8. Filling You In

Hi everyone! I haven’t blogged much about my internship with Blood Battle, so today I’m going to fill you in. During these past weeks, I have revamped and enhanced the WordPress, and been rather active on both Facebook and Twitter. These social media platforms are extremely important because they encourage social participation, facilitate community, interaction, user-generated content, and most importantly can increase offline community building participation, which can increase blood donations (Blood Battle’s main goal). However, the upkeep of these platforms posed a challenge to the organization because it requires time to run a Facebook page, manage a Twitter, and update a blog.

Since I have hopped on board, I have been able to help them use social media as a resource in an effective and efficient way. The WordPress is still in the works, but is coming along wonderfully. I have recently finished the “Meet the Chairs” page, and thus far, it is the most visited page. If you’re wondering why, it is because I posted on Facebook about the newly updated page. While each of the platforms should be used with different approaches, they can each help drive traffic to one another. This reminds me of one of Drucker’s main points that he stressed in his piece “Managing the NonProfit Organization,” which is that it is extremely important to have content because if you have nothing to offer, there is nothing to communicate about. Facebook specifically has been a great tool for me to communicate messages, and to drive traffic to the blog. However, in order for me to to continue to utilize Facebook well, it is essential that the WordPress stays active so that I have content to share with the organizations fans and followers. This will be done with good writing skills, and the blogging tips that Mansfield suggests, so that the audience enjoys reading the post, but more importantly so that visitors to the page have a reason to return. Many WordPress visitors are driven to the page due to a post on Facebook or Twitter. This means that it is important to focus on those two platforms when trying to acquire new visitors and supporters.

So far, as I analyze my Facebook posts and tweets, I know that I have been able to successfully retain current fans, and that my efforts have kept them alert and engaged, which is exactly what I desired. While this has been encouraging, I really want to now direct my focus on acquiring new fans and followers. With the upkeep of these social media platforms I hope that the numbers will increase naturally next fall during the Blood Battle Challenge season when our audience in most engaged and activity levels are high.

7. Evaluating Effectiveness

HOBY (Hugh Obrian Youth Leadership) is a youth leadership organization with a mission to inspire and develop the youth community and volunteers by stressing the importance of leadership, service, and innovation. Its programs provide high school selected sophomores to participate in unique leadership training, service-learning and motivation-building experiences.

HOBY’s mission statement is strong, concise, and resonates throughout the organization, its staff, and volunteers, especially since many of the volunteers are alumni. While its video (can be watched here: http://www.youtube.com/hoby) reflects the experience, and how life changing it is, the video is extremely outdated. When you are watching the video, you know right away that it was made a few years ago because of the poor quality (lighting, composition, etc). You are then confirmed that the video is outdated because there are interview clips are from 1994, 2001, and 2002, which is about 10-15 years ago.

The video provides insightful statistics and powerful messages through the use of voice, sound, and various interview clips that mention how the HOBY experience has changed their lives. The content and the message that HOBY wants to send across is quite powerful, because it attempts to emotionally engage the audience by telling a story. The video does so effectively by using imagery of the actual conferences making me feel that I was actually there. The content is solid and stays consistent with the organization’s image. However, the quality made it also seem like the organization is old, and I want to know what they are doing today, and if they are engaging in the same practices.

If the video were revamped and up to date, while including the same content and information, it could be a powerful marketing and fundraising tool for the organization. A new video could generate a response that is both emotional and intellectual providing viewers with insights about HOBY’s impact and needs. This could also be a great direction to take because the video could be posted on the variety social media channels.

5. 40 Hours.

Instead of choosing to intern for a local non-profit organization for this semester, I chose to intern with a student organization. In class we focus on many practices that non-profits should be using to optimize their awareness and because I am not working with a non-profit, it is often difficult for me to wrap my head around the idea of if these practices will be effective for the student organization. At times I wonder how my experiences would have been different if I had worked with a non-profit over the span of 40 hours. But, my mindset changed once I found out that I would be given another opportunity to dedicate 40 hours to a non-profit organization.

Over spring break, I was able to intern at ITHAKA, a non-profit academic services organization. ITHAKA is the owner of its most known services, JSTOR, the digital library and academic service provider. Through the UMSI’s Alternative Spring Break program, I was fortunate enough to be matched with this social media focused project. The goal of the program is to create the opportunity for current students to engage in service oriented integrative learning experiences through a social impact project, to explore various career fields, and to network with alumni, and other participating organizations.

I worked closely with the content development team and had a mentor Mary, who taught me the ropes of what she does, as well as everything and anything I had questions about when it came to the organization. I have used JSTOR before, so it was really cool to see and understand the organization from a different perspective and learn how it has a great impact in the academic world. For most of my time, I worked on a publisher’s social media project that entailed looking at the social media presence of different publishers and gathering the relative information. I learned about what social media platforms academic publishers were utilizing, how they were utilizing them, the beneficial practices that were most and least effective, and analyzed the reasons why some publishers had a stronger/weaker presence than others. From my experience, I was able to apply my classroom knowledge as we looked at a few non-profit organizations that were using social media and apply it directly to this project.

My time at ITHAKA was an awesome, positive, and a very enjoyable learning experience. I am so thankful to be introduced to other colleagues, being included in a project, and feeling like my ideas, opinions, and work was incorporated into the content development team’s future endeavors. It was honestly one of the most academically enriching, and enlightening experiences. I got to gain new insights, do what interests me, and make a positive impact for the community, all in the greatest city in the world (New York of course)!

4. Sleek, Clear, & Professional

“Transformative uses of new technologies in higher education”

Ithaka is a not for profit organization that provides academic services. Its efforts help the academic community use digital technologies to preserve the scholarly record. The organization’s goals are to advance research and to teach in sustainable ways. Ithaka provides innovative services such as JSTOR, the digital library/ academic journal, which benefits higher education.

Homepage Analysis
Ithaka’s homepage is extremely clean, clear, and professional. The focus is on the enlarged photo in the center of the page. This space is a slide show that automatically switches between four different photos that each have it’s own unique caption that links to the site’s main pages. What is nice is that as a user, in addiction to the automatic feature, you can control the picture that you want to see using a side feature that displays four orange circles, and a blue one that shows which page you are seeing. The main pages they focus on are to browse careers that Ithaka offers if you wanted to join their team, the three services that they provide, to see who Ithaka works with, and an about us page.

When you scroll down to the bottom of the page, the page visitor sees “News” and “Events”. What is nice about the page is that it only lets the viewers see the headlines of the articles. This is essential because it keeps text to a minimum while also giving you the option to click to a page dedicated to only “News”.

The design is very sleek with a choice of a black boarder on the top and bottom of the page that highlight the important tabs (lined pages). The color scheme includes black, crème, with orange, blue, and black text. Each page is consistent with colors coordinated to the same features, for example, blue text means that it is a heading, and orange text means that it is a link. The color balance is a smart choice because the orange text stands out, and that’s ultimately what they want, for users to click to other pages to see what else the site offers. Everything on the page is pretty subtle and far from overwhelming and busy, which makes it a solid example for a great npo webpage that is cohesive to their mission.

I would definitely like to find a similar WordPress theme or one that highlights photos as the main page for the Blood Battle WordPress, which is in the works!

3. Blood Battle. It’s about life.

Ever since attending Festifall and stumbling upon Blood Battle’s table, as a hungry freshman for involvement, I immediately took down all of the information I needed, gave the representative my email, and ever since that day, have been a dedicated member. Blood Battle is a student organization that raises the awareness and importance of blood donations, and does so with two competitions/ main fundraisers—Blood Battle against OSU and Face-Off Blood Challenge against MSU. Blood Battle is an extremely important organization that lies very close to my heart because I know how crucial blood donation’s are. A stranger saved my life when I was just 14 years old and gave me a second chance. I am grateful everyday for it, and thankful for all the donors that take out time of their day to give the gift of life. Because I am unable to give blood due to my low levels of iron, I volunteer at drives, promote the awareness, support and encourage others to donate.

I chose to intern with Blood Battle because I wanted to be more than just a volunteer. As a member I have always noted suggestions and ways for the chairs to improve member’s involvement as well as improving strategies for awareness. When I speak about Blood Battle to friends and classmates, I am surprised that some of them don’t know about Blood Battle because it’s an amazing organization, but there is definitely a lack of awareness of the organization, it’s mission, and effort to save lives, mainly because of the organizations’ poor use of new media communications. If people were more aware of the importance of blood donation, about how it is a community responsibility, and how easy it is to save lives, they would be more willing to donate their blood. People need to know facts about how desperately people need blood, how donating can affect a person’s life, how it’s about one hour of their time, and how it’s about life. I want to change this. I want to inform people and get them to donate.

My internship for the next 10 weeks focuses on communications and includes a variety of smaller projects. My main goal is to brainstorm, conceptualize, and develop different tactics through new media and to implement a communication strategy that Blood Battle can continue to use beyond my internship. My goals include bring more awareness to students, faculty, and Ann Arbor community, to increase involvement and engagement, to promote Blood Battle’s mission, and to get people to interact with the website by keeping it up to date, making it user friendly and utilizing social media tools such as the Blood Battle blog, Facebook and Twitter accounts.

I am currently creating tweets and Facebook status’s to update the current followers, but to also try to engage and capture new followers in order to expand the audience. I started over a week ago because the Face-Off Blood Challenge is occurring at the moment and I knew that it made the most sense to begin my internship right away, to implement and execute my social media strategy. My next mini project is to create interview questions and to go to the blood drives and interview donors. I want to know who they are, why they are donating, and how the process went. If I can get their permission I would like to feature a donor on the blog and to share their stories via Facebook, on a weekly basis. I think digital storytelling is a very effective tool especially through social media platforms such as Facebook. Another project it to work on the blog, and to create interesting content that will capture and inform readers. I hope that my internship will allow me to understand the importance of communications through the eyes of Blood Battle, and to understand what is an efficient and effective strategy to promote Blood Battle’s mission.

Face-Off Blood Challenge goes from now until Feb. 15. Do something amazing. Please donate, you can save up to 3 lives! Don’t wait to make an appointment. Visit http://t.co/r67modwb Sponsor code: “goblue”

2. Audience Emphasis

As human communication and interaction are continuously being redefined, society is expecting more from technology. Technology is increasingly becoming more of a powerful tool to society and many organizations offline, have made the transition to online. Society may be expecting stronger and more personal ties online. As a result, are we now expecting less from each other? We have limited amount of time to devote to communicating, so perhaps more of one type of communicating means less of another, but with limited resources, which should obtain more attention?

I think that the answer is to take offline relationships, continue to build weak ties online, so that they become stronger, but also focus on developing new ties. Social media today is such an important tool for communications as it helps leverage the mission, goals, and stories to communities as well as create opportunities to create those stronger ties within a more focused audience. In Druker’s “Managing the Nonprofit Organization: Practices and Principles,” he mentions one of the clearly defined goals specifying that your organization need is to be focused on a target audience. Either online or offline, organizations must know their audiences in order to understand their needs, wants, and expectations. Putting the organization in the shoes of the target audience can help understand these needs from their perspective so that no assumptions are made. It is important to know who the customer is, what they value, and what content is important to them in order to keep them satisfied. Once you know your audience, organizations will be able to better target their marketing efforts and be able to appeal to their audiences with crafted and appropriate marketing messages.

So, how do organizations reach their target audience and who is most important to reach? It seems like this question may be difficult to answer especially if you do not know what message you want to send. If you haven’t defined a voice and established oneself as an organization, how do you know who your audience should be? There are people perhaps unknown audiences that are passionate about certain causes that can spread ideas and effect change, but again where do you find them? That is the hard part because once you do find your audience, building relationships and strengthening old ones will provide you answers on how valuable certain ones are compared to others, and what your future goals shall be.

1. A Little About Me

My name is Emily and I’m currently a junior at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor studying Social Computing Informatics. I love to learn new things and I am consistently looking to expand my horizons in areas that I love. I am passionate about everything I do and I make sure of that. And I believe that everyone should be. If you do what you love, the rest will come naturally.

I reside in Michigan, but I’m a New Yorker and always will be. I was born in New York City and raised in Long Island, New York. I spent this past summer living in the city interning and it was one of the most incredible experiences of my life. I was lucky to get the amazing opportunity to work with the inspiring fitness fashion expert Bianca Jade, founder of MizzFIT.com, which is a leading online source that that merges fitness and fashion with health and wellness news. I never imagined myself working in the city doing what I was doing…I only dreamt of it. Dreams do come true people! I desired to do what I saw on television (like LC on The Hills), run around the best city in the world, explore the unknown, and dive into obscure, yet delightful adventures. I turned a dream into reality. That’s when I knew that whoever told me to “dream big” was right, because I was reminded that anything could happen.

I spend the majority of my free time on Twitter, Pinterest, and Facebook. I work for two companies: MizzFIT and ServiceRunner, and could not be happier. Although these two companies are centered around two completely different fields, fitness fashion vs. home improvement services, the strategies that I implement are very similar as my goals are focused on social media optimization to increase brand visibility and to engage followers. I have a passion for these social media platforms and how businesses, and organizations are utilizing this new media to their benefit, and I’m looking forward to learning about how non-profits are as well. I’m excited to learn and develop new ways in which I can use social media to promote social change.

Thanks for reading!