Minimizing my online life and maximizing the rest (Part I): Minimizing

Major transitions are often a time of reflection and change for me, and coming back from travelling is usually a time where I set goals and make changes as “real life” resumes.

One of my goals is to cut down on my online life. Here’s what I’m doing.

BLOG READING

Cutting down the blogs I keep up on to:

General News
I don’t have a TV and only listen to CBC radio, so RSS news feeds are my main source. I subscribe to feeds from Vancouver Sun, CBC, Globe and Mail, and NY Times. I also get emails from the Economist and Financial Times.

Thought leaders
This doesn’t mean leaders in the “I have a bajillion followers” sense. But instead, people that write about things that I would love to discuss with them in person – usually related to community and/or education. Some of my current favourites:

  • Glenn’s little ugly blog by Glenn Gaetz, who I’ve come to know in person through SFU’s Certificate in Dialogue and Civic Engagement
  • Know Your Own Bone by Colleen Dilenschneider, who I’ve only met online through the Nonprofit Millennials Blogging Alliance
  • Peter Levine (Director of CIRCLE), who writes largely on civic engagement, but I read him through Facebook, as this is where the comments happen on his writing (friend him, he doesn’t have a fan page).

Deep Sector News
Websites that offer important policy and research news regarding topics like civic engagement or the nonprofit sector in Canada. Some of my sources:

  • CIRCLE, which produces research on youth and civic engagement
  • Imagine Canada, which produces research and policy recommendations related to the charitable sector in Canada

Hard Resources
No, I don’t want to know your “Top 3 Ways For Nonprofits to Use Twitter” or “10 ways to enhance your personal brand”. However, if you have recommendations for tried, tested and true technology tools or professional development, I’d like to hear. Some examples include:

  • Civic Footprint, which writes a lot about their innovative Timeraiser events and civic engagement, but is also a huge proponent of cloud computing and efficiency and productivity through technology
  • Wild Apricot Blog, which writes about volunteerism and associations in general, but also a lot about web technologies

TWITTER

Sigh. I’m not sure exactly what I’m going to do about this. I’ve met great people through Twitter, and have been directed to great information. But most of it is shit, and results in a lot of switching costs (time wasted by changing objects of focus too often). Even limiting people I follow to those interested in similar topics leads to a lot of shit. And I’m guilty of producing it too.

I’m kind of a “let’s get down to the good stuff” kind of gal, and I don’t think Twitter is what I’m looking for when it comes to conversing and learning. I’ll probably stick around, but in a much more limited way. I learn more meaningful things about people and their ideas through their blogs.

FACEBOOK

Sigh to the power of infinity. It’s a personal not a professional tool for the most part, and as so many friends are on it, I think giving it up is impossible. But maybe only check it once a day? Maybe? OK. Twice. Fine, three times.

EMAIL

Delegate. Do. Delete. or Designate = Done. I like a zero inbox at work and at home. I’ll continue this.

TV

I don’t have a TV, but I still watch a lot online. This season I’m trying to stick to Mad Men and How I Met Your Mother.

What about you? Have you tried to minimize your time online?

Twitter: An engagement tool, not a fundraiser ticket-seller

I’ve had multiple conversations with friends and former colleagues about Twitter recently, particularly it’s use in promoting special events. (Who hasn’t? To be honest, the number of blogs and articles about Twitter could make a person twvomit. So now I’m adding to the gag reflex. Alas.)

Most of my responses follow along the lines of a phrase I hear over and over again on Twitter from people like @rootwork. Twitter is a tool, not a strategy. Twitter-less doesn’t necessarily equal boat-missing.

Should we use Twitter to help sell tickets to our upcoming fundraising event?
What’s your online relationship with supporters? If you communicate with donors, volunteers and other supporters through good old Canada Post, Twitter is probably not the next logical step to communicate with them and get them to buy tickets.

But we want to connect with new supporters too. What about Twitter for that?
Are possible new supporters on Twitter?
If you want them to come to your event, or if your cause is a local one, you’re likely looking for geographically-close people. Geographically-close Twitter users. If you’re trying to raise money to build a knitting museum in small town Salmon Arm, BC … sorry, my Grandma’s not on Twitter. (Actually, my Grandma probably wouldn’t come to your event anyway.) However, your target demographic might be a nice fit with Twitter users (Gen X and Y communicators, on average).

So how do I reach out to these possible new supporters?
Engage them. Add value. If your Vancouver-based environmental organization is having a fundraising event at which young local “green” entrepreneurs are being recognized, you’ll need to build a Twitter following that includes people that are into this sort of thing. To do this, you’ll need to tweet about things and be a part of the conversation related to corporate social responsibility, environmental issues, entrepreneurism, etc.

I need specific examples. Vague phrases like “adding value” and “engagement” are annoying.

  • Tweet about interesting articles you have read (eg More demand than supply for green graduates – Vancouver Sun http://ow.ly/br7y)
  • Support others doing similar good work by tweeting about them (eg Vancouver entrepreneur wants to “green-up fleet vehicles” http://ow.ly/brfl)
  • Find people on Twitter that are already tweeting about this stuff, follow them, and hope they reciprocate (eg do a Twitter search of “environment vancouver” or “green vancouver“)

Alright, I think I’m ready. Giddy up!
Whoa. Keep in mind that Twitter takes time and effort. Do you have someone at your organization that has room in their workload for this? Many people and organizations that sign up for Twitter are excited at first (like Oprah and her followers) but soon tire of it and quit. Your reasons for using Twitter should go beyond just selling tickets.

For more ideas: