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Posted October 18, 2010 11:14 PM by Dylan Miyake

There are three big trends in Web marketing that non-profits should pay attention to: Online Advertising (including mobile marketing), Social Media (like Twitter and Facebook), and an updated understanding of Website Metrics. The new world of online media, social media and mobile technology is presenting significant opportunities for organizations that are ready to embrace change. If you're ready to include Web marketing in your organization's mix of methods for fundraising, outreach and communications, continue reading below.Online advertising: Be ready to "pay per click" and "go mobile". Google recently announced strong 3rd quarter earnings, indicating a 20 percent annual increase in revenues from its AdSense online advertising programs. Paid clicks on Google are up 16% - showing that people are becoming more likely to use paid links to find the information they're looking for. Another big trend in online marketing is mobile marketing – web ads and messaging designed specifically for smart phones. According to the Mobile Commerce Forum, mobile Web users are expected to spend $119 billion a year by 2015 – and this shift in buying behavior has implications for non-profit fundraising as well. As people become more comfortable searching, shopping and spending from their mobile phones and personal electronic devices, they also will become more willing to donate. Even small text message-based donations can make a huge difference – the Red Cross raised millions of dollars after the Haiti earthquake by asking people to send $5 or $10 donations via text message. These trends are real, and they are likely to continue to grow – there is an army of people using smart phones for information on the go, and they are open to interacting with (and donating to) their favorite non-profits. Are you ready to extend the invitation? Amplified "word of mouth" Millions of words have been written about how social media is changing everything in the world of online marketing. Some non-profit organizations have been a bit slow to embrace these new opportunities – either due to a lack of resources, a lack of understanding of the new technology, or by not seeing connections between the new media and the organization's existing goals and constituencies. Non-profits are constantly looking for new ways to educate, congregate, and cause some action in a group of people. Using social media like Twitter and Facebook can be a fun and effective way to achieve these objectives. Whether your organization is experienced in social media, or whether you're still learning the difference between Twitter and Facebook, here are some tips to help improve your social media footprint to engage with your stakeholders online. Twitter: By posting timely, relevant messages 140 characters at a time, your organization can mobilize a volunteer workforce. Here are some of the types of "tweets" you can send to engage with your organization's friends and fans online: •From a church's outreach office: "Father-son softball tonight at Tall Oak park, 6 p.m., All welcome!" •From a homeless shelter: "We need volunteers to serve dinner during Thanksgiving week – contact www.tinyurl.com/### by November 10 for details." •From a local public official: "Would you like to serve on the Mayor's public recreation advisory board? Short-term commitment, big opportunity to make a difference." You can adjust your Twitter settings (or use more advanced Twitter platforms like "TweetDeck") to automatically post your Twitter messages to your Facebook page as well – saving time and effort. Facebook: The world's most popular social networking site has over 500 million users worldwide (and counting). Does your organization have a fan page on Facebook yet? Facebook, like Twitter, can be a valuable resource to cultivate donors and recruit volunteers, post announcements, build excitement for upcoming events, and share the mission and expertise of your organization. One difference between Facebook and Twitter is that Facebook is not limited to 140 characters per post – so you can be more expansive. It's also a bit easier to upload videos, photos and links via Facebook. How to get more Friends and Followers: There are no hard and fast "rules" for social media for non-profits, but there are a few key principles to keep in mind: •Interact: There's a reason why they call it "social" media – you're supposed to treat it like a conversation, not a monologue. One of the best ways to find more followers for your organization is to interact with people – in a personal and authentic way. Respond to comments about your organization, and get involved in blog discussions or online forums about the issues your organization addresses. •Be patient: It takes time to build up a big social media presence; it doesn't happen overnight. Assign someone at your organization to spend some time every day on Twitter searching for mentions of your organization and sending "@ replies" to the people who have positive things to say. Find the people who are already talking about your organization, and follow them – often they will follow you back. •Reach out: Do a Google search and find bloggers who are writing about your organization, reach out to them and ask them to refer people to your Facebook page. •Build on existing contacts: Send a mass e-mail to your existing donors, volunteers and fans, and invite them to join you online. Make it easy to connect to your Facebook and Twitter pages by posting buttons on your website Contact page, from your blog posts, and everywhere else you have a presence on line. Finding effective website metrics Every non-profit organization should have a website, no matter how basic. But do you know what your website means? You need to have a way to identify relevant information and track metrics to show how your website is supporting your organization's overall goals – and these metrics should be included and tracked on your Balanced Scorecard. Potential BSC Key Performance Indicators •Number of viewers: How many people are visiting your website each day, week, and month? What are the peak visit days? How many unique visitors do you have? •Length of site visit: How long are people hanging around on your website? Do you have enough interesting content to keep people's attention, or do they just drop by briefly and then move on to something else? •Days since last update: One of the most important ways to keep your website at the top of the Google search results is to refresh your site regularly with new content – especially with blog posts or social media feeds (you can connect your Twitter feed so that all of your Tweets appear on your website as well). By tracking the days since last update, you can give your staff another measurable performance goal to track on the Balanced Scorecard. •Number of Twitter followers and Facebook friends: quality is more important than quantity, but quantity doesn't hurt – and this gives you a way to track whether your online efforts are getting attention. •Number of Twitter @ replies – track how many people are forwarding your messages and spreading the word to others? Are you "Findable" online? Another related goal for your organization's website should be to make sure that your website is up-to-date on Google, Bing, and MapQuest Maps with your organization's phone number, address and hours (if that is important to your organization). Social media has matured and it's time to join professionally. The tools impact real users, create real events, and result in real donations. If your organization would like guidance in this field of strategic impact, we would be honored to work with your organization. Just an email or phone call can start the conversation.