Newsjacking Done Right

This is a GREAT use of newsjacking for a nonprofit. The meme comes from a cat shelter, Community Concern for Cats, looking to get more cats adopted. They used Counselor to President Trump Kellyanne Conway's claim that there are no lies, just "alternative facts", to further their cause. Well-played.

Natalie Zensius is a marketing communications strategist with experience in both the for-profit and non-profit sectors.
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The Social Media Age Debate Continues

Right on cue, after the Cathryn Sloane firestorm, an article appeared in Inc. magazine this past weekend-11 Reasons a 23-Year-Old Shouldn't Run Your Social Media. As with Ms. Sloane's article, this one generated a lot of comments. Can you say link bait?

Natalie Zensius is a marketing communications strategist with experience in both the for-profit and non-profit sectors. Learn more about Natalie at

Facebook Launches Facebook Stories-Is It About Us Or Them?

Facebook recently launched Facebook Stories. It's a website "dedicated to sharing the extraordinary, quirky and thought-provoking stories and ideas from the more than 950 million people around the world who make up Facebook's community."  

The plunge of Facebook stock after its IPO seems to indicate that it has more of a cultural significance than an economic one, so I'm not surprised to see that they're employing user stories to promote their social clout. The first story, about a man who completely lost his memory after he contracted tubercular meningitis, then used the "people you may know" function to piece his life back together, is a remarkable example of Facebook's power.

Congrats to the team who conceived of this and put it together. I just hope that they are able to nuance the messaging and positioning on the site so that it doesn't come across as a platform to say "thank goodness we're here," (which is somewhat sinister in a Big Brother-y sort of way), but more of a means to show how people are using Facebook to make a real difference in each other's lives.

And for Zuckerberg et al, that's always a thin line to walk...

Natalie Zensius is a marketing communications strategist with experience in both the for-profit and non-profit sectors. Learn more about Natalie at

The Cathryn Sloane Firestorm-Where Are You Ms. Sloane?

The technorati are not amused over recent college graduate Cathryn Sloane's blog post that all social media managers should be under 25. I wont enter the fray on that argument; suffice to say that in my experience, usage of social media for personal interactions does not equal qualifications gained over time managing a brand. (One of the complaints I often hear from Marketing and Communications Directors who have young staff working under them is that their team excels at understanding how new media tools work, but they don’t always know why they should be using the tools in the context of brand management.)

What fascinates me about this story, is that more than 500 people commented on Ms. Sloane’s article and numerous folks took the time to write articulate rebuttal articles, and even linked back to “prebuttals” such as this oneIn short, it’s been a veritable link fest, engendering the kind of response to a piece of content that most of us who work in social media hope, and work hard for. Yet the crowd that she so successfully engaged has received nothing but radio silence from Ms. Sloane since the article was posted. She even went so far as to block followers on her Twitter account who had a dissenting opinion to her article. 

This is a problem.

I tell my clients to compare "engaging" on social media to going to a large, in-person networking party. There’ll be important people there that you should get to know, as perhaps they could be the key to the particular nut you’re trying to crack at the moment. You may know a few people already, so you shouldn’t ignore them, but you also have to have conversations with people you don’t know–whether it’s by listening in on an existing conversation to see where you can add something of value, or approaching a stranger and striking up a dialogue. And you have to do this in a respectful way; you have to be smart, interesting, funny and a really good listener and someone who can keep a conversation flowing. You must also hold people’s interest, so they feel a connection and start to see something in you. You never know who’s going to be there, and what role they could have in your life and career, so you wouldn't go to this party dressed in a risqué outfit, you wouldn't share intimate and inappropriate details about your personal life and you certainly wouldn’t start throwing out incendiary remarks to get attention unless you really had a good reason for doing so, and were prepared to defend them.

What Ms. Sloane did was the social media equivalent of dropping a politically incorrect bomb at an important cocktail party, then making a run for the door. While the dropping of the bomb itself might have been a strategic move to encourage link bait, her response seemingly was not. Not only did she not explain her position further–something anyone who has taken an undergraduate critical thinking class knows is, well, critical to credibility–she also missed a golden opportunity to engage and continue the debate with her detractors which could have created meaningful dialogue and provided a lot of value across the Internet. The fact that she eschewed such rigorous discourse is more damaging to her reputation than her actual article because we have to surmise that she’s either intellectually lazy or thin-skinned, and maybe a bit of both–it certainly doesn’t help her argument that young people just “know” how to be social, better than their older counterparts, because they are digital natives who’ve been using social media from a young age. Ultimately, the fact that she hasn't yet stepped up to the plate to take responsibility for and address the impact of her provocation, makes her look, at best, inconsistent and certainly not someone you’d want to be in relationship with–which is still a lot of what being in business is all about. 

The mind boggles as to what exciting things may have come her way–interviews, speaking engagements, job offers, book deals, etc., but I hope that no-one offers Ms. Sloane a job in social media–at least, not yet, anyway–until she’s learned (or displays) better etiquette. Her behavior is the antithesis of how networking and making real connections works, whether it’s in person or on the Internet. In professional settings it could seriously damage relationships and ultimately a brand’s reputation. In any case, it’s behavior that shouldn’t be rewarded.

And that’s true, no matter how old you are.

Natalie Zensius is a marketing communications strategist with experience in both the for-profit and non-profit sectors. Learn more about Natalie at

Content Creation and Curation

How do organizations maximize their limited resources and take advantage of various online channels to not only put out information they themselves create, but to recycle content – content from their community, and also content from other organizations and resources that are relevant to their work and useful to their community?
Content curation (the act of finding, grouping, organizing and sharing the best and most relevant content on a specific issue online), can be very resource and capacity-friendly if done strategically. The challenge is in the strategy however: which channels should be used for which purpose? What kinds of content works best? What kind of volume? Frequency?
According to a forthcoming report: “Content Creation and Curation in Your Communications Mix” by the Nonprofit Technology Network and Idealware78% of nonprofit organizations do not have a curation strategy. Yet time-strapped organizations are still using lots of channels – almost four each on average: websites are the most widely used, followed by broadcast email, then direct mail. Facebook is the next most widely used, followed by Twitter, YouTube, then blogs.
Regardless of whether you are a nonprofit or a for profit company, how can you maximize your time and be strategic about giving your audiences the best of what's out there through the right mix of content creation and curation?
1. Start with your goals.
For each "stream", ask your self:
  • Who is the target audience?
  • What does that audience care about?
  • What's going to encourage them to engage?
Identify the channels you're planning to use, and what audiences are going to be the main focus of each.
2. Aggregate potential content into a single place first.
Pull in good resources so you have them all in one place, and then decide from there how to parse them out to different channels.
  • Find an aggregating tool that works best for your team (workflow, ease of use), and your end goal (what kind of content? for what use?)
  • Divide things to follow across team members, according to their interest, so that it becomes more manageable and part of everyone’s workflow
  • Assign someone to define what's in the queue and where the curated content goes– what makes sense for your Twitter feed, Facebook, eNews, etc.
In addition, repurpose the queue wherever possible; you’ve spent the time gathering resources, be sure to pull the best resources out and use them elsewhere as much as you can.
4. Find the "ideal" mix of created-to-curated-to-promotional content.
Not all social media tools are created equally. Twitter and Facebook, for example, have the most complex mix of use and not one type of content; while for blogs and e-newsletters, original content is typically more dominant. A good informal rule of thumb for content: aim for 1/3rd curated, 1/3rd new content (including curated new resources), and no more than 1/3 promotional.
3. Match each tool to the kind of content strategy you have there.
Don't start with the tool and ask "what can I use it for?" Ask "what do I want to accomplish?" first, then match the right tool and strategy. Some examples:
  • On Twitter, re-tweeting is really important, but make sure you're adding to the Twitterverse value rather than just pinging the same info around that everyone's already seen elsewhere
  • For blogs, people expect original content, but a really useful blog could have its primary purpose be to round up information from elsewhere and put it in context for readers
  • Publish a "Best of the Web" newsletter to round up other good nonprofit tech blog posts and articles from around the web
  • Send a daily e-mail with links to the best articles of the day, as well as news from other sources
4. Use fewer channels more strategically.
It doesn't make sense for busy small and medium-sized nonprofits to be experimenting way out at the bleeding edge of tools. Let large nonprofits and the business world figure out what seems to make sense, and what's a good return on the time, and then do that.
Organizations that take the time to be strategic about content on their various online channels are more efficient and ultimately ensure the ongoing relevance of their work.
Idealware has a free Social Media Decision Maker’s guide, that includes a lot of research, demographics, and a workbook that can help you decide what social media channels make sense to use for what.

Natalie Zensius is a marketing communications strategist with experience in both the for-profit and non-profit sectors. Learn more about Natalie.