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August 02 2011

08:33

August Net2 Think Tank: Surveying Your Community

As changemakers in our communities, it's important to take the time to learn from the communities that we serve about their impressions of our services. Whether your community is of volunteers, members of the public, internal stakeholders, or international organizations, it is valuable to ask them what they think of your work and invite them to help shape the future of your programs. In this month's Net2 Think Tank, we look forward to learning from you about surveying your community!

Topic:

What are your tips for creating community surveys? What types of questions are valuable? What distribution tools are available? What are the best ways to use community surveys to inspire a positive change to services? And, if you have an example of your own community survey, please share that too!

Deadline:  Saturday, August 20th

How to contribute:

  • Post your response online: Leave a comment below, write on your own blog or website, post on the NetSquared Community Blog, or share your feedback on Facebook or Linkedin.
  • Tag your post, comment, or tweet with net2thinktank.
  • Email Claire Sale the link to your post.
  • Have you written about this topic in the past? Great! Simply add the net2thinktank tag to your post and email us the link.

Be sure to get your submission in by emailing Claire the link to your post by Saturday, August 20th.

The roundup of contributions will be posted on the NetSquared blog on Monday, August 22nd.

About the Net2 Think Tank:

The Net2 Think Tank is a monthly blogging/social networking event open to anyone and is a great way to participate in an exchange of ideas.  We post a question or topic to the NetSquared community and participants submit responses either on their own blogs, the NetSquared Community Blog, or using social media.  Tag your post with "net2thinktank" and email a link to us to be included. At the end of the month, the entries get pulled together in the Net2 Think Tank Round-Up.

July 25 2011

13:14

July Net2 Think Tank Round-up: Building a Culture of Accessibility

Net2 Think Tank LogoIn the old days, we used to talk about accessibility as something we added to our websites. Today, the conversation has shifted towards making our websites accessible as a key requirement of the development process - for complex reasons and with complex benefits. From providing accessible content for people with disabilities, to creating fully usable functionality, to support for multiple languages, we wanted to learn about the benefits people are creating using web and mobile technology. So, for this month's Net2 Think Tank, we asked you what’s going on in the innovative world of accessibility.

Topic: How can we build a culture of accessibility? For instance: What are you doing to encourage accessibility for your own online or mobile-based presence? And, what online networks are supporting people with disabilities and what efforts are being made to make the web more accessible overall?

 

 

Below, we've compiled all of the community responses.

While this month's Net2 Think Tank is now closed, you're always welcome to add your feedback on the subject. Feel free to add your ideas in the comments section at the bottom of this page.

 

Why We Need to Focus on Accessibility

Accessibility is something every developer and content creator should be considering. Here's why:

  • The need for online accessibility is growing - "When talking about disability, it is easy to focus on more physical disabilities (like requiring aids in walking) and using social media to create networks of support. But in dealing with software issues and the visually impaired, it can be a challenge. With 20% of the American population having some form of disability (and 40% of the Baby Boomer generation potentially developing a disability by 2030), being able to create a culture where all can access technology is critical. Although there is some software packages that allow for screen magnification, it can be extremely expensive if not already included - Windows 7 has a built-in magnifier; some screen magnification packages range from $300 - 800." - from Gordon Dymowski, summarizing Kerry Obrist's Chicago Net Tuesday Presentation - here.
  • Accessibility is good for the business bottom line - "The benefits of accessibility would [...] help to improve site usability for everybody thus expanding our reach and audience. It would also influence the number of potential customers that access your site [...] By this action we are not only contributing to the society, but we are also aiming towards our goals of increasing market/increasing viewers and in turn increasing business. - from Palak Timbadiya via Linkedin

Tips for Website Planning

Here are a few ways that developers and product managers can think about making existing sites and applications more accessible:

  • Understanding basic accessibility -  "...Unfortunately, not much of the population understands that people who are visually impaired can use the internet just as well as sighted indivduals can, including web developers. I believe that web developers should be made aware of the things that are necessary to make websites more accessibility aid friendly for the visually imapired. Arrangement of text, and the color of that text (for example, too much white cvauses glare on some people and will inconvenience them as they try to toggle the colors on their screeen manginifer- if that is an opton at all. And poorly laid out text, or too much text in images, may make that information wholly out of reach for someone using a screen reader. Furthermore, one of the things that actually one of my colleagues did that had to change was music and other sounds playing on a website designed for some of our clients; they could not easily locate the place to turn this music off and it disabled them from using a screen reader. These are all things that need to be considered in web design that, unfortunately, we've noticed are not often considered." - from Amanda Ward via Linkedin
  • Build accessibility into your existing Drupal workflow - This is different than just seeking to be 508 compliant. Here's how. - suggested by Mike Gifford on Linkedin
  • Access existing documentation - "Apple provides excellent support and documentation to 3rd-party developers so they can make their apps accessible. So now, there's no excuse for the majority of apps not to be fully accessible. For the social networking worl to get behind this and support it would be very far-reaching." - from Tom Dekker via email
     

 

Real-life accessibility case studies

Here are a few examples of well-executed tools for increased accessibility:

  • Screenreaders and screen magnifiers - "...I work at an organization that serves the blind and visually impaired, so we have to be especially careful that our media is available in many formats, so as to suit the preference of each individual user. Depending on a client's visual acuity, they not only use different media when accessing print (large print vs. Braille) but also use different software on the internet. Two of the most common are screenreaders and screen magnifiers.." - from Amanda Ward via Linkedin
  • Gmail Motion - Originally an April Fools joke from Google, Gmail motion has been turned into reality. The technology, built on Microsoft Kinect, allows gmail users to use their body movements to control gmail, rather than a click of the mouse. Learn more in this article from Mashable. - suggested by Palak Timbadiya via Linkedin
  • WAVE Toolbar - "We've worked hard in the Drupal community to build an inclusive community that eliminates barriers for participation. It's a lot of work and there is a lot to be learned about how different people interact with the web. Using tools like the WAVE toolbar can help raise awareness about where the barriers are." - from Mike Gifford on Linkedin
  • Basic Website Changes -"Many software and web developers can institute very basic changes in order to accommodate those with visual impairments. For example, many visually disabled prefer to use keyboard shortcuts - or even a game controller - over the traditional mouse. Font sizing over 40 points can also help make text more readable. Adding a verbal image tag when embedding an image can enhance user experience, especially if the user has software which “reads” web sites aloud. Several developers at the Net Tuesday meeting also recommended the FLS plug-in for Drupal and WordPress." - from Gordon Dymowski, summarizing Kerry Obrist's Chicago Net Tuesday Presentation - here.
  • Using iDevices for independent living - "iDevices [iOS or Android-based mobile devices] are becoming very popular in the vision-impaired community. As a rehab teacher, it seems to be what I teach most of the time these days, since there are so many apps that facilitate independent living." - from Tom Dekker via email


Next steps?

More is needed to make the web and mobile spheres usable. Here are a few places we can start:

  • Research Needed - "One of the things I think should be encouraged is first circulating data on just how many of us have a type of disability, in general categories. I say "us" because people with disabilities are part of the general population as readers, writers, consumers, lovers of food, blogs, wacky products, music, audio, etc. It would be great to have some simple stats about seeing, hearing, mobility and cognitive disabilities to begin to "see" the reality by country or even language use—given that 'online knows no frontiers'." - suggested by Jenifer L. Johnson via Linkedin
  • Increase Online Marketing Visibility - "Apart from the technological adaptations I think it would be also rich to shift the paradigm in the aesthetic world and include models with visible disabilities in online ads, promotional pieces, just hanging out with the rest of the image icons. It is a long overdue inclusion that everyone (people with disabilities and people without) would benefit from, and a smart marketing move at the same time." - suggested by Jenifer L. Johnson via Linkedin

 

General Accessibility Resources

Below are a few more resources to learn about accessibility:

 

A few words to leave you with

...Because Gordon says it better than I do!

Ultimately, building an online culture of accessibility contains two parts: the obvious support networks that can be built within social media, and the technical changes that can accommodate those who cannot access technology easily. It almost seems like a more open source approach - allowing a key community to provide guidance and insight into tech development to allow them to better access software and hardware tools.

Our mission is more than just evangelizing about “digital excellence” or even cheerleading about non-profits and tech - it’s about creating an atmosphere where people can bring their experiences - and expertise - to bear in shaping and creating a different kind of online culture. Hopefully, [we have] taken a first step in that regard.

- from Gordon Dymowski

 

Post About Your Project, Idea, or Opportunity!

While this month's Net2 Think Tank is now closed, you're always welcome to add your feedback on the subject. Feel free to add your ideas in the comments section at the bottom of this page.

 

Thank you to all of our contributors this month! 

 

About Net2 Think Tank:

Net2 Think Tank is a monthly blogging/social networking event open to anyone and is a great way to participate in an exchange of ideas.  We post a question or topic to the NetSquared community and participants submit responses either on their own blogs, the NetSquared Community Blog, or using social media.  Tag your post with "net2thinktank" and email a link to us to be included. At the end of the month, the entries get pulled together in the Net2 Think Tank Round-Up.

 


July 05 2011

09:12

July Net2 Think Tank: Building a Culture of Accessibility

In the old days, we used to talk about accessibility as something we added to our websites. Today, the conversation has shifted towards making our websites accessible as a key requirement of the development process- for complex reasons and with complex benefits. From providing accessible content for people with disabilities, to creating fully usable functionality, to support for multiple languages, we want to hear what’s going on in the innovative world of accessibility!

Please share your ideas about making web and mobile efforts accessible to a wide range of users, as part of this month’s Net2 Think Tank!

Thanks to Dr. Md Mahfuz Ashraf for suggesting this month's Net2 Think Tank topic!

Topic:

How can we build a culture of accessibility? For instance: What are you doing to encourage accessibility for your own online or mobile-based presence? And, what online networks are supporting people with disabilities and what efforts are being made to make the web more accessible overall? Share your thoughts with the NetSquared Community!

Deadline:  Saturday, July 23rd

How to contribute:

  • Post your response online: Leave a comment below, write on your own blog or website, post on the NetSquared Community Blog, or share your feedback on Facebook or Linkedin.
  • Tag your post, comment, or tweet with net2thinktank.
  • Email Claire Sale the link to your post.
  • Have you written about this topic in the past? Great! Simply add the net2thinktank tag to your post and email us the link.

Be sure to get your submission in by emailing Claire the link to your post by Saturday, July 23rd

The roundup of contributions will be posted on the NetSquared blog on Monday, July 25th.

About Net2 Think Tank:

Net2 Think Tank is a monthly blogging/social networking event open to anyone and is a great way to participate in an exchange of ideas.  We post a question or topic to the NetSquared community and participants submit responses either on their own blogs, the NetSquared Community Blog, or using social media.  Tag your post with "net2thinktank" and email a link to us to be included. At the end of the month, the entries get pulled together in the Net2 Think Tank Round-Up.

June 27 2011

14:49

June Net2 Think Tank Round-up: Monitoring Online Feedback

Using the social web to market your cause, communicate your services, and interact with your audience is an important part of the communication function for many socially-foucused organizations. One thing that many of these groups have found is that the internet allows us to not only tell our story, but also get an honest understanding of the perception of our organization.  With that in mind, we asked you for your advice for monitoring online feedback as part of this month's Net2 Think Tank:

Topic: What are your best practices for effectively monitoring online feedback about your organization, cause, or enterprise. What are your favorite tools and tactics for listening, and how do you use your findings to inspire practical change from within?

 

Below, we've compiled all of the community responses.

While this month's Net2 Think Tank is now closed, you're always welcome to add your feedback on the subject. Feel free to add your ideas in the comments section at the bottom of this page.

Tactics

Here are several techniques you can use to strategically listen to and interact with the people you are targeting online:

Know what people are saying about you

  • "Before you can start listening and monitoring feedback, you have to understand where it’s coming from. I spent my first 3 months in this position simply observing and finding the conversations. Once I knew where people talk about NTEN, I could start paying attention to what they were saying. Some people like the river, others spend all day in the wave pool; the same rule applies to social media. If you can discover what brings a group of people to your Facebook page vs. your Twitter account, you’ll really start to understand what types of conversations they want to have there. Then you can start engaging them in those conversations." - Sarah Janczak on the NTEN blog
  • "Is our story being told? And how is it being told?  - Although this sounds dangerously close to marketing speak, it actually touches on our sense of mission and purpose. If we are working towards ultimate benefit, how is our organization being spoken about (if at all)? How about our partners? Our overall issue? By knowing the tone and extent of conversation, we can identify opportunities to more clearly advocate" - Gordon Dymowski on MetroShrink

Be there

  • "Who and where are people talking? - Twitter and Facebook are the de facto channels for consumer driven conversation, but for our cause? It may be better to use monitoring tools to find channels of current activity." - Gordon Dymowski on MetroShrink
  • "This is where the people are. If you can identify the channel that draws the largest crowd, or the most interactive crowd, you'll have the opportunity to start prioritizing your work flow. It's the place where you’re most likely to miss something when you’re in a meeting or otherwise unable to keep up in real time. It’s also the place you can try out new experiments and ask questions – and count on consistent feedback. It’s an invaluable resource for you and a link to your community, a great place to go when you need a quick snapshot of how your donors are reacting to the latest fundraising campaign and you don’t have time to sort through all the feedback." - Sarah Janczak on the NTEN blog

Make a Plan

  • "Spend 10 minutes each morning and sort through your day. When do you have 20 minutes to check the LinkedIn group and respond to posts there? When you have to pull together data for your dashboard, it’s ok to walk away from Twitter; just make sure you stop by and check things out later. Scheduling your day will save your brain from the oh-so-common “what was I just tweeting about?” syndrome, allowing you to write more detailed and meaningful responses when you have the time set aside." - Sarah Janczak on the NTEN blog
  • "I have found it helpful to have a plan in place for how the results will be used to inform decisions BEFORE starting to gather data. To easy to have goals gather data and then feel lost knowing exactly what to do with it. This can be supported by having a policy ahead of time that helps identify in part what to do with feedback as well." - Ash Shepherd on Linkedin

Keep Records and Identify Trends

  • "Document your findings - Creating a regular report for monitoring can be as easy as a spreadsheet or document, noting both quantitative and qualitative data. It sounds counter to wanting to engage on a human level, but what this does is allow for further justification should you require to seek funding, other organizational support, etc." - Gordon Dymowski on MetroShrink
  • "Look beyond the obvious - choose to observe rather than see - Part of monitoring is to find themes and patterns within online conversation, both driven by your organization and by others. Be willing to make deductions based on what you are observing, and let what you find and deduce shape your approach to social media and online conversation." - Gordon Dymowski on MetroShrink

If it Sounds Too Good to be True...

  • "Beware of a self-appointed “Moriarity” - Much has been said about the self-proclaimed “social media expert”; let me change this to a different type of person. A person who claims on some level to have “a web with a thousand radiations”, yet seems to have nothing more than a pleasant personality. Any efforts to engage within social media need to have a solid strategic basis which includes monitoring and further engagement." - Gordon Dymowski on MetroShrink

 

Tools

The following tools may help you listen, monitor, meassure, and ask questions so you can begin to understand the conversations that are of interest to you and your cause on the web:

Social Media Monitoring Tools

Online Polling Tools

  • Polldaddy - "Although as a therapist I often believe I know what people's needs are, this tool has helped me know what the customer views as their needs. It has been eye-opening to find out from them what their needs are. It helps me to know rather than guess what the needs of my customers are." - Jeffery Murrah on Linkedin
  • Poll Function on Hubpages - "I have also found the poll function on hubpages useful in assessing customer needs as well. The polls on hubpages has been helpful in narrowing down the needs identified with tools such as polldaddy." - Jeffery Murrah on Linkedin

Measurement by Channel

The following channel-based tips are all from Mazarine Treyez on Wild Woman Fundraising

  • "For Facebook: Edgerank for measuring the efficacy of your Facebook page, although, frankly, I’ve never had any luck raising serious money with Facebook and I think there’s so much noise there for the average person that you might have a hard time being heard. But if this is one of those things that you HAVE to do, then try this tool. "
  • "For Twitter: Sprout Social, which helps to measure the return and reach you’re getting with your Twitter account. It shows you how many followers you are getting, when influencers retweet you and how much this increases the radius of your tweet, and also demographic data like age and gender of your followers. You might also like TweetPsych, TweetSprout, and TweetStats."
  • "For your Emails: Your e-newsletter software. I prefer AWeber. You can track who opens it, when they open it, and if they click and give. So, this is another dimension of your marketing efforts that should be pretty easy to measure"
  • "For your website: Google Analytics. This is usually a conservative estimate of how many people are coming to your website, but it’s better than nothing. And it’s easy to set up and log into.

Learn even More:

Here are a rew more resources for you to delve even deeper into online listening:

 

About Net2 Think Tank:

Net2 Think Tank is a monthly blogging/social networking event open to anyone and is a great way to participate in an exchange of ideas.  We post a question or topic to the NetSquared community and participants submit responses either on their own blogs, the NetSquared Community Blog, or using social media.  Tag your post with "net2thinktank" and email a link to us to be included. At the end of the month, the entries get pulled together in the Net2 Think Tank Round-Up.

Thanks again to Mazarine Treyz of Wild Woman Fundraising for suggesting this month's Net2 Think Tank topic!

May 03 2011

10:07

May Net2 Think Tank: Improving Lives in Rural Communities with ICTs

May 17 will mark World Telecommunication and Information Society Day (WTISD). To celebrate, we're using this year's WTISD theme, "Better Life in Rural Communities with ICTs" to guide our Net2 Think Tank question for May!

For this month's Net2 Think Tank, we're brainstorming ideas for closing the digital divide for people living in rural areas all around the world. How are you bridging the divide and what are your tips for others who are just getting started? Share your projects and ideas with the NetSquared Community!

Topic:

How can we help improve the lives of people living in rural areas using ICT? What are your tactics and best practices for helping rural communities using web or mobile technology? And, which projects are already doing this well?

Deadline:  Saturday, May 21st

How to contribute:

  • Post your response online: Leave a comment below, write on your own blog or website, post on the NetSquared Community Blog, or share your feedback on Facebook or Linkedin.
  • Tag your post, comment, or tweet with net2thinktank.
  • Email Claire Sale the link to your post.
  • Have you written about this topic in the past? Great! Simply add the net2thinktank tag to your post and email us the link.

Be sure to get your submission in by emailing Claire the link to your post by Saturday, May 21st

The roundup of contributions will be posted on the NetSquared blog on Monday, May 23rd.

About Net2 Think Tank:

Net2 Think Tank is a monthly blogging/social networking event open to anyone and is a great way to participate in an exchange of ideas.  We post a question or topic to the NetSquared community and participants submit responses either on their own blogs, the NetSquared Community Blog, or using social media.  Tag your post with "net2thinktank" and email a link to us to be included. At the end of the month, the entries get pulled together in the Net2 Think Tank Round-Up.

 

About World Telecommunication and Information Society Day:

The purpose of World Telecommunication and Information Society Day (WTISD) is to help raise awareness of the possibilities that the use of the Internet and other information and communication technologies (ICT) can bring to societies and economies, as well as of ways to bridge the digital divide.

17 May marks the anniversary of the signing of the first International Telegraph Convention and the creation of the International Telecommunication Union. Learn more.

April 25 2011

10:14

April Net2 Think Tank Round-up: Handling Negative Online Feedback

Receiving feedback from your community is a great way to get them engaged with your mission. Whether it's about a specific task or a larger ideology, feedback allows us to learn and adapt to what our audiences want, need, and think. And, with the increased use of social media and collaborative technologies, we're able to give and receive feedback in real-time often with the choice to be completely anonymous. But what happens when the feedback is negative, hateful or just plain untrue?

Earlier this month, we asked you to share your tactics for handling negative feedback within your online community. Below, we've compiled all of the community responses for this month's Net2 Think Tank!

Topic: How do you respond to negative feedback?  What are the best tactics for responding to negative, hateful, or incorrect feedback in a productive and transparent way?

 

While this month's Net2 Think Tank is now closed, you're always welcome to add your feedback on the subject. Feel free to add your ideas in the comments section at the bottom of this page.

A brief story

One contributor to this Think Tank shared a brief story about the frustrating reality of online feedback:

In our case which seems to be a politically motivated smear campaign there has been no effective way of dealing with it. Google blogspot who host most of the commentary will permit [negative comments to be posted] anonymously yet remove any attempt to identify the source as 'publication of private information'

In one way the sheer volume of negative commentary helped, in that it helped raise the profile of a human rights issue [we were covering], yet the campaign had been effective in harming our business by deterring customers.

It took 5 years before the story of the orphanage in Torez surfaced as an article with photographic evidence, in the Sunday Times. Now we can declare our progress.

- Jeff Mowatt

With this story in mind, this Think Tank Round-up offers several tactics for community managers to consider adopting:

Learn from the feedback

  • "listen, evaluate, and figure out what you can do better (whether it's the task, or the response)" - Shawna Spencer
  • "First, thank them for their input. Second, consider the input validity. Third, try to do better if input is deemed valid" - Kenneth Larson
  • "Negative Feedback is the BEST type to get. Positive says nothing, you're doing ok or at least not "Drifting" too far. NEGATIVE Feedback points to TRUE trouble spots, and tells you that "Course Correction is Necessary". - Dan Sobel
  • "Negative feedback is GOLD!  Here is someone telling you their objections....but there are just objections for you to overcome. Great book that helped me learn how to do this well on my feet: "How to be a rainmaker by Jeffrey Fox". Also the "Solution Focus" method is great for taking objections and negativity and turning into a communication opportunity." - Paul Nazareth

Assume the best

  • "Sometimes negative feedback is provided in a moment of pique and is expressed in error, but in many (probably most) instances, it contains useful information. After I identify that useful content, my response (if one is warranted) can be constructive. Sometimes my response can be practical, fixing a problem which the feedback highlighted (perhaps followed by a comment acknowledging the person who provided the feedback). Sometimes my response is no more than a comment addressing the issues raised in the feedback." - Eric Kline
  • "Respond to criticism with a nonjudgemental mind and examine the person's opinion in the content of their cultural, religious, political, tradition, country's beliefs that might be influencing their reactions." - Cleopatra Fitzgerald
  • Consider it a plus that someone would take the time to communicate their genuine thoughts to you.  Be polite and professional in your prompt reply. Focus the conversation on the issue not the emotion. - David Parfitt

Don't delete negative comments

  • "Let it stand - respond to it the best way you can - allow audience to judge!" - Ryan Crowe
  • "I always advise to keep the negative comments posted, unedited and respond to the credible and valid concerns.  After the response, of course deliver a solution otherwise it's just lip service. " - Richard Sailing

Be helpful and human

  • "It's all about trying to solve the issue, instead of following CSR script. But then it [requires] qualified staff [which leads to increased] costs" - Lukasz Mlodyszewski
  • Be both helpful and useful and understand others are watching how you resolve the situation. Conflict is sure to happen. How it is resolved determines how others view you and your company. So be honest, be upbeat, find the real issue, and resolve it. All out in the open with a professional and caring attitude. - David Parfitt

Do not feed the trolls

The following exerpt was shared by Wild Woman Fundraising's Mazarine Treyz as part of a longer response on the NetSquared blog:

If they send more than 3 insulting messages, if they start threatening you, your company, or just basically harrassing you with various kinds of written abuse or horrible pictures, time to get medieval on their handle!

Don't try to reason with the troll. They are taking advantage of the fact that they will never meet you, and so can say anything they want to you. The advent of the internet has really not helped with common courtesy, unfortunately. So you want to get your community members to sign a little statement saying, "I will not post blatantly self-promotional things, I will not troll or flame or spam people or be obnoxious in any way (As defined by the community manager) or I will be blocked and banned."

What you can do for this sort of negativity

Once you have identified a troll (which will be a very very small percentage of your users, you can instruct other community members "not to feed the troll".  Then, like the three fates, you can measure out their time with your community, and then you can cut and block them from communicating. You can block people easily in Twitter, and you can also ban their IP address from accessing your website. This might inconvenience a few other community members, so check with your IT person to see if there are a lot of people on that IP address accessing the site.

 

Thank you to all of our contributors this month! While this month's Net2 Think Tank is now closed, you're always welcome to add your feedback on the subject. Feel free to add your ideas in the comments section at the bottom of this page.


About Net2 Think Tank:

Net2 Think Tank is a monthly blogging/social networking event open to anyone and is a great way to participate in an exchange of ideas.  We post a question or topic to the NetSquared community and participants submit responses either on their own blogs, the NetSquared Community Blog, or using social media.  Tag your post with "net2thinktank" and email a link to us to be included. At the end of the month, the entries get pulled together in the Net2 Think Tank Round-Up.

February 21 2011

11:24

February Net2 Think Tank Round-Up: Using Linkedin For Change

Earlier this month, we asked you to share ways that we can use Linkedin to mobilize social change. We wanted to learn which tools, tactics, and functions of Linkedin you're using to create a community around your cause area. Below, we've compiled all of the community responses for this month's Net2 Think Tank including information about using Linkedin fucntionality like Groups, Q&A, and Companies, as well as the benefits of networking and more!

Topic: How are you using Linkedin to support the efforts of your nonprofit or social enterprise? 

While this month's Net2 Think Tank is now closed, you're always welcome to add your feedback on the subject. Feel free to add your ideas in the comments section at the bottom of this page.

Linkedin Groups

Here's how NetSquared community members are using Linkedin Groups. Learn more about Groups.

Megan Keane replied on the NetSquared blog:

Just wanted to weigh in here with my experience moderating the TechSoup LinkedIn group. LinkedIn recently changed their group options to allow for open groups. We opted to make our group open which is helpful as it lets people who are not group members see the discussions. With an open group, discussions are also indexed by Google which opens up the coversation to a wider audience. [...] And LinkedIn, could you get RSS feeds for groups already?!?

 

Susan Tenby replied on the NetSquared blog:

I have found that the groups functionality in LinkedIn is more powerful than most email lists I belong to. There are many nonprofit groups to choose from and you can find them in the groups directory.

The have a graphical email push, so you don't need to remember to visit them, and you don't need to click in and log in (unless you want to respond). The added benefit is that joining a LinkedIn group allows you to have access to the profiles of hundreds of thousands of other group members, via the groups directory, that share your interests.

The groups are member-generated, and the member directory will inform you of group members in your network, so you know, before you join, if some of your peeps are involved.

Your profile summary will appear next to your posts in groups and members will get an email alerting them of your post, so it's a great way to build a network, based on your knowledge.

 

Tobias Eigen replied on the Kabissa Blog:

I [...] created a Discussion Group on LinkedIn, which has remarkably powerful features for enabling people to connect and share information - it's like Yahoo Groups that has been beefed up with all the latest social media functionality and integrated with LinkedIn's other reputation building and networking features. Again, I have not been promoting it but it may be beneficial to Kabissa and our community because it will provide another channel for people to connect with Kabissa besides Facebook, Twitter and the groups we host ourselves at kabissa.org.


I replied on the NetSquared Blog:

- My favorite use of Linkedin Groups is to ask questions, and I especially love when community members do the asking!

- I really like the Manager's Choice function. By design, discussions on the platform are maintained by community involvement, with an emphasis on recent content. The Manager's Choice is a listing of up to 10 discussion posts that we can use to promote excellent or timely content. We often use this as an opportunity to highlight intelligent questions from community members or to highlight Net2 Think Tank questions. 

- Many NetSquared Local groups have started NetSquared sub-groups. These are a great way to have local community activity connected to the global cause.

- Linkedin offers a wide range of tools and features to moderate and manage the group. They offer opened (public) and closed (private) groups, as well as a wide rang of customization options for the ways that users can interact. I especially like that the tool sends me messages when the site needs moderating, so I don't need to set my own reminders!

- It's not really easy to search for groups without a brand name. I'd like to see the group search function search keywords within the existing content, rather than just keywords in the group title. For instance, if I search "nptech", nothing comes up - this isn't because nobody is talking about nptech, simply that there isn't a group with that name. 

- There is a lot of spam on Linkedin. But, there are also some excellent tools for moderators to combat irrelevant postings. This means that spam isn't a problem so long as you put the five minutes in a week to make sure you're getting rid of it. 

 

Q&A

Here's how NetSquared Community members are using the Linkedin Q&A function. Learn more about Q&A.

Megan Keane replied on the NetSquared blog:

I [...] use the question and answers feature to cross-pollinate discussions from our group to the TechSoup forums. Our biggest obstacle to date is the lack of sharing--still looking for a better way to integrate different discussions from various platforms. 

 

I replied on the NetSquared Blog:

- So far, I've used Linkedin Answers exclusively for soliciting feedback to Net2 Think Tank questions. To my surprise, this has been an excellent way to get feedback on a topic. The tool is a bit like Quora, but what I like about it is that it's reaching people where they already are, rather than on an external site.

- I'd love to be able to publicly respond to or comment on people's Answers to my questions. As a question asker, the only way to reply to an answerer is via a private message - hardly in the spirit of collaboration.

- I'd also like to see Linkedin Answer functionality integrated into the Groups. I'd find this far more valuable that the little used "jobs" and "opportunities" tools. 

 

Company Pages

Here's how one NetSquared Community member is using a Linkedin Company Page. Learn more about Company Pages.

 

Tobias Eigen on the Kabissa Blog:

I created the Company page on LinkedIn in January and so far it has not generated any attention nor have I actively promoted it. This does not mean it is not beneficial to have it, since it will still turn up in search results, allow volunteers and current/former employees to link to it from their profiles, and provide yet another opportunity for people to show their support for Kabissa.

 

Networking for good

Here's how NetSquared Community members are using Linkedin for networking around their cause areas:

Jeffrey Murrah replied to our Question on Linkedin

By their nature, all social networking sites bring about social change. Even when sites like linkedin, which is primarily business oriented, are used they bring about social change. 

In terms of how I am using it for social change: 

- It allows me to connect with other people. Relationships are critical to any social change. The connections I make are the beginnings of relationships. 

- Linkedin allows me to discuss issues of importance. Even when those issues are not agreed upon, the dialogue keeps the issues in the front of their awareness. Each time you discuss an issue, you start the process of change. It adds legitimacy and credibility to your change. 

- Besides making connections, Linkedin allows those connections to intertwine and develop "a web of awareness". People become aware of you through secondary and tertiary connections. 

- By working through the answers, it allows for some education to occur. This increases people's awareness of issues they may not have been aware of. 
- By sharing links, the increased number of links creates a larger 'internet footprint' of one's cause. The larger footprint adds credibility to the social issue. 

 

Tobias Eigen on the Kabissa Blog:

- I find that my profile at http://linkedin.com/in/tobiaseigen is a great resource for me personally and I am very happy with how it reflects my influence and reputation in the field in which I am working. Over 500 colleagues have agreed to connect with me and many have used the platform to recommend my work.

- I was able to find and reconnect with a handful of people who used to work closely with Kabissa in the past and invite them to join our volunteering group. The response has been overwhelmingly positive. Being able to do this has been immensely rewarding and of great benefit to Kabissa.

- LinkedIn's recommendation feature is an excellent tool that I intend to use to thank Kabissa volunteers and partners for contributions they have made to Kabissa, in the past and going forward.

 

Paul Nazareth replied on Linkedin:

LinkedIn is a great way to meet people to are connected to my non-profit work. 

I do use it to make social change in my sector. Non-profit is a powerful sector but frankly, it's drowning in internal management issues that can't be "discussed" in polite company at events or associations. 

Linked In has been a tremendous resource for me to seek out like-minded resources, leaders, survivors and thrivers. This where I keep and cultivate that network to solve problems, seek knowledge and discuss the undiscussable.

 

On the other hand...

There are quite a few people out there who don't think of Linkedin as a space for change. Here are a few of their reflections:

Bryan C Webb replied on Linkedin:

I'm using LI as a networking tool to build & maintain my professional network. As far as I can tell, using LI for social change is not what it was designed for not what I want to use it for.

 

David Mitchel replied on Linkedin:

I am using it to build and develop business relationships that lead to new clients (directly or indirectly) and to showcase knowledge.

 

Trevor Lobel replied on Linkedin:

Sorry Claire but like Bryan & David I'm also not using LinkedIn for social change. I am using it to open doors that will lead me to people and lead people to me..... 

 

Deep Dive

Interested in learning more about using Linkedin for change? Allison Fine recently interviewed NetSquared's very own Amy Sample Ward as well as Estrella Rosenberg, founder and executive director of Big Love Little Hearts in Chicago. Listen to the interview to dive even deeper into using Linkedin for change!  

 

About Net2 Think Tank:

Net2 Think Tank is a monthly blogging/social networking event open to anyone and is a great way to participate in an exchange of ideas.  We post a question or topic to the NetSquared community and participants submit responses either on their own blogs, the NetSquared Community Blog, or using social media.  Tag your post with "net2thinktank" and email a link to us to be included. At the end of the month, the entries get pulled together in the Net2 Think Tank Round-Up.

 

February 19 2011

00:00

Using Linkedin for NetSquared Community Organizing

For this month's Net2Think Tank, we're featuring ways that organizations can use Linkedin for good. As we're using Linkedin as a tool to share with our audiences, I thought I'd share a few of my reflections on the platform.

Linkedin Groups:

 Linkedin Groups are a cross between a forum and a mailing list on a particular topic. We're using the NetSquared Linkedin Group as a space to share ideas, opportunities, and jobs relating to using technology for social benefit.  A few reflections:

  • My favorite use of Linkedin Groups is to ask questions, and I especially love when community members do the asking!
  • I really like the Manager's Choice function. By design, discussions on the platform are maintained by community involvement, with an emphasis on recent content. The Manager's Choice is a listing of up to 10 discussion posts that we can use to promote excellent or timely content. We often use this as an opportunity to highlight intelligent questions from community members or to highlight Net2 Think Tank questions. 
  • Many NetSquared Local groups have started NetSquared sub-groups. These are a great way to have local community activity connected to the global cause
  • Linkedin offers a wide range of tools and features to moderate and manage the group. They offer opened (public) and closed (private) groups, as well as a wide rang of customization options for the ways that users can interact. I especially like that the tool sends me messages when the site needs moderating, so I don't need to set my own reminders!
  • It's not really easy to search for groups without a brand name. I'd like to see the group search function search keywords within the existing content, rather than just keywords in the group title. For instance, if I search "nptech", nothing comes up - this isn't because nobody is talking about nptech, simply that there isn't a group with that name. 
  • There is a lot of spam on Linkedin. But, there are also some excellent tools for moderators to combat irrelevant postings. This means that spam isn't a problem so long as you put the five minutes in a week to make sure you're getting rid of it. 

Linkedin Answers:

Linkedin Answers are a great tool for asking or answering questions from your connections or the entire Linkedin Community. 

  • So far, I've used Linkedin Answers exclusively for soliciting feedback to Net2 Think Tank questions. To my surprise, this has been an excellent way to get feedback on a topic. The tool is a bit like Quora, but what I like about it is that it's reaching people where they already are, rather than on an external site.
  • I'd love to be able to publicly respond to or comment on people's Answers to my questions. As a question asker, the only way to reply to an answerer is via a private message - hardly in the spirit of collaboration!
  • I'd also like to see Linkedin Answer functionality integrated into the Groups. I'd find this far more valuable that the little used "jobs" and "opportunities" tools. 

 

What else could or should we be doing? What do you wish we were already doing on Linkedin and what do you wish Linkedin would allow us to do but doesn't? Linkedin is listening to your feedback to this month's net2 think tank, so please share your thoughts with us!

About Net2 Think Tank:

Net2 Think Tank is a monthly blogging/social networking event open to anyone and is a great way to participate in an exchange of ideas.  We post a question or topic to the NetSquared community and participants submit responses either on their own blogs, the NetSquared Community Blog, or using social media.  Tag your post with "net2thinktank" and email a link to us to be included. At the end of the month, the entries get pulled together in the Net2 Think Tank Round-Up.

 

February 03 2011

14:30

February Net2 Think Tank: Using Linkedin for Change

Linkedin is much more than just a site for building your resume and your recommendations from previous employers. While over 90 million people have Linkedin accounts, few seem to be talking about it's utility anymore. An important player in the online community arena, we wonder if Linkedin still has potential as a space for change. This month, we're hoping to re-start the dialogue about Linkedin, and learn how organizations and individuals can use it to engage supporters.

How are you using Linkedin to support the efforts of your nonprofit or social enterprise? Which tactics seem to be working for your community - and which aren't? Tell us about how you're using Linkedin and all of the hints and tricks to curate and moderate that space for maximum impact. 

Share your best practices with the NetSquared Community as part of this month's Net2 Think Tank!

Topic:

How are you using Linkedin to support the efforts of your nonprofit or social enterprise? Which tactics seem to be working for your community - and which aren't? Tell us about how you're using Linkedin and all of the hints and tricks to curate and moderate that space for maximum impact. 

Deadline:  Saturday, February 19th

How to contribute:

  • Post your response online: Leave a comment below, write on your own blog or website, post on the NetSquared Community Blog, or share your feedback on Facebook or Linkedin.
  • Tag your post, comment, or tweet with net2thinktank.
  • Email Claire Sale the link to your post.
  • Have you written about this topic in the past? Great! Simply add the net2thinktank tag to your post and email us the link.

Be sure to get your submission in by emailing Claire the link to your post by Saturday, February 19th. 

The roundup of contributions will be posted on the NetSquared blog on Monday, February 21st.

About Net2 Think Tank:

Net2 Think Tank is a monthly blogging/social networking event open to anyone and is a great way to participate in an exchange of ideas.  We post a question or topic to the NetSquared community and participants submit responses either on their own blogs, the NetSquared Community Blog, or using social media.  Tag your post with "net2thinktank" and email a link to us to be included. At the end of the month, the entries get pulled together in the Net2 Think Tank Round-Up.

 

January 06 2011

09:42

January Net2 Think Tank: Wishes and Predictions for 2011

Recently, Joe Solomon shared his expectations for 2011 in his NetSquared blog post, Reflecting On 2011 - The Year Online Organizers Got Real. In the post he explains how he expects those working in nonprofit online organizing to increase their impact by shifting from an emphasis of online tools to real, offline events. 

read more

December 20 2010

07:23

December Net2 Think Tank Round-up: Reflecting Back On 2010

Earlier this month, we asked you to share your your reflections on the world of technology and social benefit in 2010. We wanted to learn which nonprofit-technology-related content, innovations, events, and ideas stand out as being the big game-changers for the year. Below, we've compiled all of the community responses for this month's Net2 Think Tank!

read more

December 17 2010

17:45

2010 Year in Review: Think Tanks to Keep You Thinking

As the year comes to a close, we're reminded to reflect back on some of the highlights from the last 12 months. This is the second of four year in review posts I'll be sharing to highlight some of the exciting moments for NetSquared and our global community in 2010. In this post, I'm taking a look back at all of the Net2 Think Tanks from 2010.

read more

December 15 2010

09:46

December 01 2010

10:59

December Net2 Think Tank: Reflecting back on 2010

It's December and that means a new year will soon be upon us! As we head into 2011, let's take a moment to reflect on the big accomplishments from 2010! When you look back at the world of innovation and social benefit this year, what are the key things that come to mind? Share your reflections with the NetSquared Community!

Topic:

Share your favorite NPTech content, innovations, events, and ideas from 2010! What was your most popular event or post from the last year? What new tool could you not live without? Do you have a favorite post or a defining theme that dominated 2010? 

read more

November 22 2010

14:03

Net2 Think Tank Round-Up: Using The Web To Raise Awareness

In certain places such as AlabamaNorth Carolina, November is nonprofit awareness month. To celebrate, we asked you to share your advice for using the web to raise awareness as part of this month's Net2 Think Tank. We were hoping to learn how nonprofits are raising awareness and share those tips with the wider community. Below is a list of the answers we received!

read more

November 03 2010

14:31

November Net2 Think Tank: Using the Web to Raise Awareness

Happy Nonprofit Awareness Month to all of the NetSquared community members in Alabama, North Carolina, and around the world! Taking a look at some of the ways community members are celebrating nonprofits this month really got us thinking! How can organizations worldwide use the social web to raise awareness of their cause and services? Write up your nonprofit's case study or tell us which organizations you think are effectively raising awareness through the web. Share your contributions with the NetSquared Community this month!

read more

October 25 2010

09:35

Net2 Think Tank Round-up: Creating Awesome Video

For this month's Net2 Think Tank we asked you to share your tools and tactics for creating effective video messages - regardless of budget and organization size. Affordable video capability and basic editing software are now widely available and easy to use. But, how can organizations and enterprises best use video to inspire change? Below is a list of tips and suggestions on making decisions to do with hardware and software, message and editing, video quality, and promotion ideas. 

read more

October 07 2010

08:12

October Net2 Think Tank: Creating Awesome Video

Video is a great medium to inform and inspire our audiences to action. And, in the last few years the barriers to entry have become far lower than ever before. Today, affordable video capability and basic editing software are widely available - and easy to use. How can organizations and enterprises best use video, though? This month's Net2 Think Tank is asking for your tips and tools for creating effective videos. From choosing the hardware to promoting the finished product, we want to hear from you. Share your tools, tactics, and best practices with the NetSquared Community today!

read more

September 18 2010

04:30

Where can I find volunteers?

 

Volunteers are the lifeblood of your organization. Your board are volunteers, and they are responsible for the oversight of everyone at your nonprofit or charity.

Volunteers are also there for you when you need to do an appeal mailing, when you're stuck with one hundred phonecalls you need to do for a phone-a-thon, when you need someone to do grant research for you, or pro-bono graphic design, when you're tired and just want to go home.

Volunteers are so wonderful. And they save your organization $18 for every hour they're there.

So where do you find these wonderful, mythical creatures?

1. Your donor database. Is there anyone in there, a loyal donor, who could be engaged as a volunteer?

read more

September 02 2010

11:10

Net2 Think Tank: Finding Volunteers

Let's face it: finding good volunteers is tough. A good volunteer can be a priceless addition to the team, but the process of matching the expertise and timing needs of the project to the skills and availabilities of potential volunteers can take time and resources away from your organization. This month's Net2 Think Tank is exploring ways that organizations can use the internet to make finding volunteers more efficient and effective. Share your tools, tactics, and best practices with the NetSquared Community!

Topic:

read more

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