Relay Station Blog

The twittersphere is populated by tweeps. But when is a tweet twibel? 

twitter libel

OK. Try saying that 20 times in a row!

Twibel is a term for a libelous tweet. There have been at least four cases filed in U.S. courts in which a party has claimed to be defamed by someone else’s tweet.

Courtney-LoveThree have been settled out of court and a fourth made it to trial. Two of them—the first and the last—involved singer and actress Courtney Love, widow of Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain.

What Is Libel?

As we all know, going to court can be a horrible, draining experience. Before I go any farther, let’s make sure you understand some basic definitions.

  • Defamation is knowingly making a false statement that harms someone’s reputation.
  • If it’s spoken, it’s slander; if it’s written it’s libel.
  • False is the key word here. If it’s true, it could be tremendously injurious, but you can’t defame someone with the truth.
  • Defamation is also not a crime, but a civil infraction or tort and subject to monetary or other penalties.
  • Learn more HERE.

Past Twitter Libel Lawsuits

So what’s the sordid history of twitter libel cases?

When Is A Tweet Libel?

  • In March 2009, Courtney Love made history by becoming the first person to be sued for tweeting by her fashion designer due to a business dispute. Courtney settled in 2011 for $430,000. Ouch!
  • Horizon Realty sued a property tenant who tweeted about her moldy apartment for $50,000 in July 2009. In 2013, an Illinois court dismissed the case.  Not sure what happened to the mold.
  • In 2011, an Oregon dentist sued a blogger for tweeting that he had tried to trade dental treatment a decade before for sex.  The $1 million lawsuit was settled out of court but the blog post was not taken down.

And the Envelope Please….

That brings us to case number four, the first Twitter libel case to go to trial by jury, Gordon & Holmes v. Love. In this case, Courtney Love accused her former attorney of nothing less than bribery:

“@noozjunkie I was fucking devestated [sic] when Rhonda J. Holmes esq. of san diego was bought off @FairNewsSpears perhaps you can get a quote.”

When Is A Tweet Libel?The attorney filed an $8 million lawsuit accusing Love of libel. The tweet was deleted. Love claimed to be a “computer retard” and said she thought it was a direct message that only @FairNewsSears would see. Twitter is, to paraphrase, the Wild West, rife with exaggeration and over-the-top screeching. But the Los Angeles Superior Court judge didn’t buy it, so he allowed the court to go to trial.

In the End

The winner was Courtney Love and free speech. The jury’s decision didn’t stray too far from the landmark Sullivan Rule that said free speech must be allowed even if statements contain falsehoods as long as the defendant did not know they were false and reckless.

In Love’s case, the jury decided that Rhonda Holmes couldn’t prove for a fact that Love knew the “bought off” claim was untrue.

The case was not appealed and was a ruling only in one court district, although the decision is now a legal precedent.

There’s a lesson here for everyone who tweets. Be careful what you tweet. Don’t make malicious statements you know are false. Don’t commit twibel. 

Stay out of court. 

 

We’re all about digital strategy and online marketing. That includes websites and charitable giving, too. Contact me at 202.630.8014 or info@relaystationmedia.com for a free consultation.

We can help you communicate with more people, build your reputation, and expand your bottom line through strategy, tactics, and training. Follow me on Twitter or connect on LinkedIn. SUBSCRIBE TO THIS BLOG BY EMAIL OR RSS FEED. 

You’ve spent the time and money to build an audience. Now what? How do you engage them and build followers into a true online community that responds and comes back for more?

10 Ways to Engage Your Online CommunityIt doesn’t matter which platforms your organization is focused on. Most of these tips work across the board. I haven’t included every tactic in the digital arsenal, but these are Scott’s Top Ten. 

1.  Rile ‘em up.

What makes your followers angry? Touches their fears? Ignites disgust? First, understand your subject matter inside and out. What are the trends? What does the opposition want? Then publish or share content that reflects your group’s point-of-view and provokes an immediate, emotional response.  

2.  Make ‘em laugh.

It’s harder to do, but it rounds out your personality. Stay away from sacred cows—you risk offending your supporters. But happiness is one of the seven emotions. If you can touch an emotional chord through the funny bone you’ll balance out the darker emotions. 

10 Ways to Engage Your Online Community

3.  Be personal.

Share something about yourself, your fearless leader or a member who told you an amazing tale. People rarely remember facts, but they remember stories. That doesn’t mean you should share boring stuff about daily life. (Please don’t!) But find a personal anecdote and wrap it around an objective.

4.  Simple graphics.

In an increasingly visual world, online images are winning. Facebook’s algorithm EdgeRank prioritizes pictures and graphics. So, if you don’t have PhotoShop, then download PIXLR. It’s free and allows you to modify images. Add some text but keep it simple. Remember: you’re sharing values.

10 Ways to Engage Your Online Community5.  Screaming headlines.

What do Upworthy, Buzzfeed, Thunderclap, and Sunnyskyz have in common? Curated sensationalism. A story that might not be given a second glance can be given new life with a headline that grabs the viewer by the throat. It’s nothing new. Ten years ago, it was the New York Post and the Enquirer. A hundred years ago it was called yellow journalism.

6.  Work it offline.

At every conference where you have a booth, on the final slide of presentations, on direct mail, in advertisements, and on business cards, remind people of your online presence and ask them to join. Tell people about it in conversations. Talk to your grocer. (Well, okay, maybe not your grocer.) Within reasonable boundaries, be everywhere.

10 Ways to Engage Your Online Community7.  Form alliances.

Multiply your power with like-minded organizations around a single issue and message. Create a Facebook page with its own branding that displays logos of allied groups. Advertise to build Likes. Then double-publish your posts—on your page and the new Alliance page. Share occasional posts of your allies and they’re bound to do the same.

8.  Tweet with @mentions.

Once you’ve determined who the influencers are in your industry, local government, region or issue, get their attention by adding an @mention. If you’re not already using this powerful technique, just add a selected Twitter handle to your tweet. Don’t be obnoxious but persistence will pay off. Then respond or RT.

9.  Rapid Response.

Call up influencers you’ve engaged or committed online followers and ask them to be a member of rapid response team to promote your organization or your take on breaking news. Have content ready for key moments, then be the first one out of the gate. If you can, give your team a heads up by email to tell them news is coming, then ask them to share and engage.

10.  Don’t be sloppy.

Paste your text onto a Word doc and run a quick spellcheck if the program you’re using doesn’t have one built in. On social media, especially Twitter, it’s harder to do. Everyone makes mistakes on social media. Your best choice may be to admit your mistake quickly. But it’s no big deal. Only the whole world might be watching. 

 

We’re all about digital strategy and online marketing. That includes websites and charitable giving, too. Contact me at 202.630.8014 or info@relaystationmedia.com for a free consultation.

We can help you communicate with more people, build your reputation, and expand your bottom line through strategy, tactics, and training. Follow me on Twitter or connect on LinkedIn. SUBSCRIBE TO THIS BLOG BY EMAIL OR RSS FEED. 

 

In a world of 140 character tweets, six-second Vine videos, where anyone can be a publisher online, are you still writing a treatise every time you send an email or publish a blog post?

Snackable Content: Are You Guilty of Word Vomit?Is Your Content Snackable?

Don’t misunderstand me. I love in-depth articles and good books. During off-hours, I’m reading The Bully Pulpit, a 750 page book about Teddy Roosevelt and an eBook downloaded from Salsa Labs on online advocacy.

But during the workday, frankly, I’m turned off by wordy emails or big, long blog posts. I’ll scan them.

I bet you do the same.

There’s too much content competing for our attention. We frequently think, “I’ll look at this later,” and sometimes we do. But too often we don’t.  

Caryn Stein, director of content strategy at Network for Good, recently referred to these too lengthy messages as “Word Vomit.” Writes Stein:

“If your messages feel like solid walls of text, your supporters are less likely to bother reading them—and may feel you don’t respect their time.”

Not Just Newbies

Snackable Content: Are You Guilty of Word Vomit?It’s not just those new to online publishing that are guilty offering up seven-course meals in a single blog post or email. Well-known and influential leaders do it, too. 

Break It Up

It’s better to break up your long tome into parts. Publish two blog posts in a week rather than one or make it a series. If it’s an email, take a scalpel to it and cut out all the blather. Get across a couple of ideas at a time. Make it into snackable content. People will be more likely to read you in the future. 

There’s power in the snackable post. 

 

We’re all about digital strategy and online marketing. That includes websites and charitable giving, too. Contact me at 202.630.8014 or info@relaystationmedia.com for a free consultation.

We can help you communicate with more people, build your reputation, and expand your bottom line through strategy, tactics, and training. Follow me on Twitter or connect on LinkedIn. SUBSCRIBE TO THIS BLOG BY EMAIL OR RSS FEED. 

 

Last week, I asked the question, why don’t most nonprofits make it easy for people to donate on smartphones and tablets? I received a lot of comments from nonprofit leaders, many of whom were uncertain where to begin.

How Nonprofits Can Profit from Mobile DonationsThe question is critical in light of the never-ending race for funds and the growing use of mobile devices. Even if you balk at the fees, consider that you’ll still be getting donations you wouldn’t get otherwise. And younger audiences who donate on mobile are only becoming more engaged. 

So how can your organization grab its share of mobile donations?  

Let’s Talk Websites First

Building a separate mobile donation website makes no sense. There are vendors that offer this solution… but stay away!

It can be hard enough to keep a single website updated—let alone more than one. That’s why your site should incorporate responsive web development techniques in which graphics, menus, and text sizes automatically change to accommodate various sizes of browser windows.

If you already have a responsive website, open up a PayPal account, add a donation widget, and a button. It’s really that simple. PayPal adapts very well to smartphones and tablets.

Can’t Afford a New Website?

How Nonprofits Can Profit from Mobile Donations

Skip it for now (but put it in next year’s budget). Concentrate on email.

First, you’re going to need an expansive email list. If you haven’t got one, get to work building one today. 

Next, make sure you have an email service provider that’s mobile friendly. We like MailChimp, but there are others. For donation forms, Qgiv displays beautifully on smartphones and tablets and integrates easily with MailChimp and ConstantContact. Moving up the food chain, there’s Salsa Labs. All integrate well with VISA-owned Authorize.Net that processes the donations. 

Two others stand alone and are worth mentioning. Blackbaud offers a complete suite of fundraising services for nonprofits, including mobile. Then there’s Network for Good that just passed $1 billion in donations processed since its founding in 2001 and offers a mobile checklist.

Ready Send Email

How Nonprofits Can Profit from Mobile DonationsNow that you’ve chosen your providers, get ready to send a mobile donation fundraising appeal to your list. At the bottom of the message, place a “Donate Now” button. When someone clicks on it, they’re taken to an Authorize.Net or a Blackbaud mobile donation page with your logo.

If you are willing to go through the complication and expense of getting a merchant account, talk to your bank or find a provider. Blackbaud Merchant Services offers special rates to nonprofits. Funds can sometimes be deposited into your bank account in as little as a day or two. Network for Good offers its own merchant services. Qgiv also provides a more limited service.

If you’re not an official 501(c) 3 nonprofit or other recognized charity, and don’t have established credit, an option is to avoid the cost of becoming one by finding fiscal sponsor in the U.S. to handle your donations.

Mobile Donations Are Here

If you’re a nonprofit executive or in charge of fundraising, you’re already focused on major donors, sustainers, and events. It’s really not that hard to add mobile donations to the mix. The donors of tomorrow are on mobile today. Don’t leave their dollars on the table. 

 

We’re all about digital strategy and online marketing. That includes websites and charitable giving, too. Contact me at 202.630.8014 or info@relaystationmedia.com for a free consultation.

We can help you communicate with more people, build your reputation, and expand your bottom line through strategy, tactics, and training. Follow me on Twitter or connect on LinkedIn. SUBSCRIBE TO THIS BLOG BY EMAIL OR RSS FEED. 

 

For a second year, online giving to nonprofits grew by double digits in 2013 as more Americans embrace it. Yet, despite the growth in mobile devices such as smartphones and tables, most charitable groups do not have mobile-friendly donation websites.

That doesn’t make sense, does it?

Compared to 2012, online giving jumped by 13.5% on average, according to the Blackbaud Index, accelerating from 2012’s 10.7%.

Online Giving Is Growing, but Nonprofits Fail at Mobile

But a study conducted by Dunham+Company of 100 charities large enough to appear on the Chronicle of Philanthropy’s list of top 400 charitable organizations revealed most have no mobile giving strategy. Responsive web development techniques in which graphics, menus, and text sizes change to accommodate various browser-window sizes were simply not part of the online giving strategy of 84% of the nonprofits and charities surveyed. Not cool.

Online Giving Grows but Nonprofits Fail at MobileI have a friend who is chairman of a major environmental nonprofit. Some days, he told me recently, he doesn’t even bother to turn on his computer. Instead, he conducts his business using his smartphone.

He isn’t alone. Nowadays, 21% of smartphone owners chose those devices as their primary way to access the Internet, according to a 2013 Pew Research report. And smartphone ownership is now a solid majority, with tablets not far behind. 

Politicians Get It 

Political candidates and campaigns have been focused on making their donation websites easily accessible to Online Giving Grows but Nonprofits Fail at Mobilemobile users for a while now. In that world, ActBlue and Blue State Digital are leaders in mobile giving technology. 

Why Not You?

If you are in nonprofit management or in charge of fundraising, isn’t it time for you to get your online donation website up to speed? The chase for dollars to support your organization is never-ending. Why not make it as easy-as-possible for donors to give from wherever they may be?

 

We’re all about digital strategy and online marketing. That includes websites and charitable giving, too. Contact me at 202.630.8014 or info@relaystationmedia.com for a free consultation.

We can help you communicate with more people, build your reputation, and expand your bottom line through strategy, tactics, and training. Follow me on Twitter or connect on LinkedIn. SUBSCRIBE TO THIS BLOG BY EMAIL OR RSS FEED. 

 

Does your internal newsletter have the impact you want?

4 Internal Newsletter TipsYou spend a lot of time on it, but wonder if anyone reads it. Or, you know the analytics, and you hide them from your boss or the board.

Oh, sorry, did I hit a nerve? 

If you’re writing an internal newsletter for membership or employees, step back from the keyboard now!  These simple tips can help you up your game.

1. Update Your Legacy Platform

Stop struggling with an html program from the ‘80s. Choose instead from among a dozen full feature platforms like ConstantContact, Pinpoint or Sendloop. Our favorite is MailChimp, which includes easy integration with Facebook, Eventbrite, mobile sign-up forms, and great analytics.

2. Create a Planning Calendar

Sending an internal newsletter with a load of content once a month is a real mistake. Issuing a newsletter sporadically can be just as bad. Your audience is there. They are willing to hear from you. But like most of us, they don’t have time to sit down and read through your carefully crafted six pages. So divide it up. Issue these topics on separate days: 

  • 4 Internal Newsletter TipsThoughts from your leader (insist on brevity, please!)
  • News to use: short items like changes to insurance or an upcoming softball game
  • Employee or member spotlight
  • Invitation to a webinar
  • Call to action: contact a government official or attend an event.

3. Post Selectively to a Blog

Face it: Some of your members or employees ain’t gonna read your newsletter. But they do see your external posts on Facebook and  Twitter, or your photos on Instagram or Tumblr. So don’t miss the opportunity to multipurpose appropriate material on social media. That doesn’t mean you should post News to Use. But an intriguing spotlight of a member or employee? Even thoughts from the boss. Maybe. If it’s engaging.

4. Tell a Story

People remember stories. They don’t remember facts.

If your leader’s newsletter message isn’t resonating, humanize his or her message. What happened during a recent trip? What about that lesson learned during the seventh grade, and how it relates to a situation the organization faces today? When you write “In the Spotlight” or even the “Call to Action,” write content that people can relate to and care about. Give them a reason to read your it next time.  

Using these simple tips will help you to boost your open rate and avoid having to hide from the boss. 

 

We’re all about digital strategy and online marketing. Contact me at 202.630.8014 or info@relaystationmedia.com for a free consultation.

We can help you communicate with more people, build your reputation, and expand your bottom line through digital strategy, tactics, and training. Follow me on Twitter or connect on LinkedIn. SUBSCRIBE TO THIS BLOG BY EMAIL OR RSS FEED. 

Sarah might look like an ordinary person. If you never went on Facebook, you might not know that she’s in the army. Not the U.S. Army – a Facebook army. Sarah and Bill, Devon and Trish, and others like them are all skilled in the use of a particular, powerful tool. Facebook Shares: Activate Your Army

What kind of tool? They are community members passionate about a cause, and they regularly share posts from a page they care about with their Facebook networks.

Does your organization have a Facebook army?

Being that 71% of Americans are now on Facebook, according to the latest Pew Research report, encouraging your followers to share your posts can dramatically broaden reach. 

As we all know, there are three basic ways for followers to interact with posts on a Facebook page: likes, comments, and shares. If a follower of your page doesn’t do one of these, Facebook’s EdgeRank algorithm will soon decides that person is just not that into you. Your posts will disappear from the follower’s news feed.

Get Out Your Wallet

If Facebook has its way, the solution is for you to pay to keep your posts visible to those who don’t engage. Facebook is, after all, a public company subject to the quarterly earnings monster and must demonstrate rising earnings or analysts will downgrade its stock price.

Time to Recruit

But what if you don’t have much of an online advertising budget?  Or what if you just think that Zuckerberg is rich enough? 

Facebook Shares: Activate Your ArmyIf you can enlist enough members of your organization or allies to share your posts on a regular basis with their networks, you can create an online army.           

It’s not easy to do. Most Facebook followers think it’s enough to occasionally like a post. Liking is better than nothing. Comments are even better. But shares are golden.

How can you encourage Facebook shares?

  • Ask at your next meeting. Put it on the agenda; don’t let it be an afterthought. Explain to members, board, supporters – whoever they may be – the importance of Facebook shares. Put on a demonstration. Many people may simply not know how to do it.  
  • Ask those who you’ve now trained to promise to engage with your group’s posts – better yet share! – at least once a week.
  • Create a rapid response force. Monitor your most engaged followers and call them up and invite them to participate. It’s likely they’ll be flattered at the invitation. Then the day before, email or call them to let them know when your next blog post, graphic or photo will be out.
  • Try to arrange for your rapid response force to share at different times; for example 10 am, noon, 2 pm, 4 pm, and so on. This will help to keep the post at the at top of the pile when others check their news feed.
  • Reward those who participate with a $5 Starbucks gift card or an invitation to a special briefing with a leader of the organization. Make them feel special. After all, they are.
  • When you promote a post with your online ad budget, ask people to share.

By motivating your followers to share, you can multiply your organization’s reach on Facebook. Best of all, except for a little time, it’s free!

 

Need help with your online program? Contact me at 202.630.8014 or email info@relaystationmedia.com for a free consultation.

We can help you communicate with more people, build your reputation, and expand your bottom line through digital strategy, tactics, and training. Follow me on Twitter or connect on LinkedIn. SUBSCRIBE TO THIS BLOG BY EMAIL OR RSS FEED. 

At last count, there were over 250 social media platforms in the world. But only two have users that are engaged on a daily basis, sometimes checking in more than once. A third is almost there, too.

Can you guess which ones?

It’s Become Part of Life

Social Media EngagementSarah, a 50+ empty nester, checks to see what her friends are doing on Facebook after she gets home from work even before she changes her clothes, after dinner, and sometimes – Shh! Don’t tell — even during the workday.

27-year-old Bryan loves to post photos and comment on Instagram. He seldom talks on his phone, instead texting messages, which drives his dad nuts. So his mom – even his grandmother – have learned how to text.

Darnell, who is 21 and in college, is obsessed with Twitter. He’s approaching a thousand followers and just sent a direct message to his 30-something Aunt Jasmine to talk about his mom’s birthday.

Facebook, Instagram & Twitter

According to the latest research published by the Pew Research Center on December 30, 2013:

  • 63% of all Facebook users visit the site daily. 40% dip in multiple times throughout the day. When you consider that 71% of all internet users have a Facebook profile, it is obviously a massive opportunity for marketers.
  • Instagram grew dramatically among 18-29 year olds, with its adoption increasing from 28% in late 2012 to 37% in 2013. Among African-Americans connected to the internet, 34% use Instagram – an increase of 11% in one year.  Perhaps most surprising is that 57% of Instagram users check in once a day, with 35% doing so multiple times a day.

These are the two leaders in social media engagement. But one other platform is not far behind.

  • Although Twitter usage by online adults increased only marginally overall, 46% are daily users and 29% visit multiple times per day. But among Millennials, nearly a third (31%) tweet. African-American, at 29% exhibit levels of use nearly double whites or Hispanics.

But What About…?

Sorry, but Pinterest and LinkedIn don’t come close in terms of daily community engagement.

 Build Engaged CommunitiesThat’s not to say that other social sites don’t have value. Far from it. YouTube is still the premiere site for sharing video. Google+ can help with all-important search engine rankings. LinkedIn is great for careers and finding people with higher incomes. Reddit is a premiere news and opinion platform. These and others such as Tumblr and Vine have their place. Twitter, beyond its demographics, is the premiere site to connect with influencers and the media.

Social Media Engagement

None of us have the time for all 250+ social media sites. That’s why is so important for those who want to market their products, services, and ideas to a select only a few. Your goals may be different. But if you want to build an actively engaged community, one that weaves you into the fabric of their lives, focus upon the Big Three of Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. For now.

 

Need help with your online program? Contact me at 202.630.8014 or email me at info@relaystationmedia.com for a free consultation.

We can help you communicate with more people, build your reputation, and expand your bottom line through digital strategy, tactics, and training. Follow me on Twitter or connect on LinkedIn. SUBSCRIBE TO THIS BLOG BY EMAIL OR RSS FEED. 

On Tuesday night I had the pleasure of presenting to the University of California Washington Center here in DC  on Tuesday night about using social media to get a job and to advance your career.

Social media has become so deeply ingrained in our culture and lives (especially mine) to theUse Social Media to build your personal brand point where I had to laugh out loud when I looked back on my first job search out of college.

I don’t want to date myself, but I had to print out resumes and cover letters on paper and send them out in the mail. I remember the advisers at the UCLA career center advising me strongly that one should never wear white sock to an interview.  White socks to an interview! I hope either they’ve stopped recommending this or that they never have to hire a designer or a programmer! The modern Bruin alumn on Tuesday had a hard time believing that but I swear it’s true!

It’s amazing how times have changed and how we have all of these amazing tools that we sometimes take for granted. I’m sharing the deck below not just for people doing job searches, but for anyone interested in learning more about social media, from the overarching theories that guide our client work to some incredible tools and ninja tricks that make it so much fun and so effective.

I hope that you find this useful and I welcome any comments.

A prospective client with a large, consumer-oriented business recently asked me how I could be sure his communities were online. 

“You’re all about digital,” he said skeptically. “How do I know you can reach my target audiences online?” 

reach target audiences online

He needed reassurance. Maybe you do, too. So let’s look at the facts. 

How Many of Us Are Online?

Let’s look first at how many people use the Internet, no matter if it’s email, banking, social–whatever type of online activity. The most thorough research on Internet usage is done by the nonpartisan Pew Research Center‘s Internet and American Life Project. (Others, including Nielsen, also produce Internet usage reports, but not in the same quantity.) In May 2013, Pew said that while some groups are near universal adoption, others such as rural communities and people with less than a high school education, are not quite there yet.

reach target audiences online

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • 96% with household income $75,000+
  • 94% with household income $50,000-$74,999
  • 88% with household income $25,000-$49,999
  • 92% of ages 30-49           
  • 98% of ages 18-29           
  • 86% of all urban or suburban

The bottom line is that Internet adoption is widespread.

How Many Use Social Media? 

Of those of us who use the Internet, how many use the primary social media platforms? And which ones? Facebook use

As of August 2012, 20% of online adults said they use LinkedIn, according to Pew. LinkedIn is a favorite among professionals, men, and the financial industry. As for the others:

Pew Internet 1

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Two-thirds of adults use Facebook, more than four times its closest competitor. Yet their use isn’t constant. At the same time, many who don’t currently use it want to start:

  • 61% at one time or another in the past have voluntarily taken a break from using Facebook for a period of several weeks or more. 
  • 20% of the online adults say they once used the site but no longer do so.
  • 8% of online adults who do not currently use Facebook are  interested in becoming Facebook users in the future.

Facebook is still the predominate social media platform. Even with breaks in usage, we’re talking about 188 million Americans. 

 

Need help with your online program? Contact me right now at 202.630.8014 or email me at info@relaystationmedia.com for a free consultation.

We help companies, nonprofit associations, and other organizations communicate with more people, build reputations, and exceed objectives through digital strategy, tactics, and training.

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