What’s not to Like about Facebook Likes?

Rather a lot, according to this video by the smart folks over at the YouTube educational science channel Veritasium.

If you’ve got ‘Volume of Likes’ as a KPI for your digital activity but don’t know about the murky world of click farms and the impact they’re having on engagement and organic reach on Facebook, then sit back and invest a few minutes watching their interesting video report.

It’s a really clear explanation of a pretty complex challenge facing digital marketers and fundraisers – and may well change just how much you like your Likes, for ever!

(Hat tip to @harveymckinnon of Harvey McKinnon Associates in Canada for spotting it)


 

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If you think Facebook isn’t for fundraising you should perhaps think again about just what fundraising is

I’m just catching-up on a bit of an email backlog after spending a few days over in Holland at last week’s 30th Annual International Fundraising Congress (a great event with almost 1,000 attendees from over 50 countries taking part), and a headline in one email news bulletin happened to catch my eye…

“FACEBOOK IS NOT FOR FUNDRAISING, SAYS FACEBOOK EXEC”

That’s pretty eyecatching – so I read on to the subhead…

“Facebook is not a useful tool for fundraising but rather should be utilised for donor stewardship and building interest, according to a top Facebook Exec.”

You can read the whole article here (although I note the headline has now been changed following the comments you can read beneath it regarding its misleading nature). In short it’s a summary of the Convention session given by Elmer Sotto (@esotto), Facebook Canada’s ‘Head of Growth’ – which happens to be one of the sessions I attended.

However, I certainly didn’t come away with the message that “Facebook is not for fundraising”.

Perhaps that was because Sotto opened his session with the story of the We Day Facebook campaign which has raised over $350k for the Canadian charity Free The Children since launch just a few weeks ago, by leveraging Corporate donations – $1 is donated for everyone who clicks ‘Like’ on the We Day Facebook page – while also raising awareness of the Charity’s big ‘We Day’ events across Canada.

Or perhaps it’s because over the last year or so I’ve also heard other great Facebook fundraising stories like that of the 93 Dollar Club (now at $112k in just over a year) and reports of Facebook overtaking Google to become the primary driver of donors to the fundraising site JustGiving.

All of which kind of counter the “Facebook is not for fundraising” claim.

Admittedly, Elmer did talk about how Facebook is not primarily a ‘giving mechanism’ (in the way that JustGiving is a ‘giving mechanism’) but essentially a ‘consideration building mechanism’ – raising both awareness and positive consideration of causes as they are promoted through Facebook users’ newsfeeds. This positive consideration then has the potential to be turned into donations if a relevant and engaging giving mechanism is then presented – perhaps a Friend’s JustGiving page, a special interest group’s community fundraising page, or even a corporate funded ‘Like’ campaign as for We Day.

Thinking it through, perhaps it is the challenge of presenting a relevant and engaging giving mechanism that lies behind any concerns over Facebook’s place in the fundraisers toolkit. If someone has come to consider you because of a personal connection with another Facebook Friend but the giving mechanism offered is your standard, one size fits all, generic £3/mth regular gift ask – then I’d imagine the donation rate you’ll see is likely to leave you in the “it’s not for fundraising” camp. However, if you craft your giving mechanism to better fit the word of mouth-style consideration building seen on Facebook, then there is every chance that you’ll find the site has a very useful role to play in your online fundraising programme.

Facebook adds location functionality with Facebook Places

Applications using the ability of smartphones and other mobile devices to pinpoint your precise location at any time have been a key topic for discussion amongst digital marketers over the last year or so, and were also something I covered in my Digital Fundraising Hot Topics Session at this summer’s Institute of Fundraising National Convention here in London (check-out from slide 52 onwards).

Up to now, a lot of the location-based application chatter has focused on the new breed of specifically designed location-based social networks like Foursquare and Gowalla. However, it was only a matter of time before the global market leader in social networking responded. Hence, last week we saw the launch of Facebook Places – an extension to existing Facebook functionality that will enable smartphone wielding Facebookers to share their location with their Friends, be alerted when Friends are close by, check-in to specific locations, and share details of good places with others in their social network. For an introduction try the Facebook video above or this Mashable post. This new functionality was initially only available to US users, but is to be rolled-out to other countries over the coming months – going live in the UK on 17/09/10..

Naturally, the potential for Facebook’s 500 million-plus users to openly share their location as they travel around has only added to the already rising tide of privacy concerns related to social networking. However, despite such concerns (and the resulting advice to social network users to take more care over using profile settings so as to better manage their privacy), with Facebook now in the game there seems no doubt that the application of location-based functionality will now grow even faster than before. Indeed, Foursquare actually reported record numbers of sign-ups in the wake of Facebook Places being launched.

This addition to the ways in which social network users can connect with their friends – and brands can connect with social network users – is still a very new aspect of digital marketing. So it isn’t something that every marketer and fundraiser needs to be worried about having in their digital programme right now. However, case studies from smartphone-based treasure hunts to Foursquare-based campaigning are already starting to show how the technology might be used to create new ways to engage with consumers or supporters and it is certainly something you should be keeping an eye on to see how it might be usefully integrated with your digital communications over the next couple of years.

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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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).

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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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