Online media 03

1. Why online media?

Sending a quick e-mail, commenting on a Facebook post, looking something up on Google, or posting on your initiative’s website. Everything you do online to inform your supporters, make exchanges with your partner organisation and gather information is part of online media. This section will cover the particulars of online media and how you can utilise it within the project that you support.

Working together with your partner organisation

Rapid technological developments continuously make it easier to exchange photos, videos, interviews and more with your partner organisation. If you give your partner organisation as much of a voice as possible, your supporters will find it easier to connect with the project and will gain more insight into what you are trying to accomplish through your partnership. Direct contact will allow your supporters to share the experiences you have accumulated through contact with your partners. This increases the chance of people remaining engaged with your project in the long term.

Cross-overs

Using the Internet, you can easily find cooperative partners and research exactly what is already going on in the country where your project is set. Cross-fertilisation between partners and resources makes even more gains possible and enables you to orientate the project toward a greater cause, such as the Millennium Development Goals or the goals of your country’s Embassy.

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2. Website

People often first become acquainted with your organisation through a website. For this reason, an appealing and comprehensive website is essential.

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Homepage

Let’s take a look at the homepage. You will already have gained a lot if, at first glance, the homepage clearly states the goals of the initiative, who the project initiators are, and for whom the initiative is intended. To engage the reader, it is good to let local people contribute to this section. Key words and key terms about the subject, such as ‘structural poverty alleviation’, ‘international cooperation’, ‘education’ and ‘healthcare’ ensure that search engines like Google find the website quickly. Key words and terms will also help the site rank higher in the list of search results.

[Photos and film] work well on the homepage alongside brief, eye-catching texts. Another great thing to open with or to place somewhere on the homepage are captions stating any results from your project. In addition, you could indicate the project location on Google Maps.

A transparent and realistic perspective gives your supporters the feeling that they can really contribute, for example, by donating money. It is therefore very useful to make donating online as simple as possible. Just a few clicks to settle it. If people have the opportunity to leave their e-mail address (only that, as people usually do not like leaving additional personal information), then you can keep them up-to-date on the project for an extended period.

More tips for a user-friendly website:

  • Place links to the project’s social media accounts and newsletter on the homepage
  • Give visitors the opportunity to like the project or to tweet about it via buttons on the homepage
  • Make it simple to subscribe to the newsletter and also to unsubscribe
  • Place your contact information in a highly visible place
  • If you have the resources: hire a copywriter to write up the text in an attractive manner

Building the website yourself

Does the above already seem pretty complicated? It is not as bad as it might look! Programmes like WordPress make it relatively easy to build and publish your own website. The WordPress site contains a step-by-step plan for getting started with the programme. However, before you begin, you need to register a domain name through a site such as Hostnet. Once the website is built, you can also use this site to host it. The costs associated with this are usually reasonable and there is often someone around you who has a good handle on this process and who might enjoy contributing their services to your initiative. Perhaps you could ask an ICT student to help you.

SEO, or: make sure that your website is found!seo

How do you ensure that search engines like Google rank your website high in the search results? This happens via Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). You can read a number of easily applicable tricks for this internet marketing strategy below:

Links to your site

The more links you have pointing towards your site from other online sources, the better. More links do not only mean more visitors, but it also means you will rank higher in search engines like Google. To achieve more links, you can begin by first linking from your own site to relevant websites about topics like structural poverty alleviation, international cooperation, the Millennium Development Goals, etc. People will now visit your website as a way-station for information. This places your project in a broader context and others will also be more likely to link to your site. You can of course, also just ask to be linked up. In addition, you can sign up to keyword-related web directories, such as http://ontwikkelingssamenwerking.startpagina.nl/.

Do not forget to link to your partner organisation as well!

What type of content will help you be found more quickly?
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In order to publish good and interesting information, it is important to have a strong collaboration with your cooperative partner. The partner can contribute videos and photos for you to post. Large files such as videos can be easily shared using Dropbox or Google Drive. Up to 2 GB can be sent at once via WeTransfer. Information that is appealing is shared and viewed more often. A good example of this is ‘Africa for Norway’. This humorous video has been shared and published countless times (a ‘viral’ video) creating much amusement, while simultaneously prompting discussion on the perspective of development cooperation. If you can get people talking about you, then you matter! An attractive story is therefore important to have on your website and on your social media accounts. The Storytelling section in the Communication Toolkit will help you along the way.

Key words

If website addresses contain keywords, such as ‘www.projectx.com/poverty-reduction-in-Gambia’, then they will be found more quickly. In the above example, this will occur if someone searches for poverty reduction in Gambia. Place the keywords also in the content and in the file names of photos and videos. You can add a good description using specific keywords in the ‘metadata’ of your website code under the ‘description tag’. The ‘title tag’ should also be filled out well. The ‘title tag’ is what someone reads first when the website appears on search engines. You should place relevant words and terms, such as poverty alleviation and international cooperation, upfront in the text. This way the reader will understand more quickly what your website is about and Google will rank you higher in the list of search results. Programmes like WordPress have basic tools for this, so you do not have to be an expert to accomplish this. A good tool for finding keywords is the Google Adwords ‘Keyword finder’.

More tips and tricks
Read more tips on how to make your website easier to find at: http://www.seo-writer.com/reprint/top-seo-tips.html or http://www.100seotips.com.

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3. Email as a tool to promote your project

Email marketing is the promotion of products or services via email. This can come in handy for the promotion of your project.

Email addresses

The acquisition of an email address is the first step towards a sustained relationship between you, the initiative and your supporters. Do not hesitate to ask as many people as possible for their email address both online and offline. Store the email addresses in a well-organised database. This will make it easier for you to share updates on the status of the project, nice photos and videos, as well as any results achieved. You can also use email to send out a link to an online survey or a social media discussion post and try and get more respondents involved. Regular communication will help your contacts be more motivated to sustain a long-term connection to the initiative, as well as to the fight against poverty and to international cooperation in general.

Digital newsletters

Digital newsletters are often sent out by email and that is perfectly acceptable. Newsletters with a distinctive, consistent design and style can help keep people up to date on your project results. A layout of organised blocks of text along with a nice photo or video is the most effective. Newsletters are often read on the go on a smartphone or tablet , so the files that you send via email should not be too large or it will often take too long to load for the reader. View an example of a ‘reframed’ newsletter here:

Mail-outs

In addition to your digital newsletters, you can also occasionally send a mail-out to a specific group. For example, local residents that you want to invite to an event you are organising. This can help maintain a personal touch with the target audience in question. It is necessary to have a good database with as much information as possible about the people listed in your file. Email programmes such as MailChimp can help with this. MailChimp is a simple support programme that even allows you to see who opens and reads the things you send out and when. If you need any explanation, follow this link.

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4. Social media

Social media

The power of social media is that it provides an easy connection and method of exchange with the people involved in the project. It can create a dialogue and sometimes a long-lasting cooperative relationship. In addition, social media (just like the internet in general) is useful as a source of knowledge. You can find more detailed information about social media in the [next chapter] of the Communication Toolkit.

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5. Mobile phones and apps

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Mobile communication is one of the fastest growing businesses in the world. Today, 84% of all citizens in developing countries owns a mobile phone with a broadband internet connection. Two thirds of all internet users live in developing countries, a number that has doubled in a period of only five years (2009-2014). Cell phones have revolutionised communication, awareness-raising, markets (texting product prices to farmers) and even banking.

Apart from being a valuable addition in the implementation of development pr0jects, mobile phones can also be used in communication about and fundraising for a project.

  • Using a phone, you and the employees of your partner organisation can make snapshots and videos, and forward them or share them on social media such as Flickr or Facebook. Have a go at editing photos and creating slideshows as well!
  • Post a blog of your travels using your mobile phone. With Everytrail you can keep track of where you have been, and you can add photos and videos to your journey with geodata.
  • You can use your mobile phone also as a recording device for interviews. Do keep your microphone close to you when you talk, or the quality of the recording may become compromised.
  • Perhaps somebody in your circle of acquaintance is good at creating apps. An app for your foundation or the project you support could lead to supporters checking your updates more regularly.
  • Texting campaigns, in (paid) cooperation with a telecom provider (e.g. ‘Donate 1,50 now: text WORD to XXXX’), can be linked to an event you organise.
  • There also are fundraising applications that make it easier for people to contribute to a a project or an idea that they deem worthy. One example of such an app is Kickstarter. Other examples can be found on http://www.fundraiserhelp.com/fundraising-apps.htm. Do note that not every app works in every country.

An interesting site to look at is http://www.cisu.dk/toolbox, where our Danish colleagues have highlighted a number of apps, accompanied by instruction videos.

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6. Cross-medial: email, website and social media

All forms of online communication allow you to link to other online resources. For example, you can place your website URL and social media icons in your signature at the bottom of your emails, allowing people to click straight through. This also applies to newsletters and other forms of communication. You can also include this information on business cards and brochures, along with your partner organisation’s website address.

When you send out a digital newsletter, let people know about it via social media and your website as well. This creates more contact moments that can eventually lead back to your website and the initiative that you support.

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7. How do you know if something is being read? Monitoring and reports

Do you want to get a serious start with online media? Then it is very useful to know by whom and when your website, social media pages and newsletters are visited and read. What do people click on? Which posts are working and which ones are not? What are the demographics of your audience? What are their other interests? These are all useful details that can assist you in locating and approaching your supporters in an optimal manner. But how, exactly, do you acquire these details?

Google Analytics

monitoring

People are usually particularly interested in the number of daily visitors to their site. However, Google Analytics actually allows you to obtain more detailed information. You can see who visits your website and how they were routed there, which search terms are most used and where each website visitor lives. The stats will also tell you what information people find interesting, what they click on, and when and to what the most money is donated. By inserting a code in the html code of your site, Google Analytics is able to keep track of all this. This data will help you get know your target audience. It will be clear if your site is being visited and when people leave it. You will find an extensive explanation on Google Analytics here.

Facebook Insights

Facebook also allows you to see exactly who reads your posts, how many people they have reached, how many likes you received in the past week, the age of your readers, and what other interests they might have. If you login to your Facebook page, you can view all of this under the ‘Insights’ tab. This will enable you to see which posts have been successful and which have not.

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8. Finally: online advertising

Online Advertising

Online advertising costs money and you might not consider using it straight away. It can nevertheless provide many possibilities. Programmes such as Google Adwords exist to provide for advertising in search engines. If you are searching for a specific term and you see an advertisement as the top result, this spot was most likely purchased by an organisation. If you are an officially registered charity in the possession of certification, you may be eligible for a ‘Google Grants’ account. This is a version of Adwords especially designed for charities, for which Google has allocated a $10,000 per month available budget. A disadvantage is that you can only use an X-number amount ($2) per click, which doesn’t always raise your advertisement to a very prominent spot on search engines. You can find out the exact conditions for application to this grant account and how to get started here.

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