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Millennials Using Social Media for Social Good

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The adoption of digital technology is one of the major distinctions Millennials have among previous generations. The age group in their late teens to early 30s can create a profile on the latest social network faster than you can say “smartphone.” Many might deem their ubiquitous love affair with social media quite trivial, but don’t discount all the good some of them are already doing with it. Millennials are pioneering ways to give back to their communities, sharing actionable solutions to social issues, and galvanizing others who believe real impact is sometimes only a send button away.

Social Networks Expanding Nonprofits’ Reach

Take IGNITEgood for instance, who has teamed up with The Huffington Post to give away $100,000 to 10 game changing ideas that move humanity forward. The competition dubbed “Millennial Impact Challenge,” will first select five existing nonprofit organizations/businesses that demonstrate scalable impact, viability of getting others involved, and a sense the applicants are uniquely qualified to champion their big idea. The IGNITE Team has corralled an impressive group of–you guessed it–Millennials as the selection committee to pick these winners. The second half of funding is reserved for five startup organizations or companies who get the most “likes” on Facebook during the voting phase. You see, socially-conscious Millennials are using the “like” button for something other than self-esteem boosters and virtual pats on the back.

A Houston darling of a nonprofit is also harnessing the social web to make a difference in their community. Mia’s Closet is barely a year old and is already making established nonprofits take notice with its online presence. Executive Director Chelsea Coffey founded the nonprofit to instill confidence and self-worth in students from kindergarten to high school by providing them with clothing through a personal shopping experience.

Seeing is believing in Coffey’s perspective so she tells the story of her organization through Instagram. The app allows Coffey and crew to showcase the lively atmosphere of pampering, personal styling, and all around family fun. What started out as a small project has blossomed into a steady growth in Facebook and Twitter fans, along with a full-fledged website using the easily-to-learn, WordPress platform. Quite fittingly, the 20-something founder now moonlights as fashion/social media editor for the same magazine that gave Mia’s Closet its early press coverage in March.

Social Entrepreneurs are The New Rockstars

From local zines to globally-recognized publications, Millennials are reported on as leaders in the surge of social entrepreneurship. One such brand is Forbes Magazine, which intends to bring these modern enterprises to a new audience. The magazine has publicized its search for 30 Awesome Social Entrepreneurs Under 30. Known for its lists of actors, rockstars, and  business moguls, Forbes is venturing into content that may add cachet to the young do-gooders of the world. Don’t go nominating your buddy who raised a wad of singles and loose change selling lemonade at the local block party, though. The staff is essentially searching for the dream team of altruistic innovators. The noble group who will help define this generation and their impact will most likely be fueled by Web 2.0.

One clear candidate deserving Forbes glory is Tristan Walker, who is adding value to the nonprofit sector via the social highway. The tech wunderkind Linkedin page looks more like Mashable.com’s top stories. Walker has worked for Twitter, JP Morgan, a major Boston-based consulting group and more recently served as Foursquare’s Director of Business Development (a relationship which he initiated with an email to the founders). Working 12 hour days to develop an investment portfolio so he can buy yachts, expensive champagne, and gold-plated toilet seats seem like the next steps for him, right?

On the contrary, the rising figure has opted to tackle a new venture that yields $0 in profits. Yes, Walker recently founded a nonprofit organization that is primed to give minorities a shot at taking on Silicon Valley’s biggest startups. The bold move has backing from some major players in the tech space, philanthropy powerhouses, and venture capital partners. Their inaugural class of fellows earned paid internships and gained insight from the who’s who of tech startups, as well as established companies.

Tammy Tibbetts is another under 30 community organizer crushing it at the intersection of social media and social change. Tibbetts had already scored a coveted job as Social Media Editor for Seventeen Magazine, which she reported as having the fastest growing Twitter presence in the magazine industry in 2011. She has since made the tough decision to leave that dream job to begin another as founder of She’s the First, a non-profit sponsoring girls’ education in developing countries.

Tibbetts takes social media best practices from her previous role to amplify the impact her organization makes. The site features “Map Your Impact” using Google Maps, as well as tweeting, Facebooking, and Tumbling calls-to-action that drive donors to its Razoo page. One of the most surprising, yet promising displays of support comes from its tie-dye cupcakes campaign, which has turned into social media tour de force. The video below is a taste of how sweet it is for college students to raise  thousands of dollars with a few days of baking and selling cupcakes on campus.

How Millennials Engage With Nonprofits

These new media-friendly founders help contextualize the bigger picture of how Millennials are working toward a greater good.  A valuable reference to these interactions is the often-cited 2012 Millennial Impact Report, which surveys Millennials’ relationships with existing nonprofits.

  • Connecting: The majority of Millennials surveyed stated they prefer to learn about nonprofits through their website and social media. 77% of them own smartphones, and they like having access to what an organization does, how to get involved, and shareable content, right at their fingertips. Nearly 70% of the participants have interacted with a nonprofit via Facebook. A staggering 87% of them follow nonprofits on Twitter, while 60% give compliments and retweet content from nonprofits they follow.
  • Involving: Not surprisingly, 81% of respondents prefer to learn about nonprofit volunteering opportunities through their peers. This finding warrants an added incentive for nonprofit leaders to create content people want to share, and display social network mechanisms for supporters to do so. Coming in at second and third are emails and a nonprofit’s website to learn about volunteer information. By a margin of more than two-to-one, Millennials who volunteer for nonprofits are more likely to make donations. That’s good news for organizations who can effectively engage with their audience via online and offline experiences.
  • Giving: Millennials overwhelmingly prefer to donate through the web, with 70% of respondents having made contributions through a nonprofit’s web page in the last year. This goes back to nonprofits needing to produce and feature inspiring content on their website in order to gain financial support. To encourage consistent giving, nonprofits should make it clear as to how donations will impact the organization, avoid telling donors how much to give, and stray from sending long letters in the mail for support. Millennials like to make contributions with ease and immediacy.

So there you have it. A look at innovative Millennials using social sites to make meaningful connections and bring change for the undeserved communities they’re passionate about. And a snapshot of overall trends that will ultimately drive new and interesting ways to solve human injustice and inequality. Comment below to share your story or tell us about a person you know who is using social media for social good. Even lemonade stand stories are welcomed here.

 

Solving Crime with Social Media [Infographic]

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Planning on organizing a big heist today? Well, be sure not to announce it on Twitter or Facebook! Ok, sure, that sounds silly. But, you’d be amazed at how effectively law enforcement is able to use social media to gather evidence, establish probable cause, or identify suspects. This nifty infographic from Backgroundcheck.org sheds some light on how the law is tapping into the social web.

Solving Crime with Social Media
Compiled By: BackgroundCheck.org

Tom Webster Talks About the State of Social Media

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56% of Americans have a personal profile on a social network.

93% of Americans have heard of Facebook and 90% have heard of Twitter, (which is significant because only about 85% of Americans have Internet access).

22% of Americans – about 58 Million people – use social media sites every single day.

These are just a few of the stats Tom Webster shared during his session, “The Social Habit 2012: How Americans Real Use Social Media.” Tom works for Edison Research, and his presentation revealed some interesting – and even surprising – facts about today’s social media users.

Twitter’s Interesting Growth

Facebook is still killing it when it comes to social networking, but that doesn’t mean other networks aren’t growing at all. Twitter, for example, has seen some interesting growth. About 26 Million Americans use Twitter, but even more interestingly, people are starting to become more engaged on this network. People aren’t just “silent users” watching that is going on – they are no using the network more to send tweets.

In addition, more than four in ten Americans hear or read about tweets nearly every day in the media, even if they don’t have a personal profile on Twitter. Says Tom, “I have to believe the amount of content that gets shared, the way it gets shared…it’s changing the way we process and learn information.

Following Brands Online

Another interesting group of stats Tom shared was about how people follow brands on social media sites. Most follow on Facebook, which is unsurprising, but what is notable is that people are becoming more aware of how they’re following brands online. Fewer people are simply hitting the “like” button and are instead making a conscious decision to follow brands they like online. 33% follow a brand on social networking sites – this number has doubled since 2010.

Want More Stats?

This is just a small taste of the stats Tom shared, alone with his dissection of what these stats mean. Want the whole thing? Check out our virtual ticket, which gives you access to full recordings of all of the sessions you may have missed at BlogWorld New York 2012! It’s great for those of you stuck  at home or for those of you already at BlogWorld and worried about missing sessions you want to see. (And if you’re on the East Coast and don’t yet have a ticket, there’s still time to head over to the Javits Center in New York to check out Wednesday and Thursday sessions.)

How to Lose a Reader in Ten Seconds

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I’ll admit it. I can be a completely girl-girl sometimes. I like dressing up and doing my hair. I like a good shopping trip, especially if shoes or purses are involved. And yes, I like the occasional chick flick. How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days is one of my favorites.

In the movie, the main character writes for a women’s magazine decides to write an article about everything women do wrong when trying to snag a boyfriend. Of course, hilarity ensues when she puts her theories to the test and tries to drive a new guy away (who has unbeknownst to her recently made a bet that he can make a relationship work).

Sometimes, I feel like we’re all like the women in the movie – we’re actively trying to drive readers away. Forget ten days…if you’re not careful, you will lose readers in ten seconds.

Goodbye, readers...

We’ve been talking a lot about bounce rate here at BlogWorld recently, including compiling a list of links about bounce rate. One of the points several bloggers have made is that bounce rate is more significant if readers are only staying on the site for a few seconds (as opposed to remaining on your site for several minutes, taking the time to read a post). So what are you doing wrong? Well, I certainly can’t speak for everyone, but here are a few things that will make me leave a blog in under ten seconds:

  • Being smacked across the face with a pop-up

The great pop-up debate will likely rage on for decades to come. I’m currently not using them on my site, but I do understand why some people do. Whether you use pop-ups or not isn’t the point though – it’s about how you use them, if you make that choice.

If you smack me with a pop-up two seconds after arriving on your site, I’m probably going to click the back button pretty quickly. It definitely makes me trust your content less, since it seems like you’re just trying to sell me something, so even if I do get through the pop-up, I might click the back button pretty quickly unless your content is amazing. If you’re going to use pop-ups give me some time to like your blog first. Time your pop-ups well!

  • Content that doesn’t match the promise

Your regular readers aren’t going anywhere. They already love you. But to convince new readers to stay, you have to have great content. This goes beyond simply writing valuable content. You have to right valuable content that people want.

If I’m new to your blog, I’ve probably arrived there one of two ways – through a link or through a search engine. I click a link when the title looks interesting, and I visit via a search engine when your content looks like it might match with what I want to know. If I get to your blog and the content doesn’t meet my expectations, I’m going to leave. So:

  1. Make sure your content delivers on what your headline promises. Link bait is fine, but the content has to actually be good if you want people to stay on your site. (More on that here.)
  2. Look at the search terms people are using to find your blog. Are your posts actually covering the most popular terms or are some of your posts accidentally optimized for random keywords? (A good example: I once wrote a post called The Blog Sneetches, and sometimes people arrive at that post using the search term “sneetches” – which is probably not what they want!)

When I’m looking for specific information and I don’t get it, I’m going to leave pretty quickly.

  • You regurgitate content I’ve already read.

It’s important to write posts that are helpful for beginners in your niche, but if you’re basically rewriting what’s already been said, an reader with experience in your niche is going to leave pretty quickly. Personally, I think the best way to solve this problem is make sure you have some posts specifically for newbies (and named as such, like the beginner’s guide to bloggers basics I wrote) and some posts that answer specific questions (again, clearly titled), but then also write posts that are filled with original opinions, thoughts on news stories in your industry, personal experiences, and other things that your readers can’t find at any other site. The more original you are, the better.

I think a lot of the other things that make me leave quickly are more personal preferences than anything else. For example, I don’t like to see posts written by “admin.” What about you – what will make you leave a site quickly?

E-Reader Ownership Continues to Dominate Over Tablets

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ereaders over tablets

According to a recent study by Pew Internet, adults in the United States are buying e-readers at a much faster rate than tablets. The number of adults who own an e-book reader doubled to 12%, compared to only 8% who own a tablet.

Both numbers have seen growth over the past six months, but the e-reader owners jumped by a much larger percentage. Adults owning an e-book reader were at 6% in November 2010 and tablet owners were at 5%.

E-Readers Over Tablets

Other interesting growth statistics from the last six months include:

  • E-reader ownership among parents has grown more rapidly than it has among-non-parents.
  • E-reader ownership grew at a faster pace among Hispanic adults over white or African-American adults.
  • Ownership among adults ages 18-49 grew more rapidly than any other age group.

The study also tracked how many people owned both an e-reader and a tablet. 5% say they own a tablet but not an e-reader. I’m assuming they mean a physical Kindle or Nook. But … why would they when they can just download the app for free?

There’s definitely still a debate brewing over whether to purchase an e-reader or a tablet. While I personally would rather own a tablet with the Kindle app, I think it ultimately depends on what you plan to use it for, what you’re looking for, and how much you’re willing to spend. CNET has a great article that discusses the pros and cons of both.

So, tell us – do you own an e-reader, a tablet, or both?

Users Spend Nearly 16% of Time Online on Social Media

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Online users spend 16% of their time on social media, up from only 8% four years ago, says a new report by comScore. In 2007, social networking represented about 1 out of every 12 minutes spent online, while today that number is more like 1 out of every 6 minutes. This number doesn’t surprise me. I just wonder how long it will take until it’s 1 out of every 3 minutes.

May Online Time Social Media

The other big finding in the study is the changing face of social media. Myspace was the social networking leader up until mid-2009, when Facebook finally pulled ahead and continued it’s upward growth. Today it is the 4th largest web property in the U.S. with 157.2 million visitors in May. Perhaps even more impressive, Facebook’s average U.S. visitor usage has grown from 4.6 hours to 6.3 hours per month over the past year! Quite the opposite, the amount of Myspace visitors has declined by about 50% in the past year.

Other sites in the running for the share of social media space are Linkedin, Twitter, and Tumblr, each showing record highs in May. LinkedIn had 33.4 million U.S. visitors, Twitter more than 27 million and Tumblr came in at 10.7 million. With this growth and the mass of people joining these sites at a record pace, who knows what the next few years will look like!

What’s the State of Your Blogosphere?

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Last night, I attended the keynote address for Blogging Success Summit 2011, an online event being organized jointly by BlogWorld and Social Media Examiner founder Michael Stelzner. The speaker was Richard Jalichandra, CEO of Technorati, and his presentation was on the state of the blogosphere. He talked about how blogging has changed since 2008, the trends he sees continuing in 2011, and more – and for me, it was really interesting to see a statistical breakdown of what people read and how people share information.

Technorati publishes a report on the state of the blogosphere every year, and it is definitely recommended reading for anyone hoping to make money online. But I want to suggest that you take it a step farther and do your own annual study. What’s the state of your blogosphere?

See, what makes the Technorati study great is that they poll tons of people from around the world and across every industry to get their results. That’s also its downfall, though. If you’re someone who blogs about social media, your audience might think slightly different from the audience of a blog about fashion, and both of you might have readers who differ from the general public represented in the Technorati study. While few bloggers have the ability to poll thousands of people from across the world in an official, controlled study, that doesn’t mean you can examine your piece of the blogosphere and use the results to increase the effectiveness of your blog.

The Power of Many

You aren’t in this alone. Although every blog has a slightly different audience, there are probably blogs in your niche that have a very similar audience to your own. Team up to do your study! If you send out a survey to your mailing list or post it on your blog you might get, say, 10% to respond. But if 10 bloggers do it and you all get 10% to respond, you’ll have a large group represented. Doing a study of your audience’s habits and needs only benefits you has a blogger, so there’s really no reason for your peers not to jump on board if you approach them with this proposal.

Questions

So, ok, it’s a good idea to poll your audience – but what do you ask?

While some of the questions you ask might be specific to your niche, it makes sense to ask a ton of more general questions, like the ones found in the Technorati report (or similar to the ones found in the Technorati report).

  • Do your users use social media? What are their favorite sites?
  • How many of your readers are bloggers themselves?
  • Do your readers feel that blogs are as trustworthy as traditional media like newspapers?
  • How many of your readers use feed readers?
  • How many of your readers subscribe to their favorite blogs via email?
  • Do you readers get email newsletters?
  • How likely are your readers to comment on a blog post they like?

Asking these questions might produce some eye-opening results. For example, maybe over half of your readers prefer Facebook over Twitter, and you don’t even have a Facebook page. Or maybe most of your readers prefer receiving email newsletters, but you don’t offer one. Or maybe very few of your readers use YouTube, yet you’ve been concentrating on making videos. This list is, of course, just a small sampling of the questions you can ask, but by keeping them general, you can adjust what you’re doing as a blogger rather than focusing only on what you’re doing in relation to your niche.

The Dreaded Essay Question

If you want to get people to respond, you have to either 1) offer some kind of prize, discount, or giveaway for those who answer the questions or 2) keep it short and simple. Usually, it pays to do both.

But, at the end, I’m a big fan of having an option essay question. People who are in a hurry can skip it, but your most voal audience members will respond. What should you ask them?

Be pointed (if you just say “Any comments?” people won’t know what to write), but give them the chance to talk without having to be too specific with an answer. Ask what frustrates them about blogs, what they love about blogs, and what they wish to see in the blogs they read. Their answers won’t be something you can chart on graph paper, in most cases, but reading these comments can give you a better understand of what your readers are thinking. Sometimes that’s better than percentages and charts.

Sharing is Caring

After you compile the results, share them! Don’t just share them with the other bloggers who participated. Post them on your blog or create a downloadable report so that others can see the state of your blogosphere. Part of what I loved about the Blogging Success Summit 2011 keynote is that Richard was so open and willing to share the results. Undoubtedly, Technorati does these reports because they benefit their company, but the blogging community is all in this together. Sharing results makes the entire blogosphere stronger.

Will I see you at future Blogging Success Summit 2011 presentations? There’s still time to sign up to participate, and you’ll get recordings of any presentations you may have already missed!

30 Days to a Better Blog: Analyze Your Statistics

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30 Days to a Better Blog: Analyze Your Statistics

If your blog doesn’t come with some sort of statistics or analytics package, install one TODAY! I personally suggest Google Analytics because I find it easy to use and … well … analyze.

If you have a WordPress theme like Genesis, you can sign up for Analytics and install the code in the Header script. Otherwise you can download a Plugin like Google Analytics for WordPress to embed the code on all your posts and pages.

Once you’ve added your code and have a few days of data, it’s time to start analyzing your blog. Items you’ll want to look at include:

  • Number of Visits and Pages/Visit: This is your first indication of traffic and is best to track over a long period of time. Look for spikes and trends throughout the weeks, months, and years.
  • Bounce Rate: This percentage that shows the amount of single-page visits to your site. You want it as low as possible.
  • Average Time on Site: You want this to be as high as possible! If it’s too low it means readers aren’t finding the content they are looking for, your navigation is week, or there are other problems with the site.
  • Content Overview: This will show the highest single pages on your site for a specific period of time. You can look for trends and what your readers are interested in!
  • Traffic Sources: Find out how readers are finding your site.
  • Exit Pages: Are there post or pages with a high exit rate? If so, add better navigation and links at the bottom of the content!
  • Keywords: Learn what keywords search engine users are entering to find your site. These may come as a surprise – either good or bad! If people are finding your site for the “wrong” reasons – your bounce rate and time on site will be low. This means you need to take a look at your keywords and up your SEO efforts.

What else do you look for when analyzing your stats?

Image Source: SXC

Overheard on #Blogchat: Stat Discouragement (@tsudo)

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Do you participate in #blogchat? Every week, this weekly discussion on Twitter focuses on a specific topic and bloggers everywhere are invited to join in. Because I often have more to say than what will fit in 140 characters, every Sunday night, I post about some of the most interesting #blogchat tweets. Join the conversation by commenting below.

(Still confused? Read more about #blogchat here.)

This week’s theme: Understanding your blog’s analytics and using that info to grow your blog’s readership

As I’ve already said once tonight, stats are not my favorite. I don’t like analyzing them. Heck, I don’t even like checking them. I think one tweeter tonight especially touched on why stats are hard for me:

@tsudo: Measuring audience is important but don’t allow it to be a discouragement to creating useful content.

No matter how well my blogs are doing, I always have higher aspirations. I’m one of those annoying people who is never satisfied, even when I reach my goals. So, stats always seem like a bit of a let down to me. The doubt starts to creep in.

I’m not growing fast enough.

My reader bounce rate is super high. I must not be writing engaging content that encourages people to stick around.

Most of my referrals are from Google. I’m not doing enough to promote by blog through social networking sites, and no one feels compelled to retweet my links.

I had a bad stats day. All is lost.

I know in my heart that even a horrible stats day doesn’t mean that all is lost, yet it if easy to look at stats and wonder why you aren’t doing better. I bet some of the most popular bloggers in the world look at their stats some days and feel discouraged that they only have one million readers instead of two million readers.

The key is to be productive when you look at your stats, rather than letting it paralyze you and prevent you from creating good content.

Take a good look at your last two weeks of posts. Are they high quality? Are they original? Are they focused to be relevant for your target market? Are they consistent? If you truly believe in what you’re doing, keep doing it. Don’t stop just because you see a day of bad stats or aren’t growing as quickly as you wish you could be.

Of course, on the flip side, it is also important to not ignore bad stats. If your readership hasn’t grown for months, you have to ask yourself: why? Maybe you need to reevaluate your niche, your market focus, or your style approach. Don’t blindly continue to post for months or even years if you have no readers. Figure out why.

The point is, take any stat number with a grain of salt. It’s easy to get down on yourself if you think you could be doing better, but rather than simply not posting, continue producing high-quality content and take steps to discover why you aren’t doing as well as you’d like to be doing.

Check out “Overheard on #Blogchat” here every Sunday to read about some of the most interesting tweets from participating bloggers.

Blogging Statistics Show Most Bloggers are Young and Living in the USA

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Sysomos analyzed more than 100 million blog posts that provided information about their age, gender and location information to gather blogging statistics. In a report released this month, they say that bloggers tend to be:

  • Between 21-35 years of age (53.3%)

  • Male or Female (females outweighed males by a mere 1.8%)
  • Living in the United States (29.2%)
  • Living in California (14.1%)

So are you in the majority or minority?

Other news and tips across the blogosphere this week (June 4th):

Copyblogger: How to Build a Successful Business With a Small Audience
We all want our businesses and blogs to grow. But not all growth is ideal or even beneficial. Sometimes blind growth can be harmful.

Daily Blogging Tips: 8 Tips for Conducting Effective Interviews with Bloggers
Learn the best ways to approach bloggers and conduct an interview.

ProBlogger: How to Stay Focused and Avoid Distraction as a Blogger
Check out Darren’s video that talks through some of the distractions that bloggers face as well as his simple 3 point strategy for staying focused.

ReadWriteWeb: Twitter Ad Changes: Who’s Affected, Who’s Not
After earlier news that Twitter Ad Networks would be affected by the inability to place instream ads, it seems like it may not be the case. Twitter ad networks are not at risk, but Twitter client applications are.

Mashable: Google Testing New Ad Format for Boosting Twitter Followers
Google has put together a new kind of display ad that lets advertisers attract more followers to their Twitter accounts.

Nikki Katz is the Managing Editor for the BlogWorld Blog. Feel free to follow her Twitter @nikki_blogworld and @katzni

Image Credit: SXC

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