Great turn-out at the Fundraising Ireland 2010 National Conference

I’m just back home after a flying visit over to the Fundraising Ireland 2010 National Conference in Dublin, where I was presenting a session about online community fundraising – the slides from which are available to view above or via Slideshare.

The conference was a sell-out event and the sessions I got to, as well as my own, were characterised by some really great interaction and questions – which reflected the great atmosphere at the whole event. Add to that the best conference lunch I’ve had in ages and the whole thing was a great success. So, many congratulations to the organisers at Fundraising Ireland. They’re a pretty new network for Irish fundraisers, and just announced that they are about to re-vamp their website as an Irish fundraising information portal as well as introduce a membership scheme. Without a doubt, well worth getting involved with them if you’re a fundraiser in Ireland.

One of the topics that was returned to a couple of times in discussions was the lack of useful Ireland-specific research on everything from giving trends to online usage. To help-out with the latter, here are the links to the latest freely available Irish online usage research I’ve been able to find – and which I quoted from in my session:

> Latest report from ComReg (the Irish Commission for Communications Regulation) a bit of a heavy read but does include the latest data on internet access in Ireland – published just this month: download it for free here

> Amarach Research Irish Life Online Report from Feb 2009: downloadable here

> Barry Hand’s blog post on the top Irish websites for Feb 2010: read it here

> Information on facebook user numbers in any country around the world: Checkfacebook.com

If anyone comes across any other recent research into the Irish online market – especially if it relates to social media use – then do let me know.

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Social Media is not killing Email – so what’s your next excuse for not using Email as well as you could?

Each time we see a significant evolution in the way consumers communicate there is always a temptation to jump to the conclusion that the latest method will surely kill-off the previous methods. Presumably such predictions were bandied about after Alexander Graham Bell made his first telephone call back in 1876 – yet the mail service didn’t die-out as a result of the adoption of telephones. Rather more recently, there have been suggestions that email will kill-off traditional mail ever since I got my first email address back in the early ’90s (remember Compuserve?) – but it hasn’t happened yet (although that debate does continue).

As such, following the incredibly rapid adoption of Social Media over the last few years it’s not surprising that people are having the same discussions again – ‘surely if everyone is tweeting or facebooking then they’ll no longer be using email?’. Indeed, this was the very idea being put forward in a WSJ Tech Article I spotted towards the end of last year entitled: “Why Email no longer rules”.

However, it turns-out based on a growing body of research evidence that the rumours of Email’s imminent demise at the hands of Social Networkers are incorrect. Here are just a couple of examples to illustrate what I mean:

Firstly research from Nielsen back at the start of last year. This is particularly interesting because Nielsen analysts had previously gone on record stating that Social Media was more popular than email, based on a global analysis of internet usage. However, when they went on to do more detailed research examining just how Social Media use decreases Email use they actually ended-up disproving their original hypothesis and instead proved that social media use actually leads to increased Email use – as illustrated in the chart below. You can read more about their research here.

More recently, this same finding has been confirmed by US Relationship Marketing Agency Merkle in its ‘View from the Social Inbox’ report released just last month. Based on research conducted in late 2009, they too found that active social network users are more likely to be avid email users. With 42% of social networkers checking their email 4+ times per day compared to just 27% of non-social networkers (as shown below). You can download the full Merkle report here.

So, now that we have a growing body of evidence that Email is continuing to be a key online communication channel – despite the overwhelming popularity of various forms of social media – here comes the important question… Given Email’s continued, if not growing, importance – just how happy are you with the way you’re using it to engage with your supporters?

This question has been particularly front of mind for me recently as I’ve been working with two large UK charities to help develop their online fundraising strategies and in both cases opportunities to improve email use have offered some of the greatest income growth wins.

If you’re in the same boat, then don’t feel too downhearted – because you’re certainly not alone. According to the 2009 Adestra/Econsultancy Email Marketing Census, 72% of email marketers (from both commercial and non-profit organisations) admitted that they are not using email as effectively as they could – despite acknowledging that it offers the best ROI of any online activity other than natural search. Interestingly, as shown below, the top two reasons given for not using email effectively were ‘Quality of email database’ and ‘Lack of strategy’, with ‘Poor technology’ 7th in the list – reflecting the fact that many organisations now have access to the technology required to undertake pretty sophisticated email programmes, but their strategic planning has yet to catch-up:

With most of the online fundraising buzz these days tending to be focused on some form of social media activity, it’s good to be reassured that dear old email is here to stay – and, in the light of this, to be prompted to make time to consider whether you’re online income is suffering because you’re not using it as well as you could be.

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Some useful insight into what is and isn’t working in Facebook and Twitter marketing

If you’re planning or evaluating any form of social media activity, then it’s worth taking a look at eMarketer’s summary of a recently released research report examining which marketing uses of Facebook and Twitter are working best.

As shown in the table above, top of the effectiveness list for consumer-focused marketers (the B2C column) using Facebook is ‘Creation of a Facebook application around a brand’ – providing a useful reminder that the most effective use of social media doesn’t always come for free . Next in the ranking is the creation of a ‘Fan’ survey, followed by the use of Facebook user data to provide insight into customers.

Down at the bottom of the Facebook effectiveness list lies ‘Targeted cost per click ads’ – which makes sense, as I haven’t heard many Facebook advertising success stories (although there are exceptions – such as last year’s Scouts volunteer recruitment activity).

If Twitter’s more your thing, then there is also a summary of the effectiveness of Twitter tactics…

In this case, the most effective uses relate to reputation management – with number one being real-time monitoring of PR problems, followed by using it to engage with those behind such negative PR.

Bottom of the list is the use of Twitter to drive direct sales. Although again there are some noteable exceptions to this including, at the very top-end, Dell who claim to have achieved over $6.5m in revenue through Twitter over the last two years. Mind you, @DellOutlet does boast over 1.5 million Followers now! In terms of non-profits making Twitter fundraising work, take a look at Blame Drews Cancer and the ever growing Twestival movement.

The 93 Dollar Club – a fantastic example of online donors doing it for themselves

93 Dollar Club

I’ve had a manic few weeks since mid October, mostly related to my starting-up my own Marketing and Fundraising Consultancy (called Strategy Refresh – do take a look when you have a spare moment) with a bit of house moving thrown-in for good measure. All of which means that things have been very quiet on the Giving in a Digital World Front – so apologies for that. Normal service is close to being resumed as I’m starting to get into the swing of working as an independent consultant.

One think I’ve been meaning to post about but have only now had the opportunity to get to was the great response to the presentation Jonathan Waddingham from JustGiving and I gave at the International Fundraising Congress over in Holland last month. It was all about ‘The new breed of digital donor‘ and sparked all sorts of post presentation discussions – both online and offline – which was great. You can see the full presentation in the Slideshare embed below.

One part of the presentation that got a lot of folks interested was the story of the 93 Dollar Club – so I thought it worth repeating that here for anyone who hasn’t come across it before (you can see more about it in the presentation).

The 93 Dollar Club all began back in August this year through a chance meeting and act of personal kindness in a Trader Joes grocery store. Jenni Ware was shopping there when she realised that she had forgotten her purse. Fortunately, next in the line was Carolee Hazard who, on seeing Jenni’s situation, kindly offered to cover her $207 bill. Jenni gratefully accepted and as the two left the store she reassured Carolee that she would mail her a cheque later that day. However, as Carolee drove away she couldn’t help wondering if she would ever actually see her $207 again. Being an active Facebook user, on arriving home she shared the story with her online network of Friends and they started to add to it, reassuring her that she had done a good thing and that it was sure to be repaid.

And so it was – with a check arriving not just for $207 but for $300, including a $93 ‘thank you’ gift. Carolee was surprised by this and at first intended to return the $93. However her Facebook Friends, who were by now an active part of this story, proposed she donate it to a non-profit instead. They even suggested which – the local Second Harvest Food Bank. Carolee liked this idea so much that she decided to match the $93 windfall donation with $93 of her own. Then, as is the way with social networks, her Facebook Friends agreed to follow-suite and by the next morning they had together collected over $1,000.

Encouraged by this, Carolee set-up a Facebook Page – entitled the 93 Dollar Club – and so the story continued, not just on Facebook but being picked-up and given massively greater reach by traditional news media too. Indeed, so much did the story grow that if you take a look at Carolee’s 93 Dollar Club page today you’ll see that the total raised has now gone from $93 to over $23,000 – and they’ve now set themselves a target of $93,000!

Do take a moment to visit the 93 Dollar Club Facebook page. On it you’ll see contributions from an incredibly vibrant community of donors, sharing ideas for fundraising and plans to expand the whole 93 Dollar Club concept to help achieve their great $93,000 target. A true community, focused on fundraising yet entirely inspired and organised by the donors themselves – a fantastic example of just what the new breed of digital donors can achieve when they get to grips with doing it for themselves.

 

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Failing MySpace drops behind Twitter in the UK

Twitter vs MySpace

Some pretty shocking data for UK fans of the social networking site MySpace was highlighted last week, with the news that traffic to the site has now dropped behind that of microblogging site Twitter.

On one side, this is just more evidence of the amazing rise of Twitter in the UK (leading to London being described as the “capital of Twitter” by its CEO, Ev Williams) – and these site traffic stats actually only tell part of that story, due to the number of people using third-party applications to manage their Twitter accounts.

However what is more significant is such clear evidence for the apparent collapse of MySpace over here.

With the pace of change in the Web 2.0 world over the last few years, it’s easy to forget just how dominant MySpace looked in the UK market back in the early days of the online social networking goldrush. As a reminder, I dug-out a blog post I wrote ‘way back’ in early June 2007 – when it was Facebook that was the freshfaced newcomer showing what would now be described as ‘Twitterish’ growth…

Facebook vs MySpace 2007

Amazing to think that back then MySpace was sitting pretty on over 100m users worldwide, compared to Facebook’s mere 25m. The story since then has of course been dominated by Facebook – with it’s active user numbers reaching 250m by July this year, while MySpace growth has stalled such that even its dominance in the US social media market seems doomed.

All in all, a useful reminder never to take the social networking world for granted. It is still a far from mature marketplace and there is pretty well constant change going on out there, whether related to new functionality, shifting user demographics, or the simple departure of users altogether. All of which makes it essential for any marketers or fundraisers responsible for social media activity to keep an eye out for data that helps them understand just what’s happening, so as to help guide where to invest time and budgets when looking to engage with supporters online.

80% of UK online population visited social networking sites in May 09 – including a whole lot of over 55s

1046

Online research and measurement company comScore just released the findings of a study into UK social networking site usage which provides a good picture of just how mainstream social networking has now become – with an incredible 80% of the total UK online population (aged 15+) apparently having visited at least one social networking site in May 2009.

As you might expect, the most active users are still in the 15-24 age group, with 86% of them visiting social networking sites and spending an average of 4.6 hours on them over the month. However, as the table below shows, 67% of the 55+ segment are also shown as using these sites, for an average of 3.7 hours over the month – confirming the fact that social networking is ‘maturing’ as an online activity (which, as I’ve said many times before, is good for online fundraising).

Picture 1

The report also provides a popularity ranking of social network sites for the UK, as shown below, with Facebook now by far the dominant site in this category – with pretty well the same unique visitor numbers as the next four sites put together.

Also interesting to see figures for the growth of Twitter – up a phenomenal 3,226% year on year. That’ll be an interesting growth rate to review in 12 months time…

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