Wow, my first official post on Technology for Change (that holiday post really doesn’t count). I’m usually lurking behind the scenes as editor of this blog, but I’m spreading my wings a bit and actually making my own post this week. Enjoy!

Last month, Melissa Imboden and I gave a presentation to the Habitat for Humanity of Minnesota State Development Network (say that 5x fast) about strategies for online communication tools. We covered strategies for blogs, email, Facebook and Twitter. I’d like to share some highlights from our presentation here for you.

5 Tips for a Successful Blog

Content that complements what is on your website – Posting things that are special or different will give people incentive to read your blog. This could be personal stories from your staff, guest posts from volunteers, etc. Be sure to include pictures and videos to keep it interesting.

  • Keep people up to date on your blog – People will be more likely to read if they subscribe rather than having to remember to visit your actual site. Add a “subscribe by email” box and have an RSS button at the top so people can add your blog to their Google Reader or other RSS feed.
  • Engagement – Provide opportunities for your followers to donate, volunteer, get involved, etc. Ask questions that encourage comments and be sure to respond to any comments you get, so they know you are listening.
  • Update 2-3 times per week – Ask different staff or volunteers to write posts (it also keeps the content varied and fresh), and schedule posts ahead of time. Assign an editor and create a blogging schedule.
  • Analytics Tracking – Your blog platform may have basic analytics built-in, but Google Analytics is also a good option. Simply paste the code into your blog template and you will be able to see useful info such as how many visitors you’ve gotten, which posts are most popular, and how long visitors are staying on your site.

5 Tips to Create a Successful Email

  • Compelling Subject Line and Recognizable Sender Name – It only takes someone a few seconds to decide if they want to open your message or not. Make subject headings short, to the point, and action oriented. Think about what name would be most recognizable in the From field…is it your organization name? Your Executive Director’s name?
  • Banner or Masthead – This is the first thing people see when they open your message (which is another common time people tend to delete messages). Make sure the banner is visually appealing and fits in their email reader, no more than 600-650 pixels wide.
  • Links (Donation or other) – Graphic links are great and eye catching, but you want to make sure you also include text links for any recipients who have images blocked in their email program. For best results, make sure links go to a branded donation page so people know it’s a trustworthy place to donate.
  • Readability – Stick with one, easily readable font, at least 12 pt in size. Make sure to use a font color that contrasts well with the background.
  • White Space – When it comes to the amount of content in your emails, less is more. People don’t have time to read a lot of text, and you don’t want to overwhelm them. From a visual standpoint, make sure to use padding around your images and tables.

Last, but not least:

5 Tips for Successful Facebook and Twitter Pages

  • Consistent messaging and voice – Make sure to vary posts on different channels, but keep your voice consistent. Think of your organization as a person. What would their personality be? Make a list of those traits (a leader, friendly, etc.) and use that as a guide for your organization’s ‘voice’.
  • Differences between your audiences – On Facebook, someone will most likely only ‘Like’ your page if they have a personal connection with you. Maybe they have been helped in the past, they volunteer, etc. Facebook is an outlet for a much more personal touch – photo albums, volunteer stories, articles, personal updates. Twitter is a much broader audience, with many followers having a much lower personal investment. Tweets about tips and resources go over well here.
  • Don’t spam your campaign – If you’re running a fundraising campaign, you don’t want people to be turned off by the fundraising efforts. Only post once or twice a day for your campaign. Make sure to vary the types of posts (campaign and non-campaign): share articles, post links, add pictures and videos.
  • Schedule messaging – Keeping up with these two channels can seem a bit overwhelming (especially if you are thinking of adding Google+ or LinkedIn), but You don’t have to sit on social sites all day. You can use free tools such as HootSuite or Tweetdeck to schedule posts.
  • Other options for keeping in touch – Make sure you have links on your channels for people to find your web site or sign up for your newsletters. Post or tweet asking people to sign up for your organization’s updates as well.

I hope you found our tips useful.

What other tips would you suggest for Blogging, Facebook/Twitter or Emails? Let me know in the comments!