Three months of social media growth for nonprofit Back on My Feet

Tracking our Twitter followers from January 2010 to April. Back on My Feet launched a campaign on the Web in January.

Last month marked three months since I started at nonprofit Back on My Feet and launched a concerted effort to share more member stories and help develop a better, broader online relationship with our volunteers, members and supporters.

The first step in that process was to reawaken our social media accounts — the best platforms to create Web communities and ones buttressed by an organizational blog that I hope to more formally announce soon. Because our organization is all about accountability, we wanted to see how we’ve done.

I thought some lessons or benchmarks might be able to be garnered for others interested in social media use by nonprofits or other organizations, so I’ll share our progress below.

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Social media isn’t evil

Social media has this stigma.

In the past six years, those brand-name behemoths of an industry that didn’t exist at this decade’s beginning have reached every corner of the developed world. When something, when anything reaches that level of prevalence, there’s going to be some backlash.

So, yes, a medium devoted to regular updates and structured around Web-based interactions is derided for self-reflectiveness and impersonality. But, of course, there is value to be gained, too.

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Everywhere I am online and why consolidation is still necessary

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Nearly two years ago, it was apparent to me that, with the explosion of Web communities, it was necessary to be everywhere online.

Lame? Yes, maybe, but your byline is your brand and all of that goodness. That’s still true, but can we agree there still room for consolidation in our Web presences?

By a rough count — and I mean rough because I got bored quickly — I think I have worked up more than 60 profiles or pages or public accounts or what have you. That’s absurd.

As Web communities mature, so too will our ability to discern what has value for us and our interests, and the list of these stupid profiles will become more and more ridiculous. OK, we already know what’s good and what’s not, but the something must shift.

Just what will that maturation or consolidation look like do you think?

And only because I wouldn’t want my idle research to go to the wayside, below, I plunk down all those online presences I counted.

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Six Twitter applications I actually use and recommend for news organizations

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Updated: July 2, 2009 @ 11:43 p.m. with another app. Updated again: Sept. 16, 2009 @ 10:12 p.m.

The world doesn’t need another Twitter post. But, with the surging number of third-party Twitter applications and posts and stories surrounding the buzz service of the moment, I find it’s easy to get lost.

Admittedly, I’ve done my fair share of Twitter coverage here, as with social networks generally, but I wouldn’t take the title of social media guru if it was gifted me. I just thought it was worth sharing the few services I do find helpful, particularly for those using the tool to grow a Web product.

Because, despite the buzz and the more likely reality that it’s probably a bit more of a tool for the few than for the masses as it’s currently being portrayed, I think it has the potential to be one of the most valuable social media tools.

The conversation and link-sharing employed by those whom I most like to follow are testaments to what is good about Twitter. …And believe me, there is plenty of bad.

Below, peep six Twitter tools that are actually worth your time.

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Are Twitter and Facebook slow on monetization for fear of advertising?

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The funny thing is that with all their growth, Twitter and Facebook haven’t made a damn dime yet — despite all the hemming and hawing about their influence, most recently in the Iranian post-election dramatics.

With their incredible traffic, there was a time when advertising would seem like a natural choice. Even though they are considered among the most powerful Web products, they seem to be missing monetization possibilities, if not outright ignoring them.  Twitter is trying “innovative” revenue streams like, maybe, TV shows.

Could it be part of the fear that advertising prices could be in trouble?

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Technically Philly vies for Knight-Batten Awards for Innovations in Journalism

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Update: We lost.

Grant money in journalism is flowing freely in a tightened economy and a historic juncture in print media.

Seems like an opportunity.

So, my two partners and I, who founded Technically Philly, applied for the Knight-Batten Awards for Innovations in Journalism, a $10,000 grant to support new ideas in news. See our submission here.

We thought bringing together two niches — the geography of Philadelphia and the industry of technology and innovation — and diversifying revenue streams — going beyond advertising — was a new enough model that it might catch the eye of a judge or two.

We walked into a meaningful business, social and startup community in a major metro region’s creative economies and began reporting, relying on our interests in social media, community reporting and professional and ethical journalism.

We recently introduced advertising — a small first step in monetization –and feel that a grant for $10,000 could afford the three of us an opportunity to work full time for perhaps as much two months or more. Considering how pleased we are with our traffic growth and the response from the community, we’re thrilled by even the chance at the opportunity to give full time to a project none of us have been able to offer even part time thus far.

Unfortunately and entirely unsurprisingly, there is some stiff competition from the nearly 100 submissions that were entered.  Below I share some of the more interesting submissions I saw and my thoughts on our viability.

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The state of social networking: what site is the best, the worst, a waste

I’ve written about social media here more than I’d probably like to admit.

These social networking sites are transforming the way we receive our news and information. There’s no secret there.

But they keep popping up, so much so that I’ve stopped joining them, because I never know when enough’s enough.

Newspapers are still figuring out the power of the conversation, and some say that media in general is covering social media more than they are using them. It just seems no one seems interested in deciding what is worth anyone’s time.

The real lesson is that social networking and other media are tools, plainly and simply. Not all are good for everyone.

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When your brand is good enough to be a verb, coming to news media

jellocosby2The frequent mention of market dominance is when a brand becomes a verb.

Xerox that. Get a Band-Aid.

Of course, that has clearly followed online.

Google that. Digg that – though not Digg me. Facebook me; the confluence of Twitter and tweet and twittering. You don’t LinkedIn someone, which might relate to how Facebook could crush its professional conterpart if it would only offer a more restricitve and private version of a person’s Facebook profile for colleages.

Can this come to news media?

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What Twitter is really for

Get your twitter mosaic here.

Oh man, how done are you with Twitter news reports?

Mostly, news stories on Twitter include a nut graf that looks something like the following passage from a recent piece in the New York Times near-obsessive coverage on the social medium:

In its short history, Twitter — a microblogging tool that uses 140 characters in bursts of text — has become an important marketing tool for celebrities, politicians and businesses, promising a level of intimacy never before approached online, as well as giving the public the ability to speak directly to people and institutions once comfortably on a pedestal [Source].

Many media are still reveling in introducing Twitter, in which they take a local user of new media and play their explanation with clever puns or skeptical variations of Twitter, tweeting, twittering, etc. Other pubs are trying their own new takes on the service, to the point that plenty of snarky bloggers and even news hounds are tired of the stories.

Rightly so, considering Twitter just turned three, hardly a new phenomenon. But all these folks joining the game, following that common nut graf, I think, are missing the point, particularly journalists.

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The rules of when you can Digg yourself

I have submitted a story or post of mine to Digg three times in a half-year of membership.

I readily know that I have friends who’ll swear that number is larger.

I recently pledged to work on limiting my own shameless self-promotion and, admittedly, nothing is dirtier than submitting your own work to Digg or other sites, like ReddIt and Stumble Upon. So, I thought I’d set some guidelines for others and, well, really, myself to follow.

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