Remember when Google Plus “flopped"? Well, it didn’t.
"Google Plus’s brilliant method of gaining new users is playing out right in front of our eyes, but no one recognizes it...Google Plus’s user acquisition strategy is to methodically absorb certain verticals using the carrot instead of the stick."
In 2013, social media will continue the trend of "going visual." More and more nonprofits are adding data visualization to compelling story telling to create amazing infographics as part their marketing tool kits.
Eight tips to craft a message that Twitter followers will retweet.
1. Include links. Tweets that included a link were three times more prevalent in retweets than those without, according to Zarrella’s researcher. That means you don’t tell your Twitter audience, “We conducted some great research.” You show them the research by sharing a link to where they can find it (your blog, ideally).
2. Opt for timely news (most of the time). Zarrella found that tweets mentioning news were the most shared. Rest assured, however, that if you can’t share breaking news—and 99 percent of the time a new “solution” is not breaking—evergreen advice will do the trick. The most shared tweets beyond news were instructional in nature, followed by entertainment, opinion, products, and small talk.
3. Share tech news (or maybe mention a celebrity). This won’t apply to everyone with a Twitter account, but the researchers at UCLA and HP Labs said tweets about tech news were the most shared. Health news and “fun stuff” were Nos. 2 and 3 in terms of popularity. The study also said that mentioning a celebrity, such as @LadyGaga, will probably result in a popular tweet.
4. Use “you” instead of “I.” Specific words can spark retweets, Zarrella deduced. Among the words most commonly found in heavily shared tweets are “you,” “Twitter,” “please,” “retweet,” “post,” and “check out.” Another term found often in these tweets is “please retweet.” Despite these findings, asking someone to “please retweet” is a practice you should avoid. It’s tacky—no matter what science tells you.
5. Calm down. With all the noise online, especially in the Twittersphere, it stands to reason that a frantic tweet with a healthy dose of hyperbole would stand out. For example: “INCREDIBLE photo. You MUST check it out IMMEDIATELY!” Not so, say researchers at UCLA and HP Labs. Objective language performs as well as subjective, they discovered.
6. Embrace verbosity, to an extent. Zarrella found that as the length of tweets grew, so did the number of clicks for a link in the tweet. Once the tweet reached 130 characters, the number of click-throughs fell, so don’t go above 130, if possible. You’ll probably want to shoot for fewer, in case someone wants to retweet you and include his or her own comment.
7. Use punctuation, especially colons and periods. Nearly all retweets have some form of punctuation, according to Zarrella. Colons and periods were by far the most common. Surprisingly, question marks weren’t common in retweets, nor were semicolons. The latter isn’t surprising; most people misunderstand this handy punctuation mark and therefore tend to avoid it.
8. Drop a brand name. “Brand, even and especially on the Internet, matters,” Garber writes in The Atlantic. She’s referencing the UCLA and HP Labs data, which determined that reliable sources—such as media outlets and brand names—led to more commonly shared tweets. That doesn’t mean, however, that established media brands only will garner retweets. UCLA and HP Labs found that in some cases the opposite was true. Stories shared by popular traditional media—Reuters, AP, Christian Science Monitor—received fewer tweets than upstart media such as Mashable and AllFacebook. Even corporate and marketing blogs, among them Google’s blog and Seth Godin’s blog, sparked more retweets than many “old” media sources.
This revealing infographic shows just how much non-profits leveraged social media over the past year.
Fundraising for non-profits is no easy task. No matter how noble the cause, getting folks to part with their hard-earned cash presents a tricky challenge.
But, more than ever, non-profits are relying on social media to reach their target audiences and help make the world a better place. Why social media? Because Facebook, Twitter and other networks are where the eyeballs are. In fact, socially shared content makes up 10% of all web content, at least according to analysis by the social platform ShareThis.
2012 saw more social effort and engagement than ever by non-profits, and the following infographic from MDG Advertising provides a handy overview. Based on statistics from a number of non-profit advocacy groups, it reflects a world of newfound potential for rallying people online for social good.
Check it out below for the fuller picture, then share with us in the comments: How can social media best be used to promote social good?
Seventeen of Grand Rapids Public Schools 43 buildings are at or below 60 percent capacity.
GRAND RAPIDS, MI - City Manager Greg Sundstrom said he respects and appreciates the bold leadership of Superintendent Teresa Weatherall Neal in putting forth a transformation plan focused on kids being college and career ready.
On Monday, Oct. 29, Neal introduced a proposal to the school board that would close 10 school buildings, consolidates schools and programs, and closes and reopens more innovative, appealing programs on the same sites. The building plan is meant to support her new academic plan, funneling money saved into improving teaching and learning.
RELATED: Grand Rapids superintendent unveils plans to close Creston, other schools as part of consolidation, reinvention plan
"I agree with Superintendent Neal that Grand Rapids Public Schools has a significant impact on the entire community. After all, they are training the workforce of tomorrow," Sundstrom said. "It is important for this community to have a well-trained workforce."
"A transformation plan means rethinking everything you do, not incremental change but bold change that can have significant impact."
Diana Sieger, president of the Grand Rapids Community Foundation, said she thinks Neal is on the right track with her focus on putting dollars into improving achievement.
"The focus really needs to be on raising the graduation rate, reducing the dropout rate and preparing kids to be college and career ready," said Sieger. "When you are faced with financial challenges, you have to make some difficult choices."
The foundation is a key district partner, funneling a half-million dollars to Grand Rapids schools already to keep Northwest Side students on track to colleges or training for certification. Plans are to invest as much as $4.5 million this decade. Students at Harrison Park and teachers are receiving academic support through the Challenge Scholars Program, which expands to Westwood Middle next year and includes Union High School support. The group is also offering college scholarships to Harrison students graduating in Union's Class of 2020.
The district has a graduation rate of 47.6 percent, a dropout rate of nearly 20 percent, and less than 1 percent of comprehensive high school students are college ready based on Michigan Merit Exam and ACT. And 17 of its 43 buildings are at or below 60 percent capacity.
Neal says she can't run a district operating at a loss.
"I think the overall plan makes a lot of sense because No. 1, it's strategic, which is critically important," said Brian Cloyd, board chair of Grand Rapids University Preparatory Academy and a district public-private partnership, and vice president of global corporate relations for Steelcase.
"I know that the lighting rod will be around individual schools closing, reopening, and where is my child going to school, but I think parents should be asking themselves two questions: Do I want a quality education for my child? Do I want my child to have the opportunity to be successful in life?"
He said funds going into operating and maintaining half-empty buildings can be focused on every child being successful.
"I think it’s a very gutsy plan," said Joe Jones, president and CEO of the Grand Rapids Urban League. "I think there is a need to be bold. This seems to be well thought and most importantly, puts the district on the path to being competitive during a time when true choice in education is available in our community.".
Fritz Crabb, director of literacy initiatives for the Heart of West Michigan United Way, which partners with GRPS on its Schools of Hope program, said it is important the district concentrates on its academic challenges.
"We are happy to see the bold steps proposed by the superintendent to improve academics," said Crabb, who said they will work for the success of the plan ultimately adopted.
At Monday's school board work session, Neal told the board she thought the transformation plan was "thoughtful and creative" and asked they not pick it apart but vote it up or down.
The board is scheduled to vote Dec. 17. Five meetings are planned with the community beginning Thursday at Creston High School, 1720 Plainfield Ave. NE, one of the schools recommended for closure because its low-enroll and high operating cost. The meeting is scheduled from 6 to 7:30 p.m.
To read the plan, visit the district website.
Email:email@example.com and follow her on Facebook and Twitter @Twitter.com/GRPScotty.
Parents' Role in School Lunch By Learning First Alliance on October 25, 2012 10:30 AM
By Betsy Landers, President of the National PTA
It's a question parents know well: "How was school today?" This year, parents need to ask another question: "How was lunch today?" My hope is that students give an enthusiastic thumbs up, telling a story of a delicious plate full of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. But let's be honest: children probably won't say that. Not yet at least.
As I'm sure we've all heard by now, school lunches are different this year. As part of a law that passed in 2010, schools participating in the National School Lunch Program (101,000 schools nationwide) will be serving meals with more fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat or fat-free milk, and portion sizes appropriate for their age groups. Why? There's a laundry list of reasons, but my favorite is that our kids deserve the best, and it is our responsibility as parents and educators to ensure the food they put in their bodies in school leaves them ready to learn and on a path to a healthy life.
It is critical to create healthy eating habits in children now to help prevent projections that half of U.S. adults will be obese by 2030 unless Americans change their ways, according to a new report released this month by the Trust for America's Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Many other studies have consistently shown that obesity is associated with poor levels of academic achievement. Fighting obesity is not just a health issue; it's integral to the academic success of our nation's children.
The reality nationwide is that one-third of our kids are overweight and obese. You've heard that statistic before and you may be thinking right now, "But what about those kids that play sports and need more food!" These new school nutrition standards were not a result of the U.S. Department of Agriculture pulling meal components out of the sky. They are based on the 2010 Nutrition Guidelines for Americans and recommendations from the Institute of Medicine, based on the most updated knowledge of the nutrition needs for the average child in their respective age range. What's more, for many high school students, calorie levels are similar to previous years; the meals just look less like fast food and more like a balanced meal. That means students may find steamed squash on their plates where there once were tater tots, and chicken nuggets that are baked with whole grain bread crumbs.
An upgrade through most kids' eyes? Probably not! But that's where parents and adults come in. As parents it is our role to make sure our kids get what they need and not what they think they need. As kids transition to healthier options this year, we must make sure that we are sending a positive message that these updates are what is best for them — physically and even academically. Parents should talk to children about how strong these new meals will make them and how healthy bodies lead to better academic performance. Parents can bring children along to the grocery store and ask them to pick out the fruits or vegetables that they have tried at school to reinforce healthy habits at home.
One of the criticisms of the new meals is that they are not meeting the needs of student-athletes. That's a real concern for some students. What can parents do? Most schools have supplementary sides available in the cafeteria that students can purchase. Some schools may even be able to offer extra fruits and vegetables at no cost to students. To ensure all these options are healthy, parents should talk to the school food service director, administrators and coaches on the options for student-athletes.
Parents can always send additional foods from home for student-athletes to consume during lunch or before practice. Parents must remember that the new school meals are the baseline and designed to meet the average student's needs. For children with special dietary needs, parents have to be proactive — working with their children and the school to meet their child's needs, while still respecting the integrity of the program. That program is meeting the needs of most children.
As parents we know that any time there are changes to anything, there are going to be bumps in the road. For too many years, we let many of our children eat foods in school that were too high in sodium, fat and calories for their age ranges, and too low in the nutrients that their growing bodies need. I'd ask again that parents consider asking their children how lunch was when they come home from school this week. Regardless of their answer, parents should shed positive light on the exciting changes that are going on in the lunchroom. Because their children are worth it!
It is estimated that seven million students (K-12) miss 18 days or more each year, and the concentration of that ...
It is estimated that seven million students (K-12) miss 18 days or more each year, and the concentration of that absenteeism is in middle and high schools. In some states, as many as 1 in 3 high school students are absent on any given day.
Research shows that student achievement suffers after only five absences. Students who miss more than ten days of school are more than 20 percent less likely to graduate from high school than their peers and are 25 percent less likely of ever enrolling in any type of college. Those who drop out are two and a half times more likely to be on welfare than high school graduates. Those who do attend college are less likely to be prepared, more likely to enroll in remedial class, and more likely to leave college before earning a degree.
In a recent report from the Get Schooled Foundation, Skipping to Nowhere, more than 500 teens in 25 cities were given in-depth interviews to get an accurate picture of truancy in America. The report found that skipping school is behavior developed by the end of 9th grade. Of current sophomores, juniors and seniors who skip, nearly three quarters of them started skipping in middle school or during their first year of high school. Class cutting transcends socioeconomic, racial, and geographic backgrounds.
The interviews revealed that most students face few or minor immediate consequences for skipping school, and many do not think missing class impacts their grades, their chances of graduating, or whether they’ll attend college. According to the report, more than 80 percent of students who skip school once a week believe it is unlikely they will fall behind in class. Nearly half of skippers are absent at least part of the day about once a week or more and 42 percent of students said their parents “never” or “rarely” know when they skip school. Young people are often unaware that skipping even a few days of school can dramatically affect their grades and even decrease their odds of graduating.
The Get Schooled Foundation’s report supports past research that shows a direct link between family engagement and student achievement. Parents are the most important defense against absenteeism. Following are some tips on how parents can prevent their child from cutting class:
Be involved with your teen’s school. Attend Parent’s Night and other school functions. Volunteer within the school. Get to know your teen’s teachers. Be aware of your child’s grades and attendance record. The more involved you are in your teen’s school the more likely your teen will perceive education as important and the less likely they are to skip class.
Encourage open communication. Allow your teen to vent about a teacher, a certain class, etc. without providing any judgment. Everyone needs to feel heard and understood. If you believe your child is facing a challenge at school, talk to their teacher.
Explain the importance of attendance. Give your child a vision for their future and then explain how skipping school impacts that vision. Tell them some of the statistics from this report and explain that skipping school significantly changes their ability to have a bright future.
Live in the real world. Students surveyed expressed a desire for a connection between their ‘real lives’ and what they learn in school. Too often there is a complete disconnect between their lives outside of school, their dreams and hopes for the future and how they spend each day. Draw the lines for them so they can see the usefulness of what they are learning.
Repeat the message. When the message to avoid skipping only comes from the school principal, it’s not as effective. Having the message about the importance of attending school come from several sources – parents, teachers, neighbors, the local truancy officer, police, celebrities, athletes, etc. – can have a dramatically stronger effect on student decision-making.
Establish consequences for truancy. Tell your teen that skipping school is not acceptable in your family and provide a consequence if you discover they have skipped. Parents should also inform their teens of their local area’s laws for truancy.
According to the US Department of Education, skipping school is one of the first signs of trouble in a young person’s life. When young people start skipping school, they are telling their parents and teachers that they are in trouble or are giving up. Students are truant for different reasons. Yes, some just would rather hang out with their friends than go to school, but others may skip a day of school because they were concerned for their personal safety or did not want to take a test for which they were unprepared. It’s important to find out the reason they are skipping and address it directly. If they are bored, show them the correlation between what they learn and what they want to do in the future. If they are avoiding a test, determine the reason and help them with their studying or provide a tutor. If they are scared for their safety, work with the school to stop bullying. Do not ignore their cry for help… skipping school or cutting class means there is a problem to solve in your teen’s life.
Compelling content (and a good measurement process) is the heart and soul of a successful integrated strategy. But, for many nonprofits, creating a consistent stream of high quality content isn't easy.
Fundraising's Social Revolution: How Social Media is Changing Nonprofit Culture and Practice
Welcome to the social revolution. Social media is driving nonprofits of every size and mission towards higher levels of engagement across all constituents types—clients, donors, partners and followers. The social media platform gives every organization a voice, one that can be leveraged and integrated broadly across many channels.
This white paper provides an overview of the ways in which nonprofits can successfully implement social media within their fundraising programs, applying it more purposefully across their entire organization. Those interested in getting started with social media or who are ready to take social media to the next level will find foundational information as well as strategic recommendations from well-known experts and practitioners. Concrete examples of best practices within successful nonprofit environments will help all readers use social media tools and resources to their best advantage.
Education Week news producer Bryan Toporek brings you K-12 sports coverage that reaches far beyond box scores.
New Partnership Aims to Curb Childhood Obesity by 2015 By Bryan Toporek on November 16, 2012 9:28 AM
A new collaborative effort announced Thursday between the American Heart Association (AHA) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) aims to turn around the nation's childhood-obesity epidemic within the next three years.
Together, the two organizations will focus on six major policy areas, based on research suggesting what's most effective in terms of combating childhood obesity.
Both organizations will "focus on reaching communities hardest hit by the [childhood obesity] epidemic, including communities of color and lower-income communities," according to a press release.
The RWJF will head up the efforts surrounding physical activity, including helping schools and other youth programs increase the amount of physical activity for their students. The foundation will also be funding ways to increase other opportunities to be physically active, such as the building of bike lanes, parks, and walking paths.
While the AHA will largely be responsible for funding efforts regarding nutrition, the RWJF will help underwrite initiatives that increase students' access to healthy food.
The AHA, meanwhile, will be focused on bolstering the nutritional quality of snack foods and drinks sold in schools, reducing children's consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages, and shielding students from marketing about unhealthy food or beverages. (A study recently presented at the American Public Health Association's annual meeting found large amounts of soda consumption was linked to students being overweight or gaining weight.)
"Some cities and states are starting to see progress in their efforts to reverse the childhood-obesity epidemic," said Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, the president and chief executive officer of the RWJF, in a statement. "As a country, we're gaining a better sense of what changes work, and now it's time to make those changes in every community. I'm confident this new collaboration with the American Heart Association will help us do just that."
The AHA will also be responsible for tying together all six policy areas that both it and the RWJF will be focusing on over the next few years. To help with that, the RWJF is providing $8 million of initial funding to the AHA to help establish the overarching advocacy initiative.
"Individuals across the country recognize the severity of the childhood-obesity epidemic, and they are counting on their elected and appointed representatives to support efforts to help children lead healthier lives," said Nancy Brown, chief executive officer of the AHA, in a statement. "We're excited to work with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to organize and build support for those policy efforts so the country can make lasting change."
This announcement comes roughly one week after a study projected childhood obesity to cost Maine more than $1 billion in medical costs over the next two decades.
A report released in September from the RWJF and Trust for America's Health suggested that 13 states could have adult-obesity rates higher than 60 percent by 2030, if the U.S. obesity epidemic remains unchecked.
Want all the latest K-12 sports news? Follow @SchooledinSport on Twitter.
Do America's youth-serving organizations and afterschool program providers agree on the outcomes they should seek for young people and the indicators they should use to measure progress? Increasingly, the answer is "yes," and an important new publication helps organizations of all types align their goals in order to increase their collective impact.
A Shared Vision for Youth: Common Outcomes and Indicators, created by the National Collaboration for Youth in partnership with the Forum for Youth Investment, identifies a common set of youth outcomes and indicators that cut across youth work, providing a framework to guide programs, organizations and communities. That framework is built on Ready by 21 principles, including the target of making sure youth are healthy and safe, connected and productive.
Common outcomes and indicators help to move the field towards a shared language on youth development, which can foster greater collaboration and impact. Afterschool and summer learning program providers can use the outcomes to:
Articulate program goals.
Develop logic models and evaluations.
Develop communication materials.
Identify commonalities and common measures with other youth-serving organizations.
Robin Good: Alexis Dufresne of Faveeo, an up and coming information filtering and discovery tool not yet available to the general public, has been posting some interesting articles on topics related to news curation, filtering and discovery.
In particular, I found interesting his recent analysis on automated solutions and algorithms designed to help scale curation efforts, as these are generally discarded as inappropriate for any type of professional work. But, as he rightly points out, there are several tasks inside a curator workflow that can indeed help and reduce the curator's workload without limiting his ability to manually select and edit what he finds most appropriate.
Alexis pinpoints at least three different areas in which algorithms and automated operations can indeed greatly help the curator's work. These are:
1) Discovery of new sources and networks: ...By teaching a machine about the kind of sources and users a curator is looking for, a machine could process from the incredible mass of sources and people out there to figure out those who are likely to be trusted sources of information. By using techniques of text analysis, social reach, semantic density, popularity and more, this task could be done by a machine.
2) Learning the profile of a curator: A lot of engines are focusing on filtering the semantic meaning of an article in order to recommend other content. But by using advanced NLP techniques and text extraction methods, we could go further and have an idea of the tone, the lenght and other signals that can indicate the preferences of a human curator, other than simply the actual keywords used in the text.
3) Social recommendations: ...By detecting users that seem to click, like, share or save the same articles, we can connect them together to mutualize their search and discovery operations, in order to speed things up.