Facebook Strategy

I just read a great blog by the fabulous Ming Johanson from OTOTGo about 5 things you can do to improve your Facebook strategy. I am 5-facebook-strategy-tipsconstantly encouraging my clients to think about their social media strategies and this really nails some key factors.

In particular I related to the second point to talk with people and not at them. Every single stakeholder communication you make should aim to add value to THEIR day, not just yours. After all the best communications in life are two-way. You can read the blog here.

 

 

Death by Powerpoint

deathbypowerpoint

Like many people I have sat through a lot of presentations in my professional and personal life.  Unlike many people I have made hundreds (if not thousands) of them and so I have some strong opinions on what makes a good presentation and what can ruin one.

Powerpoint can fall into both of those categories.  Used wisely it can focus an audience’s attention and provide some key points for them to carry away.  Used badly it can send an audience into a catatonic stupor. Hence the often used phrase “Death by Powerpoint”.

Here are my top 10 tips to avoid death by powerpoint.

  1. Plan your talk first – Don’t start with the powerpoint and work backwards. Work out what you want to say, then you can pull out the main points to form the basis of your slides.
  2. Use your notes section – Don’t include your entire presentation on the slides. You may find it easier to write your notes section for each slide first and then pick the points you want to go on the slides.
  3. Know your audience – Use appropriate language and images to suit the background, culture, age, gender, ability and literacy level. Yes, I know this is blindingly obvious, but SO MANY people don’t seem to think about this.
  4. Keep it clean – Use fonts that are easy to read on screen and not too decorative. San serif fonts such as Arial or Calibri are recommended. Make sure you use dark text on light background and pick a colour scheme and stick to it. Use bolding for emphasis as it’s proven to be easier to read on a screen than underlined text, capitals or coloured text.
  5. Don’t include paragraphs – If you have a long quote you feel is important to share, read it out on the day, put it in your notes section and provide the notes. Don’t include it on a slide in 8 point just to fit it in. If nobody can read the quote, it kind of defeats the whole purpose of including it.
  6. Less is more – Aim for a maximum of 10 slides, 5 points per slide, 5 words per point.
  7. Keep animations to a minimum – They are so much more effective when used sparingly to make a point, not just to entertain. Used excessively they can be extremely distracting.
  8. Check your spelling and punctuation. Very carefully. Several times. Enough said.
  9. Timing is everything – As soon as a slide changes, or you add more text to a slide the audience will read it… so make sure it is relevant to what you are saying at that time.
  10. Practice makes perfect – The more you practice, the less you need to read the notes. The less you read the notes, the more you can engage with the audience. The more you engage with the audience the more likely they are to remember what you are talking about. And isn’t that the whole point?

AIM WA Scholarships

AIM WA offers annual scholarships to not-for-profit organisations and aspiring professionals in the community, who wish to embark on professional development. The scholarships provide training up to the value of $4,000 that can be used to fund participation in any of the Open Programs offered by the Institute in seven different fields.

Applications are now open for the 2017 AIM WA scholarships. For more information, head to the AIM WA website. Applications close 5pm Friday, 9 December 2016.

aim-wa-logo

People are your best asset

“People are your best asset” was the opening sentence in an article I recently read in a ProBono Australia Newsletter. As a statement it is so true, however so rarely acknowledged in real and lasting actions within organisations. Mike Davis, the author, is the founder of Purposeful, a social impact advisory dedicated to empowering businesses to grow their social impact and performance. It’s worth a read – here is the link.

employee-engagement

The Power of Three

The Power of Three

Given the conversations I seem to be having lately, it appears every Not for Profit organisation, business and individual in my little corner of the planet believes they need a whole new website, OR need to upgrade their current website, OR need to update the content on their website.

In particular those Not for Profits that now face new business, marketing and funding models are paying attention to their website and wanting to make it more effective. Many have put off dealing with improving their website because they’ve assumed it’s an expensive and/or time consuming business, plus they don’t know enough about the process to feel confident in seeking the right advice.

Websites are all about the power of three. There are three aspects to having a really good website and that means three skill sets (and often three people) to achieve the best results. Your website needs to:

  1. authentically tell your story … that’s the content aspect;
  2. have a look and feel that engages people and matches your brand … that’s the design of the site; and
  3. work … that’s the functionality aspect.

It is rare to find one person who can supply all those skills – although they are out there. Many organisations choose to write the content in-house and buy in someone to “set up the website”. And therein lies the most common mistake…. making the assumption that someone with excellent graphic design skills can also supply the technical knowledge needed to set up the website functionality OR vice versa. They are actually different skill-sets. Yes – some people have both skill-sets, but it is not as common as you might think. Some creative agencies offer a comprehensive service and have people who can provide all those skill-sets. That is one of the advantages of choosing to use an agency. Some however, do not. My advice is to make sure you ask who will be doing what.

Before you start talking to experts however, you need to work out what you want your website to say, look like and do. Look around for websites that appeal to you, or that offer some functionality you want. Think about your requirements for colours, photos, layout, forms, security, accessibility, engagement and interactivity. Give some thought to what search terms potential clients are likely to use. The more information you can provide when talking to experts in any of those three aspects, the more likely you are to get the outcome you want.

And to keep with the power of three theme, for those who decide to write the content in-house, here are my top three tips:

  1. Language – Remember who you are writing for and use language appropriate to them. That means do NOT use internal organisational language. Yes, your section or division names, or even those program names with clever acronyms, make life easier within the organisation. However, if your potential clients or stakeholders don’t relate to them – you’ve lost them. This is particularly important with headings, sub-headings and menu items. People skim over a web page, so those headings are vital in grabbing their attention so they will read further. Oh, and they help with the Google searches too.
  2. Less is more – Websites should not be too wordy. I recommend you write what you want to say, then look at each sentence and work out how you can shorten it and still say the same thing. For every 10 words you have used, try to use 5 or 6. You kind of need to push the grammar boundaries here. Go on, I dare you…..it’s strangely exhilarating.
  3. Repeat yourself – People explore websites in different ways. Some go onto every page, some cherry-pick from lots of pages and others like to find one page that explains everything they want. That means your main messages and vital information need to be repeated across the site. Examples here are key dates, links to an important form, or telephone numbers. Use that information often and in different ways to maximise exposure.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Social Media Engagement

There was a very interesting article that popped up in my inbox recently regarding a Facebook scam. The scammers had copied the Facebook page of a legitimate business and were offering promotions in return for personal details.

I spent some time working for WAScamNet in Consumer Protection here in Western Australia (who by the way, do a wonderful job of helping people to avoid scams or deal with being scammed), so nothing in the article about the scam itself was particularly remarkable to me. However one statement struck a chord. It was a quote from a social media educator who made the comment “fake business pages are a warning to business owners to not run their social media accounts half-heartedly. If you’re not online communicating with customers each day, a space opens up for scammers to do it for you“.

Many not for profit organisations (and businesses for that matter) have social media accounts, all started with the best of intentions, but many of which are sadly underutilised. Social media is all about engagement – it’s a way to build a relationship with clients and other stakeholders. And just like every other relationship it takes work. Different social media platforms require different levels of activity to keep people interested and therefore to maximise the benefit to your organisation as well as your clients. Choosing the right platform needs to take into account your organisational capacity to regularly post information, respond to others and monitor the account for any misuse.

This article in fact highlighted another reason to utilise your social media accounts regularly and effectively.  “If you’ve got a lot of people who ‘Like’ a Facebook page, but pretty low regular engagement, that inactivity really opens up the question of ‘Cost of Inaction’. You have to ask why a scammer is doing a better job of [engaging with] customers than you are. Making a page and not then doing anything with it is part of the problem.

If you have a social media account that is languishing, my advice is to look at ways to quickly ramp up your usage or think about closing it down. Half-hearted social media is not going to engage anyone.

social-media-icons

Keeping your privacy intact

There was a great article recently in the Guardian Australia about privacy online and in particular the HUGE corporation that Mark Zuckerberg controls….Facebook, Whats App, Messenger and Instagram… which adds up to a whopping figure of 3.5 billion accounts.

We all hand over our data without really thinking about the consequences. I worked in WA ScamNet for a while and had quite the education on what happens when our social media profiles are hacked. Not only are we vulnerable to scammers ourselves, they often use bits and pieces of our ID to scam others. And you need to believe me when I say scammers are EXTREMELY good at what they do.

But scammers aside, we need to also protect our data from being used in a way that we are not comfortable with. What makes this article so good is that it has a list of 15 very practical security measure tips to keep you safer online.

You can read the full article here.

Why I love my Board work

A couple of things happened recently that prompted me to reflect on my Not for Profit Board work and what it means to me. Firstly, I responded to a question from a young woman who I mentor, which prompted an interesting conversation about what was involved with being on a Board. And secondly when I sent my apologies for a Board meeting for the first time in over two years I realised I genuinely regretted missing the meeting.

I love my Board work. I’m particularly lucky as the Board I’m on is extremely well run, which is probably why I honestly like going to Board meetings. I enjoy the discussions, the opportunity to learn new things, the exposure to different points of view from the other Board members and the feeling that I am contributing in some small way to a valuable organisation that does excellent work.

I absolutely recommend serving on a Not for Profit Board and here’s why:

It adds value

You can add value to the Board, the organisation and sometimes even the sector. You can bring your expertise, your skills, your network, your abilities, your energy and your commitment to the table. You don’t need to be an expert on being a Board member or on the organisation – that can be taught. You just need to be prepared to add value to the discussion and the work. And adding value is a two-way street as being on a Board adds value to you. You learn about an organisation, about the Not for Profit sector, about the lives and needs of some of the most vulnerable members of our community. You gain valuable skills in strategy and planning at an organisational level, in negotiation and in effective teamwork. You also have exposure to the knowledge, experience and opinions of the other board members. You give, you learn, you belong… what’s not to like?

It matters

The work you do as a Board member matters to the organisation, to the Not for Profit sector and to our community. Organisations that have an effective Board, good governance, good processes, healthy business practices and clear vision are more likely to survive, thrive and continue to contribute in society. Being apart of something that matters is a joy and a privilege.

It provides perspective

We can all get bound up in our own job, own profession, own company and own issues. There aren’t many opportunities in life to sit down on a regular basis and have discussions with quite different people from a variety of sectors, professions and roles, many of whom will contribute a completely different perspective to the issue at hand. Many Boards now include members with lived experience to make sure their client base is adequately represented in the decision making process. They too can provide a whole other perspective that you may not have been exposed to before.

I encourage you to consider a Not for Profit Board. I particularly encourage more women to get involved because, as we know, they are woefully under-represented on Australian boards. Boards need diversity – different skills, experiences, genders, ages, backgrounds, cultures and abilities. If you want more information, do what my mentee did – ask someone you know who is on a Not for Profit Board what they like about their Board work. Their answers may well be different to mine, but I bet it will be an interesting conversation.

To newsletter or not to newsletter

Marseille letterboxes

Hands up those of you who get newsletters in your inbox that you have no recollection signing up for. How about those who get newsletters you actually DID choose to receive from organisations you have an interest in, but they are so frequent you don’t get time to actually read them. And how many get newsletters from good organisations that just
don’t seem to include any content that interests you, or they are so badly done you don’t like reading them. Newsletters can be a bit of a minefield and those questions illustrate why many just don’t work.

Most Not for Profits have a newsletter… or had a newsletter that doesn’t happen any more… or are thinking of introducing a newsletter. Frankly I have more conversations with clients about newsletters than any other aspect of marketing or communications.

We all know that newsletters can be a good communication tool and an important part of stakeholder engagement. However I’d really recommend you put some careful thought into the strategy. Whether you are keen to start a newsletter or want to improve the one you currently have, ask yourself these basic questions… in this order.

WHY – What purpose does the newsletter serve for your organisation? Are you hoping to: keep your clients up to date with your services; increase donations; increase your public profile; educate people on an issue or the solution you provide; improve understanding of your services within the sector; etc, etc. This question should also be considered within the context of your other communication tools. Adding a newsletter into the mix needs to provide different information or allow for a different level of engagement, otherwise why do it at all?

WHO – After you have nailed the why, it should be relatively easy to identify who you want to target your newsletter to. For example, if you want your newsletter to increase donor engagement, then clearly it needs to be targeted towards current and potential donors. If it is all about increasing your public profile, then you will need to build a broad database of stakeholders and potential stakeholders. Once you have the who, you should be able to identify how much work needs to go into building your database.

WHAT – This is the question relating to content. Exactly what kind of material do you want to include in your newsletter? It’s always easy to think about what to put into the first few issues, but try and project six or twelve months down the track… will there be new material available to include? Who is going to provide that content? Communication is a two-way process, so content also needs to be viewed from the stakeholders’ point of view. What kind of content will matter to them?

WHEN – How often do you want to send out your newsletter? This question needs to be viewed through the prism of organisational capacity. Someone needs to manage the database, write the content, produce and send out the newsletter. This stuff takes a lot of time and you may need to look at using contractors for any or all of those processes. Considering the sustainability issue will help you to avoid becoming one of those organisations that send out a few newsletters and are never heard of again.

HOW – There are two aspects to the how. The first one relates to the type and style of the newsletter. Some organisations prepare a pdf attachment to an email, others use more sophisticated emails with links to articles on their website. Clearly your IT set-up, and possibly your budget, will impact on this question. The other aspect relates to your database. Regular readers of my articles will know my opinions on what is, and what is not, a database. Excel spreadsheets, Outlook contact lists and Word tables are not databases. A database needs to allow you to identify your stakeholders by type, manage at least some aspects of your relationship with them and provide analysis of their engagement with your organisation. The better the database, the more you can tailor your newsletters to your stakeholders, the more likely they are to read them. And isn’t that the point of doing a newsletter in the first place?