Get A Free Flickr Pro Account For Your Cause

As the new year approaches is a good idea to start thinking about how you’re going to be handling your marketing for 2012. One thing we think should be on every causes radar is making sure you have a one-stop place for pictures and graphics to be used with your organization. Our best recommendation for this is Flickr and now they’ve teamed up with Tech Soup to create Flickr for Good, offering 10,000 1-year Flickr Pro accounts. Pretty Awesome if you ask us!

Not sure what you can do with a Flickr account? Well check out our client Catskill Animal Sanctuary’s Flickr. They do a terrific job of updating it regularly with new pictures of their animals, supporters, and staff. By doing this they provide a personal side to whom they are as an organization and make them very approachable for donations and support in the future.


To apply just click on the corresponding link of the country your cause is in:


TechSoup

For organizations based in the United States or Canada, apply directly to TechSoup.


DonorTec
DonorTec provides technology information services to NGOs throughout Australia and is operated by Community Information Strategies Australia.


TechDonation
TechDonation provides social welfare services in Hong Kong and is operated by The Hong Kong Council of Social Services (HKCSS), an umbrella organization for 340+ agency members.


Charity Technology Exchange
CTX is a program of the Charity Technology Trust (CTT), an NGO that empowers British charities through the effective use of technology services and consulting.

Photo courtesy of bradleypjohnson on Flickr

A Content Plan For Twitter: What Should Your Organization Tweet?

Whether you use your Twitter account for personal or business reasons, one of the biggest challenges is deciding what—and when—to tweet. Tweeting your every move can turn off your followers, while failing to tweet at all can cause those once eager followers to lose interest.

Fortunately there are some techniques your business can use to make the most of your online presence. Social media sites like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter are the wave of the future, and it is important for companies of all sizes to use the power of these sites to grow their brands and please their customers.

  • Think about what you are interested in and use that as the basis of your tweets.  Keep abreast of the latest developments in your organizations topic areas and pass that interesting information along to your supporters.
  • Spread your tweets out among several different staff members and maybe even volunteers, rather than doing all the work on your own.  Having more than one person tweeting will also bring a number of different viewpoints to the table as well. You can do this easily with Hootsuite or Cotweet.
  • Use Twitter to promote your blog posts, but be sure to provide some background information along with the link.  Make your followers want to click your links by providing interesting and useful content. Use a shortener service like bit.ly so you can get more room for your descriptions!
  • Solicit the opinions of your followers, and don’t be afraid to let them ask questions.  You can learn a a great deal about how your organization is viewed in the outside world by interacting with your Twitter followers. If you want hardcore surveys check out Wufoo, it lets you create any kind of forms you want.
  • Follow interesting people and companies, both inside and outside your industry.  Twitter is a great place to build your organization and your personal network.
  • Tweet about non-cause related items as well.  While Twitter is a great place to promote your organization, it is also a great place to learn from the experiences of others.  If you find something interesting, tweet it to your online followers.
  • Make your tweets useful, especially when you are promoting your own programs and services.  Make sure that the information you provide will be interesting and useful to your followers. Try to answer the standard questions like “who, what, when, and where”. Also if your so inclined answer the “why”.
  • Share your organization’s human side, including any outside activities and cause marketing endeavors.  Encourage your staff to tweet about their personal lives as well as the business side of their lives.
  • Resist the urge to promote your organization constantly.  It is fine to use Twitter as a marketing tool, but the site should be much more than just promoting your business. We can’t stress this enough because even though you probably have many passionate followers that love you, they don’t really want to only hear about you.
  • Post interesting articles from both inside and outside your niche.  The people who are following you on Twitter will have many different interests, so be sure to tweet the things you find interesting.  Chances are good that someone on your list of Twitter contacts will find the information you post interesting and relevant.
  • Share images and video. Everyone wants to see what your organization is up to. Make it easy for folks to then share those images and video with their followers as well by using an online service like Flickr, YouTube, or Vimeo.

Twitter is a powerful marketing tool for your cause, but it is much more than that.  The world of social networking has transformed the way we interact with one another, and smart non-profits who were able to get in on the ground floor of this new media sensation are already reaping the rewards. Overall, we’ve found that its really just laziness that gets in the way of most organizations following a content plan like this. Break that cycle now and if you need help feel free to get in touch!

Image courtesy of Twitter Buttons on Etsy

10 Twitter Marketing Tips for Your Non-Profit

Twitter can be a valuable marketing tool for your business, but the sheer enormity of the Twitter network can be a bit overwhelming.  If you have just joined Twitter, you may find yourself fielding follower requests.  You may also feel the need to tweet your every move, but it is important to put some sanity back into your Twitter-enabled life.

There are a number of things to keep in mind when you are just getting started with Twitter.  These rules apply whether you are using Twitter for business or for personal reasons, but they can be even more critical when it comes to business Twitter sites.

  1. Avoid the temptation to read every tweet from your followers. It can be tempting to try to keep up with what all of your followers are doing, but the enormous size of the Twitter network makes this impossible.
  2. You do not need to apply to every tweet you receive, even if that tweet is directed only at you. It is important to review each tweet you receive and choose the ones you want to respond to.
  3. Be sure to use the one on one communication feature of Twitter for private conversations. There is no need for all your followers to participate in a conversation directed at only a single person.
  4. Use the Twitter search feature to look for mentions of your organization. Twitter is a great way to keep track of what others are saying about you and how your business is perceived in the wider world.  Join the conversation about your cause when it makes sense to do so.
  5. Use third party programs to manage your Twitter life. Twitter can be a complicated place, and applications like Hootsuite and Tweetdeck can make it a lot easier to manage your tweets and your follower community. You can even set tweets to go out at specified times in the future – awesomesauce!
  6. Ask a few trusted employees to tweet on your organization’s behalf, but be sure those workers are getting their regular work done as well. Having more than one person tweeting on behalf of the organization is a great way to give an individual voice to your company while providing a varied point of view.
  7. Post links to interesting news articles or blog posts, but always use a link shortening tool like Bit.ly to make those posts manageable.
  8. Use Twitter as a marketing tool, but also use it for fun. Using Twitter to share fun or interesting stories will get you more followers and make you a more interesting Twitter user.
  9. Be sure to comment on other people’s tweets on a regular basis. Commenting on what others are talking about is a great way to build a community of like minded people
  10. Make your tweets interesting and useful. Whether you are working with your website or your Twitter account, it is still important to provide your readers with interesting and engaging content.  Twitter is a powerful tool for communication and marketing, but it is important to use this powerful tool the right way.

5 Advantages of Outsourced Marketing

In the non-profit world, “outsourcing” is sometimes regarded as a dirty word, but that has nothing to do with outsourcing your marketing, which is actually a very smart move for your organization.  With tight budgets and a lingering recession, now is the time to make the most of your resources, whether talent or money.  But that’s not the only reason to outsource marketing functions.

With an explosion of new media and social marketing opportunities, now is the time to take advantage of these exciting technologies or risk being left behind.  In a sense, your cause is at a crossroads, and seizing all of the new marketing tools can propel you to the top of your niche.  But the only way to do so is by having experts in the field guiding your marketing strategy, rather than struggling to understand and implement the technology yourself.

  1. Even tech-savvy firms or personnel with diverse backgrounds can use outside expertise.  Outsourcing marketing functions will allow you to take advantage of the skills and experience of professional advertising and brand management specialists. These individuals are immersed in the world of marketing every day and can use successful techniques from other campaigns to benefit your organization.
  2. Additionally, outsourcing your marketing to a professional firm can help you gain a broader perspective and identify any potential blind spots or biases in your marketing.
  3. Another important advantage of outsourcing marketing functions is the insight and data that professional marketing firms possess.  Marketing firms have a wealth of research at their disposal and have the resources to perform evaluative analysis on target markets and the effectiveness of outreach techniques.
  4. Experience and specialized knowledge aren’t the only ways in which outsourcing your marketing can benefit your organization, though.  Leaving marketing functions to the experts gives you and your employees the freedom to concentrate on what you do best.  Without the distraction of trying to tackle marketing, your organization will instantly be more focused on running your cause, not promoting it.  Because of this, you can pay more attention to your core competencies and put your resources into internal improvements, rather than worrying about your image.  This will give you a chance to streamline your operations, which in turn will give your marketing firm another thing to share with your audience.
  5. In addition to freeing up your personnel, you can free up more money by reducing overhead.  Outsourcing marketing functions means you don’t have to worry about recruiting and training new employees or finding workspace to put together complex projects.  Marketing can be quite expensive, and there are a lot of fixed costs – between graphic design programs and subscriptions to research databases, the cost required to run one successful campaign on your own can reverberate for many quarters to come. Also, advertising and promotion professionals and “creative” minds often expect higher salaries, so outsourcing marketing can cut down on your costs as well.

In this new age of communications, the importance of marketing can’t be ignored.  With so many new methods for reaching supporters, a mass marketing campaign just isn’t effective any more.  Audiences are diverse and there are an astonishing number of channels of communication to consider.  Instead of diverting valuable resources to such a complicated area, why not reap the benefits of outsourcing marketing functions?

Budgeting Your Non-profits Marketing & Fundraising

As the new year approaches, we cannot stress enough about the importance for making sure you have a proper budget figured out for your marketing and fundraising needs in the coming year. All too often we hear these budgets being thrown around and put together as guess-work, but the reality is that they need to be handled with some care and precision to ensure that your organization can make a significant impact with its followers moving forward.

One tool we suggest to clients is to put together a marketing plan and start pricing out some of the marketing tools that they are going to need in the coming year. Then whatever number they come up with, double it. Seriously. We’re not telling you all of this because we want your money. Quite on the contrary, we won’t see most of your money because it will actually go towards vendors and goods that will be used to execute your plans. Its very important that you take the time to plan this properly otherwise you’ll find your organization struggling all year to make any real progress in its marketing and fundraising efforts.

Feel free to download our example Marketing Plan and let us know what you think!

Image courtesy of Toban Black on Flickr.

Is it Really Possible to Manufacture ‘Viral’ Growth?

Over the last five years, the expansive world of social media has made viral marketing a reality. The days of massive advertising budgets and endless organization appear to be nearing an end, replaced by a marketing world where anyone can generate thousands, hundreds-of-thousands, or potentially millions of page-views in a matter of days using YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook’s ‘like’ feature.

But alongside the truly huge potential for viral growth is a very familiar situation – despite there now being the networks and technology for marketing messages to rapidly spread, most generate little attention and end up ignored. Some have blamed technology for the failure of manufactured ‘viral’ marketing efforts, but more experienced marketers have human behavior to look towards.

There’s a reason most manufactured viral marketing campaigns fail: most just aren’t good. Growth in marketing, particularly in an uncontrolled online world, is incredibly difficult to create. With the power of rapid growth resting entirely in the hands of users, delivering a marketing message that people aren’t interested in hearing is an impossibility. Simply put, manufacturing ‘viralness’ is hard.

There are examples to the contrary – Old Spice’s incredibly successful YouTube message campaign being one of the most obvious. But they’ve been less the result of specialist marketing and more the end product of great content. Most people would share the Old Spice videos regardless of their commercial affiliation, while few people would opt to share a video designed to create leads.

For marketers, it’s important to realize that viral growth is largely random and almost completely uncontrollable. Rick Astley’s ongoing comeback tour can be attributed almost entirely to his video gaining cult status amongst internet users and randomly spreading. Could another artist engineer a similar phenomenon? Unlikely. There’s an element of randomness to viral growth that’s organic.

So should a viral marketing campaign fail to catch on, don’t fret. The only way to control a random phenomenon is to create as many opportunities as possible. Old Spice didn’t win over YouTube with a single video – they posted several similar videos before one finally hit the mark. Let the random nature of internet growth control your success, and don’t try to ‘create’ something that’s organic.

Image courtesy of Microbes on Think Geek

Marketing Your Organization With Facebook

With over 600 million active users and growing by the day, Facebook is simply too powerful for any serious Internet entrepreneur to ignore. It is far more than just a way for friends to keep in touch with each other. For those just starting out with an online business venture, it is essential to understand how Facebook works and what it can do for your business. There are various different ways of driving traffic to your website by using Facebook. There are both free methods as well as paid ones. The following outlines the main methods in which you can use Facebook for marketing your online business.

Establishing a Facebook Fan Page
Establishing a Facebook fan page for your website is a great way to increase the exposure of your business. You can use your fan page to keep the visitors to your site updated on the latest content or products. It is free to establish a fan page for your business.

Using Facebook Groups
Similar to Facebook fan pages, you can also establish groups for others with whom you and your business share a common interest. When you have a large enough group, you can start posting links to new content on your site. All of the members of your group will be able to see these links.

You should also join other groups which are relevant to your niche. There are groups for just about every conceivable topic on Facebook, so you should easily be able to find a wide variety of groups to join. Join as many as you can. To market your website in these groups, simply post links to your website in the group wall. If you can find a group with several tens of thousands of members, you will have plenty of people to share your links with.

Unfortunately, due to the ease of joining many Facebook groups and the fact that they are a free place for online marketing, there is also a lot of spam. When you post links, do so sparingly and try to provide something genuinely useful to people so that you can build up a good reputation, setting you apart from the spammers.

Using Facebook Social Bookmarking
Social bookmarking is one of the most effective forms of Internet marketing. There are many social bookmarking sites which you should also take advantage of, but Facebook happens to be one of the biggest. Visitors to your website should be able to share pages they like with their friends on Facebook. To make this as easy as possible, you should install some social bookmarking scripts on each page of your site. This will display a series of buttons, one for each of the main social networking sites including Facebook. If a visitor likes a particular article, they can share it simply by clicking the button of their favorite social networking site.

Using Pay-Per-Click Advertising
One paid method of online marketing which Facebook provides is a pay-per-click advertising service (PPP). This is a great way to get your advertisements displayed on a wide variety of pages with maximum exposure. Every time someone clicks on one of your advertisements and visits your site, you will pay a few cents. While it may seem that this can get very expensive, you can also set a daily PPP advertising budget. Once this budget is reached, your advertisements will stop being displayed for the remainder of that day. This makes PPP advertising on Facebook a very viable and affordable form of advertising for many online businesses. Google AdSense works in exactly the same way.

Idea: Viral Wallpaper

I stumbled onto this great exhibit from the Brothers Mueller called Viral Wallpaper. Essentially its an interactive piece that invites the user to touch the display. The more people that touch the display the quicker it starts to show its true colors, a viral pattern.

Even though this is a terrific art peice by itself, I can not help also but think of how wonderful it would be as an actual tool in our guerilla marketing arsenal. Imagine doing something similar in a shopping mall or busy street to draw attention to STDs or AIDS? We could also imagine how something like this might be used in some variation for a green campaign, maybe growing grass or showing a field of flowers as more people participate and giving across the message like “you can help grow a better world”. Here’s a great video of what it looked like.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dblkOtABBW8[/youtube]

We also found a great company out of the UK called Curb Media that has done a similar concept for the movie Contagion. They put up a virus wall in Toronto and then generated buzz about the movie with it. I think the future of marketing for causes is deeply rooted in a combination of traditional tactics and new theories like these, to draw attention but also to provoke discussion. Brilliant!

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LppK4ZtsDdM[/youtube]

Reply to Getting on The List

In reply to a great post over at Getting on The List | NetWitsThinkTank.com, I wanted to embellish on my thoughts. Go read that blog post first then come back here. Its ok, I’ll wait.

Ok, welcome back. It was a quick read right?! I always love insights into shifting our paradigm to really see what donors care about. One thing I’ve seen work to great success is less “selling” and more “empowering”. In other words, if we give supporters really amazing tools to support the cause along side an amazing story of what the cause is all about, then it empowers those supporters to become evangelists and bringe more supporters in from the fringe. Countless causes have had terrific success with this:
– 350.org with their rallies and marches around the world, produced by supporters.
– Toms shoes giving colleges materials to start their own Toms movement on their campus’
– Food, Inc. documentary with their home viewing parties
– and the list goes on.

Now the really interesting thing about any of these empowerment campaigns is that the communication does not come from the cause, it comes from the person you know. So since I know Chris Tuttle (albeit virtually), he might just open an email from me inviting him to my NYC studio for a documentary viewing party with good food and libations, but if it came from the cause it might not have the same possible influence on him.

For us at Mark & Phil, this is kind of the epicenter of what we believe to be the core strategic thinking in establishing the “new supporter”.

Idea: Flash Mobbing for Good

We’ve got a new client (can’t say who it is just yet) and our first project with them is to help plan a flash mob for this fall in NYC. Obviously this makes us super excited because we’ve always loved flash mobs and we love working with causes we care about, so combining the two is a bit euphoric. Excitement aside, we’ve been researching a ton about flash mobs we think were done really well, how they pulled them off, and gathering a list of tips for a guideline we’ll be sharing later this summer about Flash Mobbing for Good.

Until then, here are a few of the videos that have absolutely made us chuckle, in fact the reactions here in the office we as follows:

  • 2 people cried
  • 4 people laughed
  • 1 person fell out of their chair
  • 1 person broke their glasses because they got so emotional and excited (this guy)

So sit back, check these out, and think about how you could use a Flash Mob for your cause to drum up some support, publicity, and genuinely have a kick-ass time.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9S2T5vPHjS8[/youtube]

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-4uyj11prB0[/youtube]

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HDNOB6TnHSI[/youtube]

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dDJ-3_t0XnI[/youtube]

Featured image from Greenpeace Finland on Flickr.