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Most every nonprofit out there wants to expand its presence to social media in some form. Whether it’s Facebook or Twitter, organizations want their message to be adapted to this medium. Yet no matter how good your content is, a social media strategy will not work without an active audience.

The key to building up an audience for your social platform is to have relevant content. If you write about things on your blog that people want to read, chances are you will attract followers. If you haven’t already, start reading about search engine optimization (SEO). This is the process of strategically inserting “keywords” into your blog posts so that major search engines, such as Google, will pick up your posts. Here are some hints on how to best use keywords:

  • Insert the keyword that your post is about (i.e., fundraising) into the title of your post.
  • Use that same keyword somewhere in the first paragraph.
  • Link the keywords you use to the web page where you want to drive traffic (it helps if the URL of that page has the keyword in it).
So that’s how you can build an audience for you blogs, but how about your other social media sites? If you are using Twitter, research all the popular “hashtags.” Hashtags are one-word phrases that start with the “#” symbol. They typically are at the end of a tweet and are used so that Twitter users who search for that hashtag will easily find your post. For example, The NonProfit Times ends most of its tweets by using #nonprofit. It’s useful to use more than one hashtag so you can capture multiple audiences.
The great thing about social media sites is what we like to call the “network effect.” You can invite a few of your friends to your brand new Facebook page and quickly grow a bigger audience when they share your posts with their friends. Another thing to keep in mind is that social media is meant to be social. Try to start honest dialogue with your supporters as much as you can — this is more likely to bring new individuals to your pages, as people like to be involved in a community.

When a nonprofit wants to share photos from a recent event, they tend to turn to Facebook and other social media resources. There’s another site out there, however, that can be just as useful for photo sharing.

The site that we are talking about is called Flickr. It has gained popularity in recent years for creating an easy-to-use platform to store all of your photos. It also
provides tools that allow you to share these photos with all your
followers with just the click of the mouse. Sounds good, but how can you make it work for your nonprofit?
In “Nonprofit Management 101,” Beth Kanter, CEO of Zoetica, listed three examples of how you can use Flickr to tell your story:
  • An international organization sends volunteer doctors to developing
    countries to perform medical services. The impact of their work is
    documented with photos, which are uploaded to the nonprofit’s private
    Flickr group. This allows volunteers to exchange photos and related
    stories and provides an image bank for use on the organization’s website
    and blog.
  • An environmental organization that supports organic farmers had
    thousands of amazing photographs documenting organic farming techniques.
    The organization uploaded the photos to Flickr, then enlisted
    volunteers and members to help organize and share the photos.
  • Volunteers and photographers at an animal shelter had taken
    beautiful photos of the dogs and cats at the facility. The organization
    uploaded the photos to Flickr and created thank-you cards featuring the
    pets for their donors.

Social media plays an important role in today’s world, especially in business. It’s almost unfathomable to find a business that doesn’t have a Facebook or Twitter account. It’s easy enough to set up your online presence, but it’s a little bit harder to get people to listen.

Thankfully, “a little bit harder” doesn’t mean “impossible.” The nature of social networks means that every follower you get can potentially lead to many more. This is because each person “liking” your page will conceivably tell his/her friends to also follow you. Sounds great, but this is all moot if you can’t get many people to care about your page in the first place.

A lot of people using social networking sites tend to over-think it. They try to get too fancy and end up with few followers. In truth, the key to building an audience is to post things that are relevant and useful. What’s interesting to your followers? Why not ask them? Before making the first post on your new blog, engage your supporters on what kind of stories they want to read. When you get a good enough sample of answers, start writing about those topics.

Even with brilliant content, it’s difficult to attract supporters to a
site that no one else is following. Reach out to your staff and other
core supporters of your organization and ask them to follow your tweets,
or “like” your Facebook page –and to invite their personal friends.

Having an active community is another good way to get people to show interest. Let’s face it — nobody wants to be a part of a page that has no interaction. Try asking questions to your supporters in addition to sharing links. The whole point of social media is interaction with the audience, and there’s no better way to do this than starting a discussion.

The most important thing to remember is to be honest when participating in any of these discussions. There will be things you just can’t say, of course, but don’t be robotic. People like to know that the individual they are talking to is an actual human being.

social media illustration

There seems to be this overarching assumption that the way the general populace uses social media is the same way that technical talent will use social media. And while that might be true on a larger scale (for example, social networks as a whole are gaining more members and more professional members at the same time), is it really true on a more tactical and operational level?

The folks over at GlobalSpec put out a report recently on the “industrial use” of social networks. And while the report is geared more towards marketers and sales professionals, there’s much in the report for recruiters. First, let’s touch on LinkedIn. 

LinkedIn membership grows, groups usage examined

From 2010 to 2011, LinkedIn continued to gain more members across the board and around the world,  and the same seems to hold true for this survey. Among the groups surveyed (engineering, technical, manufacturing, and industrial professionals according to GlobalSpec), LinkedIn usage grew from 37% of professionals to 55% from 2010 to 2011. That’s a big year-to-year jump.

While using LinkedIn was probably a no-brainer for many recruiters, it is good to know that this continues to be an area that LinkedIn might be even better at covering than the past. Yesterday, LinkedIn reported it was up to 161 million members, and nearly two-thirds of those joining are from outside the U.S.

Source: GlobalSpec

Another part of the survey examined the use of the group functionality in LinkedIn. More than three in four people surveyed were in five groups or less. I think anyone who has searched for people outside of the recruiter, and super-networked groups of people isn’t too surprised. Maybe more surprising is that nearly a quarter are in more than five groups. Even for recruiters creeping up on their group membership limit, that means a better chance of possibly connecting.

Most group members are understandably passive. While most are reading discussions, they are doing little else. Nearly half report themselves as simply being a member.

Trends: Facebook tops, Google+ beats Twitter?

Adoption rate of Facebook is still number one, capturing 66% of those surveyed. And the survey indicates that people might be using Facebook for more business-related activities.

Three in five surveyed like pages of companies, and join groups in their industry on Facebook. A little less than 40% participate in work-related discussions or read content related to work on Facebook.

That indicates to me that at least some of your likely audience is open to work-related discussions on Facebook (which, of course, includes employment).

Maybe the most surprising stat is that while only 22% of those surveyed had a Twitter account, a sort of shocking 29% have a Google+ account. That would be the same Google+ that started in 2011. Considering Twitter’s tepid growth in comparison to other social networks among this sector of professionals, if you are doing major sourcing in this area, Google+ might be worth a second glance to make sure you are making efficient use of the platform.

Usage trends and changes to consider

Overall, techies still seem largely consumptive when they use social media. They are using these networks to primarily gather information and network with people in their industry. Nearly a third admit using it to find a new job.

So what can you take away from this?

  1. Think consumable content – If the main way people are using LinkedIn groups and other social media is through content consumption, be a giver. If you don’t have the expertise to contribute or know what is good to share, ask around or get help.
  2. Connections in odd places – It may feel weird to connect and contact through Facebook, but this survey seems to suggest that the idea of Facebook being a personal-only experience might be outdated. While some won’t want to connect with you through the platform, it could be less taboo than before.
  3. That new network might be worth something – Count me among the people who still doubt Google+ can truly stand out among other social media sites, but the suggestion that Google+ is popular among the technically inclined seems to be confirmed by these numbers. As always, stay on top of news and keep the door open for possible searches on newer, more niche sites.

You can get the entire report from here with a few fields of the form filled out.

About the author: Lance Haun is the Editor of SourceCon. After spending seven years in the recruiting and HR business, he moved over to ERE Media in 2010 where he started as Community Director for ERE and then as a contributing editor for HR publication TLNT. You can follow him on Twitter, check out his rarely updated blog or contact him directly at lance@ere.net.

BranchOut logo

BranchOut announced yesterday that it got $25 million in new funding, raising the total investment in the professional networking service to $49 million, and spurring talk the nearly two-year-old company is positioning itself to take on LinkedIn.

Besides the cash, fueling the talk on startup blogs and Silicon Valley news sites is the company’s dramatic growth spurt. Now at 25 million registrants, BranchOut says it has been adding 2 million members a week since since launching its mobile invites app in February.

“It’s unprecedented to see this type of growth, which makes BranchOut one of the most-used apps on Facebook,” said Tim Chang, a managing director at Mayfield Fund, which lead the Series C investment. “I’m excited by the opportunity BranchOut has to introduce the notion of a professional social network to the 90 percent of the population that is not on LinkedIn.”

BranchOut is layered atop the Facebook platform, creating a separate profile environment specifically designed for business networking. BranchOut members can search companies, and find who among their friends — and their friends’ friends — work there. BranchOut pulls business and education information from their members’ Facebook profiles, and these can be public and searchable. In October, BranchOut launched RecruiterConnect, giving recruiters a way of sourcing candidates from Facebook and enabling them to build private talent networks.

“RecruiterConnect fills a major void for companies that have wanted to recruit on Facebook in a way that is safe, secure, and private,” according to Rick Marini, BranchOut’s CEO and founder … “it not only allows recruiters and HR professionals to leverage Facebook’s network … to find more relevant candidates quickly, but also to identify higher quality candidates by matching jobs to individuals in their employees’ extended networks.”

BranchOut and its most direct competitor, Monster’s BeKnown, grew slowly until BranchOut launched a mobile app late last year. In a TechCrunch post about the company’s hockey stick growth, BranchOut was reported to have just a million monthly active users at the beginning of the year. A month later, it had more than doubled. Then, after adding a feature allowing mobile users to invite their Facebook friends to join, the numbers of active users, usage zoomed. Today, AppData says BranchOut is averaging 13.3 million monthly users.

By comparison, BeKnown is floundering. The most recent data shows its lost about 10,000 users in the last month.

Marini told TechCrunch, “It took LinkedIn four years before enough people were there. In network effect businesses, it’s not interesting to anyone at first. Slow, slow, slow. Then it picks up steam, and then everyone body piles on.”

Referring to LinkedIn, again in a TechCrunch post, Marini says, “LinkedIn is a great company, and I think they do a really good job of addressing the ten percent of the global workforce who are white-collar executives. And we, of course, address that market as well. But if you think about the other 90 percent, these are the people on Facebook.”

The comparison is to the demographic differences between the 150 million members of LinkedIn, and those joining BranchOut. LinkedIn’s members are mostly white collar professionals, with more than just a few years of experience. BranchOut members skew younger and are at the beginning of their careers. “We power the professional profile for the Facebook generation,” says Marini.

With the new money, BranchOut says it will add to its 45-member team, based in San Francisco. Continuing to grow is clearly a priority. TechCrunch suggests an IPO is likely in the company’s sights.

“We are heads down growing a big company,” Marini told TechCrunch. “We’re not even thinking about selling. We want to go big on this one.”

About the author: John has been writing about recruiting and employment for nearly a decade,and has worked in the field for almost twice as long. He traces his connection to the employment industry back to the beginning of the commercial Internet when he managed some of the earliest news oriented websites. These offered job boards, which became highly popular with users. John worked with agencies and large employers on job postings, resume search, and campaigns, before consulting with media companies on audience development and online advertising sales.

The NonProfit Times reported today that, according to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the amount of nonprofits in the U.S. decreased by 18 percent last year. As you probably know very well, a lot of people rely on nonprofits for affordable services, especially in this tough economy.

This news made us wonder whether nonprofits have noticed an increase in demand for their services during the past year. We went to Twitter to find out, and were given the following responses from our followers:

What are your thoughts on this issue? Tweet at us @nonprofittimes or respond in the comments section below. We will update this post with new tweets from our followers.

Newspaper employment revenue 2011

Remember when you spent Mondays fielding calls prompted by your help-wanted ad  in the Sunday paper?

It wasn’t that long ago — not even a dozen years ago — that newspapers were where  recruitment dollars went. In 2000, the watershed year for newspaper employment advertising, the take came to nearly $9 billion, and some newspapers — the Dallas Morning News and the (San Jose) Mercury News in particular — had Sunday jobs  sections  larger than today’s entire editions.

Last year, according to the Newspaper Association of America, employment advertising revenue was $743.4 million, far below the combined $1.1 billion in North American revenue of industry leaders CareerBuilder and Monster. The last time newspaper employment revenue was so low was in 1977 when it totaled $589.4 million. In today’s dollars, that would be $2.2 billion.

While newspapers have aggressively moved online, they’re falling further and further behind, studies from the Pew Research Center show. For every $1 in new online revenue, newspapers last year lost $10 in print ad revenue. That was worse than in 2010 when they lost $7 for every new $1 in digital ad revenue.

To wring value out of the editorial content online newspapers have historically given away, the industry has begun experimenting with ‘paywalls,’ systems that allow some free reading before users must pay. The New York Times began charging for full access a year ago and now has about 400,000 subscribers. Many other newspapers are now beginning to charge or report plans to do so by year’s end.

There’s considerable doubt that charging for content will do much more than stabilize the loss of print subscriptions. Neilsen, the market research firm, found only 19 percent of American tablet users paid for news content last quarter. Compare that to the 62 percent who paid for music and the 51 percent who paid for a movie, and its clear how much distance the newspaper industry has to go.

However, employment revenue, once the single largest classified ad category, is unlikely to return. When was the last time you even though about running an ad in print?

Exactly, which is why once several years ago newspapers started cooperating with job boards. CareerBuilder, was bought by a partnership of three newspaper publishers. A few years later, Dan Finnigan, now CEO of Jobvite, masterminded a broad collaboration of newspapers with Yahoo!’s HotJobs, which he then headed-up.

Two years ago, when HotJobs was sold to Monster, the company inherited hundreds of newspaper partners who took a percentage of every ad sold via their call centers or online ordering. Now, with Monster potentially for sale or dismantling, the future of its newspaper network is in jeopardy.

The troubles are only compounded by the rise of social media, and especially by LinkedIn, which is growing its recruitment revenue more quickly than any of its job board competitors.  Yet job boards themselves continue to show they produce more hires than every other source but referrals. Print as a source of hires falls far down the list.

So even as newspaper executives predict the curtailment and eventual demise of print editions altogether, the industry’s path to online revenue is not at all clear.

“Fifteen years into the digital transition, executives still feel they are in the early stages of figuring out how to proceed,” Pew researchers report.

About the author: John has been writing about recruiting and employment for nearly a decade,and has worked in the field for almost twice as long. He traces his connection to the employment industry back to the beginning of the commercial Internet when he managed some of the earliest news oriented websites. These offered job boards, which became highly popular with users. John worked with agencies and large employers on job postings, resume search, and campaigns, before consulting with media companies on audience development and online advertising sales.

One of the largest entertainment festivals in the country, South By Southwest (SXSW) kicked off last Friday in Austin, Tex. The event is a mecca for music film, and entertainment fans, as well as people interested in hearing about the latest advancements in social media and other technologies. Prominent panel speakers have already taken the stage, including former Vice President Al Gore, Napster founder Sean Parker, and author and scientist Ray Kurzweil.

Amy Sample Ward of NTEN is covering SxSW for The NonProfit Times and will be filing blog posts throughout the event. You can follow her posts for us on our website or click the links below:

We will be posting new articles to the site as they come. Keep an eye on our Live From SXSW Feed for the latest updates.

A now infamous viral video released to YouTube by a nonprofit has sparked a social media campaign to bring an African rebel leader to justice, showing once again the power of viral marketing.

The Wall Street Journal reported today about the nonprofit’s viral video “Kony 2012,” which spotlights the crimes the leader of the Ugandan rebel group Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) has allegedly perpetrated. Kony is currently wanted by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity and war crimes including murder, sexual slavery, and using children as combatants. Invisible Children’s video features interviews with Ugandan children, many who are afraid to speak for fear of being captured and killed.

“Kony 2012″ (Warning: Graphic content) was first uploaded to YouTube on Monday and, by Thursday afternoon, it already had 44.7 million views and more than 170 related video clips, according to the online measurement firm Visible Measures Corp. The video also reverberated in other areas of social media, with social media analytics firm PeopleBrowsr reporting that Twitter users mentioned Kony 950,000 times. It was sites like Twitter and Facebook that allowed Invisible Children to get people aware of their video in the first place. Invisible Children’s campaign also allows participants to directly message specific celebrities and policy makers through their website to encourage them to speak out on the issue. The site includes a wide array of personalities to message, from Lady GaGa to Mitt Romney.

The goal of Invisible Children, which was founded by Jason Russell along with two other filmmakers, is to bring Kony to justice this year. They plan to do this by bringing awareness of his alleged crimes through “Kony 2012″ and the Invisible Children Protection Plan. The nonprofit’s financial statements show that this program has a five-step strategy that includes creating an early-warning radio network and deploying search and rescue teams.

There are some who question whether this viral marketing campaign is effective. Scott Gilmore, chief executive of NYC-based Peace Dividend Trust, told The Wall Street Journal that while Invisible Children’s efforts are commendable, they are ultimately for an effort that didn’t need awareness. He also said the efforts won’t bring back the children who were already kidnapped by Kony and the LRA. Invisible Children has responded to these types of critiques on their website.

You can read the full story in The Wall Street Journal.

Neil Lebovits

I cannot believe how many of my clients/followers tell me that they don’t or won’t use job boards because their clients either won’t pay for job board candidates or don’t want to see job board candidates. Many tell me with a gleeful condescension that they simply “don’t do the boards.”

All of you should be using job boards.

Why should you make this a key part of your strategy? Isn’t LinkedIn enough?

Let me make this clear: no, LinkedIn is not enough. I am a huge fan of LinkedIn and one of the top industry trainers for it; however, LinkedIn and job boards really need to be worked together. You have really forgotten the great blessing of the job boards. All people on job boards are active candidates. All people on the job boards will take your phone calls or reply to your emails. All people on job boards are sitting ducks for sourcing.

LinkedIn is a tremendous tool and superb for networking, sourcing names, and email communications. It’s a great way to find passive candidates, since many people today have their LinkedIn profiles completed. As of this writing, LinkedIn has more than 135 Million people. So, use it and use it well. What I am proposing, though, is that you use your job board strategy in conjunction with LinkedIn.

The key to this is to tap into the active candidates that are like fish in a barrel, on all of the top job boards. As noted, all are active and most will take your call or reply to your emails. So, that gives you a great opportunity for easy and live sourcing. Yes, sourcing, and by sourcing, I mean the manual, old-fashioned kind where you actually talk to the person (or yes, you can email them), but you ask them to point you to other great people.

Be a Master Prospector

Any great recruiter or salesperson knows that being a master prospector is the key to the game. Prospecting is the very first step in any sales training you ever will take. Prospecting guru Paul J. Meyer put it best, when he said, “I’d rather be a master prospector, than be a wizard of speech and have no one to tell my story to.” The job boards simply give you the best opportunity to source for candidate leads and for job leads. Use this to work your game plan to make sure you are “telling your story” to the right people and in the most time effective manner.

I am not even proposing that you place the job board folk (although you will here and there and pay for the fees associated with the boards), but rather take advantage of the fact that they will take your call. Build a quick relationship and they will direct you to their former boss, current boss, great peers, and so forth.

Frankly, as part of your LinkedIn strategy, you should use your 3,000 lifetime invitations wisely (that’s right, you get 3,000 and you’ll learn that as soon as you send out your 2001st invite. At that time, they will then tell you that you only have 999 left). Ask every person you contact on the job boards to join your LinkedIn network. You can be certain they will accept and now you have online access to their entire network and work history. This is much more powerful than spending hours hoping to add people in LinkedIn Groups to your network or risking getting banned by LinkedIn for adding people who don’t know you. Many of you have learned the hard way that as soon as three or so people click “I don’t know” on their invitations, that LinkedIn will block you. Then they require that you have an email address of the person before allowing you to send out an invitation again.

Who Do You Know?

When people tell me they don’t use the job boards, I immediately ask them how much sourcing plays into their strategy. Almost always, they can’t answer the question. If you are a true sourcer, you know that every call should end with an “Oh, by the way….” That leads into questions about who they know that can help them with candidate leads or job leads.

Anyone who sources for job leads knows that the route to go is with an active candidate base. This group will always tell you what companies are interviewing or hiring people through agencies or who is hiring temps/contractors right now. It’s the best and most effective — and efficient — strategy to do this business. Someone who is good at this knows that the job boards just make it easier. They don’t necessarily look at these people as potential placements but as guaranteed relationships and as referral sources and future LinkedIn connections.

Take Job Boards for a Test Drive

Here’s what I propose: If you already have some form of job board access, then begin searching! If not, simply buy one job board job posting for one week. Post an open position you currently have that is also common for your niche. Talk to every single person you can that is somewhat related to your search that you either seek out or responds to your posting. Then, for this group, always end the call with “Oh, by the way, what other positions have you been interviewing for? What other agencies have called you and for what? Where are you currently temping?”

You’ll be shocked at how many leads you get. Do the same for names to call for candidates and your business will explode!

One final tip: if you provide temp or contracting services, then go ahead and create a Boolean search that lists all of your competitors (along with variants on how your competition may spell their name) and do a job board RESUME search. You will find hundreds (if not thousands) of candidates who list your competitor as their employer (since they are employer of record) and then list where they are currently temping/contracting and/or where they have in the past. These are incredibly hot leads and ones that you should follow immediately. You’ll also see that many are kind enough to list the hiring manager as a reference right in the resume.

I think I’ve made my point: you really must start using a job board and use it in tandem with LinkedIn. Your results will be exponential.

About the author: Neil Lebovits, CPA, CPC, CTS, before taking the industry by storm as a trainer, was a global president for Adecco, where he sat on the global executive team. Previously, Neil was the president and COO of Ajilon Professional staffing for North America, where he oversaw over 100 offices. Neil has done it all in the industry: Permanent & Temporary Placement, Sales, Branch Management, Regional Management, COO, & President. He founded his industry training & development company, http://www.TheDynamicSale.Com, in 2009. Neil shares the secrets and systems that he has developed and harnessed while working himself up over his 20+ years in the industry. A renowned leader, motivator, trainer, and speaker, he has appeared on Bloomberg TV, CNN, ABC news, CNBC, the Wall Street Journal, Fortune, and Smart Money. Learn more about Neil and sign up for his free online training course at www.TheDynamicSale.Com.