalism you put into your product. Both stories can affect how viewers respond to your video.

A lot of us who began producing web videos in the mid-aughts had a short learning curve. The medium was still relatively new and some of us figured the talking head format was a quick and easy way to deliver information… and deliver… and deliver… and…

Yes, they could go on a bit too long – but we reckoned that viewers would be just as in love with our little Flash epics as we were – especially if, heaven forbid, we were “guest starring” in the video somewhere. In that case, we thought, Hollywood was right around the corner.

Then video metrics came along.

Uh-oh. It became apparent that our love was decidedly unrequited. After seeing a consistent trend of two-minute fall-offs – the equivalent of a lousy Variety review – we learned: package your message inside a short, compelling story and people will relate to it far better; oh, and better grab their attention in the first 15 seconds while you’re at it – or start packing.

Rightly or wrongly, people do not have the patience to sit around and watch you flounder around in search of a story. So, know your message upfront. Then, keep it short, keep it sweet – and get to the point! Give your viewers characters or circumstances they can relate to and your chances of connecting grow exponentially. Your metrics won’t lie.

And, let’s not forget that other story. If we don’t take care to make a well-crafted product, why should our audience care about watching it? Quality speaks volumes about the respect you have for your viewers.

G57A9722_1Edward Peters is Executive Director of Web and Media for the Massachusetts Department of Revenue (DOR) and Owner/Producer of Shadowfisher

 

Meet #umbsocial Speaker – Julia Campbell

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1. Tell us a little about yourself and your background?

JuliaCampbell01I received my B.S. degree in Journalism & Communications from Boston University and earned a Master in Public Administration from Old Dominion University as well as a Certificate in Nonprofit Management from Tidewater Community College.

I’m from Beverly, MA; I’m a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer (Senegal 2000-2002), a mother and a social media marketing specialist. In my professional life, I help nonprofits connect with supporters by effectively harnessing the power and potential of online marketing and social media tools.

My clients include small community-based nonprofits and large universities. I also offer one-on-one coaching sessions, group seminars and college courses. I’m pleased to say that my blog was named one of the Top 150 Nonprofit Blogs in the world and I am included in the Top 40 Digital Strategists in Marketing for 2014.

2. When did you start to work in social media?

I’ve been on each social media site since the year it was born – I’ve always loved connecting with people and sharing resources, information and photos, so channels like Facebook just came naturally to me. After 10 years in the nonprofit sector as a development director and marketing coordinator, I founded J Campbell Social Marketing, a boutique digital marketing agency based in Beverly, MA.

3. How does a typical work day of you look like?

There is really no typical day of work, which is a big reason I like being an entrepreneur! After dropping my daughter at school and my husband at the train, and getting my coffee, I usually sit down at my desk and write down my 3 big goals of the day. I block schedule my day to maximize my use of time. There are phone calls, coffee meetings. I try to block out at least 2 hours per day with no distractions to write blog posts or work on my upcoming book about social media, storytelling and nonprofits.

4. Do you have a role model in social media. Someone who inspires you?

John Haydon and Debra Askanase are my two role models. They have become personal friends and mentors, because they are so accessible, friendly and helpful. I devour their work and their writing and have learned so much from them! Beth Kanter is my nonprofit tech hero and definitely on my bucket list to meet.

5. What is the hardest thing about social media?

The hardest thing is to balance what is important for you and your community with what is popular and trendy. It is so hard not to compare yourself with others – for example, people with thousands of Twitter followers or blog readers. It’s a slow and steady uphill battle, but consistency and thoughtfulness win in the end!

6. What do you see as some up-and-coming trend in social media?

I see many more niche communities developing, and marketers creating content catering to those specific niches. If you try to appeal to everyone, you will appeal to no one.

7. Can you name us a brand or company that you admire for their great social media strategy/execution?

I absolutely love what Real Simple magazine and Sephora do on Pinterest! They have the advantage of having great visual products, but they also know their audience and really give them what they want, not necessarily what is on their brand agenda. For nonprofits, charity:water is the gold standard in social media and storytelling, but some small nonprofits also do a fantastic job, such as Black Cat Rescue in Boston and The Ellie Fund in Needham.

8. Did you make any social media mistakes in the past or is there anything you would avoid in future?

Social media involves a lot of trial and error. I haven’t committed any egregious mistakes, but I have gone two weeks in a row without posting on my blog!

9. To be successful in social media, you need to ….?

Be committed.

10. What is your favorite book and why?

My favorite novel is A Prayer for Owen Meany - I love how everything has meaning and comes together in the end. I have way too many favorite business books. One that I’m reading right now that I’m loving is Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard. It’s absolutely a must-read for marketers, sales people, nonprofits professionals, pretty much anyone!

11. What is your favorite quote?

Anything by Seth Godin – I always reference him and quote him on my Facebook page!

12. What is your favorite movie and why?

The Nightmare Before Christmas – I love Tim Burton and Danny Elfman, it’s such a creative movie, dark without being too macabre, great for Halloween and Christmas. Perfection.

13. Is there anything else you would like to add that I haven’t included?

14. Where can we find more about you and you work?

My blog is at www.jcsocialmarketing.com and I am very active on Twitter at @JuliaCSocial