Reminder: Technology in Action Photo Contest. Ends Sept. 30

 

Just a reminder that the deadline to enter TechSoup’s photo contest is rapidly approaching. The contest, called Technology in Action, is asking for nonprofits to show off their best example of how they use technology to achieve their mission.  The contest ends this Sunday, September 30th, so hurry up and snap a quick photo of you guys in action.

Why should you enter? The grand prize is an awesome dynamic infographic from us! In case you haven’t seen our work, check out this awesome infographic for Animals Asia, an amazing nonprofit working to save bears from a life of torture.

Entering is simple:

  1. Visit the Contest Page and submit your photo and a caption
  2. Tweet a photo using the hashtag  #TechInAction
  3. Email a photo and short caption to community@techsoup.org

With only 2 days left to enter, be sure to snap that amazing photo and send it over to TechSoup immediately!

The New GOOD: Huge potential, despite the minor flaws

Last week, the popular social good website/magazine GOOD launched its new social news platform, which they describe as “a gathering place and a growing toolkit for pragmatic idealists to creatively and collaboratively engage with each other, our communities, and our world.”

The platform focuses on being a news aggregator for socially-conscious content. Users can post interesting content or their own causes for others to rally behind. Other users then can promote, share and discuss the content, with the most popular content rising to the front page.  It is very much like a Reddit for the socially-conscious community.

Although this platform seems like a perfect place for intelligent sharing and discussion, several users have complained about the functionality of the new layout. The lack of organization and clear instructions causes interesting content to get lost easily. Users are forced to hunt for articles that appeal to them and sort through the almost-too-simple layout to find certain sections. It seems many users simply miss the old GOOD, with its magazine style layout and controlled content.

Some of the current complaints may be the direct result of the users themselves not taking the time and effort to engage and properly utilize the platform. Like any new social platform, the community is often the deciding factor on how well the whole thing works. More user engagement means more content and interesting discussion for everyone. Right now, it doesn’t seem like there are enough users to transform this into the “gathering place” GOOD envisioned.

I think there is still major potential for this platform to take off, especially since nothing like it really exists elsewhere. Forums and online communities have been around for a while, but there doesn’t seem to be an entire social media platform based entirely on the idea of doing good.

GOOD has taken on the ambitious task trying to fulfill this void and it should be very interesting to see if this idea can attract enough user engagement to truly take off.  I highly recommend giving the new GOOD a chance and helping transform it into the platform you want to see.

Check it out at http://www.good.is/

What do you think about the new GOOD? Where do you find, share and discuss interesting content related to social good?

The Multi-Screen Consumer

I recently came across this incredible presentation by Google highlighting the impact technology has had on our consumer habits recently. It outlines how consumers are constantly switching between media devices and the effects it has on our behavior.

There are a lot of good figures in the report, but here are a couple that I found most interesting:

  • 90% of all media interactions are screen based
  • We spend 4.4 hours of our leisure time in front of screens daily
  • 38% of our daily media interactions occur on the smartphone, compared to 24% on PC.
  • 80% of searches on smartphones is spontaneous

Some of these findings may be shocking, but many of them will not surprise anyone who has browsed the internet on their smartphone while watching TV.  For anyone remotely familiar with technology, the idea of switching between devices regularly is not a foreign concept. What is more interesting is how we use our devices.

The fact that 80% of our smartphone searching is spontaneous, “spur of the moment” searching, is particularly telling. Most people, myself included, search on their smartphone when they need something answered immediately. Spontaneous searching has become a huge part of our consumer habits, and has started to bleed over to our donation habits as well.  Earlier this year, the Millennial Impact Report found that 42% of millennials gave to what inspires them at the moment, otherwise known as impulse donations.

If there is one main takeaway from all of this, it’s this: Your website must be optimized for the smartphone. People are already interacting with your content through their phones, and this is only going to increase with time.  I already know a few people who only browse the internet on their phones. So why risk putting off smartphone users with a cluttered, text-heavy website?

Check out the full Google report here

Animals Asia: It’s Time to End Bear Bile Farming

In several countries across Asia, thousands of bears live a life of torture on bear bile farms, so that their bile can be forcibly extracted and used in traditional medicine. These bears are confined in tiny cages, where they are typically “milked” for bile at least once or twice a day. Although this appalling practice has been going on for a few decades, most people outside of Asia have never heard of bear bile farming and are unaware of the atrocities being committed on these animals.

Our latest partner, Animals Asia, has been working for over 14 years to end this inhumane practice by rescuing and rehabilitating these imprisoned bears, as well as bringing global exposure to this practice.  Check out their infographic and please help us bring exposure to this horrific practice by sharing their work with others.

http://karmastore.org/animalsasia

CommunityGrows: Planting Seeds, Empowering Youth

Did you know that currently in the U.S., over 4 million youth are unemployed?

Confined to an urban environment, at-risk youth are especially vulnerable to poverty and unemployment.  Lacking the necessary academic and interpersonal skills, these youth struggle to find long-term employment and overcome the factors that restrict them to their set path. Our latest partner, CommunityGrows is working to help these at-risk youth overcome the boundaries that prevent them from achieving their true potential.

Through their innovative educational program, BEETs, CommunityGrows uses urban gardening and nature projects to train these at-risk youth and help cultivate the interpersonal skills and confidence they need to succeed.

Check out CommunityGrows dynamic infographic and learn more about how you can help.

http://karmastore.org/communitygrows/

Please help spread awareness and support for this cause by sharing it on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and any other way.

Social Media Sharing Buttons: How much is too much?

Since the beginning of the social media boom a few years ago, social media sharing buttons have always been a popular choice for anyone trying to promote their work. They seem like the silver bullet in getting readers to spread your work across the various social platforms. Unfortunately for many websites, social media buttons are proving more harmful than helpful.

The Search Engine Journal published a great article yesterday about the potential hazards of having too many sharing buttons.  The main three reasons they cite are:

  • Too many social buttons can slow your site’s performance: More buttons means more things for the browser to load, which can lead to slower load time and possibly annoyed users.
  • Too many options can cripple decision making: Anyone who has been to the salad dressing aisle knows the difficulties of making a single choice when given a ton of options. We are often worried that we might make the wrong choice or miss out on the better option. These feelings hold true in all aspects of our lives, including our social media habits. Don’t  force too many options on your readers.
  • Content with zero shares looks unpopular: Most social media buttons come with a built in counter to show off just how popular your content is. But for most of us that aren’t the major blogs raking in millions of views a month, our counters are a bit lackluster. It turns out these low numbers could have an effect on how new readers share, or don’t share, your work.  Just to be safe, remove the counter from your social buttons and let the reader decide on their own if the work is worthy of sharing.

So the question remains, which buttons should you keep? Before making that decision, there are a few things you must look at:

Understand Your Traffic: Before making any decision, you should always check your analytics and understand where your traffic is coming from. If 20% of your users are coming to your site from Twitter, there is obviously a strong reason to keep your “Tweet” button alive. On the other hand, if only 0.001% of your traffic comes from Reddit, maybe a Reddit button is unnecessary. Knowing where your traffic comes from is critical in optimizing your site for your users.

Understand Your Content: Next, take a look at the type of content you are posting. If you have a blog that posts daily photos of your work, then focus on platforms that cater to your visual-heavy content. Pinterest, Facebook and Google+ are all great places for people to find and share photos and videos.

Understand Your Demographics: Lastly, it is important you understand who your users are. Each social media platform has its own unique type of people that dominates their user base. Pinterest is most popular among women (age 25-54), Google+ is mostly used by young males (24 and younger). Knowing who your audience is will help you decide which platform they are hanging out at.

Still Not Sure? If you still are struggling with deciding which buttons to keep, and which to kill, there is always the safe bet of simply using the most popular platforms. Facebook and Twitter are the two biggest players in social media, so it makes the most sense to keep those buttons. The Google+ button has many advantages as well, especially since content shared on Google+ is automatically added to search engine results, a major SEO benefit.

Most of all, it is important to understand that social media buttons are not a cure-all for your marketing troubles. They are simply additional tools to your already beefy marketing arsenal. Use them carefully and always check your analytics to see what is and isn’t working.

Which social media buttons do you use on your site? How helpful have they been in spreading your work?

Photo courtesy of Kexino

 

Self-Sustaining Communities: Building for Change

With election season in full-swing, there has been a lot of focus on poverty, unemployment and education all over the media. Every politician claims to have the solution for these serious issues plaguing millions, but unfortunately many of these “quick fixes” fail to truly solve the crisis at hand. They mostly provide temporary solutions to long-standing problems, serving as a band-aid rather than a permanent solution.

The current model is broken, but it can be fixed.

Our latest partner, Self-Sustaining Communities, has developed a new model for solving the problems of poverty, unemployment and crime. They organize and host community green projects that provide for the basic needs of the individuals, while also strengthening the bonds within the community.  It is an innovative approach that focuses on healing the individual on both a critical needs level, as well as a deeper, transformative level.

It’s time to rethink how we approach the poverty problems in our community. Check our Self-Sustaining Communities dynamic infographic to learn more about their work and how you can help:

http://karmastore.org/selfsustainingcommunities/

Please help show your support for their amazing work by sharing it on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and any other way.