News from the NTEN Connect Blog

Use the Force (for Good): Groundswell, Social Media, and Forrester Research

Submitted by Annaliese on Mon, 05/12/2008 - 10:31am

I attended a free webinar last week on the new book, Groundswell: Winning in World Transformed by Technologies, presented by its authors, Josh Bernoff and Charlene Li of Forrester Research.

The book is geared toward the for-profit sector, but the strategies can be adopted by nonprofits in terms of building community, engaging activists, and even raising financial support around a cause or organization online.

I want to provide some of those applications and takeaways from the session:

Q&A Session With Chris Brogan: Wrap Up

Submitted by Annaliese on Fri, 05/09/2008 - 1:54pm

Flickr Photo: alexander drachmannWe started the week off here at NTEN with a Q&A session with Chris Brogan, who answered questions from NTEN members about engaging people through social media. In case you missed it, you can see a transcript of the questions in the materials section (and if you're a member of NTEN, you can get the recording) here.

Chris commented a few times on how impressed he was by the questions you all asked him -- demonstrating yet again that, in many ways, the nonprofit sector is a leader in harnessing the power of social media to engage and energize communities and individuals online.

Here is a summary of take-aways from the session:

Five Years Behind? Maybe Not So Much

Submitted by Holly on Thu, 05/08/2008 - 12:06pm

Flickr Photo: OzymanI gave a little talk on social media today to folks who publish print media (both non- and for profit). My big takeaway is that, nonprofit or for profit, we're all facing the same dilemmas regarding social media: we're nervous about the same issues of openness, and we all have trouble explaining it to our bosses.

Another big takeaway was that everyone has the same email marketing questions. How much should we send? Should we buy names? What kind of segmenting should we do?

The session after mine was presented by Alex Williams of eROI, and focused on emarketing tactics. Along the way, he shared some interesting stats (for those of you who are into that sort of thing):

  1. In an average week, people receive 274 personal emails and 304 business emails.
  2. More than one quarter of all email is marketing email.
  3. 46% of Internet users say that email is not targeted enough to them.
  4. Open rates for segmented campaigns are as much as 20% higher on average for the first 30 days.

All of this data, and the bulk of Alex's presentation, echoed many of the ideas and concepts we've been discussing in recent reports, at the NTC, and around the community for a while now.

Maybe we're not as far behind on the tech adoption curve as we thought?

Bacon is Power

Submitted by Holly on Thu, 05/08/2008 - 7:54am

Flickr Photo: ChotdaAs many of you know, I love bacon. Ask me for my recipe for maple and bacon cake (with maple frosting!) some time. Maybe one reason I love bacon so much is because Bacon is the source of one of my favorite sayings. In 1597, Sir Francis Bacon said:

Knowledge is power.

It's practically a moral code at my house. But I've also been thinking about it in the context of nptech lately.

When the Internet first went mainstream, there was a lot of talk about how it would democratize information: more of us would be able to access more information more easily and we'd all become more powerful. Access to information is the key to Thomas Friedman's argument about how and why the Berlin Wall fell and why China is opening up, for example -- and communications technologies are behind all that.

In the early 2000s, I thought a lot about this. Yes, we did know more. More people were able to share what they knew, and more of us could access it. But it wasn't the dynamic, sweeping, grand experience that a phrase like "democratize information" might suggest. Here's why:

  1. Lots of information opened up, but lots more is still locked behind walls in old delivery models. You still have to subscribe to many publications. You have to travel to get particular volumes or pay lots of money for experts to tell you what you need to know.
  2. Access is not pervasive enough. The folks who, arguably, most need free and easy access to information and knowledge have the least access to the chanels that can deliver it. If you are poor in urban America, or if you live in rural areas, you can't afford or simply cannot get Internet access.

In the last year though, we've seen signs that the democratization of information is about to happen in a very real, rapid, Founding Fathers kind of way.

Free Online Event and Calendar Tool from SpongeCell

Submitted by Annaliese on Wed, 05/07/2008 - 12:24pm

I got a heads-up about a free event promotion and calendaring service that allows you to create widgets and pages for free.

It took me just a few minutes to sign up, create an event, and customize the widget by adjusting colors (see it below). I also got a web page for added information about the event, RSVPs, and collecting information from those interested. It even allows people to subscribe to event updates.

SpongeCell, the software provider, provides tracking data (widget and page views) and lets you collect your subscribers' contact information. Not bad for a free suite of tools! (The software service also provides email and SMS messaging to your contacts, but fees apply per number of messages sent.)

What's cool is the ease of integration and sharing of the widgets -- think Facebook. I'm not really a techie (I just play one on TV), but I found the back-end management and creative tools very straightforward.

Why Play Games When You Can Make Them?

Submitted by Brett on Wed, 05/07/2008 - 9:59am

The 5th Annual Games for Change Festival, taking place June 2-4 in NYC, will kick off with a free workshop for nonprofits interested in social issue games. It'd be great to get some NTEN representation there:

Games for Change, the international nexus and primary community of practice for individuals and organizations interested in games for positive social change will be hosting a free day-long workshop for non-profits and public institutions new to the field of video games and "real world issues".

There aren't many spaces left at the workshop, and you do need to apply. The rest of the conference looks pretty intriguing, as well: the closing keynote will be delivered by the Honorable Sandra Day O'Conner. We hear she's wicked good at FIFA 08.

The Cone of Uncertainty is Not a Saturday Night Live Sketch

Submitted by Holly on Tue, 05/06/2008 - 4:56am

Flickr Photo: Forty PhotographsYou know the drill. You need a new website gizmo or database doodad. You do your best to define the requirements, the stages you will go through during development, how much it will cost, and how long it will take. But somewhere during actual implementation, everything goes sideways, and nothing goes as planned.

We all know this happens, but no one can ever explain why. Well, now we have a nice graph to support gut feeling. The folks at Flightpath bring us this great post about planning for software projects and raising toddlers.

Having done both, let me just say this: True that, Flightpath. True that.

Have Your Say for the Future of Philly WiFi

Submitted by Holly on Mon, 05/05/2008 - 9:32am

Flickr Photo: hykuFlickr Photo: hykuIf you live or work in the Philadelphia area, set aside some time on the evening of June 3 for a public forum on the future of wifi in that city. The event is organized by the Media Mobilizing Project and Temple University's School of Communications and Theater and will feature several speakers as well as an open forum for discussion. I could preach again about why I think muni wifi is so vital to the nonprofit sector, but the event organizers put it best:

The promise of a city where everyone has the potential to be connected, opens new doors for economic, social and political participation.

Show & Tell: A New Webinar Series from NTEN (And It's Free!)

Submitted by Annaliese on Mon, 05/05/2008 - 5:30am

Flickr photo: scotsman001Flickr photo: scotsman001 So, you work at a nonprofit organization and you've been hearing about ways you can reach your constituents, organize your work place, and raise money for your cause with the help of technology. Maybe you've even started learning about some specific strategies, tools, and trends -- with the help of NTEN, of course.

But let's face it: there's a lot that has to happen between learning about cool tools or trends and investing in new products or services for your organization. No matter how cool a new technology may be, you can only stretch your organization's budget so far.

NTEN wants to help -- and so do our discount partners!

Starting next week, NTEN is presenting a new series of webinars called "Show & Tell" that will give you a personal tour of the products and services that are within your reach, thanks to the discounts provided to NTEN members.

> Free! Learn more and sign up today.

You'll get up close and personal with our discount partners to learn more about their specific tools and services, ask questions about the products, and take advantage of special savings.

In this first installment, you'll learn about:

  • Web and audio conferencing services
  • Web 2.0 platforms
  • E-communications tools
  • Data storage and recovery services
  • Website development services

All are welcome! NTEN members and anyone else interested in learning more about these tools and discount opportunities are invited to join us for the free Show & Tell sessions.

Turns Out, Everyone Just Wants to Have Fun

Submitted by Holly on Fri, 05/02/2008 - 11:29am

Does this chart make you want to rethink your Facebook strategy?

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