Archive for Social Media Tips

Images that Showcase Your Club

Social media is very visual these days, with Facebook, Twitter and Google+ all tweaking their layouts to give a more visually rich experience, coupled with the rise of image-focused sites such as Instagram and Pinterest, to name a few. Selecting good, quality images to post on these channels can be a powerful way to share your club’s or your own Rotary story effectively.

Real photos of your club, its members and the activities you undertake can be one of your most effective ways to “sell” Rotary if handled well. Showcase your members and their achievements, so that other people who see the photos think, “Wow, that looks fun / meaningful / interesting. How can I take part next time?”

What makes a good photo?

To make an impact, you need to carefully curate your photos – don’t upload anything and everything!

Some aspects to keep in mind include:

  • Does it look professional? Is it in focus and is the lighting good? Has anything that has been added, such as text or logos, look professional or amateurish? Don’t be afraid to pose a photo for greater impact.
  • Is it eye catching? Is there a specific focal point? Is it bright and interesting? Can you adjust the colours and sharpen it in a photo editor, such as Photoshop or GIMP, and have you cropped out anything unnecessary?
  • Does it tell a story? Is there something interesting going on? Does it stand out from other photos?
  • How do the people look? Are they happy? Do they look bored? Is it a flattering photo of the people involved – and do you have their permission to post photos of them publicly?

Ensure that any fliers of upcoming events are professional as well. Access to a capable graphic artist is a must – if you don’t have one in your club (there’s a great classification to fill!), can you access one through your extended network in your club or district? An eye-catching flier with all the details required (including a web address or QR code for more details / to buy tickets) is the best way to help others easily spread the word about your event.

Make good use of the image description text!

A good image should call attention to your post; what action a user takes next depends on what text you have accompanying your image.

  • Is it free of jargon and acronyms, such that someone outside of Rotary can understand what is written?
  • Are people, places and relevant organisations tagged, to expand the reach of your post?
  • Is there a link they can follow to find out more and perform an action (buy tickets / sign up / donate / express interest in participating or joining)?
  • Are useful, relevant hashtags used?

The accompanying text and links should enable anyone seeing the image outside of the context of the original place it was uploaded – for example if it is “shared” on Facebook – to be able to understand the who / what / why / when / where of your message.

Examples: Events

My club runs “Paint your Pinkie” days at local primary schools to raise awareness of and funds for polio eradication. Your typical photos of such an event might involve the Rotarians attending lining up and having a photo taken with the school principal / teachers and possibly some students (how many smiles are there likely to be?), or possibly an action shot of fingernails being painted purple, where the main thing you can see are the backs of people’s heads. Here’s a couple of colourful photos that are much more eye catching:

Rotary does involve a lot of dinners, so some photos of the more “traditional” Rotary activities is to be expected… but again, think about what you wish to convey with such photos. Is everyone happy, having a good time? What mix of ages and nationalities are there? What was fun or different?

Examples: Members

Members are the lifeblood of your club, and each member has an interesting story to tell: why they joined Rotary, what they love about Rotary and what they do outside of Rotary. Showcase your (happy!!) members individually with their stories, and capture your new members joining Rotary – if you are regularly inducting new members, your club must be worth joining, right? Endeavour to break the stereotypes of Rotary: showcase young members, female members, members doing something other than sitting at a table or by a lectern or cooking sausages.

Examples: Projects

Photos handing over a cheque or rattling tins to raise money are not very exciting. What hands-on projects have you participated in? What have any funds raised been used for? Tell a story showing any tangible outcomes of projects, to help strike a chord with others who may want to help too.

What can you showcase?

There is so much you can highlight about your club and your personal participation in Rotary. What photos do you share?

I originally published this article on on 6 August 2014.

Using Social Media to Boost Your Fundraising Efforts

Social media has matured substantially over the past 14 years, with most users now accepting, and being more likely to trust, social networking as an effective way to communicate. This has led to it becoming easier to use social media to assist with fundraising efforts, both for well planned projects as well as more immediate needs such as disaster relief.

Rapid Response Disaster Relief

In January 2011, we had terrible flooding which affected most of the state of Queensland in Australia. Rotaractors tweeted and used their Facebook statuses to spread news that District 9830 in the state of Tasmania was getting donations made through them matched dollar for dollar through the local state government, up to a maximum of $250,000.

I saw the news on Facebook and helped spread that news through my own accounts, including my business Twitter accounts, and through the Rotary Facebook pages that I administer.

I announced it at my club meeting on Wednesday that week, two days later, along with news that Shelterbox already had personnel on the ground assessing needs; I had seen that news on Facebook as I follow the Shelterbox Australia page. At a district function on the Friday evening, I heard a fellow club member repeat the information to a Rotarian in another club, who asked how I had heard the news so quickly. It took my district a month to decide how to respond to the disaster and communicate that to the clubs; in the mean time, many of us had donated funds through the district in Tasmania.

District 9830 raised AUS$911,000, which is double the combined total raised by three other service clubs in Tasmania. That speaks volumes about the benefit of using social media to rapidly spread the word about how to help at a time when people are eager to help out and are looking for how best to help. The money was used to build a replacement community centre at Murphys Creek in the Lockyer Valley.

Photo courtesy Rotary District 9830

Fundraising Events

Another fundraising success story is the Rotary Global Swimarathon, coordinated by the Rotary Club of Grantham, UK. Contacts made by reaching out to clubs via Facebook and Twitter and regular promotion and updates saw 5,244 swimmers from 104 clubs in 23 countries setting a new world record for the highest number of simultaneous swimmers at on 23 February 2012, raising over US$100,000 for polio eradication in the process.

Again, they used multiple channels: Rotarian Paul Wilson from the Grantham club made heavy use of his personal profile to reach out to Rotarians and clubs on a personal level. He also used his club’s Facebook page, a dedicated Facebook page for the Swimarathon, a twitter account, a website, and a blog, to provide regular updates and communications with stakeholders. It has now become an annual event, with more and more clubs coming on board every year. In 2013, participation rose to 6103 swimmers from 186 clubs in 36 countries, with a total of US$111,081 raised, and this year a total of $116,700 was raised from 210 clubs.

Photo courtesy Balasubramaniam Sokalimgam

But it’s not all about you…

As easy as it is to reach out via social media, it is important to strike a balance between getting your message out to as many people as possible and spamming them with too many updates or filling their newsfeed with your stuff. People will tune you out if you are in their face with what you want to blurt out rather than taking time to build engaging relationships within your channels first.

If you would like assistance with using social media to boost your fundraising activities, we’re here to help – with ideas, or practical support on how to build up relationships with key stakeholders and make effective use of various channels available.

How have you used social media for fundraising?

I originally published this article on on 23 July 2014.

Creating a Digital Communications Strategy

A digital communications strategy formalises your communications across all digital platforms. By examining what your goals are with your communications, you can best determine who your audience is, and what the best way of communicating with them is. It documents which channels will be used and who is responsible for maintaining those channels.

Clubs and districts generally consider each digital medium, be it email, their website, social media, electronic newsletter and the like, in isolation, with information spread on a variety of these platforms without stepping back and considering what they want to communicate, and more importantly, why they want to communicate with others, and what is the best way to engage others in conversations around their key messages.

We only have 1 or 2 people managing our communications. Do we really need a communications strategy?

A strategy helps you communicate as effectively as possible. If you haven’t thought about what the purpose of each of your communications is, you won’t be communicating as well as you could be.

Many people set up a Facebook page because they’ve been told it’s the right thing to do, but then have no idea what to actually put on it. Active twitter accounts become dormant in the new Rotary year when responsibility for PR is handed over to someone new who doesn’t understand how to use that medium. Others blast out emails that are simply trashed without being read. If you are perceived as spamming your message, on any medium at all, people will screen you out. I’ve also seen several instances, at both club and district level, of there being 2 Facebook pages for the same entity. Which is the “official” one? None of this would happen if an effective communications strategy was in place.

Part of having a strategy is having specific people, and ideally, at least 2 people, responsible for any particular medium, so that if one is no longer willing or able to continue maintaining communications there, you don’t end up with an abandoned platform and have to build up your audience again somewhere else. It also avoids 2 people with very different ideas about how it should be done setting up competing channels, and diluting the message or possibly even spreading misinformation.

Having a digital communications strategy in place makes sure that your efforts are co-ordinated, that the correct channels are used and that your audience can be assured that they are dealing with an official channel rather than a rogue member who has decided to simply start something up without consulting the board.

How do you create a communications strategy?

Step 1. Set goals

First of all, determine what you hope to achieve through your communications. What is the tangible outcome that you are aiming for?

Are you trying to:

  • source new members?
  • increase attendance at events?
  • attract donations?
  • find potential applicants for a program?
  • source more volunteers to help with a local project?
  • find partners for an international project?

Be clear about what the specific action is that you ultimately want to happen. “Raising awareness” is not an action to aim for – raising awareness to what end? Raising awareness is part of the strategy, not the end goal.

Step 2. Define your target audience

Once you know what your goals are, then you can determine who exactly are the people that you want to reach to achieve them.

These days communication is not about blasting your message out, but building relationships and actively engaging in conversations with people. It’s not about you – it is about them.

You should consider:

  • How does your target audience like to communicate?
  • What is the best way of reaching them?
  • What motivates them?
  • What’s in it for them?

Step 3. Determine which tools to use

When you know who you want to communicate with and where to find them, then you can determine which is the best tool, or set of tools, to use to reach them.

It is in this step that you can determine whether your strategy should include a Facebook page, a Facebook group, Facebook ads, a LinkedIn group, Twitter, an e-newsletter (which itself can come in various formats), blog, website, Google+ page, and so on. You may use a combination of these, keeping in mind that different platforms serve different purposes, so it is not simply a matter of cutting and pasting the same thing over and over – your message needs to be tailored appropriately.

For example, if your goal is to increase attendance an an event, your tools may include:

  • your website (which has detailed information about the event)
  • a Facebook event (to keep in touch with attendees, which links to your web page for full details; this is also something that club members can promote on their own profiles and invite people to)
  • your club Facebook page (for periodic reminders about why the event will be worth attending, linking back to the Facebook event)
  • Twitter, for brief reminders in the lead up, with regular updates during the event
  • your club bulletin, to remind and motivate members about the event
  • sporadic opt-in email updates for those that don’t use Facebook or Twitter, which refer to the web page for full details
  • Other sites which are relevant to your audience (such as local community sites / newspapers, or those relating to specific interest groups)

Don’t waste resources on media that won’t help you achieve your goals. Focus on what will give you the best return for your time, and be careful not to spam!

Step 4. Assign responsibility

After you have selected the platforms you will use, then you can determine who is responsible for the communications on each of those platforms.

Ideally, each platform needs at least 2 admins so that there is always at least one person able to carry out the work if another is no longer willing or able to help. Each admin should understand how to use that particular platform effectively, which may require training.

The members responsible for sending out communications and participating in discussions with your audience need to be clear on what is appropriate to post. What voice should they use? Should they be signing their name, or are they acting anonymously on behalf of the club? What accounts are appropriate to “follow” or “like”? How and where should they handle negative posts?

It should also be determined how each of these coordinators will communicate with the others involved in maintaining the website, engaging in social media, blogging, and sending emails, and how they will in turn communicate with the rest of the club, district or committee. None of these should be done in isolation; communication needs to happen internally as well as externally.

Need help?

Other useful resources include my guidelines for using social media for Rotary at a personal, club and district level and best practices for developing a social media policy.

I originally published this article on on 11 October 2012.

Facebook Ad Membership Drive

In June 2012, the Rotary Club of Willetton, District 9465, Western Australia, finished its first ever Facebook Ad campaign.

The aim of the campaign was to gain new members, not simply gain awareness of Rotary. As such the ads took people to a landing page built specifically for that purpose on the club’s website at rather than encouraging people to “Like” the Facebook page.

Rather than aiming to maximising the clicks, the ads were worded and audiences carefully targeted by age, profession, location, interests, beliefs etc to limit exposure to people thought to be qualified for membership and more likely to take action to eventually join Rotary.

The landing page emphasised that commitment is required, but that in return you have fun and feel good. The club specifically did not want to say things like “attendance is not really that important” or “it really does not take time”, choosing instead to rule out anyone not willing to make an ongoing commitment.

Investing AUD $500 (1:1 with the USD) on pay per click ads going through to a targeted landing page generated:

  • 1.5 million impressions to 120,000 people in 4-5 weeks
  • 430 clicks that resulted in 5 enquiries, 2 of whom have since joined, 2 more are being followed up and the 5th is looking first for a closer club.

15 different versions of the ad were used, targeted to different audiences. By far the best performing ads were two directed to women 25-55 years old within 15km of the meeting location. All 5 people that contacted the Willetton club were women that clicked the first of those ads. Ads targeting small business owners and young adults aged 27 – 37 years old who have completed university studies were also popular in terms of clicks, but none of them resulted in a visit to the club.

Compared with previous attempts with fliers in the local newspaper, at a cost of around AUD $3,000, which reached about 30,000 people and resulted in one new member, this was considered to be a far more successful approach at a fraction the price.

I originally published this article on on 2 October 2012.

The Ins and Outs of Tagging

Tagging in a social media context is a way of adding additional short pieces of information to a piece of content that define its subject. Depending on the social network in question, the tag can be a person, keyword, or in Facebook, a page or event as well.

Tagging is useful because you can reference exactly who/what you are talking to/about (and that tag becomes a link, either to the profile of the person, organisation or event in question, or to other things that have the same keyword), and that person/page is notified that they have been tagged.

Tagging & Sharing photos

Tagging was first and foremost used on Facebook to accurately “label” people in photos, so that you could see the names of the people in the photos as well as which person in the photo that name belongs to; the tag also creates a link to that person’s profile. When someone is tagged in a photo, that photo also appears in that person’s own photo albums without them having to download the photo and upload it themselves.

The tagging of photos is often misused, where photos are tagged with people not appearing (and not directly relating) to that photo, as a way of getting their attention and ensuring that they see it. For example, a graphic of a Christmas greeting may be uploaded, and then a large number of people tagged to “send” them that greeting. More examples of inappropriate tagging of photos can be found at “The Unspoken Etiquette of Facebook Photo Tagging“.

With the advent of Timeline on Facebook, tagging a photo places it on that person’s timeline too, which make inappropriate tagging more of an issue that pre-Timeline. It is possible to remove a tag, but that takes extra steps.

The correct way of sharing or “sending” a photo with someone who does not actually appear in an image, such as a greeting or infographic, is to either:

  1. “Share” the image with a person or page (it will appear on their timeline, but it won’t appear in their albums as a photo of them) – this is a very good way of passing on images as it attributes the original person or page who uploaded the image in the first place, or
  2. Send a private message to the recipient(s) and attach the image there – just like you would if you were send it via email. This will enable the photo to be seen by those you want to see but will not put the image on their timeline.

Modifying your tagging settings

It is posible to adjust your settings on Facebook so that you must approve tags before they appear live to others.

To do this:

  1. Click the down arrow next to the “Home” link in the top right hand side of the screen to reveal a drop down menu.
  2. Click on “Privacy Settings”
  3. Locate the “Timeline and Tagging” section and click “Edit Settings”

You can then toggle the settings:

  • Review posts friends tag you in before they appear on your time line [On / Off]
  • Who can see posts you’ve been tagged in on your timeline? [Select a particular audience]
  • Review tags friends add to your own posts on Facebook [On / Off]
  • Who sees tag suggestions when photos that look like you are uploaded [Friends / No one]

Tagging people or pages in statuses and comments

You can create a link to a profile or page in Facebook or Google+ by using a tag in a status or comment.

This is a great way to reference a person, page or event directly, so that if others want to connect with that person, page or event, they can easily find the exact one you mean.

If you are responding to a person in a comment, tagging them at the beginning of your response is an excellent way to (a) notify them that you have responded, and (b) show exactly which John or Mel or Steve you are speaking to.

Tagging people / pages on Facebook

In Facebook, to add a tag, type the “@” symbol. Then, as you start typing additional characters, Facebook will try to match what you are typing to people in your friends list (if used on a person’s profile / timeline), members of that group (in a group), a page (when used on a person’s or page’s timeline) or an event (on a profile / timeline). When a suggestion appears that matches who or what you are trying to tag, simply select it – it will appear highlighted in blue until you Save your post, at which time it will resolve to a link to the person / page / event in question.

Taken from: “Tag Friends in your Status and Posts | The Facebook Blog

If you are tagging a person, it is not necessary to use the “@” symbol – if you type a capital letter, Facebook will quietly start matching names against what you are typing, and as soon as it has enough characters to make a suggestion, it will display relevant names.

A third way to tag a person is to click the icon in the bottom left of the status box when updating your status from your own Timeline. The icon shows a person with a + sign. When you click on that, a new field appears asking “Who are you with”? You can then start typing the names of people in your friends list. When you Post your status update, people tagged this way appear at the end of the update, saying “with [names of people tagged]”. This is effectively equivalent to “checking in” a friend (from FourSquare), and is primarily used when you want to acknowledge people who are with you (usually at an event) when you are making that update.

If you are tagging a person, you can shorten the tag to just their first name rather than leaving their whole name there. After you have selected the relevant person, press the Backspace key, and that will remove the last word in the tag (so for people with multiple surnames or with middle names, you may need to press backspace a couple of times to leave only their first name). You cannot shorten their first name, though – that must be left intact.

Tagging people on Google+

Google+ does enable you to tag people and pages in status updates as well. However, rather than the “@” symbol, you need to type the “+” symbol to trigger the lookup. And unlike Facebook, Google+ retains the + symbol in front of the link… just to be different!

For more information

I originally published this on on 13 July 2012