Is Social Media Worth It?

28 02 2011

Nonprofits are noodling around with social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter . While trying it out, we’re thinking about next steps and determining if incorporating social communications tools into our everyday work is a productive route to take.

 Given the limited resources faced by most nonprofits (especially these days!), many of us are hesitant to make the leap. How can we determine whether the return on investment (ROI) for social media will ultimately pay off?

The funders and the board members and the directors all want proof of ROI before committing. If you’re working in a nonprofit and believe in the need to get into social media, here are a few calculations you can make to determine the ROI for your social media efforts. Some of the biggies are:

  • Staff time – most organizations don’t have the budget for a full-time social media manager, so determining how much time is required for Facebook and Twitter curating  is a good beginning.
  • Tools – even though social media is mostly free, the tools supporting it aren’t always. Make sure your computers and systems allow access to social media tools like Facebook.
  • Installation, set-up and monitoring – someone has to have the technical expertise to set up the various accounts and monitor them for glitches.

According to Beth Kanter, a key player in nonprofit and social media education, social media ROI is worth calculating and there are many viable considerations to make when putting together your program. 

Is social media for nonprofits ultimately worth it? We think it is for PKIDs, but the answer for your organization may be “it depends.”

To learn more about social media for your nonprofit or health department, don’t forget to register for PKIDs’ Communications Made Easy program  and also visit the archive, which is replete with many recorded webinars.

New Twitter New Functionality?

21 10 2010

Like all social media, it seems Twitter functionality changes almost daily, adding and then removing features, offering a seemingly endless array of ways to make sense of the stream of endless conversation. Here are ways of using Twitter to help you manage your time and resources wisely.

1. Managing Your Twitter Stream

Sometimes the most onerous of all Twitter tasks once you follow and are followed by numerous people, is sorting through the vast streams of incoming content.  Among the newest and niftiest tools, Cadmus holds great promise for the slightly Twitter-whelmed.

It takes a while to upload and sync your account, but once you do, Cadmus has some great features, including ranking tweets by their relevance to pre-selected topics, trending conversations for all of Twitter, and trends within just the groups that you follow. So, for instance, if you’re interested in hepatitis B, you can prioritize those within your Twitter followers who are talking about it.

2. Twitter To Go

iPhones, Androids, and Blackberries, oh my!! As if streaming your Twitter account to your Blackberry weren’t enough, now you can use specialized applications that bring a smarter Twitter to your iPad.  This integration allows Twitter to serve as your intelligence when surfing the web remotely and increasingly allows you to categorize and manage different areas of your life online.

3. New Twitter Functionality

But of course the biggest news is that Twitter is unveiling a brand-new layout with even greater integration with media stars like YouTubeDeviantART, Etsy, and Twitpic.  By adding photos and videos into the Twitter stream, the methods for companies and individuals to use Twitter will expand. Now groups can use pics and videos as well as 140 characters to announce late-breaking news, or promote a new flu-prevention campaign at the state or national levels.  Some argue that Twitter is just becoming Facebook.

While Twitter has always pitched itself as more of an information rather than social network, the integration of multi-media into the streams and additional two-way communication devices (“You both Follow” for example) means Twitter is becoming a major player in the realm of social media destinations.

Whatever happens, one thing is clear, micro-blogging will never be the same.

Nonprofit Social Media Superstars!

7 10 2010

Here at PKIDs we’ve been talking and thinking about social media and nonprofits, particularly health-related nonprofits, for the past year.  Our Communications Made Easy Program focuses on helping immunization educators use social media to reach a broader audience.

 As part of the program, we host how-to webinars for immunization educators.  To listen to any of our social media or social marketing webinars, go here to register and you’ll have access to our library of webinars. To date, we’ve covered a number of topics including LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

There are plenty of nonprofit groups who could teach us a thing or two about effectively using social media, so this week marks the beginning of a new blog series we’re calling Nonprofit Social Media Superstars! Once a month we’ll highlight great examples from around the Web of groups using their social media chutzpah to make a difference.

This week’s Nonprofit Social Media Superstar: GAVI Alliance (Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation)  for their Facebook page (pictured below):

Even though GAVI has resources not available to many nonprofits, the methods they employ to maximize their organizational presence on Facebook are simple but effective. GAVI’s Facebook page does these four things particularly well:

  1. Customized Page – By adding a banner, a person coming to this page immediately learns something about GAVI (they support children) without reading anything further.
  2. Quality Interaction – GAVI posts regularly (several times daily) about global happenings, including those not directly related to their mission and projects. They also engage their fans (page audience) with conversation starters and discussions.
  3. Organizational Information – Every page allows organizations to post mission statements or brief accountings of work. GAVI adds a simple sentence that engages and challenges the reader to take action. “The world needs changing. Join us.”   
  4. Shameless Self-Promotion (in a good way)  – Many nonprofits are either too swamped or too reticent to promote their good work. GAVI places information about their projects and related pages right on their main fan page (see below).

If you’re doing the work, why not share as much information about it as possible? Facebook makes it very easy, by allowing you to promote your projects and programs in the sidebar.

If your organization has decided to invest time in social media such as Facebook, following GAVI’s example would behoove you.

See a nonprofit doing wonderful things with social media, or think your group deserves nominating? Send an email to and tune in for our next Nonprofit Social Media Superstar!

Three Social Media Trends to Watch

23 09 2010

Whether you’re active on Facebook or Twitter, or use your iPhone to track news and traffic, social media is taking center stage in the way we interact as a society. Some of the constant communication can be stressful, but it’s clear the two-way flow of information is democratizing news,increasing patient access to health information, and literally bringing the world to our fingertips.

If the thought of even more two-way communication makes your head hurt, stop reading here.

If these next three trends typify where we’re going, it’s quite likely that today’s social media will seem quaint in a few short years.

  1. Geo-locating Foursquare and its ilk, including Facebook Places, “tag” users as they wander around town or across the country. These updates, “Jane Smith is now in Starbucks in downtown Bellingham” appear as status updates. Why would someone want to share location information with the public? Isn’t that sort of creepy? To old notions of privacy, geo-tagging is a little creepy, but to the social media pioneer, tagging allows one to track others (“Hey! I’m at Starbucks too!”) and possibly meet up or view communities in real time.
  2. URL meets IRL – Fasten your seat belts, folks, we’re entering another dimension at the intersection of virtual and real called “social scanning.”  Programs like Stickybits encourage you to “tag your world.” You can add barcodes to businesses you frequent and then scan in photos, video, and commentary in real time.  It is also a real sticker that you can download and place on a real business -sort of a virtual Like button. A boon to businesses that elicit positive scans, but one wonders if negative scans will be left in place for long. 
  3. Specialized content sharing – Only interested in news and information relating to red fire ant behavior in the Mojave Desert? Niche content sharing is for you!  For many media consumers, scanning all headlines is no longer a desired use of time. Instead, people want to target their attention to a sub-topic or interest area.  Answering the question, “What are you working on?” people working in a specific field are able to share project ideas, photos, even drafts for others to review and comment upon. This makes way for seriously collaborative opportunities.

What does all this mean to health information, patient privacy, and infectious disease? Well, what if in the future we scan our doctor and leave comments in real-time for those who follow us on Facebook.  For example, “Don’t ever use this pediatrician, he’s very poor with fussy kids.”

Or maybe we’re newly diagnosed with hep C, and we want to filter our content by that disease alone?  Or we are a nonprofit health coalition interested in soliciting feedback on our new website. Sites like Dribbble allow us to do just that. Interested in infectious disease as a patient or caregiver? The notion of online community is going to change radically over the next decade. Whatever happens next, it’s clear Facebook and Twitter are only the beginning.

And the lines between the virtual world and the real world will become very blurry.

Social Media Questions? Lets Talk

13 09 2010

Have you tried to set up Facebook for your health department? Are you considering regular tweets for your health coalition? Are some elements of social media confusing to you? PKIDs Social Media Roundtable for Health Educators is for you!

Beginning Thursday, September 23rd @9am Pacific, PKIDs will host a monthly roundtable discussion during which we will review and present potential solutions to your social media related questions. We hope to learn from each other and help each other through the occasionally puzzling maze that is social media.

There are three ways to participate:

  1. Submit your organization’s question by 9/22 to and we’ll do our best to incorporate it into the discussion
  2. Sign up for the Roundtable, by going here
  3. Don’t be shy! Call in, discuss, and participate on 9/23.

PKIDs Now Hiring

9 09 2010

PKIDs is doing exciting work and would like to invite  individuals on the West Coast to join us in these forward-moving times. We will hire either two part-time people, or one full-time person.

We’re seeking a creative person afflicted with perpetual curiosity to work in a fast-paced, collaborative environment.

The ideal candidates are energetic, expert multi-taskers and the two focuses are:

Tech Savvy and Research Acumen

The right person will have experience and expertise in the following:

  • Social media participant (more than just a Facebook, Twitter account-holder) – you know how to use social media to promote your ideas and causes
  • MS Office Suite Expert – you know how to use various office products (including Excel, Word, Outlook) and have a few efficient tricks up your sleeve.
  • Adobe  – You can make, share and comment on .pdfs and can easily work in other Adobe products
  • Proficient blogger, writer, and SEO practitioner

This individual will also have writing, research, and editorial acumen with an ability to craft messages for various social and traditional communications outlets.  The right person will participate in all programs – leading in some and assisting with others.


  • 3+ years experience in the areas outlined above
  • Exceptional communication and organizational skills
  • Strategic thinker, excellent writer
  • Proven track record in online community/social media
  • Strong project management and interpersonal skills
  • Health and medical knowledge a plus
  • Bachelor’s degree

All PKIDs’ employees work from home offices and one must be comfortable and productive in that environment. You are expected to have your own working phone, computer, and a fast-internet connection available for work usage.

Please visit our website to find out more about us and feel free to email any questions you may have.

Please send your resume, salary requirements, links to online work, writing samples, and anything else you would like us to see to

YouTube for Health Educators

26 08 2010

YouTube isn’t just for Justin Bieber fans or people interested in 20th century dance moves.  It’s also perfect for health educators.

YouTube provides health educators with an endless supply of videos on health topics ranging from pertussis to the importance of adequate vaccination, as well as breaking health news and updates from government agencies.

Did you know CDC is on YouTube, as is WHO, and other estimable groups such as UNICEF and Save the Children?

A number of health departments use YouTube for health education campaigns addressing food inspection, oral health, swine flu, and everything in between.

If you are a health educator and are interested in learning more about YouTube, including how to set up an account and upload a video, sign up for next Wednesday’s webinar using these steps:

  1. Sign up for PKIDs Communications Made Easy Program (It’s free!)
  2. Register for our YouTube for Health Educators webinar (held Wednesday, September 1st at 9:00 am pacific time)
  3. Call in on the day of the webinar, using the number from your registration email
  4. Get online using the URL link in your registration email

Health Information: Social Media’s New Darling?

13 08 2010

When it comes to health information, more and more people are turning to the Internet, and not just to research symptoms.

Increasingly, people are turning to social media for everything from weight management to smoking cessation to exercise tutorials. The jury is still out on the effectiveness of tools like Twitter, Facebook, and mobile applications for the radical behavior modification required to stop smoking, drinking, or eating too much, but the health information landscape has been irrevocably altered by the influence of social media, and vice versa.

When it comes to weightier matters such as fighting infectious disease or increasing communication between doctors and patients, the social media scene is less chock-a-block with information, but most of the heavy hitters, like Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and World Health Organization are represented.

For patients with infectious diseases or other serious conditions, there are many virtual gathering places where peer-to-peer information and experiences are shared. Sites like PatientsLikeMe allow users to self-select using “disease communities,” from Fibromyalgia to HIV/AIDS. PKIDs has a listserv for families whose children have been affected by infectious diseases.

And while it’s far too early to tell whether social media will increase doctor-patient communication, some practitioners have embraced social media tools whole-heartedly –using everything from blogs to Twitter.  A New York practice handles nearly all post-consultation communications virtually (ranging from email to Twitter).

From virtual visits to health research to virtual communities for the chronically ill, the Internet is no longer just a way to check out your symptoms. And social media, with its two-way information sharing, has shifted knowledge-sharing hierarchies the healthcare world used to take for granted.

The Mayo Clinic, the seminal leader in the treatment of disease, recently formed a Center for Social Media.

Could a social media center in your hospital or clinic be far behind?

5 Quick Tips for Nonprofit Success on Twitter

6 08 2010

Twitter, the micro-blogging social media tool of choice for over 105 million people worldwide, can seem at first blush to be a funny tool.  Users write messages in 140 characters or less, and share links and news updates with those that follow them.

Brevity has necessitated its own language on Twitter (abbreviations anyone?) and to the uninitiated it can be quite difficult to understand.

However, for those willing to press on, Twitter can be an invaluable tool to reach a wider audience, share news updates and events, and quickly create “buzz” about an issue, product, or concern.

This holds especially true for nonprofits, who can use Twitter’s virtual megaphone to communicate their health- or other mission-related messages.  However, like all tools, it’s only effective if the operator has some tricks up her sleeve.

These five quick tips for nonprofit success will help put any group on the map with Twitter:

  1. Hold a Twitter Town Hall – A Twitter Town Hall is a virtual event that allows people, during a set period of time, to talk about the same topic with other people and organizations on Twitter. To launch National HIV Testing Day CDC’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention, held a Twitter Town Hall. The Town Hall is an excellent way to build a nonprofit’s mission and vision, and an excellent promotional tool for an event or annual celebration.
  2. Involve a Key Leader – We can’t all get Ashton Kutcher or Demi Moore to tweet on our behalf, but most nonprofits have key leaders within their organization or on their board who have a knack for pithy (Twitter-friendly), mission-focused comments or questions.  Offering access to a director or board leader grants twitter users an opportunity to engage effectively with a new audience.
  3. Start an intelligent conversation (by asking good questions)  – Twitter users, like most people, get excited by the prospect of giving their opinions. Nonprofits often have time-sensitive or newsy questions that can spur debate and inspire great discussions. For example “Will you get tested on National HIV Testing Day? Why or why not?”
  4. Utilize favorites to organize your tweets and give users a quick way to see what your organization is about. Favoriting is a way of showcasing the tweets that you find most interesting or helpful. You can favorite your own or another’s tweet by selecting the star at the end of a particular update. These favorites will show in the right-hand column of your Twitter profile page.
  5. Create a poll  – A more targeted way to prompt conversation amongst your twitter users is to post a poll relating to your work.  Polls allow an organization to ask multi-layered series of questions and gain in-depth information. Sites like twtpoll and polldaddy allow you to design and then tweet a poll. These are particularly useful for multiple choice questions. For example, “Would you prefer to receive your health information via:  a. Text, b. Mobile App, or c. Email?”

As with all social media tools, a regular presence, high quality discussion, and contributing to others streams of information will help build a loyal following.

And don’t forget to follow PKIDs on Twitter.

Join the conversation!

5 Quick Tips for Nonprofit Facebook Success

23 06 2010

Social media (user- generated and interactive web content such as Facebook and Twitter), works incredibly well for companies like Starbucks and Coca-Cola, but did you know it can be powerful for nonprofits?

When it comes to communicating messages widely and effectively, Facebook has the potential to benefit most nonprofit groups regardless of size or budgets. And in terms of reach (number of people who use it), Facebook recently surpassed Google. This dominance is good news for organizations that learn to use it effectively.

If your nonprofit wants to broadcast information to a widening group of people, Facebook is the tool for you.  Like all social media tools, your success is linked to your ability to utilize it efficiently and effectively.

Once you’ve set up your Facebook page,  these 5 quick tips will help insure your success:

1. Build your fan base. Inviting your existing Facebook and email contacts to Like your page is time well spent.  It’s also effective to search out and “Like” other pages on Facebook that relate to your work, as you’ll often attract their audience to your page. Once you get your page “fans” to 20-30, you’ll be on your way. You should also participate in other page communities by leaving comments and notes regarding their links and news. If you want fans, you need to be a fan.  (Although the term “fans” is no longer prominent on Facebook, it indicates the frequenters of your page.)

2. Communicate with your fans. Fans are members of your page and have joined because they’re interested in what you’re saying and doing. Your Facebook page allows you to email your fans directly about timely matters such as upcoming events, celebrations, or contests (see point #3). The key to successful fan communication is to not spam people. Once a month is about right, unless there is something pressing or timely such as a call to action or an event.

3. Hold a Contest. Page contests allow you to inject some fun into your Facebook community and increase participation in and enthusiasm for your work. Some popular ideas include caption contests, guess the story behind the picture, or name our [fill in the blank] (fundraiser, new office space, new employee title). Contests can be fun, and are a great way to boost your page fan base.

4. Update page daily with news, links, and shares.  By updating your page with organizational news and views from around the web, you’ll help your fans stay plugged into your mission and message.

5. Put a Facebook badge on your website. Facebook makes it easy to create a badge promoting your Facebook page, which you can add onto an existing web page. If you take the time to create one and ask your fans to place it on their site as well, you’ll soon see a jump in your fan base. Don’t forget to put one on your blog!

For a nonprofit, sharing your mission through page communications will strengthen your work in the long run.  For more nonprofit-related tips on using social media, check out PKIDs’ Communications Made Easy program.