How can nonprofits best leverage tools and trends in digital storytelling to benefit their causes?
That’s the question addressed by Nancy Xu, a design lead for LiveStories, during her 90-minute talk at a 501 Talks Tech Training event held on Thursday, September 4. 501 Talks Tech Trainings are small-scale, free-of-charge sessions from 501 Commons directed at helping nonprofit organizations use new technologies to get the word out about their work. Roughly 30 people from a variety of organizations packed the Board Room at The 2100 Building in South Seattle to soak-up Xu’s insights.
Picking the platform for your story is key; organizations should ask, “Where does my demographic go online?” Xu explained that Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr have a broader reach and higher return on investment of energy than blogs. Blogs, she maintained, do not attract enough readers for the effort they require.
Xu suggested choosing headlines that create a “curiosity gap” so that people feel a need to get more information. Upworthy.com, according to Xu, is renowned for headlines that scream, “Click me!” Headlines that piggyback on current trends can be effective because they capitalize on bigger stories’ momentum, and organizations can check google.com/trends and hashtagify.me for up-to-the-minute trending topics.
Xu made time for skill-building activities throughout the session. In one instance, to provide practice conducting interviews, she assigned partners the task of asking each other why they do the work they do using only phrases beginning with “Why…” and “Tell me more about…” Judging from the buzz in the room, participants found the approach effective in getting to know each other.
In the amount of time it would take to enjoy a long lunch, Nancy Xu covered the key elements of digital storytelling for nonprofits. This 501 Commons event lived-up to its organizational mission statement: Your mission is to build a better world. Ours is to help you succeed.