Abila and Avectra blogs moving Better Together

Avectra is now Abila and we pride ourselves on the education and insights the Abila and Avectra blogs have provided. We will continue this tradition as our blog community moves better together.

Sign up to be among the first to see our new blog coming soon.

Archive for February, 2012

Non Profit Organizations Learn Social CRM

Written by Sterling Raphael on . Posted in Social CRM for Associations


Barely into 2012, I jumped ahead eight years and began to speculate as to what non-profits are going to look like in 2020. We all know change is on the horizon.  With the endless array of business models now at our fingertips, and the Non-Profit sector becoming increasingly innovative, the possibilities are limitless! Along these lines,  Katherine Pickus makes this interesting comment in her recent article, “Gone are the days when businesses existed to make money and nonprofits focused only on making the world better. Now both organizations are influencing each others’ practices and finding ways to work together…. By taking a new look at what it means to be a business or a nonprofit and applying these learnings in creative new ways, we’re leveraging the unique assets of each to get the best of both worlds.”

It’s no secret that the lines separating corporate and community are blurry. Non profits are quickly realizing they can no longer stay cemented to old school marketing plans and ignore social media, if they want to stay relevant, that is.  Social Enterprise is quickly being adopted as a valuable tool to help build and sustain NPO’s.  That being said, within the social media arena, the question now at the forefront is, ‘how is the change made from the very corporate concept of CRM to SCRM?’ (A very hot topic these days).

The learning process starts by the obvious: including social networks as part of your present CRM strategy, thus maintaining customer relationship across the social Web board!   Although this initiates an ongoing learning process on the part of NPO’s, I really like what Katie Shields says about the clear advantage of non-profits.  “In the business world, a common sentiment about social CRMs is that it is entirely new territory. Corporations, who are used to traditional Madison Avenue, top-down marketing campaigns, find that social CRMs are not their specialty. Here, nonprofits have a clear advantage over their for-profit counterparts!”

Emphasizing the need for change, a report by IBM makes things very clear , … “your organization may be present on social media and it may have a CRM (customer/constituent relationship management) strategy, but if you don’t have a social CRM strategy that combines the strengths of those two, you’re missing a key piece of the puzzle.” 

It’s important to make note that SCRM is an extension of CRM, not a replacement for CRM. Salesforce acknowledges SCRM as a natural extension of CRM itself.  For example.  “Twitter CRM and Facebook CRM are natural extensions of Salesforce CRM.  That’s because all three live in the same place: the cloud.  So if you’re using salesforce.com’s Sales Cloud or Serfice Cloud, you’re already positioned in the best of possible worlds.”

So, here we are – Social meets CRM…So where do we go from here?  How do we barrel forward with SCRM, create strategy and start learning from businesses?  As Social CRM revolves around the co-creation of value with customers, how does a company measure the value created by Social CRM? The answers to these questions and many more will help point you in the right direction.  Of course, my response and solution to these inquiries is, ‘Avectra’ – the key that opens the door to your SCRM experience.

avectra social crmavectra - Social CRMAVECTRA –  Avectra Social CRM
incorporates the social interactions of the relationship into an organization’s membership and business strategies to build long-term loyalty, trust, and mutual value – one member engagement at a time. And to realize these benefits and more, today’s smallest, largest and most successful member-based organizations need a comprehensive suite of membership management and social business tools:

Avectra Social CRM represents a fundamental shift in the way an organization identifies, serves and retains its members to how it will define the future success of the organization and its membership initiatives. It signals the end of the era of AMS, and the beginning of the era of Social CRM for Associations!

Chess Media GroupI can’t yet envision where NPO’s will be in 2020… I am sure, however, that SCRM is the right conduit to success; the pathway being brilliantly defined and plotted by Jacob Morgan in his blog, The Evolution of CRM to SCRM.  In it he explains how, “Chess Media Group in collaboration with Mitch Lieberman decided to breakdown how CRM has evolved by taking things back to basics and addressing the questions of: who, what, when, where, why, and how.”  This is a great visual emphasizing the shift from CRM to SCRM being behavioral and interaction based and not technology driven.

You might want to take a look at Katie Shield’s article.  She has some interesting observations:
  • Social = Social Networks. Social networks like Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube amplify the voice of the customer. These networks provide a powerful platform for consumers and potential donors to interact with organizations, brands and companies.
  • C = Customer. (Or donor.) There are already millions of people assembled on social networks. All an organization needs to do is tap into the network. There, they’ll find many of their existing customers/donors and potential customers/donors, served up on a silver platter!
  • R = Relationship. Online relationships between customers and organizations are characterized by quick and easy communication. And, for the most part, all of the communications on social networks are open and transparent, visible to other customers/donors. For example, if Marie Antoinette answered a peasant’s message about bread prices, it would be seen by all of France.
  • M = Management. With communication out in the open, organizations have a much better chance of understanding and engaging with their customers. Social CRM tools help organizations to connect the dots of online conversations with customers and provide a real-time record of your business activity.


501 Tech Club NYC NtenAnd I’ll be sharing more info on how Non Profits are evolving and innovating at an upcoming presentation for 501 Tech Club NYC: The New Era of Fundraising – Expectations Changed by Innovations. Join me!


Event Fundraising: Planning Tips

Written by abilainc on . Posted in Fundraising

Failing to plan is planning to fail and while cliché; this is sometimes a hard-learned lesson to learn. Of course, you can always turn the phrase around – if you don’t begin with a vision of a desired outcome, set goals, or define your plan – it’s impossible to fail, right? That’s certainly not the way to run a successful fundraising event. Many steps and planning stages need to be identified and defined to ensure your event’s success. Depending on the complexity of the event, planning can be a year round effort or a couple of months. If your organization is new to event fundraising, you may want to start with a small, less complex event to gain experience. The planning, management and execution of a successful event will give your organization the experience, skills, and confidence to move on to bigger and better events. To begin speak to your organization’s stakeholders. Ask supporters what types of events they would be interested in attending with a simple survey. Include a field for them to answer whether they would be interested in attending or volunteering and an open field for event suggestions. Similarly poll your board members and staff. You never know where a good idea will come from. Second, evaluate event ideas determine if they fit with your organization’s mission and whether or not they will appeal to your larger community. Is your event idea unique? Is there space within the larger community calendar of events? Will it garner attention and support? Will people – prospective donors – be interested in attending? Once you decide on the type of event, it’s important to define goals and outcome measures for the event. Think SMART Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely goals. Next, set a date and begin the process of figuring out how all the pieces of your event will fit together. You can print a sample event timeline from Sage’s new E-Book: Event Fundraising Best Practices here. Want to learn more? Watch a recording of Sage’s “best practices” webcast giving you several tried and true ways to pull all the pieces together for your next event – click here to view.

Social #Fail – Lessons from Social Media Screw Ups

Written by Sterling Raphael on . Posted in Social Media


It’s easy to screw up social media if your organization is not prepared to be social. I attended an event lat night at #SMWNY called SUXORZ: Worst Social Media Screw ups of 2011. It’s alarming just how clueless and unprepared many orgnizations are when it comes to social.  And it’s not the lack of social tools, it’s the lack of strategies that lead to these extraordinary disasters! The failing goes beyond the public social media sites, as described in Jessica Stillman‘s post on 3 popular ways to screw up social enterprise.

Yammer CEO David Sacks a few weeks ago, suggested that companies often go wrong by “trying to bolt that on to some existing tool, because if the tool isn’t built from the ground up to be social, it’s not going to have the level of usability that’s required.”

Many will agree that the first step in changing a potential negative situation is simply becoming aware of it. Then, the call to action! Instead of completely changing business processes to adapt to social tools, think about how you can make your business itself more social – it’s not all about the tool, it’s about the innovative strategy behind it.

Another great idea to embrace change within your organization is to incentivize staff and customers to socialize. Give them a reason to get value from it. Let’s face it.  Participants who have been offered what they consider to be generous incentives will more likely be more eager to participate.  For example, offer exclusive giveaways, resources (white papers, content) etc., only on social channels. Create that ‘community feel’ by rewarding your employees or customers for being active on your social networks. Highlight their interactions and good ideas (think badges, member spotlights, special tweets or recognition, etc.) Thinking about these things ahead of time will ensure that including social tools in your overall business strategy will NOT result in a screw up later.

Should you decide to rethink your strategy techniques, Frank Marquardt at Mashable offers 5 Key tips:

  1. Know your voice
  2. Time your content
  3. Know your audience
  4. Solve problems
  5. Be true

Remember, there’s no need to re-create everything from scratch; find inspiration from successful organizations and see what they’ve done then decide if it makes sense for your association. You might want to start with:

Also, Robin Broitman’s ideas on Influencing Influencers may be helpful.   There are great  resources offered here, which include tips and advice that can help you identify influential bloggers and other social media users and develop strategies to engage your targeted influencers in ways that will help you achieve your objectives.  In this informative blog, Robin discusses Identifying, Targeting and Courting Key Influencers.

Harness the power of social media!  Listen – Understand – Engage!


Privacy: It’s Personal, or Is It?

Written by Deirdre Reid on . Posted in Social Media


Google’s new privacy policy takes effect on March 1. It allows them to collect and consolidate user data from all its web properties — Search, Gmail, YouTube, Picasa, Maps and about 50 other Google services. You can’t opt out.

Google has always collected this data at its individual sites. Now it will combine them to get a fuller profile of each of us. Why? It’s all about the green. The more Google knows about you, the more money it makes with targeted ads. Or, in Googletalk, it can provide “a simpler, more intuitive Google experience.”

What’s privacy worth?

This year’s Art Basel Miami Beach included an installation that prompted attendees to weigh the cost of privacy. Branger Brize set up a charging station, but you could use it only if you agreed to the Terms of Use giving them license to download and use the photos stored on your phone in a digital art projection at the exhibition. Hmm, dead phone or public embarrassment?

Forrester Research found that people are more informed about privacy, distinguishing between extremely sensitive information and other data. 44% of consumers surveyed said they hadn’t completed an online transaction because of something they read in a privacy policy. And it is generational, young people are more open and willing to give up their information in exchange for discounts. Naivety or savvy consumerism?

This is our new reality: weighing how much privacy we’ll give up to use a service or make a purchase. We tolerate Facebook’s exploitation of our data because we give it up in exchange for using their platform. We value the return on our data: access to social networks, customization, recommendations, and ultimately, better products and services.

Segment of one
Privacy by Alan Cleaver (Flickr)
Because of Amazon, we’re used to “knowing” websites. Businesses provide targeted recommendations and advertisements, and follow us from site to site, offering a discount or messaging about related products. In the business world, we’re already a segment of one. How is the association world doing on segmentation?

Will members’ expectations change? Will they expect associations to know them better and offer customized messaging and services? 
Don’t break my trust

Associations have an advantage: trust. People get nervous and tight with data when trust erodes. Recently it was revealed that social network Path uploaded user address books without permission. Path said it did it to make it easy for users to find and connect to their friends. When asked why that wasn’t an opt-in, they said uploading without permission is “industry best practice.”

We expect social networks to use the data we share online, but we expect them to be up front about it. Any practice that breaks trust is not a best practice.

Most of us, including your members, don’t always read Terms of Service thoroughly, so make sure your policy is easily accessible and clear. On your website and blog privacy pages, FAQ and help pages, explain how and why you use member data and how it benefits them.

The public/private balance

As we share more layers of our life, each layer revealed seems benign –check ins, likes, tweets, browsing history and purchases. But layered with health records, groceries purchased with loyalty cards and financial information, our data provides a more personal profile than we might like.

Will we continue to share our lives and data this way? Will there be a backlash when we realize the implications? Implications like online behavioral pricing when retailers use your online data against you by raising prices on the products you seem to want the most. Jeff Jarvis believes any restrictions on public sharing will dampen new ideas and innovation.

There’s a new digital lifestyle divide between those whom Alexandra Samuel calls “digital utopians” and “digital skeptics.” Each of us must decide how much of our life to live publicly online and how much in private.

Your staff and members wrestle with this too. The best approach is to respect the choices they make, but to also provide guidance on handling uncomfortable online situations (for example, whether to “friend” a member), using privacy settings, and behaving appropriately and safely online. Be a trusted coach: show the pros and cons of each digital lifestyle so they can make educated choices instead of relying on myths and unfounded fears.

Deirdre Reid, CAE is a freelance writer, blogger and copywriter, and a bit of a digital utopian.