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Five steps to understanding Twitter and six tips for social media work

A screen shot of part of the Workshop's Hootsuite dashboard. Hootsuite is a great tool to use to manage social media in your office.

After conducting some communications trainings in Minnesota and Indiana for LISC’s Institute for Comprehensive Community Development, I was interviewed by one of their writers about social media. One article addresses a question I hear all the time from people we work with, “Why Tweet?” I offer my thoughts on why it’s useful and how to get started.

The second article is six basic tips for using social media in your work. There’s also a list of useful social media resources at the bottom that you may want to check out.

If you’re still looking for more advice on getting started or improving your social media strategy, attend one of our upcoming trainings. I’ll be leading a Social Media Basics webinar on Nov. 1, and the Workshop is offering an intermediate social media training on Nov. 10 with popular trainer Adam Thurman of Mission Paradox.

If you’d like a custom social media training for your organization, just email me at

Happy tweeting!

Mashable shares “How Non-Profits Are Using Social Media”

The Mashable blog presents an interesting look at leading nonprofits engaging in social media. The infographic presents various metrics with a focus on Twitter, Facebook and others. The results show that 92% of nonprofits surveyed carry at least one social media engagement button–Facebook setting the mark with Twitter behind at 90%. Another interesting observation suggests that nonprofits with larger budgets that do invest in social engagement do not neccessarily succeed in achieving influence or success over smaller budget organizations. Read the rest of this entry »

A few days left to register: Social Media for Nonprofits-Chicago

Social Media for Nonprofits- Chicago 9/27

Is your nonprofit interested in using social media for fundraising, marketing, and advocacy?  Hear practical tips and tools from top experts at Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Groupon, Zynga, See3, Community Media Workshop, National Geographic, and more, all while enjoying some great networking with your nptech peers.  See full details here. The Community Media Workshop is pleased to be partnering with Social Media for Nonprofits to make this event happen!

After four sold out programs in a row, Social Media for Nonprofits is coming to Chicago next Tuesday, 9/27 at Columbia College.  Registration is normally $125 for the 9am-5pm program, plus meals and access to the book release party for Nonprofit Management 101, but you can save $20 with the discount code “Chi”.

Register on the Social Media for Nonprofits website, or learn more at their Twitter or Facebook pages.

Social Media for Nonprofits hits Chicago 9/27— Special Community Media Workshop discount (Guest post by Darian Rodriguez Heyman)

Building on the success of four sold-out conferences in San Francisco, New York City, Washington DC, and Los Angeles, we’re partnering with Community Media Workshop to bring Social Media for Nonprofits to Chicago’s Colombia College on Tuesday, September 27th.

  • The Community Media Workshop Hook Up: Friends of CMW save $20 off registration with the discount code “CMW.”
  • Our Focus: Produced in partnership with Community Media Workshop, the Chicago program features top brass from Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, as well as a variety of social media specialists.  Instead of heady concepts and theory, we’ve asked them all to share practical tips and tools for fundraising, marketing, and advocacy. Our format is “Twitter meets TED”— short, insight-packed sessions with plenty of time for networking.
  • Such a Bargain: $125 (minus your $20 discount) covers your registration for the 9am-5pm program, meals, and the networking reception and book release party for Nonprofit Management 101.
  • Star-Studded Cast: Our keynotes are Twitter’s nonprofit point person (and author of the upcoming “Twitter for Good”), Claire Diaz Ortiz and National Geographic’s Robert Michael Murray. Other speakers include the head of nonprofit relations for Facebook, Charles Porch, and LinkedIn, Bryan Breckenridge, plus Community Media Workshop’s very own Demetrio Maguigad, “Outsmarting Google” author Evan Bailyn, See3’s Nasser Asif, and Sprout Social’s Justyn Howard.
  • K.I.T., Mean It: Follow us on Twitter or Facebook to stay tuned for updates and details.

Looking forward to seeing you there and our door is always open, so please contact us with any questions or suggestions.

Toward Solutions,

Darian Rodriguez Heyman

Darian Rodriguez Heyman is the Co-Producer & MC of Social Media for Nonprofits, and the Editor of Nonprofit Management 101. He’s the former E.D. of Craigslist Foundation and the creator of their Nonprofit Boot Camp. Darian is currently a nonprofit and environmental consultant, focusing on fundraising, board development, and messaging, and he is a frequent public speaker and keynote at conferences around the world.

Finding the right social media workshop for you

Still wondering why your organization needs a Facebook page? Or, maybe you have hundreds of followers on Twitter but need to improve your overall online strategy? No matter where you’re at on the social media spectrum, we have a workshop this fall that can build your online communications skills.

For social media beginners:

Sign up for the Social Media Basics webinar. We’ll introduce the “Big 5” online tools you should focus on first and how these tools allow you to engage with your audiences in different ways. And you don’t have to leave your desk!

Looking for something more intensive? We’re offering a three week Social Media Bootcamp this winter. With social media guru Demetrio Maguigad, you’ll learn the ins and outs of key social media tools and walk away with a social media policy and online communications plan for your organization. Because it’s a three part session, this series will be especially hands on with plenty of time for questions and conversations.

For intermediate and advanced users:

If you know how to use Twitter and Facebook, but you haven’t created a social media policy or plan, you might be interested in Social Media Bootcamp as well.

If you’re interested in creating a comprehensive communications plan but want to learn how social media fits into that, sign up for Developing a Communications Plan with Workshop President Thom Clark.

And if you want to focus on how to tell your organization’s story better and faster online, sign up for Taking Social Media to the Next Level. This workshop is ideal for EDs, CEOs and communciations directors who are empowered to make change.

We hope you’ll join us for a training this fall. We’re keeping our prices low to make these workshops affordable and accessible for all of our nonprofit friends. Check out the full list of trainings here.

Finally, a big thanks to everyone who answered our survey earlier this year. We based the fall line up on your feedback!



MMC Notepad: Engaging audiences using social media

Social media panel at MMC. From left to right: Yesenia Sotelo, Sarah Skerik, Rebecca Wllisch and Mandy Burrell Booth.

This notepad courtesy of MMC Scribe Tanya Stanfield.

Engaging Audiences Using Social Media” provided real life case studies and tools for nonprofit communicators to apply to their own communications strategies. Panelists ranging from nonprofit directors to agency staff shared both their failures and successes in order to show that social media is an evolving strategy that requires listening, consistency and teamwork.

Rebecca Wellisch of Women Employed gave examples from her organization’s forays into Twitter, mentioning some of challenges they encountered along the way. Only after integrating social media into other marketing channels and developing a rapport with their audience did Women Employed see results on a qualitative level.

All of the panelists emphasized that the audience is the key to developing social media goals and content. Jasculca Terman’s Yesenia Sotelo shared how her staff uses RSS newsfeeds among other tools to see what conversations are happening online, while Mandy Burrell Booth of Metropolitan Planning Council pointed out their blog’s ranking system that indicates the content their audience responds to on Facebook and Twitter.

All panelists recommended assigning teams and roles to ensure a consistent and engaging social media presence online. An engaged social media team is key to creating an engaged audience and, ultimately, a successful social media presence.


My coworker is clueless about social media!

Not so many years ago, I was the one who was clueless about social media. But thankfully, I had coworkers who knew more than me and took the time to explain the importance of emerging online resources. I was skeptical at first, but I listened, observed and attended a few trainings of my own to figure out how these tools would make me a better communicator. And I’m glad they took the time to keep pushing me to try things like Twitter and FourSquare and blogging because knowing how they work is half the battle.

Do you have a coworker or a boss who’s clueless about social media? If so, do them a favor and tell them about Social Media Basics. It’s a half-day training that will help them learn more about WHY nonprofits should use these online tools.

Social Media Basics, Monday, November 1 from 9AM to Noon

218 S. Wabash – 7th Floor


This session will cover basic information about social media tools such as blogs, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and FourSquare. Attendees will gain useful tips such as how to contact a reporter on Twitter, how to attract more Facebook fans, and how to track what others are saying about your organization online.  Workshop led by trainer Emily Culbertson (also known as the NEW News 2010 researcher and general online/social media guru)

Find your social media “ah-ha” moment

Photo courtest of webtreats, Creative Commons

You’ve Twittered, Facebooked and blogged about your organization’s story but aren’t receiving the response you desire.

Tim Frick, author of “Return on Engagement” and social media trainer at the Workshop’s upcoming fall session, says many nonprofits have two misconceptions about social media and why they don’t produce the desired audience engagement.

“There’s the misconception that it’s free,” says Frick. “It doesn’t cost any money to get a Twitter account, Facebook account, or a LinkedIn account, but it does take time to create and build the content for those things and present that content in a way that is actually going to engage people.”

Frick says most people tend to dive right into social media tools without thinking how they will use them and how they will engage their audience. According to Frick, many nonprofit communicators take their “old one-way marketing approach,” apply it to their social media strategy and are confused when there’s no response from their audience.

“A lot of times that’s because they’re not trying to engage their users. They’re sending out one-way marketing messages that are all about them and not about what the users might actually want to read,” says Frick.

In September, Frick will cover these common misconceptions and more at the Community Media Workshop training Using Social Media To Build Awareness. This three-hour training is designed to show nonprofits how to optimize social media best practices. Participants explore how to create content strategies, which aligns their digital communications with their website; how to create social media profiles and how to engage their audiences.  Using tactics outlined in his book, Frick shows communicators how to shift their offline communications to an online presence and how to adjust their strategy to work with the organization’s available resources.

Frick says many communicators during his training have their ah-ha moment when they see multiple ways to share their message across digital platforms and track that message’s impact.

No matter what size your organization is, increase your impact with this training and start having the conversations that engage your audience. To register for “Using Social Media to Build Awareness” call 312-369-6400 or click here.

To read more about Tim Frick’s work with nonprofits and digital strategies, click here. Tim Frick is the CEO of Mightybytes, is a full-service creative firm that executes design-drive communication solutions for their clientele. Frick is also the author of Design Techniques for Digital Marketing. Follow him on Twitter at @Mightybytes, on Facebook at Mightybytes and learn more on his website at

What nonprofits can learn from LeBron James (guest post by Jennifer Lacey)

Photo by Keith Ellison on

Last Friday, a Google search of  “LeBron James Media” produced 108,000,000 links and 1160 related articles. On there were 10,857 stories posted.

If, during the past two weeks, you lived in the forest with no phone, internet, television or interaction with other human beings, you might have missed the story. Here’s what happened: James dominated the 24-hour news-cycle with his impending free agent decision. When it was all said and done (after a well-publicized hour-long special on ESPN), James’ career decision had been given the attention of a world-changing event rather than the simple business process it began as.

What are the lessons behind the LeBron James PR show?

Steve Buckley, at the Boston Herald, drew on lessons from Vince McMahon of WWE fame, to help explain James’ media mastery.

McMahon, an impresario who turned a regional dog-and-pony pro wrestling circuit into what today is known as World Wrestling Entertainment, has known for years that it’s easy to bypass the meddling media middle men and bring your product/message directly to the public. All you need to do is set up your own network, and then use it as a stage on which to play out all your story lines, plot twists, interviews and “breaking news.”

While nonprofits can’t set up their own media outlets, they can deliver their stories and issues to the public directly through available technology. By using social media applications, nonprofits cut out the “middle man,” taking the heart of an issue to a local (or worldwide) audience.  Rather than waiting for a press conference to be covered, nonprofits, like James, can take control and tell their own stories by tying them to a timely news peg.  Write your press releases with flair. Know your story, conflicts involved, and be transparent. Know who your sources are and be prepared to rise to the occasion when pitching reporters or when they come looking for you.

It’s true that James owns a PR company that’s focused on creating an iconic image of James, and it’s also true that most nonprofits will never have the star power of a famous pro basketball player to entice the media. But, nonprofits can tell their own stories and be clever and creative about using the range of tools now available to talk directly to their audiences.

Lesson: First, control the issue. Don’t allow the issue to control you.

James’ media strategy did have its critics. Phil Rosenthal at the Chicago Tribune wrote the outcome would have been better if James’ communications team had seized control from the start.

If James and company had been on top of this, his Web site would have tracked his whole courtship process. He could have kept an ad-supported video diary, including behind-the-scenes video of meetings with franchises.

Of more importance from a business standpoint, fans would have been invited to register to vote for their team and receive updates through e-mail and Twitter, creating a valuable marketing database.

Just one problem: James has owned the domain since 2002 but hasn’t done much with it until recently. Until Tuesday, James also had not used Twitter to address the public directly. So much for a New Media offensive.

Do any of these missteps sound familiar? Has your organization attempted to use social media tools in the past, only to fail to put the necessary time into the endeavor because of busy schedules? Perhaps constant Twitter, Facebook, and blog updates are just too much to juggle when you’re already swamped trying to provide services to a community or support to your colleagues.

But don’t underestimate the importance of tending these tools. Posting regular online updates about your organization’s journey, creating a digital archive of past articles on your website, or asking clients for input could give you a powerful platform to engage your audience and keep them coming back.  In other words, use your work to create brand recognition.

Lesson: When given an opportunity to connect, don’t hesitate.

LeBron’s decision to wait to give his answer until his ESPN event was also seen as a big public relations failure by some.  Michael Flood McNulty of wrote:

LeBron James created a publicity circus unlike any other Thursday night — this was his choosing, not the media’s so don’t blame the messenger — and he humiliated his hometown fans in the most public way possible…

LeBron James alienated a lot of people tonight. Actually, alienated is the wrong word. He stunned and hurt a lot of people tonight.

What’s one of the first rules of communications? Who’s your audience and how can you reach them? Whether you’re trying to educate a specific group about an issue you’re working on or you’re trying to get people to take action, how you say it and when you say it and the channel you use to convey it are so important.

Lesson: Don’t forget your audience. Be thoughtful of what they need to hear your message.

The Fall Workshops are up!

youthmedia2We just posted our fall workshop line up, and the trainings have a lot to offer anyone looking to sharpen existing skills (check out Branding for Nonprofits) or learn new tricks (we have a basic and an advanced social media training this fall). Community Media Workshop is dedicated to helping nonprofits tell their stories, so we’ve tried to keep these affordable and accessible for you when budgets are tight.

I’m excited about the first training in the series–Social Media to Build Awareness. It’s an advanced social media training for people who know the basics but are ready to use these tools like Twitter and Facebook more strategically to drive traffic and engage audiences. I think this is important for anyone trying to use social media in an effective, efficient way.

I also recommend checking out the Workshop’s  one-day Media Boot Camp. We purposefully scheduled this training for Saturday, October 16, because we know weekdays can be hard sometimes for busy executive directors, board members and volunteers. That said, anyone is welcome to sign up for Media Boot Camp with Thom Clark, the Workshop’s president. (FYI-He just did this training at our Making Media Connections 2010 conference, and people loved it.)

We’re also offering a few free brown bag lunches, including one on July 22 on how to build successful campaigns. Just bring your lunch and enjoy.

Take a look and sign up! We’d love to see you this fall.


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        By Stephen Franklin Community Media Workshop   A 3-year-old child died on a plane from Chicago to Poland. This, Magdalena Pantelis instantly knew, was a story her readers would care about. But she needed more detail to write about it for the Polish Daily News, the nation’s oldest daily newspaper in Polish, founded Jan. […]