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3 Lessons for Nonprofits from SXSW

To mark my third year attending the South by Southwest Interactive Conference, I thought I’d share my top three lessons for nonprofits.

  1. Your videos may never go viral but you can make them likely to go viral: Trying to create a viral sensation is like trying to catch lightening in a bottle. Instead create content that matters to your audience that will achieve viral numbers over time. In “Mythbusting: Engineering a Viral Video,” panel speaker Bettina Hein, Founder and CEO of Pixability, made the case that videos with steady views deliver better ROI. Hein’s experience has taught her that content creators can create video that has a potential to go viral by generating awareness. And building awareness among your audience will translate into more views over the lifetime of your video content.
  2. Think about your narrative when you’re creating and telling your story: Narratives and stories are not the same thing although they are closely related. Think of a narrative as the story of why your organization was founded, where it is now and where it would like to go. On the other hand, think of a story as a case study of an individual who was impacted by the work your organization does. A narrative brings together a series of stories and reveals their overarching theme. If this seems too vague then look for my upcoming post on the TechSoup blog with more on the difference between narratives and stories (I’ll be sure to post a link once it’s up).
  3. South by Southwest Interactive Conference: Lessons for NonprofitsBefore adopting new technology, make sure your audience is ready for it: Changes in technology are people-driven according to the panelists at “Using Emerging Technologies to Reach Your Audience.” This doesn’t mean we should be afraid of technology, instead we should be aware of what’s happening in our community and how we can serve them with technology. Understanding new technologies will help us identify opportunities but we should also be aware of the limitations of these same technologies. Ultimately we can’t make technology easy to use unless our audience is ready to tolerate new tools or means of using technology.



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