Web 2.0 for Nonprofits – Websites and Blogging

What is Web 2.0?

Web 2.0 for nonprofitsWeb 2.0 is a made-up term that describes interactive, conversation facilitating web technologies. Web 2.0 encompasses blogs and social media with the accompanying like, shares and comments. Web 2.0 excels at presenting pictures and video. Web 2.0 also is (should be) responsive, a term used to describe websites that respond to different viewing devices with fluid layouts so that the content always looks good and is user friendly. Finally, Web 2.0 gives us quick, often 1 button, access to acting on decisions. Web 2.0 is made to take advantage of impulse.

Coming to terms with Web 2.0 is critical for your nonprofit, like it or not. Your donors, stakeholders, advocates and funders are all online, and your ability to create and sustain relationships based on whatever web channels they use and prefer is critical to your growth and sustainability. At the same time, you cannot possibly embrace every social media fad out there, and fortunately you don’t need to. But there are some ground rules and some mandatory best practices for success.

You website is the center of your digital presence

Your digital world begins with your website. Your website is the only digital space you really own. It is where you can set the tone and present your story without the distractions of Cialis ads and blinking dating site come-ons. Your website is where you advertise, touch the heart and mind, and inspire readers to action. The next 2 critical components, email and Facebook, serve to enhance your presence and, very importantly, to drive traffic to your website.

I urge nonprofits to use WordPress as a Content Management System (CMS) and I strongly believe in blogging. WordPress is the most widely used website platform in the world, it’s made for a short learning curve, and there are lots of people who can help you when you run into problems. WordPress allows you to quickly change your site to promote events, talk about something important, or create a call to action. It also facilitates blogging, which is the perfect platform for storytelling. WordPress can make posting a blog as easy as sending an email. Literally.

Web 2.0 is the perfect medium for your storytelling

What is the story you need to tell? It’s not hunger or homelessness – too abstract. Your story is the child you fed last week and the family you housed yesterday. It’s the abuse you’ll prevent tomorrow and the drop-outs you will inspire to graduate next year. It’s the documenting of what you are doing every day to fight for your cause. Blogs provide the canvas for storytelling. Blogs excel at rich graphical presentation, and they get indexed well in search engines. And you can tag and categorize posts, and link to other posts and to your social media.

Facebook can’t do that. In fact, according to Facebook only 12% of posts are seen by others on average, which might mean that almost none of your posts are passed on to your fans. Why, because Facebook decides who is popular and who isn’t, and they decide which of your posts show up in your fan’s timelines. Try finding an old post on Facebook, or finding all the posts relating to a category or subject. That’s the power WordPress has over other media.

Blogging increases your visibility on search engines

Blogging increases the depth of your site, and constantly adds recent content. Search engines like that. Every post is indexed by Google, Bing, and Yahoo. Every post is another door to your nonprofit. Is your nonprofit health-related? Post heart-healthy recipes. You’ll have new visitors to your site who were not looking for you and never heard of your cause, they found you while they were looking for a recipe. But that’s a visitor you wouldn’t have had otherwise, and a potential donor or volunteer. Blogging let’s you speak to wide interests of your stakeholders.

Let your passion for your cause show

There is a lot of debate about the kind of voice to use. The most effective email campaigns for Barack Obama in 2012 began with “Hey”. Now, I’m not advocating that you use a subject line that only says hey, but it illustrates that the expectation of the type of communication is different online and via social media that the expectations of a form letter. A second thing that the Obama campaign found was that when they got passionate, they turned off a lot of people – but those they didn’t gave like never before. The ones that were turned off weren’t the ones to advocate for the campaign anyway.

We expect our nonprofit leaders to be passionate about their causes. If that turns off some people, they probably weren’t passionate about the cause enough to support you anyway. Be real, publish often. Don’t let perfection be the enemy of being prolific.

It’s all about relationships

The bottom line is communication and building relationships. Web 2.0 is a 2-way street. When someone comments on your blog, you have the opportunity to begin strengthening that relationship with a conversation. No print ad can say that.

And finally, WordPress, or a similar blog-based CMS, can save you money. To create such a powerful website from scratch would be a very expensive proposition, and you would have a site you couldn’t touch without a 10 foot expert. A very expensive expert.