What nonprofits and associations should know about launching a social networking community Adam Steinberg Marketing Coordinator www.theport.com
Today’s Topic What nonprofits and associations should know about launching a social networking community
About ThePort • Social Networking Community Provider for nonprofit organizations • Help world’s largest organizations interact & communicate with constituents • Most open and customizable platform in the industry • Integrations with donor management systems
Before we get started What is a “house” online community? How is it different than Facebook? vs
Goal Learn how to successfully plan, build and launch an online community built for your constituents.
Today’s Agenda • Initial Planning and Research • Compare Platforms and Costs • Building out your community • Deployment strategy • Q&A
First and foremost Know why you want to build an online community
What are the challenges you face? via Worldle.com
What house communities can do • Bring people together • Become information hub • Help people collaborate • Help constituents communicate • Attract new supporters • Keep your website up to date
Side Note: Integration Your donor management system Your Community Information about constituents pushed to databases. Enable custom reports & targeted communications
A key question: • What do you want constituents to do? • Collaborate • Join events • Share news and causes • Support each other • Raise money
What types of programs can you socially-enable? Campaigns Walks/Runs Education Information Sharing Fundraising Advocacy Something new?
Ways to measure ROI • More participation among supporters? • New constituents & supporters? • Fundraising dollars? • More subscribers to communications? • New sponsorships & grants?
Define technical considerations Integration Points
Integration with website • Branding • Header/footer • Community.domain.com
Single Sign On and Data Sharing Single Sign On Community Shares Data Back with CMS Constituent management system Online Community
Unique Community Experience for Members? External data External data External data External data
Improved constituent data and marketing Create custom reports, targeted communications
Bottom Line Having your own community can help many of your goals and programs. But, community doesn’t happen overnight
Which department will own the project? Via Wordle.com
How much staff can you dedicate? • Resources will dictate how much you can do at first • Which departments have internal resources to fulfill goals? • Which departments can pull in other resources? • Who can serve as community manager?
Community Management Short-Term Keep discussions relevant and healthy. Provide a safe place to share passions. Image thanks: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jbennett/50434313/
Community Management Long-term • Stimulate conversations & improve community • Blog posts • Events • Groups • Newsletters • New community features
Summary of considerations • Who owns the project? • What do you want people to do? • What are your goals? • How will you measure ROI? • Do you want to integrate external systems?
Step two: comparing platforms and costs • Remember: What are your goals and ROI expectations
Questions to consider • Important questions to consider prior to selecting what tools or vendors you will choose to launch your community
Do you have technical resources on staff? • Titles include: • Programmer • Systems Administrator • Web Designer • Database Administrator
Do you need to own your data? • Integrated communications • Data security
Integration and APIs • Do you want to integrate with your constituent management system? • Extend functionality of community • Build custom widgets Your community will need Open APIs
Other considerations when selecting a vendor • Is vendor familiar with industry and requirements? • Does the vendor work with organizations similar to yours? • What type of support does the vendor offer? • Technical • Thought leadership
Other considerations (cont’d) • What is vendor’s uptime history? • How secure and reliable is their data center? • Data centers go down!
Will platform be able to grow with your organization? • Add additional and new features? • Keep up with technology developments? • APIs available for additional customization?
What are your options? Open Source
Open Source • Pros – ability to customize, cost of actual software is limited, can launch fairly quickly • Cons – requires time & resources, requires customization by internal staff, hosting resources, continues development resources to remain on cutting edge, no support hotline, typically no out-of-box integration
Ning • Pros – easy to deploy, branding can be customized, requires limited resources, limited cost • Cons – don’t own data, no integration with external systems, no apis, limited flexibility in platform, not nonprofit specific, may run ads
White Label Hosted Platform • Pros – Out-of-box integration, limited technical resources required, hosting and upgrades managed, vendor works with client to tailor platform, can have Open APIs and flexible platform • Cons - No access to source code, reliant on vendor platform and support, not free
ROI • What tools will give you the best blend of functionality, ease of implementation and cost savings?
Evaluation Summary • Consider Internal Resources • Remember Immediate and Long-Term • Identify Technology that can facilitate goals • Choose platforms that complement staff strength
Stage Three: Building the community • Review project spec from vendor • Know who needs to be involved and when they will need to be available • Will you need support from your other technology vendors?