I'm behind in posting my notes from my visit to Australia and the Connecting Up Conference. So, expect to see a flood of posts over the next weeks.
I was lucky enough to attend a breakout session called "The Fritz and Sauce Method For Dealing With Information Overload" conducted by Stuart Jones from the Old Milang School House Project. Fritz and Sauce is a type of sandwich served to school children in South Australia. Stuart gave a great presentation on how to avoid that awful overwhelmed feeling we feel from dealing with digital information. I think the connection to the Fritz and Sauce sandwich is that you don't need to feel obligated to consume everything.
He asked us to reflect for a few moments about how we feel when we open our email. He then made a list of all the post ways people can communicate with us online - from social networking sites to Skype and others. He observed that many of us simply want to hide. He asked, "Do we give up? How do we deal with the flood of information?"
is an old way of thinking that you have to somehow keep up. This is
really what is getting in your way. However if you bathe in the stream
of information you get plenty. The idea is to enjoy the journey, picking up a little bit here or there that might be interesting, but don't obliged to read or consume every detail. Wade through this stream without holding on and the key is not worrying about missing something .... Have a swim, pick up the things you really find useful. Don't worry about getting everything.
He suggested taking a critical look at what type of information you are currently wading through and as much as possible move your swim to RSS. But, also do not feel an obligation to read every post from every feed. Scanning is key. Just browse the headings and read what you want.
I'm not sure if his slides are posted on SlideShare, but I used my Nokia n95 to get some photos here.
Stuart used a wonderful metaphor of swimming in the river of information and picking out what you need, not everything. Another metaphor might be browsing the titles of books in a bookstore, but only taking a closer look at the ones that interest you.
What metaphor might you use to describe your method for avoiding information overload?
I was sitting in front of Hannah Baral when she asked an amazing question in the session about nonprofits and blogging. Hannah is the Clubs and Student Development Manager at UNSW. She is interested using social media to connect with students. (I had, of course, attempted to live stream a video interview with her using my N95 and QIK, but the Internet connection and I lost the streamed video -- went into the black hole of the Internet!)
So, I took a photo of her business card and am posting the questions here. Please leave a comment so I can share with her.
If we want to create a project with student blogging, are there examples of guidelines? What do we need to think about?
What are some examples in other parts of the world where a university has used social media to connect with students around clubs and student life?
How can we best interact with young people via social media?
Warning: I am live blogging these notes as the conference unfolds. There will be typos and I'll clean up later
Morning Opening Session
Malcom Downes, Deputy Chairperson, CISA Inc. welcomed everyone "The people on the end of your web site will be informed than the CEO. It is a challenging and exciting at the same time."
Doug Jacquier, CEO, CISA, Inc welcomed everyone and gave some context about CISA's growth and services over the past few years. This year's program is heavily weighted to the "social web" and nonprofits. Doug mentioned attending the NTC/NTEN conference in New Orleans and had RSS and Tagging ringing in his ears. He came back an evangelist for social media. He summarized some learnings from NTC sessions he attended and the keynote by David Pogue. He mentioned that "digital natives" get their information from their peers. They won't be reading your emails. He urged everyone to pay attention to this closely. He mentioned that I would be talking about Twitter and quipped ..."If you see me twittering, take me to the back and shoot me."
Doug concluded his welcoming remarks with posing some important questions for the future for participants to reflect over the next few days:
How do we keep a balance between the emerging and traditional technology so we keep in touch with digital natives and those who have limited connectivity?
How would you organization cope with a natural disaster?
With so much information coming out, how we can get our message out and heard?
How do we effectively use and not abuse privacy?
What if we demanded if everyone politician had a social web presence so we could poke them?
What if we demanded that a basic low cost connection and computer and training were available to every Aussie who wanted it like the telephone?
What if networked better and created stronger communities of practice?
What if we were to audio and video record interviews with politicians and put them on the web?
What if we faced up to really measuring the results of our work?
What would ngos look like if they were completely virtual?
What if organizations did not have government funding or pursue it? Good or bad thing?
What if we demanded that if our equipment suppliers took environmental responsibility for their equipment?
What is my responsibility to my organization - money, unique knowledge, ?
What if you committed to leave this conference with a tangible commitment to changing one thing about the way your organization's operates.
Opened with his personal story about he got started with Networked For Good. He talked about his first personal fundraising campaign - for cancer research in his mother's memory. He introduced Networked For Good and the features. His presentation focused on the dollar side of the equation of online fundraising.
He believes that: "Inspiration + Know how + tools = you can change the world"
The tools are just tools, but you need to add your network
You need to get past the information overload and information clutter
Nonprofits lag behind the corporate sector
Introduced the concept of the Long Tail and the 80/20 rule. The corporate sector have adopted it. The nonprofit sector is the long snail - helping the 99% of nonprofits that are providing 50% of the services to obtain the resources.
Networked For Good - Have shifted from just providing services. Told story about doing a workshop and someone said the product didn't work. No one clicks on the button. It isn't the technology, it is how you marry the technology with marketing know-how.
CRAM = Connect, Reward, Action, Memorable - mentions Technorati as a tool to find your potential audience who have interest in your cause or programs.
It's not about the nonprofit, it's about what they do for our stakeholders.
Gave an example of Feet First: Bought a chicken suit and you had to help the chicken cross the road. Every local news station showed up. He got a donate now button and raised $10,000
Six Degrees of Separatio: Cult of celebrity, user-generated content, online giving, and social networking.
Seth Godin - Flip the Funnel concept -- get our supporters to leverage their networks. 1-5% are uber activists who raise the money.
How to make it work: Popular, Easy, Rewarding, Fun, Cultivate, Tangible
Why it works: conversation, authentic, story, translates into action -- how do I let go and let my supporters take hole of my messaging. Your supporters are better at it - let your supporters do it.
Disaster Relief: Described their efforts for Tsunami and Katrina and mentioned efforts for Burma and China. News coverage is a major driver of giving. Impulse giving, slightly higher giving amounts.
Questions from the audience:
What skill sets do smaller nonprofits need to have? What is the first step?
All of us engage our supporters in different ways. The very step is to get a piece of a paper and get their email addresses. There are offline ways to do it. Two basic skill sets: a.) Go to the places on the social web where you can find people who are passionate about your cause. b) marketing piece is not rocket science - get Katya's book. You don't need to hire a specialist.
What is the balance of government, private, and earned income?
Each of these sources are fickle. What they're doing at Networked for Good - trying to move away from reliance on foundation/corporate and moving to earned revenue. Think about your audiences and what revenue opportunities.
Do you think you have responsibility that money is donated through your network is well spent?
Yes, we screen organizations, but it isn't easy for us. We view this as a utility - it's a dial tone. We have definitions of legit nonprofit. It's a simplistic vetting process. What happens with the money - that's tough one to nail. Part of donor base is retail donor base - you give with your heart or your head. We're trying to help give with their head. We provide basic financial information. It is very difficult to measure impact. We're looking at we can look at impact on a customized basis. Looking at Ebay process - can measure the transaction and get user reviews. How did the transaction go - not the final service or product. There are some organizations that are filling the void. You can do something to help donor give with their head - for example Donors Choose.
Breakout Session 1
Jenny Kapp, Community Connections Australia - Get ConnectED: Weaving A New Social Web for People with Disabilities.
Jenny had us do some speed networking at the beginning session. She then asked us to talk in pairs about our experience with online networking and asked people to share.
At the stage of staring at it from a distance
Personal experience, to connect to younger groups
Using Facebook and Linked but in the basic stages
Gave an overview of some statistics of Internet usage/access of the world's population. Only 1/5 of the world's population has used the Internet and if you drill down into the numbers to look at people with disabilities there is an even smaller percentage of users. Shared some data about the differences and similarities of how people with and without disabilities were using the Internet.
Benefits for people with disabilities:
Psychological Improve health outcomes Improved relationships with family
Barriers Cost Availability of assisted technologies Reactive design of the assistive technologies - behind what's actually happpening Inaccessible hardware or software configuration Lack of awareness of opportunities Different needs of different people with different disabilities
"Inexperience in managing the complexities of social life has left may people with disabilities to engage with new technologies." from a study by two Australian researchers. Access is only the first part of the equation.
Web 1.0 was about access and Web 2.0 is about effective use and connect with other people.
Their project will have a way to facilitate online communication between people with disabilities and able-bodied peers using existing social networking utilities - ChiPs and MentorNet.
Jenny is about to pilot a 12 Week Training Program. The program introduces how to use the technology, but also social skills. They will be using Skype, Second Life, Facebook, and MySpace.
Blogging in Nonprofits: Two perspectives Emily Turner and Priscilla Brice-Weller gave a point-by-point presentation of how their respective nonprofits have implemented blogs. The presentation covered the background, planning, organizational culture, tool selection, blogging, building an audience, and results.
-Valued open-source software that is cheap, flexible, easy and multi-featured. Free software, but expensive in terms of your time -Set out with minimal (achievable) goals and guidelines (policy)
They differed in the audience building strategy and definition.
Emily Turner's organization used the blog to: -Allowed existing audiences to discover enhanced services -To better serve existing audiences
Priscilla Brice-Weller's organization: -Made use of social networks to find new audiences for the blog (e.g. cross post blog posts on Facebook page, etc) -Used blog to seek out new people who might be interested in their organization's cause -Left comments on other people's blog so they will come back and take a look at the organization's blog
Emily: Live since January 2007 Achieving and expanding initial aims Lots of subscribers most by email
Priscilla: Live since January 2008 Not yet achieving initial aims - thought they'd get a huge audience. Need time and patience. Lots of visitors - 600 new visitors per month - but look at for trending.
* More work is required to assess how to engage both audiences and authors * Success leads to internal organizational changes and more comfortable in ICT - start small project and build * Understanding that change doesn't happen overnight
Are the blogs there because you can do it or does it help increase traffic? How do you track your subscribers?
You shouldn't have a blog for the sake of having a blog because you'll have content. The blog needs to address a need. If you think your organization needs a more personal voice, or if you need more people to provide content - both of these reasons are good ones for having an organizational blog.
If you don't have a blog, but want to engage. What kinds of comments do you make on other blogs?
You can leave your email address and url. Generally I wrote an honest comment and respond to what the blogger wrote. I don't promote our organization, but I do leave an authentic comment.
Do you moderate comments or not?
We moderate comments because of spam and word press has a good tool for spam, but you need to moderate. People use the comment fields to ask for grants -- try to filter out comments that are not on topic. It depends on whether the comment is relevant. Priscilla has to moderate comment because they don't want racist comments. They will accept all comments no matter of their view - pros or cons. They have a comment policy on their blog.
Does your organization give you any guidelines to your writers?
Priscilla has a set of simple guidelines for the bloggers. Does the post relate to the blog's goal, voice, and conversational voice.
Do you see yourself moving into video blogging?
It depends on whether it can really enhance the content about your organization.
Meet Priscilla Brice-Weller who is the Online Campaign Coordinator for Australians for Native Title and Reconciliation (ANTaR) which is using social media in many creative ways. Her personal blog, Solidariti, covers technology and nonprofit activism. I've been reading her blog for sometime now and always learn something new. One of my favorite blog posts that she wrote talks about the ladder of engagement and Myspace.
We had an opportunity to meet face-to-face today and take a nice stroll in the Brisbane city park, a botanical garden. We talked about nonprofits, social media, the differences and similarities between Australia and US.
I did an interview on QIK asking her for her advice about nonprofits and adoption of social media tools.
Be patient - you may not see results for 6 months to a 12 month
If the environment is not, better to do some small projects under the radar. It's better to apologize than ask permission.
Communicating the benefits in clear and simple terms helps decision-makers understand.
Although Priscilla has a cat, she is dog lover. She has a cat because her landlord doesn't allow pets and a cat was easier to hide!