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Help Employees Socialize Your Brand


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This is the talk I gave at Goodwill's Summer Learning event in Atlanta, GA on August 10, 2010. It covers how to help your employees go online and socialize your brand, how to measure their efforts, …

This is the talk I gave at Goodwill's Summer Learning event in Atlanta, GA on August 10, 2010. It covers how to help your employees go online and socialize your brand, how to measure their efforts, and how to handle some archetypes of social media crises.

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  • 1. How To Help Employees Socialize Your Brand: Preparing For The Opportunities and Pitfalls
    Shabbir J. Imber Safdar
    10+ year digital agency veteran
    Twitter: @ShabbirSafdar
    Conference hashtag: #GIIEvents
  • 2. Author / Presenter Background
    Founder of The Safdar Group (2010), a web agency with an expertise in nonprofit web analytics.
    Founder of Virilion Inc (1997), a digital agency in Washington DC, Boston, NYC, & Austin specializing in online public affairs and nonprofit campaigns.
    Frequent speaker on online crisis communications, web analytics, social media measurement, and online strategy.
    Free ebook: “3 Fundraising Metrics For Your Nonprofit Website” (October 2009)
    Free ebook: “Is Your Nonprofit Facebook Page Worth It? Analytics and Measurement Techniques” (April 2010)
    Ebooks available at
  • 3. What are you here for?
    I am a marketing or communications staffer with some responsibility for creating a social presence for the organization and guiding my colleagues.
    88 of 166 Goodwills are using social media (Source: GII)
  • 4. We’re going to cover
    A tiny tutorial on “how to” get more social.
    The policies you should have in place to do so and guide your team and your non-communications-savvy colleagues.
    How to develop measurable goals for your social media work
  • 5. Can a modern nonprofit ignore social media? No.
    Your supporters and detractors will use it to talk about you, whether you want them to or not.
    Your competitors are using it to drive attention to their efforts. Can you afford to cede all that attention to them?
    Sooner or later, someone in your organization with responsibility who can’t take it anymore will start an initiative.
  • 6. Can we set it up and lock it down? No.
    It’s not social if you’re using it to broadcast press releases written in the third person, and you’ll suffer from either:
    a crisis caused by a tin ear (not likely), or
    a complete lack of effectiveness (likely).
  • 7. What is required for success?
    A commitment throughout the organization to transparency, listening, and storytelling;
    Guidance in the form of policies both for staff and for you web visitors;
    Well-understood organizational and PR goals; and
    A commitment to measure the results and learn from them.
  • 8. Transparency, why?
    There are no secrets online.
    The details that make your passion authentic are not big, polished, infrequent stories.
    They are tiny details.
    Show prospective supporters frequently that you “sweat the small stuff.”
  • 9. Why do we listen?
    We need feedback: positive, negative, and disinterest.
    Positive feedback is deceptive: we don’t want to be told we’re great, but what is resonant.
    Negative feedback is passion at odds with expectation (not to be confused with trolls)
    Disinterest is the worst of all.
  • 10. How do we listen?
    Avoid “tool obsession”
    Crank up Google Alerts and HootSuite for Twitter search using:
    Your organization’s name
    Your nearest competitor’s name
    Key phrases around your mission
    Don’t worry about “centralizing” listening in your organization.
  • 11. Storytelling
    Little details of your work in the context of the organization’s mission
    “I’m eating soup.” (Poor)
    “Having lunch with Joe from the Career center. He runs the weekly career seminars”
    “Three laid off auto workers from the Numi plant in tonight’s career seminar. Three families suffered in that layoff.”
  • 12. It’s a process, not an answer
  • 13. More info
    Beth Kanter’s blog:
    Allison Fine’s blog:
  • 14. Policies for staff
    You need policies in place for staff because they need guidance.
    Many of them, especially the digital natives, aren’t public relations natives.
    Be honest.
    Be nice.
    Don’t talk out of school.
  • 15. A great social media policy
    Environmental Defense Fund’s
    Key points:
    Nothing online is secret
    Everything online exists forever; nothing can be deleted
    There’s no such thing as a personal controversial opinion; your job is always a part of you
    Also see the story behind this policy
  • 16. Goodwill Social Media Policies
    Tacoma, WA and Greater New York – New Jersey
    Key points:
    Be polished
    Be respectful
    Be relevant
    Don’t talk out of school
    Arlene has a social media policy available for Goodwill’s to adapt for your own use.
    Note that policies should ideally cover people blogging on company time about their work, as well as people sharing online on their own time.
  • 17. Who answers what?
    At large organizations it gets pushed to the experts, away from communications.
    In small organizations it probably comes back to the communications or marketing person who learns about everything you do.
  • 18. What new roles does this create?
    Communications and Marketing needs to take on:
    Listening on behalf of the whole organization; and
    Measurement of results.
  • 19. Red Cross Personal Online Communications Guidelines
    Reveal confidential information
    Link to guidelines
    Use disclaimers
    Be transparent
    Be accurate
    Be considerate
    Respect copyright
    Tell us about your blog
    Be generous
    Be a good blogger
    Respect work commitments
    Uphold the Fundamental Principles
  • 20. Handbooks and Guidelines
    Apart from a policy, you also want to give guidance in the specifics of your mission
    Guidance for logo usage, specifics tips about tools, and common pitfalls that people working within your mission might encounter (privacy issues, for example)
    Read the Red Cross social media guidelines designed to bring chapters up to speed on social media.
  • 21. Common Pitfalls Online
    Thinking what you post is “hidden” by a password or “privacy settings”.
    Thinking that because you don’t identify your place of employment, nobody will know.
    Once you type it into a computer connected to the Internet, it’s fair game to wind up on CNN someday.
  • 22. Questions so far?
    Have you had an incident?
    Are you listening?
  • 23. Measurement of social media
    Realize that social media today is where email fundraising was in 2000.
    Your goal is to engage in a conversation with supporters about your work.
    Incorporate their feedback, both overt and subtle. It will change you, and invest them in your mission.
    Your “asks” both overt and subtle, will be measurably more effective over time.
  • 24. The Overt Ask
  • 25. Mission Ask
    Leads to….
  • 26. This page has six asks
  • 27. How to measure the bottom line impact of your social media work
  • 28. Example of your Facebook Marketing Funnel
    This number is pretty directly under your control. Over time it will grow organically.
    This number is very much under your control. Be more passionate and persuasive, and more people will click.
    This one is the hardest to nudge in the short term. However in moments of high news profile, it will skyrocket.
  • 29. Why bother to measure it?
    Your staff deserves to have the results of their work connected to a bottom line organizational goal.
    You don’t want them to fall into the PR-trap of working hard at something without measurable impact.
    If you ever hope to get better at anything, you need to assess your progress along the way.
  • 30. What will I learn when I review my data bi-weekly?
    What events and activities drive fan growth?
    What social media updates drive the most click thru traffic?
    What events cause people to give more?
  • 31. Getting started
    Get Google Analytics (free) deployed on your system correctly (not free, but not expensive).
    Start keeping track of three metrics:
    Social media reach
    Click-thru rate
    Gift/Volunteer conversion rate
    Set moderate, incremental goals for your social media staff
    Review bi-weekly to learn what your audience likes
  • 32. Questions so far?
    Who looks at their analytics?
    Does anyone measure their social media for results?
    Is anyone connecting online actions to in-store donations?
  • 33. Managing online crises
    Sooner or later, this is likely to happen
    The solutions seem easy, but there are a million ways to do it wrong.
  • 34. Scenario #1
    The New Republic has had a long running beef with Goodwill. A headquarters employee for your area discovered that many of the nearby stores have donated issues of the New Republic on their shelves. They’ve sent out an email asking staff in each store to remove all copies from the shelves. A reporter got a hold of this email and is calling for comment on a story you know isn’t going to look good for you. What do you do?
  • 35. Apologies Work: Circuit City vs. Mad Magazine
    In 2008 an overzealous Circuit City employee ordered all copies of Mad Magazine removed from the shelves of all stores due to a Circuit City parody.
    As the story hit the AP wire, the Circuit City PR team responded with a letter to Mad and the blog that broke it,, with an apology, a self-deprecating joke, and a gift card.
    The response was lauded by PR people and consumer advocates alike, and earned Circuit City an updated AP story and kudos for coming clean on their mistake.
  • 36. Ben Popken’s ( 3-step system for fixing corporate gaffes:
    Admit you were wrong
    Stop doing the wrong thing
    Make a material gesture of apology
  • 37. Scenario #2
    A critic with a beef of your organization has made a homemade video that liberally uses your trademark. The video has been posted to YouTube. Your legal counsel tells you that he can send a quick letter to YouTube and have it taken down. What do you do?
  • 38. Greenpeace vs. Nestle
  • 39. Don’t screw up your apology.
    From flickr user BlaiseGV on March 19th, 2010
  • 40. Suppressing online speech: Barbra Streisand vs.
    In 2003 a photographer documenting coastal erosion shot thousands of photographs including one of Streisand’s Malibu home.
    She lost in court, and drew 400,000+ visitors to the photo.
    Coined the concept “The Streisand Effect”.
    Source: Wikipedia
    It takes talent to get your controversy into Wikipedia, from whence it will never leave.
  • 41. Scenario #3
    An employee’s work is subpar and is asked to leave your organization. A more senior employee who managed them on a few projects (but was uninvolved in their termination) gives them a glowing review on LinkedIn.
  • 42. Scenario #4
    You have a job opening and have narrowed the search down to two candidates who have been in for second interviews. Out of curiosity you Google both and notice that one of them has a Facebook profile that indicates they have a baby on the way and attend a Mormon church.
    You close your browser and never tell anyone what you found. You hire the other candidate
  • 43. Followup
    These slides are available on slideshare for download as well as the Goodwill conference extranet. Also at
    For more information about setting up measurement for social media, contact Shabbir Safdar at 415-683-7526 or
    Ebooks available at