Admit it—every now and then you have one of those days when Barbara Streisand’s The Way We Were is playing on repeat in your head. You grow nostalgic, and your mind flips through past moments like a timeline of events, and really, what better song is there to accompany you then a ballad by Babs?
One beauty of the internet is that we no longer need to rely on our memory to recall images or even a physical album; we can upload and retrieve photos in an instant. We can share pictures with our friends or with the public, and we can even use those photos to tell a story.
We recently launched a website redesign for ANERA, an organization that advances the well-being of people in the West Bank, Gaza, Lebanon and Jordan. As part of the launch, OmniStudio implemented an interactive timeline that visually and chronologically shares ANERA’s story.
ANERA was looking for a solution that staff could easily update, and one that would give their visitors a moving visual user experience. After researching multiple solutions, Omni found a plugin that utilizes a Google Spreadsheet to populate the timeline. Ever the fans of Google products, we were excited to use a plugin that not only seamlessly integrated the tool into the website, but also supported both photos and video, thus ensuring a dynamic user experience.
What is the end result? ANERA now has a visual representation of their history dating back to their inception in 1968, from the creation of the Polytechnic University in 1978, to the launch of the Creative Health Campaign in 2006 and much, much more. ANERA has successfully included users in their 45-year history through the use of supporting photos and videos.
What about your organization? Perhaps you want to highlight educational agendas and are seeking a meaningful visual expression of interactive content from the past. Perhaps your organization just finished a year-long project and you want to show visually how your staff made the project a success. Or, maybe you hold an annual giving gala (though I’d question where my invitation was) and showing the event throughout the years will serve as a fun, visual representation of your success. You may not be able to come up with a simple (and customized though cost effective) solution to these challenges.
This is where OmniStudio comes in.
Simple yet elegant solutions that allow organizations to visually share their mission is a goal OmniStudio strives for with each client—and figuring out new and creative ways to do it is the challenge that happily keeps us coming in everyday.
OmniStudio was honored to host the Life Skills Center’s Paint + Paper Art Show and Sale this week. The Life Skills Center, Omni’s 2013 ReachOut Partner, offers an amazing and unique service to an underserved community, providing a warm and friendly homelike atmosphere where people with severe disabilities learn job skills, create art, and enjoy supportive daytime activities.
At Wednesday’s art show, dozens of pieces crafted by the Center’s participants were on display and for sale. Converting the Studio into a gallery and event space included the presentation of the artists’ works and photography shot at the Center displayed on monitors throughout the studio.
Omni worked across all levels of event planning to ensure success. From the redesign of the Center’s visual identity to event promotion strategy, to donation collection using digital solutions like PayPal Here and Square apps, Omni’s staff developed a strong partnership with the Center’s leadership.
“Omni’s work has remade us,” said Carlye Christianson, Interim Executive Director at the Center. “Omni truly took us under their wing. In all my experience working with non-profits, I have never encountered an entire organization that has had such a positive response to clients on all matters,” she said.
The event even sparked an idea for a simple e-commerce platform for selling artwork on their new website under development at Omni now. “I wish I could continue to shop, or browse new pieces from these artists as they are completed,” one guest said.
In addition to the sale of art pieces, which raised funds for the Center, the art show rallied community support for the Center’s programs, a core goal of Omni’s partnership with Life Skills. “By every measure the evening was a tremendous success and served as a fitting and robust re-launch of our art program, as well as our first foray into the world of special events fundraising,” said Joan Caivano, President of the Board of the Life Skills Center. “We expanded our community of friends and supporters. The proceeds and expanded community will provide crucial funding for Life Skills’ programs and activities well into the future.”
The art program has served as a core offering for over 20 years, providing participants with opportunities for creative expression in a variety of media. Artistic expression enables participants to share intellectual and emotional concepts, and the artwork that emerges is simply beautiful.
Drawing on the history and significance of the art program, founder and long-time supporter Virginia Schofield remembered an artist’s quote about Life Skills in the Washington Post several years ago. Schofield recalled, “the exhibition allowed others to see what individuals who had no preconceived notions of what art could actually do were capable of presenting. That idea still holds true, and the show at OmniStudio confirmed once again the truth of that insight.”
Omni is thrilled to offer solutions for fundraising challenges like this one. It’s a part of what makes us passionate to communicate the missions of our clients every day.
I was struck this weekend by a beautiful metro car ad featuring the Partners in Preservation campaign to support 24 historical places in the DC metro area. My interest was naturally piqued by the combination of historic sites (I love history, worked for a museum) and social media engagement (I may or may not be completely in love with Twitter). This campaign has it all for me, the user.
According to the sign and responsively designed website (perfect for my mobile viewing as I continued to my metro station destination), I can engage via social media, on the website, and by visiting the sites and submitting photos of them in order to help my favorite site compete for and win preservation grants. Oh, and there’s a sweepstakes in it for me, the user, as well. Brilliant!
Here’s what I love about this campaign:
1. Marketing – Historic sites are supported when visitors engage with them and about them on social media. While the user is motivated by this competition, you are also doing excellent work helping to spread the word about these great historic sites. Your act of digital advocacy just told all your followers about a great space in the DC metro area, and now a few more people know about it and will visit, compared with before the campaign launched. Historic sites have chronically small budgets and few staff, so they really appreciate the free marketing you provide for them. Plus it’s User Generated Content coming from you, the visitor, so people are more likely to trust it.
2. Fundraising – And if the free advertising wasn’t good enough for these sites, how fantastic is it that there are some preservation grants waiting for the winners? This funding opportunity incentivizes the sites and staff to get engaged on social media, while incentivizing those of us highly competitive people to vote for and engage with their favorite sites. You as a user are doing a philanthropic deed and it’s not even costing you anything. Great, right?
3. Online Engagement – In addition to the above two points, I am simply thrilled to see this kind of online campaign. When funding partners and good causes can come together, connecting various places to support, online and outreach tools, and incentives, something beautiful can come of it. I look at this campaign as a model for other organizations to investigate. One voice may not be enough, but many voices with powerful allies can help your organization make an impact. This campaign is yet another indicator that advocacy, education, and fundraising will continue to shift to online platforms, so if you are not already on social media and considering digital outreach strategies, now is definitely the time.
Are you looking to organize a campaign like this but are not sure where to start? Are you still trying to build a following on social channels? Wherever you are in your digitization process, let us know. We can help.
With recent changes to Facebook’s timeline and Pinterest’s rollout of analytics for businesses, non-profits are no doubt looking to invest more time and energy into social media tools as a means of raising awareness and informing the public about their cause. But as with any outreach tool, it is increasingly important that social media strategies are supported by solid data that tracks outreach, engagement, and return on investments. Are you in the dark about what tools to use? Let’s shed some light on some free and low-cost tools for analytics.
Facebook offers Page managers the ability to download an excel spreadsheet full of data about visitors to that page through the “Insights” feature. The data goes far back and most points are tracked daily, so you can view the day-to-day changes in shares, comments, and other forms of engagement. Exporting data on a regular basis and running your own analysis may be a bit time-consuming, but fortunately there are other options.
Twitter does not currently offer analytics directly on its platform, although there is always a bit of chatter that this may change. In the meantime, there are a variety of tools for measuring impact.
Twitalyzer is an excellent tool for quick assessments of a Twitter handle’s recent impact and engagement. In addition to measuring Twitter activity and Klout scores, this service will track Hashtags to measure engagement around an organized conversation. Twitter managers can get a quick assessment for free, and paid plans are available for more than one handle and for users who need more robust services.
Twitter Counter offers a few more features, including customized date ranges for analysis and comparison tools to see how up to three handles fare on engagement and follower rates. The free version covers the basic needs for tracking followers and ranks compared with other users. Paid versions offer metrics on retweets and comments as well as other advanced tracking and historical data.
SimplyMeasured harnesses the power of data and Excel spreadsheets to deliver colorful charts with analytics on Facebook and Twitter engagement as well as a variety of other channels. While there are paid plans, the platform offers a number of free reports, but there’s a catch: to access a free report, the handle or page you assess has to push out a promotional message about the tool.
SocialBro combines Twitter handle management with analytics to provide a strong platform for sending targeted and maximized messages around Twitter-based campaigns. Unfortunately the tool does not work with other social media channels, but the plans start at a very reasonable $7/month, so if Twitter is a primary messaging tool for your organization, this may pack a lot of punch for you.
Hootsuite manages outreach and engagement across a variety of platforms – everything from Facebook to Twitter, Tumblr to LinkedIn profiles (LinkedIn Company Pages are not available for management on any social media platform, and there’s no word as to when they will become available). The capacity of this tool to manage and track engagement as the conversation happens is incredible, and the RSS reader makes posting news updates a breeze. Unfortunately the only strong analytics packages offered in this tool are for Facebook pages and Ow.ly shortlinks, so engagement across users isn’t measured as easily as click through rates on shortened hyperlinks. That said, this tool give managers a much clearer view of activity across all channels, and is available for free or at a low monthly cost.
SproutSocial is actually one of the most thorough and impressive tools for tracking analytics on Facebook and Twitter, with a few caveats. While the tool allows managers to post and schedule messages, recommends influencers, and provides downloadable reports, managing engagement in the tool is a challenge. While Hootsuite allows managers a view of the channel with incoming, outgoing, and follower messages side by side, Sprout’s publishing tools are optimized for watching a single channel. Since their analytics are so informative, this tool is worth serious consideration. No free version of SproutSocial is available.
There are many social media analytics tools available online, but none of the free or lower cost options offer the full package of analytics and channel management. The tools highlighted above are some of the best that we’ve worked with here at OmniStudio, and we recommend them to our clients while using them ourselves.
Do you think there’s a great one missing from this list? Is one of these your favorite tool? Let us know!
I attend and present at conferences, workshops, and informal events often enough to know that while we all have the speech pattern, PowerPoint visual supplement, and branded schwag routines down, none of us are doing enough on social media to elevate the message of our content. Here I will briefly outline some simple tools and tips for integrating these plans into your conference presence.
Twitter. The single best thing you can do to engage while attending/presenting at a conference is to live-tweet your experience on Twitter. Use the conference hashtag (or make one if there isn’t one promoted) to collect your thoughts and track the ideas of others. Not only will you be able to virtually meet other session speakers and attendees, but you can use this tool to track and capture information and summaries from other sessions you missed.
If you are hosting a conference, make sure to pick a short hashtag (something that can fit in a tweet along with as much of someone’s thought as possible in 140 characters). If you’re organizing the NEA 2013 Convention, for example, your hashtag should not be NEA2013CONVO or anything longer – try NEA13. Ask presenters to post this or session-specific hashtags in their presentations and list them in the conference program along with the Twitter handles for as many presenters as possible.
Facebook. Friends and page fans love images of people doing things. Showing action, especially conference participation and social gatherings, brings a human face to your brand or cause. When posting photos, be sure to get other attendees to tag themselves or friend them and then tag them to expand your reach. Use Facebook Event Pages to collect photos from all attendees, and make sure you’re consolidating photos into properly labeled albums. Don’t forget to share textual content, too, so that your followers can learn along with you or read about what you’re doing. Re-posting blogs and articles is always useful here.
If you’re running the conference, encourage attendees to use Facebook to check in and post updates on schedule changes or “Happening Now” information to help guide folks to the proper room or space.
Finally, when a keynote session or a major presentation is about to begin, you probably have someone walk up on stage and ask everyone to turn off his or her mobile device. BEFORE you have them turn off their devices, take an extra 30 seconds and ask them to sign into Facebook and check into the event. Your conference will now show up in the news feeds of all those attendees, and no marketing budget was involved!
Instagram. Not only can Instagram save you money on hiring a photographer, but by crowdsourcing images you could get a ton of shots from a broader variety of perspectives. These photos may even show you something about the event you need to fix or realize was a good choice. Attendees will love sharing photos via a promoted hashtag (and good news—you can make it the same as the event Twitter hashtag) and they will get to see shots as well as take them.
Blog: Tumblr. Not everyone has the capacity to live blog events, but sometimes your followers or folks who couldn’t attend want a chance to catch up and read more about the topics than can fit into a single tweet. Tumblr actually works relatively well as a live blogging tool, and is incredible for sharing. Blogs can be short and tagged with the same hashtag as Twitter and Instagram (simple). They can also be shared, so your content or that of your attendees can easily be spread to others on Tumblr. Tumblr can hold links, videos, and photos too, making it an excellent outlet for all kinds of content.
QR Codes. Major corporate brands think QR Codes are no longer in vogue, but I believe QR codes are great! There is one simple rule for QR codes: you MUST send visitors to a mobile friendly web page. But with your responsive design site flexible enough to be viewed across a variety of devices, you’re all set. Now the paper products you hand out at the event can focus on design and engagement, and put more content behind the QR code.
The next time you attend an event, take stock in how the organizers successfully utilize some of these key social media tools. And if you’re hosting an event soon, please create and promote a hashtag at the very least.
UXPADC hosted a great presentation to kick off the New Year with Mona Patel, a lead thinker in the UX world. Mona’s presentation challenged everyone to suspend their disbelief, or at least the rules, and open themselves to some new key principles of interactive design.
Mona introduced an idea that was uncomfortable at first. She said that web/mobile users, especially younger ones, are no longer satisfied with or impressed by the standards — they think traditional sites are boring.
In order to truly design to inspire and amaze, Mona said, “Throw out the rules.” For example, we are seeing a renaissance of the vertical scroll — a trend that comes from UX-based design for tablets. Through growing popularity and use of iPads and other mobile devices, people are more comfortable scrolling, and they are willing to do that on websites from their desktop now too if it makes sense.
Users are much more attuned to the web now, and, with just a few seconds to attract their interest, designers must veer from the ordinary. Mona pointed to the Dominos Tracker app that allows you to follow your pizza through the baking process. Mona said she and her two-year-old order pizza more often now because they can watch their pies progress from dough to delivery.
Innovative design is generated from curiosity, Mona said. It’s the same level of curiosity that breaks the rules—a state she calls “structured chaos.”
Mona turns to eBay and Pinterest as sites that play with structure and chaos. eBay’s new layout presents content more pictorially now, because they found that buyers wanted to see products rather than read text descriptions.
Pinterest takes this visual structure one step further. By breaking away from a standard page grid, they instill surprise into the design, drawing attention to images that might not have been noticed.
Another guideline Mona offered was to keep design simple. She pointed to a very simple and clear weather app that beautifully presented the weather without adding a ton of extra content or information. But the trick is to keep it simple while engaging curiosity: designing delight. Mona reminded us that we need to meet an underlying emotional need on top of just the function of the tool or website.
When it comes to design approach and process, Mona encouraged the audience not to overstudy competitors’ work, as it will silo your creativity. And contrary to her own training, Mona recommended scaling back testing new designs. “Measuring ROI on delight may just not be feasible, and we all have to breathe and accept that this is ok.”
Mona noted that mobile design incorporates some of the most innovative strategies to date—in part because of the change in interaction between users and devices (swipe, tap, scroll, pinch) that allows for more options in design. Additionally we were encouraged to think outside the definition of “mobile=phone,” and she showed us a delightful video (included below) of a love story animated by mobile chips that provided new types of engagement in a ton of tech objects.
Finally, she reminded designers that most of the options are not practical, they’re just really cool, and that we should walk away inspired rather than just informed.
What designs inspire you? What app or website delights you?
It’s 2013, and non-profits are on – or getting on – social media platforms to promote their cause or service.
That’s a lot of content, and a lot of time and energy put into creating that content. News summaries and action alerts from your favorite groups help keep you in the loop and offer you the chance to make a contribution, even if small, to help improve the world in which we live. But are you really giving back to those organizations while you sign the petition or email your representative? Here are some ways you can show your love for a cause this Valentine’s Day.
Like – Between Facebook’s new Graph Search tool and ongoing updates to SEO and search algorithms, social Liking continues to help optimize an organization’s digital presence and broaden its reach. As groups turn to measuring analytics and tracking ROI, your Like becomes even more valuable, so go ahead and give a thumbs up – it’s such a sweet gift.
Share – Liking is a one-click step, but if you really enjoyed signing a petition and want others to know about the issue at hand, share the link from an organization’s page to your own Facebook page or other platform. This helps broaden the group’s audience because now you are asking your friends and followers to take action, so your action amplifies the voice of the organization you support.
ReTweet – Everyone is pushing out information on Twitter just to make sure that their stream stays active, but once in a while, it is generous to pause, listen, and retweet articles you find interesting, comments you agree with, or ideas you want to spread. The organization you followed will see that you retweeted and if they’re nice enough, they should send you a shout out as well.
Pin –As the web turns to more visual content, Pinterest has become an exciting playing ground for posting and sharing graphic designs and photography collected on boards and visible to others.
While not all organizations are on Pinterest, those that are put time and energy into their pinning strategy, so please reward them by commenting on or pinning one of their images. The added visual on your board will remind you of your social love.
What are some other simple ways for sharing the love of causes through social media? How will you show your love on February 14th?
Last month, OmniStudio announced the Life Skills Center as our 2013 ReachOut partner. For over 35 years, the Life Skills Center in northwest Washington has offered participants a daytime sanctuary; a place where they can learn emergency preparedness and computer skills, develop art projects, and much more. The Center’s work with adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities is critical to the community, and also inspiring.
We wanted to update everyone on the progress of this wonderful project. Our talented Art Director, Kathy Foltin (pictured to the right), developed three logo options for the Life Skills Center team to review. Here’s what she came up with, along with her thoughts.
Kathy notes, “The logo serves as an organization’s first impression. It conveys its personality and characteristics in a small, distilled symbol, and for that reason, is very powerful. I also wanted to convey a feeling of safety; that the participants’ caregivers and family also feel very comfortable knowing that their loved ones are in a safe place for the day.”
“The far left option makes me feel hopeful, and gives a sense of striving. It feels like the Life Skills Center is a place where someone can grow in skills and confidence and thrive,” Kathy said.
“The center option denotes a solid sense of place.”
Finally, “the far right logo indicates the Center provides a sense of comfort for participants; a home away from home and some safety.”
Kathy’s work has offered the Life Skills Center some great options from which to pick. Which would you select? Share with us why you picked it!
We will continue to update you on this project as we make progress, but in the meantime, please save the date of May 8, 2013, and stay tuned for more information about an exciting event.
This is the first in a series of blog posts about the tools offered by Google for nonprofits.
Google isn’t just the search engine giant most people know it to be, it’s also a facilitator of nonprofit fundraising and promotion through its Google for Nonprofits program. Its free, simple-to-use tools are easy to implement into your nonprofit’s fundraising, outreach and advocacy efforts.
In this post, I’ll be talking about Google+, Google’s social networking tool that allows organizations (as well as individuals and businesses) to connect with constituents in a unique way.
For explanation’s sake, I’ll compare it to Facebook, since most people are familiar with it. When an organization posts to their Facebook page, the post is broadcast to everyone who has “liked” the page, which can be problematic for many organizations that have different groups of constituents (i.e., volunteers, donors, members, advocates, etc.); there are times when you want to reach out to each group individually.
A main differentiating feature of Google+ is Circles, which allows organizations to segment their followers into groups for easier, more targeted and more effective communication.
Another advantage to having a Google+ profile is search engine rankings—Google ranks Google+ pages high in their search results, so just having a profile is likely to bring visitors to your page if they’re searching for your organization.
Google+ also features Hangouts—live video chats that your followers can join in on. Organizations can use Hangouts to hold discussions about the issues important to you and your audience, and use it as a platform to educate newcomers who may not be as familiar with your work.
To gain followers, you have to let people know you’re on Google+. To do this, you can integrate a +1 button on your website so people with a Google+ profile can share your website with their followers. Also, just as you would say “Follow us on Facebook” or include a Facebook button in a newsletter or mailing, you should add a “Follow us on Google+” message to get the word out there.
Most people today have a Google account, whether they use Gmail, YouTube, Blogger or another Google product, so if you’re on Google+, you may just be able to reach a large part of the population that didn’t know about your organization or hadn’t thought to join before!
Find more information about setting up a Google+ page for your nonprofit here.
With a user count growing larger than 10 million, there’s no question that Pinterest, is the newest thing in social sharing sites. Pinterest, offers a simple, visual way to share content on the web.
Nonprofits are taking advantage of the site’s growing popularity by creating their own pin boards, where they “pin” images that are relevant to their organization. For example, the National Wildlife Federation has several boards (which are basically just categories of content) such as “Nature Photography,” “Gardening for Wildlife” and “Squirrel Appreciation Day.” On these boards, NWF has pinned images from various sites that fit into these categories and give visitors a beautiful gallery of images to browse, “like” or share with others on their own pin boards.
Whereas other social sites are often used for marketing purposes, Pinterest is a nice departure, serving as a platform to simply share beautiful things with people who are interested in what you’re posting. Maybe simplicity is what people are craving in today’s information-overloaded world, so Pinterest might be a nice way to share content with your constituents without overwhelming them with information–that way you’re engaging with them and giving them something they enjoy without coming off like a salesman!