Where Can I Learn More about Technology and Communications?

by Kevin Martone, Technology Program Manager, JCamp 180

I am often asked where I go to keep up to date on new technologies and communications best practices. For example, where can you find comparisons of online giving tools or donor databases? Where can you find news about upcoming changes to Facebook Page functionality? Is there a source that provides case studies of other organizations using social media effectively? What kind of content is most likely to be shared online and via word-of-mouth?

There are countless resources available to answer these questions (and more). I could never prepare a comprehensive list of blogs, websites, books, and podcasts where these topics are discussed. But I CAN share the sites that I personally find most useful. Read on to find out where I go to keep up to date…and then let us know on our Facebook Page where YOU find useful information.

Note: In addition to the resources listed below, don't forget the Technology section of the JCamp 180 Knowledge Center.

Using Social Media

Beth Kanter's blog for how Nonprofits can use Social Media goes way beyond that subject. She curates case studies, tips, and other best practices on a variety of subjects that can help make your communications more effective. Whether the subject is crowdfunding, alumni engagement, or the best Valentine's Day campaigns, Beth provides valuable information and insights.

Facebook Tips and How-To's

Want to find out how to schedule posts, create Facebook Ads, and use Facebook most effectively?  John Haydon is a consultant who provides free blog posts and short videos that are super easy to understand.

Detailed Reviews of Technology Tools

Do you wonder where to go to find unbiased reviews of content management systems, information about peer-to-peer fundraising options, or help creating a Social Media Policy? Idealware provides detailed reports on these and many other related topics for free - you simply have to sign up for their super useful eNewsletter. And they consider these various tools from the perspective of nonprofit organizations. My personal favorite? Their comprehensive report on low-cost donor management systems.

Other Resources

Debra Askanase, a regular JCamp 180 Conference workshop presenter, writes a blog with useful information about how nonprofits can use social media and other tools to engage their audience effectively.

Allison Fine, best-selling author who presented a "Spark" at our 2013 JCamp 180 Conference, leads a short monthly discussion about how nonprofits are using social media and other technologies in her free Social Good Podcast.

Socialbrite, a consutancy that helps nonprofits use social media to advance their mission, provides a blog on a variety of topics from a variety of experts. Topics include storytelling, blogging, video, and online fundraising.

Big Duck, a communications consultancy, works with nonprofits to help them reach supporters, build awareness, and raise money. Their blog is focused on these areas as well.

Seth Godin, a best-selling author of books on marketing and simply getting things done, writes a short blog post daily that provides useful observations and ideas and urges readers to push themselves to make an impact.

Dan Pink, a best-selling author of books on selling your ideas and improving your skills in a changing marketplace, has a host of free useful resources, including a free (but sporadic) eNewsletter, a Podcast where he interviews a wide variety of thought-leaders, and worksheets that supplement his books.

 

Books You May Be Interested In

When you finally have time to sit down with a good book on these subjects, here are some that I have found most useful (and fun to read!):

Likeable Social Media

This book, writing by Dave Kerpen (founder of Likeable Media), provides the groundwork for using social media to effectively engage your audience. It includes nuts and bolts how-to's for various Social Media Channels (with an emphasis on Facebook), as well as tips and case studies for connecting with people online.

Likeable Social Media is especially good for someone just getting started with using social media for a business or organization, but will provide good insight for effective online communication for anyone.

Contagious

Although there is no "silver bullet" to ensure something goes "viral," author Jonah Berger shows 6 key STEPPS (Social currency, Triggers, Emotion, Public, Practical Value, and  Stories) that can help your idea, program, or organization get talked about and shared, both online and off. Berger delves deeply into each of these to show how you can incorporate them into your organization, product, service, and communications to help people spread the word about you.

The Thank You Economy

This book (by Gary Vaynerchuk) is directed at convincing organizations that they can and must take advantage of social media to connect with potential customers/constituents. In a book focused on for-profit companies (but with clear adaptability for nonprofits as well), Vaynerchuk posits that the one-to-one engagement made possible on social media was once a competitive advantage, but is now a necessity. He uses this book as a platform to help convince people of the importance of social media; he even offers common excuses for not using social media…and counter-arguments for each. Through passionate writing and real-world examples, Vaynerchuk shows how companies are embracing what he calls the Thank You Economy to grow their companies and create advocates for their brands. This book should be read by organizations not sure why they should bother with social media.

To Sell is Human

Although not about technology or communications specifically, I highly recommend this book by Dan Pink. Through vivid examples and storytelling, Pink shows that we all are salespeople, always persuading others to take action: buy a computer, give a donation, do their homework, change their habits or processes, etc. In addition to showing how we all need to "sell," Pink provides a framework for improving our selling skills: Attunement (the ability to imagine the emotions, perceptions, and motivations of another person), Buoyancy (the ability to stay afloat amidst an ocean of rejection), and Clarity (the ability to help others see their situations in fresh and more revealing ways and to identify problems they didn't realize they had). He describes each of these topics and provides exercises to help readers improve in all three areas.

Switch

Like To Sell is Human, this book by the Heath Brothers is not about technology and communications. But it is so useful in all facets of your work, I feel obligated to recommend it. The Heath Brothers show you how you can create transformative change in both your personal life and at work. Using a story-driven narrative, great examples, and research from psychology and sociology, the authors show how to fight the emotional mind (which loves the comfort of your existing routine) and provide the rational mind (which wants to make a change) with a pathway to success.
We all struggle with change. This book shows that successful changes follow a pattern, one that you can use to make changes in your personal and professional lives. Once you read this book, you'll find yourself thinking about how to apply it in a variety of situations.

What Are YOUR Favorite Sources of Information?

Do you have other favorite blogs, websites, podcasts, Facebook Pages, or books? Where do you find case studies, best practices, or social media tips/tricks? Let your peers know about them on our Facebook Page.