Thursday, January 17, 2013

Hello 2013, Hello New Website

Thanks for reading! After many happy years of hosting my at blogspot, I am refreshing things a bit for 2013. I've got a new url here at, and a new wordpress-based blog site to enjoy.

Please let me know what you think of the new experience and remember to update any RSS or email subscriptions you have.

Friday, October 12, 2012

G+ finds its audience! And it's not who you think.

My husband never joined the infamous Book of Face... and now he never will.

At first, he was just being contrary; he actively avoided doing what everybody else was doing. But after a while, I think he was just intimidated. The thought of managing the flood of all those friend requests was too daunting and so he avoided the unpleasantness altogether.

Now, he has finally initiated himself into the ranks of social networking--without the Facebook baggage. And he's not the only one of my friends to do so. I now have several friends in G+ who are not anywhere else. They are all male, thirty-something and have families.

I'm sure Google wanted entrepreneurial, tech savvy Millennials to flock to their new social network, and we did at first, but then we never really engaged there. Who Google is actually attracting and getting engagement from are thirty-somethings: fathers, busy with kids, who have never joined a social network before. This means that techies like me now have to update multiple social networks if I want all of my friends and connections to see my pictures, posts, and event invites.

My husband on G+
What a great opportunity for Google! They have at their fingertips a brand new audience as yet untapped by social media marketers. This demographic is ripe for opportunities for marketers of all types--sports, food & beverage, entertainment, news & weather.

G+ has won in 2 ways: Not only to they get a brand new, untapped audience of thirty-something men with little exposure to existing social networks, but they also get the tech savvy mom who just wants to see the cute pictures of daughter that dad is sharing from his 'Droid...

Stacy Dyer on G+

Thursday, September 27, 2012

What ever happened to full service gas stations?

Octane options in west TX
First, let me say that as an open-road loving, completely car-dependent American, I have been pumping my own gas since I was 16. I'm not the squeamish type or afraid to get my hands dirty.

But whatever happened to full service gas stations? While popping my own hood and adding a quart of 10W-30 is a great learning experience for my daughter to watch me do, it's not quite how I'd like to spend my morning when I'm already dressed for work. What I wouldn't have given for just one full-service gas station anywhere on my commute!

Mornings like these make me think of the "old" ways when service wasn't a four-letter at the gas station. But is it really an "old" idea to crave a deeper interaction with the company with which you do business?

In an age where exceptional customer service, rather than the product itself, is the key differentiator for so many companies, why are sellers expecting consumers to be more and more self-service?

While it may have started in the highly price-sensitive, highly commoditized market of filling stations, my missing gas jockey isn't the only disappearing dinosaur. Consumers are being completely self-provisioned even in traditional, brick-and-mortar stores. I have often used the expeditious self-checkout at the grocery store and innovative retailers, such as Apple, are working hard to ensure I don't even need to wait in that line. With a smartphone and the right app, customers can scan and pay and walk out without speaking to an employee or touching a single piece of store equipment.

Somehow, in the race to "cloud-ify" the purchase/transaction experience, companies have lost sight of how to authentically connect with customers. The benefits of this strategy, particularly during busy, holiday shopping times, are obvious. But how does it affect customers?

I rely on the expertise of knowledgeable staff to help me choose the right product and help me use it the right way. At the gas station, that's someone to check my oil and tire pressure as well as pump my gas, if I want it. At the grocery store, a balloon for my toddler and a few free samples would do the trick. Savvy consumers are willing to pay premium prices for premium experiences.

Rather than an anonymous, self-serve self-checkout where consumers are completely disconnected from the brand, companies who want to succeed should focus on creating added value around their services, connecting with their customers, and providing an experience that exceeds their customers' expectations. Seriously, if there's a pretty girl in a skirt and heels on her way to work - show some southern hospitality and have staff to pump her gas for her!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Why Google+ will kill Facebook

I know what you’re thinking. “Ridiculous! I checked that out a few weeks back, but since none of my friends are on Google+, I went back to Facebook. Wasn’t that just some sort of craze?”

It’s true. Usage dropped off significantly after the first initial rush. And Facebook has matched most of the functionality that made Google+ unique in the first place, but there is a reason why Google will eventually win this battle. They have a key integration that Facebook can’t touch – Picasa.

I love Google’s Picasa. Here’s why: I can edit, tag, annotate, and organize my photos offline. You can’t do that on Facebook or on Flickr.

With the stand-alone Picasa application that installs on my computer, I do not have to be connected to the internet to create an album. This is crucial when I’m, for example, on vacation and don’t have a regular internet connection. No one wants to spend their scarce holiday hours locked away in a coffee shop, fighting with Facebook’s photo uploader, wasting precious daylight tagging and commenting. With Picasa, I can do it all “back at camp” in the evenings and then upload the whole album, tags, comments and all, when I get to a wifi hotspot.

Because of this offline capability, I use Picasa all the time, even when I’m not on holiday. There is no (and never will be) an easy way to share my Picasa albums on Facebook, so I would love to have all my friends leave the book of faces behind and come over to the Goog-side. I want them to have their account so they comment, +/like, and share my photos, just as they would if I had uploaded all my images to Facebook. That way, I get all the benefits of the social sharing, but I can keep using the offline, stand-alone Picasa app to manage my photos.

I’m not saying that Picasa is the best photo manager out there – far from it. But its integration with Google+ will be the killer feature that encourages more users to share their photos on Google+ rather than on Facebook. Status updates with photos are 120% more likely to get interaction than text only posts.

The more photos I post, the more content there will be, the more of my friends will come over to browse.

Wake up Facebook and smell the photo management app! It will be the key to future social site adoption!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Heather Burton, my boss, recently was published in this book, YOU and Your Nonprofit. She brilliantly wrote the second chapter.

Here is a summary of her chapter:

Executive directors, staff members, and volunteers want it. You and I want it. Everybody wants it.

The dream board.

And oh, the places we’d go with that dream board! We’d have the most beautiful vision and a clear strategy for achieving it. We’d raise all the money we need, serve all the clients in need, and make the world a beautiful, safe place.

If only the world was that perfect! Alas, it’s not.

But, there are ways to move closer to that utopia. In my experience, it’s about understanding not only the long-term vision, but also the current reality and the gaps between the two, and then setting the right priorities at the right time to begin closing those gaps.

I’m hoping this article provides insight into how you can re-energize and transform your board in a way that brings your organization into the next phase of its evolution.

The chapter goes on to address topics such as organizational and board life cycles, getting the right leadership, on-boarding board members, and having the right roles for the right people.

If interested in purchasing one, you can get your copy at this link. All the proceeds from purchasing from this direct link will benefit, BookSpring!
YOU and Your Nonprofit

Use this code and save 25% off. CODE: CCPRESS423

Friday, May 27, 2011

Book Review: The Future of Nonprofits

The Future of Nonprofits: Innovate and Thrive in the Digital Age is a new book by Randal C Moss (@randalc) and David J Neff (@daveiam). In it, the authors strive to unravel the mystery around how nonprofit organizations innovate and implement new ideas.  It provides a roadmap for nonprofits to create a system to encourage innovation–a place for new ideas to be judged, tested, funded and eventually launched.

The book begins by defining the concepts of strategy vs. futuring.  Nonprofits must anticipate future states so they can be prepared to capitalize on emerging opportunities in the marketplace. Rather than focusing on contingency plans, Moss and Neff point out that organizations must plan for all (or at least the most likely) future states.  Futuring helps organizations to define the environments in which they can expect to be operating. The book describes how nonprofits can create their future through innovation, tolerating waste, and creating an organizational culture that welcomes change.

The book also discusses several major roadblocks to nonprofits effectively innovating.  One of these obstacles is having an operational mindset which is focused on productivity and execution–missing slow, incremental changes that build up over time.  Overburdened staff are busy focusing on day-to-day tactical activities, and organizations don’t allow for the nurturing and implementation of forward-thinking ideas.

Moss and Neff explain that executive support is a key factor to successful innovation – staff must have buy-in from the top down as well as laterally across departments.  For example, if implementation will need IT support, communicating early with IT along innovation stages/timeline can reduce pushback. The book even suggests ways staff can use their Board of Directors as an extra set of eyes to spot trends and changes that will affect the way the organization operates.  

[Innovation is] “Easy to talk about, but not so easy to take substantive steps forward,” says Wendy Harman (@wharman), Social Media Director for the American Red Cross. (pg 24)

To take that next step, Moss and Neff suggest nonprofit leaders must move past metrics that measure success based on income/revenue alone and instead, focus on engagement. Understand the motivation of your constituents and get close to their experience. Rather than simply looking at how constituents currently interact with your organization, look at how they would like to interact with you.  

While many traditional (for-profit) management theories eliminate waste from organizational processes, Moss and Neff instead profess that “waste is wonderful!” (pg 49) The book points out examples of companies like Google, which encourage staff to spend up to 20% of their time pursuing things they are passionate about.  The process of rapid innovation which results from this freedom enables staff to take advantage of opportunities that may have otherwise been missed. The book explains why innovation is not something that can be run in a side department or as an ancillary program. 

Of course, I am only scratching the surface of what is covered in this timely and entertaining book.

Interviews with nonprofit leaders from American Cancer Society, Nonprofit Technology Education Network (NTEN), American Red Cross, and others showcase real-world methods nonprofit leaders can leverage to support innovation within their own organizations.  There are also specific recommendations of blogs, conferences, and websites with resources about nonprofit innovation and identifying future trends, in general.

I also really enjoyed the authors' style in presenting this topic.  Rather than taking themselves too seriously, this book has just the right amount of candor and humor to go along with its analysis.  The authors have even created a graphic novel to tell the story of innovation within a nonprofit in an unique and entertaining twist. Kudos to them for using this unexpected media platform to communicate their ideas.

Readers will come away from The Future of Nonprofits: Innovate and Thrive in the Digital Age with the confidence that you don’t need an expert to create an innovative organization.  Managers must encourage a willingness to be aware of your current situation, an eagerness to explore opportunities, and have a tolerance to fail. This book shows there are opportunities to solve massively complex problems with simple technologies and it gives organizations a roadmap for creating an environment where innovative ideas are encouraged, evaluated, and finally implemented.

Related post: SXSW book reading: The Future of Nonprofits

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Online Advocates Help You Raise More

I contributed an article about online advocates, entitled "Online Advocates Help You Raise More", to the May/June 2011 issue of Advancing Philanthropy

In the article, I discuss how to use technology to make it easy for your nonprofit's supporters to fundraise on your nonprofit's behalf.

You can read the article in the Technology pullout section, on page 40. 
About Advancing Philanthropy
With 32,000 subscribers, Advancing Philanthropy is written for the members of the Association of Fundraising Professionals and executives of nonprofit organizations and institutions. The magazine provides ideas and strategies for the fundraising community, and includes information on education, training and advocacy for philanthropy. It also addresses ethical concerns and provides the latest news, resources, tools, models and technology for the sector. Web site:

(Note in order to read the full article, you must be an AFP member.) 

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Method Tweeting: Using theatre techniques to engage your social media audience

At SXSW interactive festival in March, I attended a great panel discussion, Method Tweeting for Non Profits (and Other Players)

Click here to view the slides from this panel on slideshare.

Panel presenters included: Carie Lewis, Dir of Emerging Media The Humane Society of the United States (@cariegrls); Dan Michel, Digital Mktg Mgr Feeding America (@dpmichel or @FeedingAmerica); Eve Simon, Creative Dir Beaconfire Consulting (@NaiEve or @thebeaconsxsw); Geoff Livingston, CMO Zoetica (@geoffliving); and Jennifer Windrum, Founder WTF? (Where's the Funding) for Lung Cancer (@jenniferwindrum and @wtflungcancer).

We have recently been witness to a great example of method tweeting in action, as Eve Simon pointed out via her Twitter handle, @NaiEve. The twitter sensation, @BronxZoosCobra is a prime example of developing an online persona that inspires a fanatical response.   

The facebook page contains many comments of fans, similar to this one:

Despite the Bronx Zoo’s accident, the right social media capital has turned this potential public relations disaster into a gold mine for reaching new audiences and future donors for the organization. 

While most of us do not necessarily want a quarter of a million followers, most of us aren't going to so far as to impersonate a snarky snake, either.  And with results like that, you cannot deny the method clearly works.

What exactly is method tweeting?

Method tweeting is the concept that nonprofits must create a brand persona via their online presence that embodies a voice for the cause. 

If Shakespeare tweeted would he use his voice or characters? Method tweeting is based on the theory of method acting.  It is about starting a dialogue and tweeting based on authentic emotional and intellectual ties.

Nonprofits use of social media

There's no doubt that the use of social media among nonprofits in on the rise. In 2010, 60% of nonprofits were on Twitter, up from 38% in 2009 and have on average 1800 followers. But what do they do with those followers? What do they say to them?

To thine own tweet be true

To create authenticity, there must a real-world tie between the person at the keyboard and the cause.  Carie Lewis pointed out, "In order to do my job well, you have to love social media and love animals...tweet what you love."

The key is to select a staff member or free agent who is motivated by the charity's cause to promote the organization on social media. If that individual doesn't believe in what they’re tweeting for, they cannot be authentic. And your entire Twitter presence is based on deception.  To be successful, they must take on the identity of the organization on Twitter and truly embody all for which it stands.

Conflicted loyalties

There are inevitably times when choices are made with which not everyone in an organization may agree. These are the times when it is most important to believe in the organization. Tweeting is believing and anyone responsible for an organization's public social media persona must have the passion to support the organization even if they disagree with the choices being made.

There is a balance to be struck between personal voice and professional tweets.  Many folks manage multiple twitter accounts.  Dan Michel pointed out that your personal tweets are everyday expressions of your casual self, while your organizational twitter voice is more “like me at a wedding – on my best behavior.”  It is fine to publish snarky commentary on your personal twitter account (as long as it doesn’t conflict with the organization’s position) but institutional tweeting requires more a conservative approach. Talk to people as you would at a job interview or other formal setting.


Personalities blur across accounts when you manage multiple twitter handles.  What happens when your personalities cross?  It happens to everyone at some point.  You know - that tweet you meant to send from your personal account accidentally gets posted to the wrong twitter account.  

This happened to the Red Cross when a staff member accidentally posted to the @RedCross account:

You can read about the faux pas and how the Red Cross dealt (BRILLIANTLY) with the error on the American Red Cross blog.

While it may be impossible to avoid the inevitable twitter mistakes, one thing you can do to avoid crossing your personalities is to use different tools for personal and organization twitter accounts. For example, I use TweetDeck for personal tweets and Hootsuite for organization tweets.

Avatars define voice

How does your avatar represent your social media voice?  Is it a photo? Is it a logo?  What does it imply?  For example, if you are an individual tweeting for your organization, do you use a personal photo so followers know the person behind the tweets? Or do you use a corporate logo and speak with a broader organizational voice?  

Many celebrities use their headshot as an avatar, but very few actually tweet for themselves.  Set the proper expectations instantly by selecting a powerful avatar image that defines your twitter voice authentically.

Emotions and tone

Personality is key to successful tweeting. Greatness doesn’t necessarily translate on twitter.  People like to follow people – not brands. Tweeting for your organization should be a mix of the institution’s founding principles and speaking in a conversational way. 

It is true that personal spokespeople get more followers.  Michel pointed out the clear example of Livestrong’s official twitter which has over 100,000 followers vs Livestrong CEO’s account which has over one million!

The most important takeaway to remember is that authenticity and personality go a long in effectively using social media, such as twitter, to reach your audience. Maintain an appropriate and approachable tone and let personal passions that align to organizational objectives drive content.

My words fly up, my thoughts remain below.
Words without thoughts never to heaven go.
-          Hamlet, Act 3, Scene 3

Friday, April 22, 2011

Participants' tips for race fundraising success, part one

I am pleased to share this article: Participants' tips for race fundraising success, part one, published by Hilborn eNEWS, formerly Canadian Fundraising & Philanthropy.

I helped co-write this article in conjunction with Stacey Miller, a consultant to Sage Nonprofit Solutions, and Heather Burton, product marketing director for Sage North America's Nonprofit Solutions business.

The article is part one of a series that will focus on the participants perspective of an event fundraiser and how to improve participants' experience with events, and increase overall event participation.

Please check it out and let me know if you have any tips or tricks that you've used to help make your events an excellent experience for those involved!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Turning Offline Events into Powerful Online Donation Engines

My article: Turning Offline Events into Powerful Online Donation Engines, has been published in the Desert Charity News.  Check it out here, page 37.

It has tips and tricks savvy nonprofits can use to increase online giving for real-world events; such as races, golf tournaments, or opening night galas.