Thursday, December 13, 2018

Five Ways to Get Started with Text-to-Donate by Year-End: A Guide for Non-Techies

This is a guest post from Eric Bryant of Gnosis Media Group

With advances in technology, the methods of fundraising have also changed. Text-to-donate is one of the latest methods to be used by charitable organizations to connect with donors and receive donations. It is largely based on mobile technology in which the donor will send a keyword to a short code (a shortened 4-, 5-, or 6-digit phone number) to send a donation to a non-profit or charity. In response, the donor receives an automated response with a payment link. The donor clicks on the link and follows instructions to complete payment. The system then sends a transaction receipt to the donor via text message.

With the holiday season here, many organizations may wish to implement a text-to-donate campaign for their year-end (or anytime) fundraising efforts. Here are some tips to get started:

1.      Decide on your keyword. What is the work people will text to you? Keep it simple and easy to remember. For example, if you’re a charity for children, something like “4KIDS” might work well. Keywords generally need to be 4-12 characters, but make sure yours is easy for prospective donors to spell and to type on their mobile devices.,

2.      Select a service provider. Before you collect those donations you need to select a third- party service provider who will provide a digital platform to run the text giving campaign. The provider gives your organization a unique phone number on which the transactions will be processed and provides all the backend technical and software support so that the process can run smoothly. Make sure you understand the features you need and whether the provider offers them. Here’s a great post that compares two popular text-to-give providers in terms of features and benefits.

3.      Market the campaign. Once the logistics are in place, it is time to put out the word about your campaign to potential donors. Develop a sound marketing strategy that consists of placing your keyword and short code on your website, sending out a call to action to your email lists, and publishing social media posts. Gnosis Media Group offers social media and text blasts promotions with our premium packages.

4.      Gauge the results. Make sure you choose a provider that gives you the metrics you need. Some important campaign metrics include subscriber count, clicks (on donate links), and of course, donation tracking. Keep in mind that some providers do not offer their own payment processing; therefore, they may not be able to tell you when a donation is made or how much in donations are collected. Also, be wary of companies that serve as a custodian of your donated funds. Not all companies are credible in this regard, and generally only another non-profit can serve as a fund custodian.

5.      Acknowledge donations and continue engaging. Although the donor receives a receipt of the donation he made to the organization, it is important that you acknowledge each donor’s contribution and keep them aware of the progress of your campaign. Remember, getting new donors is good, but getting repeat donors is the way to fuel growth. Though it goes without saying, thanking and acknowledging donors is key to retention. A successful manager will strive to make donors feel connected to the cause for better retention.

Getting started with a text-to-donate campaign doesn’t have to be intimidating or super technical. If you follow these simple steps, the donation campaign you run is sure to succeed.

Eric Bryant started Gnosis Media Group ( in 2008; it offers an award-winning text-to-donate service for nonprofits.

Friday, October 26, 2018

Writing a Better, Optimized LinkedIn Profile Summary

How's your LinkedIn profile? When is the last time you visited it or updated it?

The platform went through some changes over the past or so and with 2018 coming to a close, it's a great time to update your LinkedIn profile for the upcoming new year and optimize it for search.

After all, as a leading B2B social network, LinkedIn is where your potential clients, users, buyers, customers, and referral sources will find you. So just like a website, optimizing your profile content is important.

1 - Update your headline (and feel free to do so periodically). This is the bold descriptive line below your name that broadcasts what you do. When I write LinkedIn profile summaries, I like to include a "what's in it for them" element, a value proposition element so people can see right away why they should contact you. You have up to 120 characters (including spaces) to do this so be judicious, but include a relevant search term here.

2 - Your summary is where you can tell your story. Gone are the days of stiff third-person descriptions (unless that's your style). Draw the visitor in, tell them why you love what you do, share a significant win, talk about specialty areas. Bring out your unique selling proposition (USP); why should someone contact you over your competition? This section gives you up to 2000 characters with spaces so it's fairly generous in terms of room to sell yourself. Be sure to include search terms related to your area of expertise, your industry, and the clientele you serve.

3 - Other areas are available for your job experience (current and prior), education, certifications and professional designations, areas of interest, accomplishments, and other resume elements that don't need to be in your summary.

4 - Ask for recommendations from quality sources: colleagues, vendors, partners, clients. These should be authentic testimonials and are an excellent way to enhance your LinkedIn profile.

5 - Endorsements - these are nice if people are truly endorsing you for skills they know you possess and at which you excel. That might not always be the case; that's why I prefer recommendations.

6 - Add files tho showcase your deliverables - presentations and white papers are excellent additions.

7- Publish on LinkedIn. Remember LinkedIn Pulse? That's gone but you have the ability to publish articles; it's a great way to give your blog additional breadth (consider doing a slight edit so it's not duplicate content) or to amplify your weekly posts by mixing in longer-form content.

Now that your profile is stellar, be sure to post with some consistency; a couple of times a week is ample. The posts can be fairly long, 1300 characters, but that figure is reduced if you are adding an image or a link.

What to post? Glad you asked! You can share third-party news and articles by others with your commentary (which shows your insights and expertise in the field) as well as your own original content that drives traffic to your website or a specific landing page. There's plenty of information out there to share and comment on to mix in with your content about your field. But that's a post for another day.

Need help with your LinkedIn and other social media profiles or posts? A professional copywriter can help. You know what to do: or 201-791-4694.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

The Age of Incivility: the Loss of Civil Communication on Social Media

The hashtag #civility has been popping up on Facebook and I'm sure, on other social media platforms, and for good reason. The divisive political climate (and equally divisive rhetoric), coupled with the incessant social media chatter around us, has given rise to increasingly gross, distasteful, and hateful attacks across the digital space.

Why all the hate? Can't we all just agree to disagree?

Social media provides a veil behind which people can hide. It enables users to go after people they don't even know, whose views run counter to their own. But it's often not a matter of, "I respectfully disagree." It is very often vehemently hostile, crude language flung at complete strangers, often about topics that might not even direct affect the flinger's life. Even in matters that many of us care about deeply, and may or may not impact our daily lives, why is there no civility in the responses? Why all the knee-jerk ugly reactions that are cluttering up our feeds?

Humans are attached to the need to be right, often at great cost. As is often seen on social networks, that cost is one's personal dignity and social civility.

There is ample digital real estate for civil discourse, a sharing and an exchange of views in a respectful manner. There are people with whom I am connected, and some with whom I work, that do not share my politics, religion, ethnic or cultural background, or views on societal matters but we find the common ground upon which we can converse with civility. We respect each other as fellow citizens and colleagues. As a former boss used to tell me, "Be tough on the issues but easy on the people." Would that more of us would heed that advice.

We see the hostile comments everywhere. Twitter threads devolve into acidic stews of vitriol. Facebook comments turn ugly in a tap of a key. Internet trolls throw major shade, convolute stories, bully total strangers. I've even seen it occasionally on LinkedIn of all places (speaking of, please keep your posts related to business there). Sniping and cursing at people unknown to the user, a friend of a friend perhaps, is commonplace. It's also offensive and unnecessary. Remember what the teacher said: If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything. Or take it offline and keep it away from the rest of us who just want to enjoy each other's company.

The real news/fake news battle is not helping matters. Before you post that incendiary story or react to the WTF-worthy headline (and perpetuate the hate, intentionally or unintentionally), read the actual article. Find out the source; is it an actual news organization? Check or if you must, if the story seems too crazy to believe. Likewise, don't believe every meme you see; remember that someone created it and the quote might not be true, the story not factual, the attribution incorrect or out of context. We can all help cut down on the vitriol if we take a few minutes to check something out before spreading rumors and ill will. (Image: Nick Youngson Photography)

By the way, one positive feature about scrolling through your feed to see what your connections are talking about is that you can keep on scrolling. Don't stop. Don't react. Just keep on going if you don't like the conversation. Or, take a deep breath and type a considered, considerate response. It's easy to do if you are not attached to proving a point but to sharing a viewpoint instead.

I encourage you to take many deep breaths as you scroll through your feeds, consider writing responses rather than reactions, respect each other's right to opinions and world views, pass over the posts you don't like, and help bring back #civility to the social media discourse. It was once there and this is entirely possible.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Video Content Enhances Employee Training in a Social World

Imagine a large and diverse workforce across age, race and gender—even locations. Then imagine having to get all those employees trained in various corporate initiatives and make sure they are getting it—and sharing what they’ve learned with their employers and co-workers. In today’s on-demand, highly visual world, video content can make “onboarding” and training happen more easily and efficiently.

Companies can create online content libraries for employees that include streaming videos, interactive e-learning courses, reference materials, e-books—all the materials needed to get a workforce up and running and on the same training page. The American Society for Training and Development (ASTD) estimates that nearly one-third of learning content made available is some form of e-learning; online employee training (web-based training) is part of that. 

Virtual learning via shared content allows new employees to watch and read orientation materials and training packets in formats that younger workers are accustomed to (images, video). Employers can engage employees online and develop better internal communication through interactive video/online content. Companies will also save money by offering standardized video content to employees anywhere, anytime as opposed to in-person training sessions across locations or departments.

Among employees, having a team watch videos for learning, and then having them discuss the content in the training room/classroom, is a valuable way to enhance their learning and gauge a training program’s success. Acceptable lengths of these videos are anywhere from 5-15 minutes—short and to the point. (NOTE: If you are posting tutorials online for other users, or something more promotional about your services or products, go much shorter, maybe 2-3 minutes max.) states that companies that use video content report achieving organizational goals more and have higher levels of employee engagement.  

There are some very salient reasons for why adult learning via short-form video works so well in the workplace, particularly around adult learners and their particular attributes. Remember, adults come to the workplace and to learning from a variety of backgrounds and with a broad range of experiences and knowledge. Therefore, a department of diverse employees will participate in learning differently but they do share some common characteristics that make online content a valuable training tool.

·         Adults are likely to be more self-directed and autonomous; they might also be juggling family needs with work or other issues. Therefore, they like the as-needed, when-needed access of online content in the training mix. 

·         They appreciate being able to control the pace and timing of their learning within the company structure, giving them more independence—and enabling them to focus on the content when they are most able to do so. They learn best when they are ready to learn.
·         Adults also come to the training room with a host of learning differences, so providing content they can access at their own pace allows them to soak it in more effectively. 

·         Adult learners are practical. On-demand video is convenient and does not have to disrupt the work day. It makes sense for shift workers who are clocking in at different times. Aside from being a practical consideration many employees will appreciate, they’ll also like that their time is being respected (and who doesn’t like that?).

  •   Adult learners are motivated by relevancy. Those short bursts of relevant content are more engaging for them. 
  •  They are also goal- and task-oriented so relevant content, available when they want it, makes it easy (and satisfying) to check off employee training tasks on that company to-do list.
  •    Targeted videos that are relevant to the task at hand (or training module) will appeal to adult learners, who are relevancy oriented.
  •   Learning online can curb any inhibitions older adult learners may have in a mixed classroom with millennials.
  •     BYOD (bring your own device) and the mobile applications being developed daily make video content a must-have training tool for contemporary companies.
Then there’s the millennial learner, those employees in their 20s and late 30s who’ve grown up in a video-and-image environment. They are accustomed to digesting countless hours of video, they have been served visual online content for years—and so incorporating video content into a training program will engage them more powerfully than having them sit and be lectured to.

In a social context, once the team has accomplished the e-learning tasks, they can interact with their co-workers and share their particular knowledge, experiences and perspectives about the content. Therefore, it’s important to provide a social component to the video/online training. Polls, quizzes, and surveys that employees can complete and share with each other boosts their engagement in the workplace, among each other and with their supervisors.

From interpersonal skills to sales and marketing techniques, employee onboarding to training on industry-specific compliance issues, video content as a training tool has limitless possibilities. When paired with social sharing—of ideas, feedback, knowledge—video content can be a powerful tool in a company’s content arsenal. 

Need scripts for your training videos? Contact StarrGates Business Communications: