Everything I learned from 3 days at NTC 2016

Another NTC has just wrapped up and I have that familiar feeling of brain fatigue, where my head literally hurts because of all the information that has been crammed in over the past few days. So many ideas, tools, and sources of inspiration that is at risk of fading away by the time I make it back to the office. To make sure everything I learned gets preserved and put into practice, here is my “general-gist” summary of the sessions I went to. This is just what I personally got out of the sessions, and not a summary of everything the session had to offer. I’ve included links to the slide decks, Twitter accounts and collaborative notes where available if you want more notes from the session.

Table of Contents

  1. WordPress Day
  2. Crafting your Nonprofit Story in a Digital World
  3. How to be a AdWords Superhero
  4. The 4 Strategic Foundations of Effective Websites
  5. Diversity In Giving
  6. Facebook Autoplay, Periscope, Snapchat Stories, and more…
  7. Content Calendars and YOU! Creating Communications Harmony

WordPress Day

NTC had a few different pre-conference events for WordPress, Drupal and SalesForce. I had a session at WordPress Day which was organized by Cornershop Creative. Most of the sessions had content which was 30 mins or less, so I didn’t get as many notes as I did during the main conference sessions.


Why WordPress is perfect for Nonprofits

Slide Deck

Lesley Molecke – Cornershop Creative: @eckandgrumble
Ira Horowitz – Cornershop Creative: @ira_horowitz

This is simple…it’s all about the community and cost. It’s much easier to and cheaper to find WordPress developers than pretty much any other platform. The upgrade path is also much easier than Drupal. Going from Drupal 7 to Drupal 8 takes an entire project, whereas WordPress upgrades can be a single click (in most cases).

My favorite quote was from a conversation I had with Chris at Cornershop Creative where he said that “In WordPress, your website can be powerful and complex. In Drupal, your website has to be powerful and complex.”

Plugins to check out:

WP Social Stream – A plugin that pulls in content from all your social platforms. Will be great to have on the Birthdays For All homepage, where we showcase our most current content.

Media Deduper – a plugin created by Cornershop Creative, the hosts of WordPress Day (and a bunch of awesome people), that removes duplicate images that you have in your bloated Media Library. I know we have a few of those.

Tidy Repo – The great thing about WordPress is the thousands of developers out there creating plugins for the platform to extend its functionality. That leads to a lot of great and terrible plugins, so how do you know which ones to go for? Tidy Repo tests and approves the best ones for you.

Crafting Your Nonprofit Story in a Digital World

Slide Deck

Ben Wong – Blackbaud: @bunmun

This was from my session at WordPress Day. You can watch a longer version from a webinar I did for Nonprofit Hub: http://nonprofithub.org/digitalstory/

Longform Content

Slide Deck

Courtney Clark – Forum One: @circlish
Kristina Bjoran – Forum One: @bjoran_identity

  • You don’t have to go long form.
  • Long form takes a lot of time and effort that might not be worth the ROI.
  • Be wary of budgets, expect less and don’t promise the world.
  • Not everyone is a good writer. Get a good copywriter.

The RESTful Future of WordPress

Slide Deck

Phil Crumm – 10Up: @pcrumm

  • Learn JavaScript and look into ReactJS library created by Facebook for fast single page apps.
  • Hello Calypso is an example of how the WordPress editorial experience can be rebuilt using the REST API

AppPressr can compile your WordPress site in a native mobile app

NTC Day One

How to be a Google AdWords Superhero #16NTCsuperhero

How to be an AdWords Superhero

Slide Deck
Mark Hallman – Evergreen DM: @mark_hallman
Jason Shim – Pathways to Education Canada: @jasonshim
Collaborative Notes: http://po.st/superhero-16NTC

  • Use Google Autofill to see what phrases that people are searching for. Think about how your organization can help these people by serving them relevant content.
  • Get inspiration from how Cosmopolitan magazines create their front page headlines. Concise and to the point.
  • Use Google Trends to see when your target keywords are being searched for the most.
  • Use Google Keyword Planner to research related keywords and phrases to your target keywords
  • Learn from your mistakes on ineffective campaigns. Don’t delete your old campaigns, just pause them instead.
  • Ultimate Guide to Google AdWords by Perry Marshall – $15 on Amazon

The 4 Strategic Foundations of Effective Websites

Ian Mariano – Constructive: @ianmariano
Collaborative Notes: http://po.st/4foundations-16NTC

  • Your website is the epicenter of the universe for all your organization does. It’s the single most visible window into your organization.
  • Brand Strategy
    • An internal and external understanding of an organization that informs every experience it creates for audiences.
    • Everyone in the team needs to understand the orgs core purpose and how they go about fulfilling that core purpose
  • Content Strategy
    • The ways and means of creating meaningful, cohesive, engaging and sustainable content.
    • Establish your content goals and identify your content gaps. What do you need to create to meet your organizations objectives.
    • Content strategy should develop publishing flows that support goals from the backend to be presented well on the frontend
  • Technology Strategy
    • Involve your technical web developers as early in the process as possible.
    • The team needs to have an understanding of the technical landscape.
  • Design Strategy
    • Design Strategy ties everything together.
    • What is the visual language?

Diversity in Giving

Danielle Johnson Vermenton – Blackbaud: @DJVermenton
Mariel Molina – Edge Research: @marielinha
Collaborative Notes: http://po.st/givediversity-16NTC

  • The philanthropic landscape is predominantly white.
  • Minority groups aren’t always asked because of the assumption that they can’t afford to give.
  • Having a diverse board means nothing if they don’t behave like a diverse board
  • How diverse does your outreach need to be? Do you need to target Asians in South Carolina?
  • When sharing stories with different groups, make sure the characters and themes are relateable to the target ethnic audience.
  • African American donors tend to be older, and more inclined to give to religious or faith based orgs.
  • Asians donors are young, tech savy and well educated. They spend a lot of time researching the org and cause before giving.
  • Hispanic donors are the youngest group and give spontaneously based on emotion.

NTC Day Two

Facebook Auto-Play, Periscope, SnapChat stories and More…

Screen Shot 2016-04-04 at 10.49.39 PM

Slide Deck
Carie Lewis Carlson – Humane Society of USA: @cariegrls
Lara Koch – Humane Society of USA: @larakoch
Michael Hoffman – See3: @Michael_Hoffman
Bridgett Colling – See3: @BridgettColling
Collaborative Notes: http://po.st/video-16NTC

  • Video helps tell stories in a way that resonates with people
  • Humane Society of USA has a specific content strategy for Facebook
  • Check out www.samedaypups.com. The video received lots of engagement,
  • How people react to Facebook videos affects the reach. Videos boost engagement, boosts newsfeed reach for future posts.
  • You can’t publish any video and expect results, needs to be good video.
  • Even great videos won’t translate directly to donations.
  • Video is useful for the fundraising cycle, but not necessarily for the giving moment. Video is an important part to get donors ready to be donors.
  • Video improves click through rates of emails. Beth Kanter has some data
  • Ideas for good videos:
    • Include subtitles for videos so that sound isn’t needed.
    • Short but clickable headline, don’t include everything in the headline. Leave some wonder.
    • Videos that look like gif memes have shown to perform well.
    • How to videos
    • Learn from Buzzfeed e.g Tasty video
  • Content strategy should be about what people care about and are interested in, not about how awesome you are.
  • FYI – Humane Society of USA has about 100 people in their communications team.

Content Calendars and You! Creating Communications Harmony

Collaborative Notes: http://po.st/calendars-16NTC

Kivi Leroux Miller – Nonprofit Marketing Guide: @kivilm
Laura Norvig – ETR Associates: @LNorvig
James Porter – The End Fund: @PorterJamesE
Collaborative Notes: http://po.st/calendars-16NTC
  • As a communications director, your time is spent herding a lot of cats. Your #1 cat herding tool is an editorial calendar. It’s a roadmap for digital communications strategy
  • You are mapping out a roadtrip for your content
  • The editorial calendar eliminates the battles over whose turn it is to have their content published
  • The calendar should be organization wide
  • It lets non-communications staff know how long it takes to create content
  • Large orgs can use shared Google calendar, Basecamp, SalesForce
  • Small orgs should use Google Spreadsheet
  • Organize the calendar by milestones and communication channels.
  • Give your program staff communications training e.g. teach them the orgs Facebook strategy. Teach them the tools and when to use them.

6 themes of the challenges presented by the people in the session:

  • No buy-in from management
  • No time to plan ahead
  • Too many priority messages
  • Program staff don’t help
  • Trouble creating great content
  • No strategy behind editorial calendar

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