interactivity Archives - Syneka Marketing

ProBono Australia Executive Webinar: Redefining Your Marketing – how you can measure and improve your returns and performance

By Advice, Advice for Not-for-profit Organisations and Charities, News No Comments

Marketing is one of the most misunderstood terms in the not-for-profit sector, resulting in a tactics based approach that fails to deliver tangible value. This afternoon I was invited to present a session on the role of marketing within the not-for-profit sector as part of ProBono Australia’s Executive Webinar series.

This session explored the need for marketing governance within not-for-profit organisations. These foundations are essential in not-for-profit organisations, where the marketing function tends to be dispersed across an organisation.

As a presenter I encourage interactivity so we harnessed the chat functionality of the webinar system to encourage discussion, providing an opportunity to ask questions and work through the content in further detail.

Marketing exists to deliver value, which is essential for not-for-profit organisations which are increasingly required to become market responsive and less dependent on government funding.

Content from this webinar is available on request, please email webinars@synekamarketing.com.au.

Third Sector Magazine: Activate your community through social media

By Advice, Advice for Not-for-profit Organisations and Charities, News No Comments

Third Sector Magazine has published our advice on engaging communities through social media. Alex will be discussing social media as a speaker at the Third Sector Expo on Monday the 15th of April, for details please visit www.thirdsectorevents.com.au.

The website Humanities 21 which is integrated with Facebook, Twitter and other social media tools

The website Humanities 21 which is integrated with Facebook, Twitter and other social media tools

Activate your community through social media

Is your organisation considering social media, but not sure where to start? Or has it recently created a Facebook page and Twitter feed only to be underwhelmed by the results? Syneka Marketing provides seven tips to help your organisation strengthen its social media presence and re-engage its communities online.

Know where to start

Social media is the collective name for a range of tools that enhance interactivity and discussion, such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ and Pinterest. Each of these tools has a slightly different purpose and audience, but they are all designed to encourage participation.

Know what you want to achieve

Success begins with strategy and this is no different for social media. Decide the specific outcomes you want to achieve from your social media efforts, such as:

  • Raising awareness
  • Encouraging volunteers
  • Increasing donations.

Once you know what you want to achieve, you can consider the messages and tools that can be used to promote these objectives.

Develop a social media policy

Social media policies help to identify the people who will have access to social media accounts and will be authorised to provide official announcements. Other individuals can respond to comments and interact, as well as support the authorised spokespeople.

Policies should enable board members, staff and volunteers to support the organisation’s social media presence.

Each social media tool has its own audience and key strengths.

Each social media tool has its own audience and key strengths.

Engage and interact

When creating a new social media account, encourage your members or supporters to follow your organisation. In addition, promote your social media presence through your website, newsletter and other communication tools. Undertaking initial promotion will ensure that you can build a network of followers that will assist in promoting your organisation. Follow similar organisations and encourage them to follow you.

Handle negativity

Negative comments should hopefully be kept to a minimum, but it’s important to have clear guidelines to manage any adverse commentary.

Make a clear distinction between negative and offensive comments and respond accordingly. Aim to engage directly with someone that has written a negative comment and suggest that you would like to follow up further. Try and engage the person through offline forms of contact, such as the telephone, so that you can discuss their concerns directly. Attempting to resolve the issue outside of the public realm will enable a more in-depth discussion.

If a comment is deemed to be offensive, it should be removed immediately as per your media and communications policy.

Integrate online tools

One of the great aspects of the web and social media is that messages can be integrated. You can automatically post updates from your website through to Facebook, Twitter and other social media tools. Integration ensures a consistent message while saving time by replicating content across your networks.

Integrating social media means you’ll have more time to foster and develop your community by providing a base level of communications.

Share content

Re-tweeting or sharing posts on Facebook indicates that the person supports your organisation and messages. The sharing of content is the online equivalent of word of mouth advertising and is a great way to extend your organisation’s networks.

Social media, like a website, needs to be kept up-to-date. An inactive presence is worse than having no presence, as the first question someone will ask is whether the organisation still exists.

The importance of interactivity in website design

By Advice, Advice for Businesses, Advice for Not-for-profit Organisations and Charities, News 2 Comments

Once you have identified the aims of your website, it is important to consider how people will interact with your site.

Where possible, visitors should be able to undertake a transaction with your website and receive immediate benefit. For example, Syneka has been developing a website for a consultant, who has written several books. While her paper-based books have been readily available on the site, it is her new range of e-books that have proved immensely popular.

Since e-books can be purchased and acquired instantly on-line, it ensures that a visitor is able to receive immediate benefit from their transaction. The e-books also ensure that that the author is able to provide new content relatively quickly providing an opportunity to quickly meet new demands.

Sometimes it is not always possible to complete a transaction entirely online, such as services which require off-line interaction. In this case, it is important to secure a commitment from the visitor so that they do take the next steps and complete the transaction.

An example of this is a migration agent who needs to undertake a detailed assessment of their clients. While this detailed assessment will require further interaction with the client, pre-qualification can be undertaken online.

Syneka developed a website for a migration agency and included an interactive interview to help qualify prospective clients and provide an initial understanding of their needs. The interview helps create a commitment from the visitor to undertake a full assessment, while also providing the migration agency with initial details to understand the needs of this prospective client.

The interview process has been extremely well received by prospective clients and automatically sends an email to both the migration agency and the client, stating that further contact will be undertaken to complete the assessment. This interactivity creates a commitment for the client and thus encourages them to complete the transaction and secure services through your organisation.

While the Internet provides the ability to reach new markets, it also enables prospective visitors to quickly find your competitors. Interactivity and creating commitment provides a method of securing new prospective customers, while minimizing the tendency of seeking competitors.

This equally applies to the not-for-profit sector, where an organisation is often competing for someone’s time. In this case, Syneka created a website for a community house, which includes an interactive online enrollment form providing the ability to register interest in a class. This creates a commitment and means that the community house is able to secure the registration and attendance of a visitor that completes the enrollment process.

This interactivity means that a visitor is able to transact with the site and achieves the organisation’s aim of using their website to secure enrollments. While an online version of their brochure would advertise the classes they have available, it doesn’t necessary create a commitment for someone to enroll into a course. The online enrollment form achieves this aim and provides quantifiable metrics in measuring the success of their site.

Likewise, the migration agency and the author are able to quantify the success of their respective websites through the transactions that are undertaken, ensuring that they can measure results and determine the effectiveness of their on-line marketing strategies.

Preventing spam without deterring genuine visitors

By Advice, Advice for Businesses, Advice for Not-for-profit Organisations and Charities, News No Comments

Spam is unfortunately far too common on the Internet, arising in forum posts, instant messaging, email and websites. Spam otherwise known as ‘junk’, is unsolicited/unwanted content and will often take the form of advertising or include malicious intent.

Like email, websites can also suffer from spam, particularly when they encourage interactivity from visitors. This is why many sites now require verification when registering or submitting content, either via email or through what is known as image verification.

Most spam is sent via spambots, automated customer systems that write content and distribute this unwanted content.

CAPTCHA is the technical term for automated technology that helps prevent spam. The most common form of CAPTCHA is that of typing text that appears within an image, known as image verification.

While the prevention of spam is necessary to reduce administrative overhead and should be utilized, it is important that user friendliness is not sacrificed.

If a genuine visitor has difficulty interacting with your website due to these spam prevention techniques, then in most cases they will simply find another site to fulfill their requirements.

The level of perseverance a visitor has will depend on their commitment to your product or service and the uniqueness or popularity of your offering. This is because most visitors understand that highly popular sites will be likely targets for spambots and hence will have a higher level of tolerance.

Just recently I was encouraged to participate in an online poll, the poll asked a series of questions and required the verification of text within an image to successfully submit these answers.

Unfortunately the content within the image was obscure and extremely difficult to read. After six attempts in trying to decipher the image, the form finally accepted my input.

While I persevered because the poll was about an issue that is important to me, had this been any other website I would not have persisted. That being said, the site was lucky that I was finally able to decipher the text on the sixth attempt because it was very likely I was not going to try for the seventh time.

The site is not entirely to blame, spambots have been able to decipher image verification and thus CAPTCHA now means increasingly obscure text, which not only makes it difficult for machines to interpret but also difficult for genuine visitors.

Yes, spambots are becoming more sophisticated in their ability to overcome spam prevention techniques, but it is worth considering the balance between prevention and deterring interaction with genuine site visitors.

While there is definitely a role for CAPTCHA techniques in preventing spam, it is worth considering other methods of spam prevention, particularly methods that prevent spambots from visiting your website in the first instance.

Various methods exist to prevent spambots from even being able to visit your website. This has advantages since these methods act as a gateway, preventing these systems from accessing your site in the first instance, thus reducing site traffic from non-genuine visitations.

Linux based webhosts, typically use Apache as a web server, which utilities the .htaccess file, which controls various parameters of a website, including who can access the site. This can be used to prevent automated spambots from even entering your site. Likewise solutions, such as Bad Behaviour, work in a similar fashion, through blocking spambots from entering your website in the first instance.

Should a spambot enter your site, most blog and content management systems can include blacklisting of certain terms, meaning they are automatically rejected, or a greylist, which requires authorization before being published. These greylists can often be set to require prior approval to any comments that include links to other sites, a common tactic used by spambots.

Most content management systems and blogging software will also support plugins some of which can provide further protection against spam providing additional safeguards.

Alternatives to image verification exist, such as the asking a question, which must be answered correctly to submit content (example: what is 1+1?). This has accessibility advantages, since image or audio based verification can be difficult to utilize from a usability perspective, although they do offer a higher degree of prevention.

No method of preventing spam will yield a 100% success rate. The key is to prevent spam as much as possible while not restricting genuine visitors from interacting and participating in your website.

Websites within service organisations

By Advice, Advice for Not-for-profit Organisations and Charities, News No Comments

This evening I unveiled the Rotary Club of Ringwood website to the members of the club.

Rotary is an organisation comprising of more than 32,000 services clubs and over 1.2 million members. Each Rotary Club operates on a largely autonomous basis and is responsible for its own participation in community projects and initiatives.

A website has significant potential in promoting service clubs such as Rotary, both in terms of promoting the work undertaken by the organisation but also in facilitating membership recruitment.

For this to succeed the website needs to be viewed as part of the overall marketing strategy for the Rotary Club. The Rotary Club of Ringwood has a number of projects each involving different members, these people need to ensure that the website is part of their overall strategy to promote the organisation.

As an example an organisation would not produce brochures or banners that are inconsistent with its message or branding and it is important that websites share this consistency.

A website helps serve as an entry point into an organisation, as well as reinforce the overall message and branding enticing further involvement and interactivity. It is generally accepted that someone needs to experience a marketing message five to seven times before they will be inclined to act and it is therefore important that a website is consistent with other promotional tools.

In regard to a voluntary based organisation, the Internet and a web presence can assist in reaching increasingly time-poor volunteers and prospective members through making it is easy to learn about the organisation.

The Rotary Club of Ringwood website provides functionality for each member to include details on their particular projects, with the officebearers being able to approve information for publishing.  This encourages a sense of ownership of the website and helps ensure that it will remain up-to-date and relevant to the organisation.

The Demonstration of the website also included a series of slides to provide some context for the role of the site.
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Interlinking your website with Social Media

By Advice, Advice for Businesses, Advice for Not-for-profit Organisations and Charities, Government, News 2 Comments

The Internet through interactive technologies, such as web 2.0 and social media sites, has immense potential to reach new volunteers or customers if harnessed to its full potential.

One of the challenges facing an organisation is the need to ensure that their website, as well as social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter, are maintained and kept up to date. Unfortunately, this duplicates workloads and creates silos of information, making it difficult to establish and leverage connections across these various Internet technologies.

This also causes ongoing costs and delays for an organisation since their website is often outsourced to a web designer who may not always promptly add new content.

One of the most powerful benefits of the Internet is the immediacy of content but this can be a drawback for an organisation, if their website is not maintained on an ongoing basis. A website is often the first point of contact for a prospective volunteer, member or client and information that is out of date will deter these visitors from investigating further.

Social media sites, such as Facebook and Twitter are becoming increasingly important in exchanging information and reaching new volunteers, members or clients.

Internet technologies and their usage rates in sharing information

Internet technologies and their usage rates in sharing information (from The Business Insider)

The graph indicates the dominance of Facebook over email when exchanging information and shows that Twitter is experiencing solid growth.

While email is likely to always have a role in Internet communications, it is clear that social media technologies, like Facebook and Twitter are becoming increasingly important. This is because people choose their connections when using social media, meaning they connect with people they know. This has benefits when exchanging information since it operates like an Internet equivalent to word of mouth referrals.

The result is a community that has been formed around your organisation, strengthening the ability to recruit volunteers, members or new customers and reaching a new demographic that tends to not respond to traditional marketing. The Internet, like all forms of marketing, needs to complement your other activities so that you provide a consistent message and focus.

Many organisations are keen to have a presence on Facebook and Twitter but duplicating content is tedious and time consuming since it stretches already limited resources.

The solution is to separate the design of your website from its content, using technology known as a Content Management System (CMS). A Content Management System empowers an organisation so that they can add and modify content on their website, while their web designer develops templates to ensure a consistent layout across the site.

The system we use is known as WordPress, which is a content management system and blogging platform. This system allows for the easy publishing of information and operates similarly to a Word Processor.

Furthermore, this content can be replicated across other technologies, such as Facebook, Twitter and other websites. In addition, relevant stakeholders, such as media outlets, volunteers or customers, can receive updates via email.

The end result is one of lower ongoing costs since an organisation only requires design and not ongoing maintenance from a web developer. In addition, there is a decrease in workloads since Facebook, Twitter and subscribers automatically receive new content when it is published on your website.