Email Still Top Content-Sharing Option

Twitter and Facebook may be all the rage, but ordinary email is still king when it comes to sharing content online, according to new research from ShareThis.

The company’s “ShareThis” button has become ubiquitous at the end of articles and blog posts, linking to a widget that lets users share material via email, instant messenger and social networking tools including Facebook, Twitter, StumbleUpon and Yahoo Buzz. With user data from 200 million monthly visitors across 130,000 sites, the service has amassed a wealth of data about how people share and engage with content.

Email remains the tool of choice for that purpose, accounting for 46% of content-sharing activity compared to 33% for Facebook, 14.5% via other channels and just 6% for Twitter. People who receive links through ShareThis also tend to spend time with the content, at an average 2.95 page views per click, followed by Facebook (2.76), with Twitter trailing at 1.66.

Where the microblogging service shone was in getting recipients of forwarded articles to click on links. Twitter generates 40% of the clicks generated by shared content, with email and other social properties accounting for 35% and nearly a quarter coming from Facebook.

 For every post sent to Twitter, 18 people will click on that link compared to three for Facebook and one for email.

“Twitter is a very effective channel for pure reach purposes,” said ShareThis CEO Tim Schigel in an interview. “But as far as engagement, it’s at the low end. That speaks to the fact that on Twitter you don’t know what a link is and because Twitter is all about the buzz, not the content.”

ShareThis, which has received $21 million in venture capital to date, wants to use the sharing data it collects to help publishers better monetize their sites and marketers hone in on “influencers” playing a key role in spreading content. The company estimates, for instance, that content-sharing is driving the equivalent of 15% to 30% of the traffic that search does.

“We think sharing is going to be driving more and more traffic, and potentially more valuable traffic,” said Schigel, pointing out that most users say they share material they think will be helpful. So if someone knows a friend is in the market for a car, they could send her a link to an article about hybrid cars. (Of course, they could also forward a link to a story about the latest revelation in the Tiger Woods scandal.)

But Schigel said publishers have limited knowledge of how their content moves around the Web. “If you ask a site manager, they’ll know how much traffic they get from search. But when you ask about traffic from sharing activity, they can’t tell you,” he said.

To provide greater insight, the company plans to introduce analytics and ad tools for publishers and advertisers to take better advantage of sharing-generated traffic. “Socially contributed traffic is going to grow and marketers will start to optimize it,” said Schigel.

In a telling sign of the rise of social media, comScore reported Tuesday that Facebook had crossed 100 million unique monthly visitors in November, displacing AOL as the fourth-largest U.S. Web property.


Is Your Nonprofit Hitting the “She Spot”?

Driving into work today I heard a radio spot sponsored by American Express.  It featured the Smart Cookies, five women who got together to get their finances under control. Andrea was struggling with debt; Angela was addicted to her credit card; Katie let shopping sprees and bills get the best of her; Robin was trying to make the most of a low-paying job; Sandra was afraid to manage her own money.  After two years of education and peer counseling – so the story goes – all five women are now “on the road to financial recovery.”  They’re also making lots of dough telling their story via multiple media outlets, including Oprah!

Call American Express self-serving.  Call them insincere.  But also call them smart.  By fueling a full-scale marketing campaign with women, for women, Amex is transforming a traditionally male-focused industry – financial services – into an accessible arena for women. And they’re likely to see their profits increase from connecting with one of the biggest consumer markets in the U.S. – women.

An article and two recent books make the case that women, not men, have become the most vital market segment to reach, not only for consumer brands but for nonprofit organizations that seek to change the world.

In part one of this two-part blog post, I’ll make the case that women are the market for changing the world and suggest ways to connect with them. In part two I’ll show you where to find them.

Why Market to Women?

Consider the following facts: 

  • Women bring in half or more of the income in 55 percent of U.S. households, according to Marti Barletta in “Big Economic Opportunity in Marketing to Women.” Women also function as “Chief Purchasing Officer” in almost all households and are estimated to make 80 percent of all household buying decisions, including in such traditionally male categories as investments, automotive, consumer electronics and home improvement.
  • “Women make contributions to twice as many charitable organizations as men do, and they are more likely to take greater risks in organizations with a strong vision for change,” according to Lisa Witter and Lisa Chen, co-authors of The She Spot: Why Women are the Market for Changing the World and How to Reach Them. “Even more striking, high-net worth women business owners with assets of more than $1 million are even more likely than their male counterparts to contribute at least $10,000 a year to charity (50 percent for women compared to 40 percent for men),” the authors say.
  • Women also volunteer much more than men do. Thirty-two percent of women, compared to just 25 percent of men, volunteer across every state, age group and education level. The typical American volunteer is reportedly a female who gives 50 hours of her time per year. Not surprisingly, Witter and Chen urge nonprofits to follow the lead of big consumer brands and get a handle on this powerful demographic shift by re-targeting their marketing efforts to attract more women donors, members, volunteers and advocates.

Finally, according to Andrea Learned, another expert in marketing to women and co-author of Don’t Think Pink, as the ranks of affluent women increase, two-thirds of all private wealth in the U. S. will soon be in women’s hands. 

Let me say that again. In the near future, women will control two-thirds of all wealth in the U.S.! 

Hopefully I’ve piqued your interest in the potential of women’s giving.  If so, it’s up to you to figure out how to connect more women to your cause. Here are some ideas.

How to Market to Women:

Step 1:  Do a demographic append and analyze your house file to determine how many women are already connected to your cause.  Use this information to make a case (or not) for tailoring your marketing efforts to target more women donors, members and volunteers.

Step 2: Make your marketing, particularly your website, more accessible. 

  • Tell stories.  A lot has been said in recent years about the power of stories to persuade and storytelling as a device may be even more powerful for women who tend toward right-brained thinking.  Right-brainers place an emphasis on feelings.  They tend to focus on the “big picture,” rely on imagination, symbols and images.  This compares to left-brained thinkers who tend to be logical, detail-oriented and methodical.  In short, storytelling is a great way to get women emotionally connected to your cause.  The good news for nonprofits is that emotions are our stock in trade.
  • Be transparent. According to Witter and Chen, women are more exacting consumers than men. They’re used to checking labels and comparing prices.  So be sure to give them detailed information about how you’ll spend their money.  By the way, you don’t have to do this by taking women through a dry overview of your statistics.  (See point above).  Instead, you can use images and graphics to paint a picture of where you’ve been and where you’re headed.  You can also get other donors or program recipients to show the impact of your success for you. For example, similar to Yelp or Zagats, Great Nonprofits is a site that lets people review and talk about nonprofits. Ask your best donors, volunteers and members to rate your charity on their site and then link to their reviews.
  • Put women in control.  If you do nothing else for the women (and men) who support you, make is EASY for them to connect with you and your work.  De-clutter your website.  Offer lots of opportunities to get involved.  Suggest text that they can repurpose and share with friends.  In short, make your cause about her, not you!

Step 3: Find a way to connect your female stakeholders to each other. 

As a value add, many nonprofits are finding ways to connect women to each other to communicate and organize online.  While this might require additional staff time, it makes a lot of sense in the long term.  For example, nonprofits are using social networking sites and other online tools such as forums to connect their members and stakeholders to one another. By making a space online for women who love your organization to share that passion with their friends and family, you get to leverage their networks to find new stakeholders and keep them loyal.

Where are the Women?

Connect with women online.  The Internet affords myriad opportunities for connecting with women. According to nonprofit author Allison Fine, “Social media [in particular] fits into the lives of working women much better than traditional communications tools.  You can work the night shift and respond to email in the morning.  You can have four kids and read a blog during nap time.” Groups like MomsRising, CARE and Emily’s List have done an exemplary job of connecting with women online.

Connect with giving circles and encourage your members to start their own.  According to Wikipedia, giving circlesare a form of philanthropy consisting of groups of individuals who pool their funds and other resources to donate to their communities and seek to increase their awareness and engagement in the process of giving. A recent survey of over 160 giving circles by the Forum of Regional Associations of Grantmakers shows that 81 percent of giving circle participants are women.  Check out the Forum’s Giving Circles Knowledge Center to learn more about this innovative form of giving and learn best practices for starting and tapping into giving circles.

Buddy up with women bloggers. BlogHer – a social networking site for women who blog – is a great place to find women writers who may care about your political and/or social issue.  If you do a good job of connecting with these e-journalists, you may be able to garner more PR and leverage their networks for success.

Check out A LOT of women hang out in the social network (75 percent of our 12 million members are women, at last count) and subscribe to Care2’s 30 email alerts.  But don’t take my word for it, check outthe demographics of our members.  Interested in learning more about how you can get your cause in front of Care2 members?  Contact us! 


Based on the statistics about women’s growing economic influence in the U.S., marketing to women should be a no-brainer.  But many of us still need education about women’s buying and giving patterns, how and where to best reach them.  Armed with this information, smart nonprofit marketers will realize that we cannot afford to be gender blind in our outreach efforts.  Instead, we must use data to define our best donors, members and advocates and find the right technologies and marketing techniques to hit the “she spot.”


Web site tips

  1. Jackie
    My tip is – sometimes it’s OK to ignore tips 🙂 But first, you have to do your research and know what you want to accomplish and who you are doing it for.

    Otherwise you won’t know which tips to ignore and which to follow in your particular project.

  2. Glennette Clark
    My number one tip for web site owners is to have a content strategy.

    Oftentimes, content gets the short stick in lieu of design, when it should really be the other way around.Web site owners should know their audiences, know what they want to read, and know how to present it to them.

    Without some kind of upfront discussion about content, the web site becomes a place for pretty pictures and not an effective tool for building brands and building businesses.

  3. Greg Wolkins
    My #1 tip is *Be Responsive*. Be eager to engage with your readers/customers/viewers. If someone leaves a comment, starts a discussion, has a question, etc, be sure to respond quickly. Let them know that you are paying attention and are receptive to their input.

    Even if it’s just to say “I don’t know, let me look into that and get back to you”. A site that appears to be abandoned will quickly be forgotten.

  4. Cornelius Bergen
    My tip would be to never assume that once the site or a feature goes live it’s done. Your site will require regular attention like a garden.

    Every feature launched on the site is like a seed and without nurturing, it will die. And sometimes you’ll need to pull out things that are just wasting space.

  5. Dan Millar
    My number one tip for website owners is don’t over complicate your site. Spend time at the start planning your content and functionality. Then sit back, read through, and strip out anything which isn’t absolutely necessary.

    Once the site is launched keep reviewing your analytics, if features aren’t being used either investigate why and adjust your architecture (if business critical feature) or strip it out.

  6. Jeff
    My Tip is always keep the goal and the purpose of your website in mind, especially when adding features.

    If you keep your content good, and your site simple and easy to use people will come back again and again.


4 Steps to Stronger (Hero-focused) Appeals

Here are four tips to better-framed fundraising appeals that focus on a hero and a good story:

  1. Recognize that every good story needs a hero. We all want a central character to root for, to sympathize with, and to get invested into what happens next. Without a sympathetic hero, a story often arrives dead on arrival. And yet, we equally tend to over-glorify our heroes, setting ourselves up for unavoidable disappointment.

    Who is the hero in your fundraising appeal? Let’s consider where heroes fit in the world of marketing and sales.

  2. When it comes to marketing, it usually works best to put your customers at the center of the story. Rather simple when you’re selling laundry detergent or TV dinners. We love to hear stories that appear to be about us. If you can see yourself in the story, you are more likely to buy-into the message. That’s why most consumer product commercials build around the customer as hero.

    Most nonprofits don’t have the luxury of a clear customer. At least not in the traditional sense. Instead, you face the murky waters of multiple stakeholders each relating to your issue from different angles: beneficiaries, donors, members, clients, and indirect customers. It’s not an easy story to tell.

  3. Consider the following three hero alternatives:
    1. Donor/Member as Hero – In many ways this most resembles the classic “customer as hero” storyline. The donor/member audience is often your “financial buyer” and therefore you want them to identify within your story. No better way than if they somehow see themselves inside the story. The challenge with this is that it puts a lot of emphasis on donors, and can perpetuate imbalances of power, endemic to the philanthropic sector.
    2. Beneficiary as Hero – This is the most common hero chosen by nonprofits. On one hand, this hero is often closest to the “action”, and the direct mission of your organization. The challenge with this choice is that the story often turns into an glorified “overcoming adversity” story which is often dismissed as clichéd and melodramatic. Audiences are quick to tune out this story if they don’t personally relate to the hero.
    3. Founder as Hero – Some nonprofits are started by charismatic leaders who experience or discover something they don’t like and decide to personally do something. CNN Heroes Awards honors these kinds of heroes. This story is most familiar in our modern culture that seeks to celebrate regular individuals accomplishing extra-ordinary feats. The challenge here comes when the story needs to live on and travel beyond just one person. How do you get others to feel like they also own a piece of the story and can effectively speak on its behalf?
  4. You are not restricted to these three classic hero alternatives. In practice, it can work any, which way, as long as you’re telling the right story. You can also consider making your brand the hero, your culture/values the hero, or even use a metaphor as the hero. But each of those comes with their own set of issues.

There is an ideal goal to keep in mind: Make your hero a character everyone can relate to – donors, beneficiaries, employees, and stakeholders alike. In other words, identify the common identifiers and connections that cut across audiences. Too often we spend time reinforcing the differences of income, age, ethnicity, etc…instead of identifying that which invites and unites.

Not everyone’s been homeless and lived on the streets. But most of us have felt overwhelmed, alone or completely lost at some time in our life. If homeless organizations spent more time telling this bigger story, they would reach a wider audience, than those who self-identify as “caring about homeless issues”. The best stories are those that transcend the traditional boundaries and remind us of our collective humanity.

Everybody Wants to Live in Epic Terms
Choosing the hero of your story is not always a simple process. But it goes to the heart of how your nonprofit frames its story for (a) wider mainstream acceptance or (b) more narrow restrictive appeal. The choice is up to you.

Michael Margolis is the President of Get Storied and the author of Believe Me: Why Your Vision, Brand, and Leadership Need a Bigger Story. Michael helps nonprofits, companies, and entrepreneurs get others to believe in their story. You can download a free excerpt of his Storytelling Manifesto at



On the Web, communicators must first and foremost help those who
want to be helped, rather than trying to reach brand new

I’ve seen some powerful ads about drug use on UK television
recently. They don’t pull any punches. At the end they advise
you to go to a website. Do you know what that website is called?
No, not ““. The website is called Who is Frank?

90,500 people in the UK used Google to search for “drug abuse”
in October 2009. 33,100 searched for “drug testing.” 22,200
searched for “drug treatment.” 18,100 searched for “drug rehab.”
14,800 searched for “drug free.” 6,600 searched for “drug

In October 2009 over 200,000 people searched for help by using
“drug” in their search terms. There were also a huge amount of
searches for words like “cocaine” (800,000 in October) and
“cannabis” (800,000 in October). The “Talk to Frank” phrase was
searched for by 60,000 people which, considering the extensive
TV advertising, is not very impressive. The talktofrank website
does do very well for a lot of the search terms, so at least it
has a quality search optimization strategy.

However, the talktofrank website and campaign reflect classic
old school communications and marketing. First and foremost it
is a campaign. It is about being cool and getting attention. It
feels that it would be boring to call a website ““.

The whole psychology of old school pre-Web communications and
marketing is about telling you something you don’t currently
know or getting you to do something you don’t really want to do.
The marketer and the communicator set out with the aim of
achieving the organization’s objectives, not yours.

Government says that drugs are a problem. Government comes up
with a policy. Government hires an advertising agency to promote
that policy. Advertising agency creates a campaign and campaign
website. Campaign does well. Budget is exhausted. Campaign ends.
Project complete. And another website falls into decline.

The Web is where you give attention, not get it. People on the
Web are already engaged. Someone who wants to buy a Ford Mondeo
does not accidentally type “drug rehab” into a search engine.

There are millions of people out there who need help with a drug
problem, and they are actively searching for help. The Web
communicator must be absolutely focused on those who want
answers. They must ensure that those who want answers actually
get them.

This is much more boring work than planning and launching a
campaign or redesign. It’s about continuous improvement of a
website based on the testing of top tasks with real people. It’s
about grinding it out by testing a link with 10 or 100
variations of a phrase.

Think about it. There are lots of people on our website right
now whose attention we already have. Will they leave satisfied?
There are many more searching for things that we have. They
don’t need to be convinced. They are already on a journey to
complete a task that we can help them complete. Let’s help them
be successful. It’s a massive opportunity.


14 Types of stories

  1. Personal Discovery Stories – tell how you discovered a lesson. These stories show your readers how similar you are to them and also might give some practical advice on how they might learn from your experience.
  2. Stories as Analogies and Illustrations – tell a story that on the surface has nothing to do with your topic but which illustrates a principle that is relevant.
  3. Success Stories – tell how you achieved something. These stories can be inspirational and motivating for your readers.
  4. Failure Stories – I find that these stories are incredibly powerful – particularly if you are able to show some lessons learnt through a failure.
  5. Tell Someone Else’s Story – sharing the journey of someone else and how/what they learned can be effective
  6. How I did it Stories – these practical stories can be effective because they talk your readers through a process in a relatable way
  7. Biographies – pick a key person in your niche and tell your readers that person’s story – pulling out useful parts that can be applied and used to enhance your readers lives.
  8. Autobiographies – tell your own story from start to finish. I’ve done this a couple of times (example) and find readers really respond well to it. It can also be something to link to from your About Page for further reading.
  9. Picture Stories – using images or video can be another great way of communicating a story because it engages the senses in a way that text can’t (similarly – audio posts/podcasts can do this too).
  10. Case Studies – quite often pulling apart someone else’s experience in a case study can be a powerful way to connect with readers. Similarly you can use your own story, or the story of a project, brand or company that you had something to do with can be useful.
  11. Fiction – if well written a made up and imaginative story can be a good way to lead into a post. You’ll probably want to come clean about the fact that it’s not true though 🙂
  12. Reader Stories – ask your readers to tell you their stories/experiences on a topic. You might kick things off with a short one of your own but then quickly hand it over to others to share.
  13. Collective Stories – sometimes telling the story of a group of people, industry, niche etc can be very powerful. This might be presented as a ‘history of….’ your niche/industry which chronicles key developments over time. These pieces can almost become reference material for others in your industry.
  14. Imagine If…. Stories – another type of story that I’ve seen used well on occasion is one where you get your reader to imagine a hypothetical scenario that they are in. Here’s an example of this where I told a story in the 2nd person (with YOU the reader as the main character). These posts can be particularly useful for getting readers to FEEL something or to help them to understand that the problem that you’re writing about is one that is personal for them.