Viral Marketing

The power of the Internet puts marketing opportunities in the hands of anyone with an online connection.  People and organizations in small towns like Houston, Indiana have a shot at fame in the cyber world.  Social media is a perfect way for spreading the word about your business, non-profit organization, or even your pet. Some may find themselves enjoying the extraordinary success of viral marketing, when the popularity of their message is communicated like wildfire.

Is it simply good luck that offers some exceptional marketing opportunities, or can initiatives be taken to help achieve this high level of success? I searched for thoughts about this question from my favorite online marketing expert, Jayson DeMers. Listed below are links to three articles I found especially helpful.

  1. How to Harness Virality to Blow Up Your Events
  2. How Not to Go Viral: 4 Viral Marketing Fails
  3. The Facts and Fiction of “Going Viral” With Content

Top five characteristics of a viral marketing campaign

My take-away from reading these articles is there definitely are some factors that can increase the odds for viral marketing. Five ways you can help your campaign extensively are summarized below.

  1. Effectively communicating content that is based on the needs of the audience.
  2. Providing value for the audience, such as helpful information or entertainment.
  3. Inspiring emotion, such as heartwarming fun or compassion.
  4. Offering visual appeal to the viewers.
  5. Getting people’s attention with something fun & special.

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Many viral marketing stories involve pets.  Photos of cute critters grab attention with both visual and emotional appeal and offer the chance to provide knowledge in a fun way.   Sparking interest with a special animal photo or story on social media can lead to a viral marketing extravaganza.

A lady working as a waitress found good fortune thanks to the popularity of her cat in the online world. A post of her furry friend on Reddit resulted in a marketing goldmine for Tabatha Bundesen. Now with a registered trademark, Grumpy Cat, this kitty has quite a brand established.  Elements of viral marketing discussed above can be seen in the success story of Grumpy Cat.

  1. Humorous content was provided via social media that people appreciated. Posting a unique cat picture generated extraordinary interest.  Strategies to capitalize on that trend for marketing opportunities were swiftly & consistently employed.  Current online presence  includes: WebsiteFacebookTwitterInstagram.
  2. This feline provided humorous entertainment to the point of overnight success.
  3. Photos of this kitty with the appearance of a permanent scowl pulled at people’s heartstrings and funny bone.
  4. Pictures and videos of this unique kitty in various situations that relate to a grumpy attitude offer people comic relief.
  5. People’s attention was grabbed in many online channels and with various products.  The marketing value of the grumpy attitude has been used for a movie deal, a kids book, and stuffed animals.

Grumpy Cat is serving as a representative for the Friskies cat food brand.  Amusing videos sponsored by Friskies are providing fun & laughs. The wide range of social media buttons shown after a video ends helps viewers share what they find hilarious.  Providing easy ways to keep content moving helps to continually promote the message about Grumpy Cat.

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Another popular celebrity pet is a Pomeranian named Boo, known as the world’s cutest dog.  His Facebook, with more than 16 million “likes” currently, demonstrates the social media and online marketing clout of this adorable little canine.  His online presence also includes Twitter and Instagram. Similar to Grumpy Cat, Boo is a Gund Character.

Does the marketing campaign for a small business need to go viral for success?

Clearly, a marketing initiative that “goes viral” would be welcome, but that level of success is not necessary to accomplish the goals of an average business owner. There are small businesses in Nashville, Indiana that are using social media for marketing opportunities on a small scale. A dog named Stetson facilitates the marketing at Touch of Silver and Old. A studio cat named Ms. Sassy is mentioned with photos in the Facebook for Amy Greely Jewelry Studio. Tips that help with viral marketing can be very beneficial for any organization. Social media is a fantastic channel to help spread the word about the value you offer to your target market. Success can draw in more customers and sales, even without reaching viral marketing extremes.  However, wise social media strategy for any marketing effort could quickly succeed to viral levels.

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Power of Social Media for Marketing

gsr-computerSocial media is a big part of our current world and offers an abundance of marketing opportunities. Keeping up with a continuous evolution of social media can be challenging for marketers. Advances in technology continue to add more social media platforms and options. Consumer behavior of exploring new popular social media lead to a cycle of more platforms arising.  Companies and entrepreneurs must consistently strategize to stay competitive in the online world. Internet Marketing expert Jayson DeMers gives some online marketing predictions for 2017 to include:

  • Trend toward narrowing focus to one social media platform, getting away from an effort to manage several.
  • Trending away from Twitter, as users are starting to look for content with more details.
  • Social media will be leaning toward more inspirational and imaginative posts.
  • Increased competition to cater to individual users.

Focusing only on one social media platform may help companies lower the cost of management. Smaller companies can more effectively compete with larger businesses. Facebook is the only social media being used for marketing for several businesses in the small town of Nashville, Indiana. Companies in this tourist area are using social media trends as guidelines for their social media. They clearly see value in Facebook for their only social media tool range from a book store, candy & tea store,  flower & antique shop, to a golf course.

nashvilleA couple of gift shops in Brown County, Indiana are relying on Facebook in lieu of a website for their online marketing presence.

A trend of using Twitter less is already being seen.  A  jewelry studio that has a Twitter account has not tweeted in over a year.  In contrast, this business is still very active on Facebook.

indianaBrown County, Indiana is known as the Art Colony of the Midwest. Two popular art-related organizations, Brown County Art Guild and Hoosier Art, rely on Facebook as their only social media platform.


The art and history culture of this area is a perfect place to capture creative and inspirational content to use for social media marketing. The small town atmosphere of this tourist attraction offers businesses so much opportunity to customize the online presence for their viewers.  A blog for the Brown County Convention & Visitors Bureau is an excellent example of showcasing online what this charming place has to offer in a very personalized manner.

storyThe small businesses and non-profit organizations of Brown County have an edge on larger companies in regards to social media trends predicted in the upcoming year by DeMers.  There is so much potential to find content catering to target markets all around.  The scenic beauty, art, history, and fun & upbeat shops in this little town can be used for inspiration on social media in so many appealing ways.

Differentiation

brown-countyNashville  is a charming town and unique tourist attraction in Brown County of southern Indiana. Review of www.browncounty.com, website for the Brown County Convention & Visitors Bureau, reveals a wealth of places to visit in this area. The Places to Shop section of this online resource shows five listings in the category of Jewelry. Two of the businesses listed grab the attention immediately and appropriately by including an appealing jewelry photo. Amy Greely Studio’s listing displays a picture of a distinctive chain that encourages the viewer to want to look further. Similarly, a eye-catching ring with a green stone is displayed for Touch of Silver, Gold, and Old. Clicking further to their website links, Facebook icons are prominently found.   Both of these companies are using social media strategically to market their business, but targeting a different audience.

A link to amygreely.com shows an elegant website promoting handcrafted artisan jewelry. This artist is embracing social media, with focus on Facebook to help her marketing. She is taking advantage of the scenic beauty of this area to generate interest among her viewers. The breathtaking autumn leaves draw people to Brown County.  Amy has wisely used the changing season as an opportunity to update her Facebook cover with  colorful leaves on September 20.  She interacts with viewers, with an example being replies to comments about the beauty of the leaves in reference to her cover picture. She is tying the beauty of nature to appeal to those who appreciate art.

kurtz-hilllAnother strong promotional tactic is the partnership of Amy’s business with the Back Roads of Brown County Studio Tour, which hosts a tour of 14 studios every day in October. Her affiliation with this group of artists located on country roads offers extensive marketing benefits. The Facebook for this studio tour is quite impressive.  The power of a video and beautiful images is well-demonstrated from the 793 shares & 190 likes currently showing for a post on September 15 promoting the artists & their work for this event.  The pinning of this communication to the top of their Facebook keeps it prominently displayed as the first post.

Another jewelry business listed on  browncounty.com that is promoting with Facebook is Touch of Silver, Gold & Old. Similar to Amy Greely, this company realizes the potential to market with social media.  In contrast, they have used a pet to differentiate their social media presence. Both companies pursue social media with diverse marketing themes geared to make their business stand out from the competition. Amy Greely Studio partners with other artisans to establish a presence in a nature focused art community.   Touch of Silver, Gold, & Old drives their marketing strategy with posts related to a shop dog.  The advertising differentiation between these two similar businesses is very clear.

A Touch of Silver, Gold & Old appeals more to family and people who love pets. They have a prominent section on their site named Stetson’s Corner, which informs of a Shop Dog named Stetson. Information about this dog rescue and his presence at the store pulls at the heartstrings. It is interesting to learn that Stetson was selected “Top Dog” from a 2012 contest with InStore Magazine, an honor of being chosen from all dogs in the country.

The difference between emotional and rational appeal in marketing is discussed in an article on smallbusiness.chron.com. A mix of rational and emotional appeal can be seen by the marketing of both Nashville, Indiana companies discussed above, with more emphasis on human emotions. One company’s marketing is benefiting from people’s  love of animals and the other from people’s love of artistic beauty & nature.

According to an article on forbes.com, including pets in marketing is very wise strategy.

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Information about marketing with natural beauty can be found on naturetourism.tamu.edu.

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Internet Marketer Jayson DeMers discusses the need to set yourself apart yourself from the competition, by being different or better, in article 6 Steps to Dominate a Competitor’s Social Media Marketing. The two Nashville companies discussed above have taken advantage of the power of social media, while  other similar businesses in Brown County, Indiana have not. In that regard, Amy Greely Studio and Touch of Silver, Gold, & Old have a distinct advantage over the other jewelry shops in their area. Furthermore, both of these jewelry businesses in Brown County are pursuing a viewer audience with different marketing strategies, giving a competitive edge for their target market.

Small Town Charm

The small town atmosphere and peaceful serenity of Houston, Indiana is refreshing. Photo of the Houston Christian Church  captures this quaint little village very well. I am proud to call this area of Jackson County, Indiana home. Hope your day is fabulous.

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Blog/Twitter Essential for Web Designers

Blogging and Tweeting can be especially important for those in the Web Design Industry, with social media being such a big part of an online marketing effort.   The guidelines for offering interesting digital content via Twitter and blogs can be found in various resources related to creating Web content.

The Value of Blogging 

Google encourages adding a blog to supplement websites for various benefits, including:

  • Connecting with others who share your interests
  • Encouraging readers to visit your website
  • Advertising your product or service

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The Google Webmaster Guidelines are given for blogs as a resource to create relevant and useful content, similar to advise for creating great websites. Similarities for ensuring good blogs and websites include:

  • Using Google recommendations for images and other media posted digitally
  • Consistently offering fresh and original electronic content that is valuable for viewers
  • Ensuring your blog or website can be found by your target audience

People are attracted to blogs with dialogue similar to their personality, per information in an article named Birds of a Feather: How Personality Influences Blog Writing and Reading.  A critique by Glenda Ryan of this resource discusses Blogging-and-Personality, both writing and reading of blogs.

Expressing yourself in a digital format with the appropriate tone, look, and voice is important.  You must take in consideration your target audience, your organization, and your industry. 3 helpful resources:

The Power of Twitter

The importance of consistently offering fresh and unique content is highlighted by The Tao of Twitter written by Mark Schaefer. This s a fantastic resource for learning how to benefit from the power of Twitter.  Twitter is an opportunity to grab user’s attention with content that is unique and interesting.  Tweets that include links to blogs, websites,  and other social media are great ways to help promote your message.  Twitter can assist in any industry in the business world for profit companies as well as non-profit organizations.

Twitter can be valuable for marketing in a variety of ways, such as:

  • Promotional tool/Lead generator
  • Targeted Connections
  • Idea generator for Product Development
  • Customer Service Connection

Monitoring input from viewers in various online channels, including Twitter and Blogs, is an excellent way to obtain valuable marketing data. Ideas and suggestions retrieved from listening to what is being said about your organization can provide a wealth of ways to market to existing customers, per recommendations in Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies by Josh Bernoff & Charlene Li.

Blogging & Tweeting to Boost Website Traffic

Consistently offering interesting, relevant, and unique content is a common element for websites, blogs, and Twitter.  A great example of a blog that serves to supplement a website can be found for Village Craftsmen of Ocracoke Island, North Carolina.

This blog and website have reciprocal links that serve to cross promote.  This fantastic blog named Ocracoke Island Journal offers a wide range of stories, photos, and information that is of interest to the target audience of the Outer Banks of North Carolina.  Review of the archives of the Ocracoke Island Journal demonstrates the frequency of posts.  The charming tourist attraction of Ocracoke, steeped in history,  offers a wealth of potential topics for blogging.  The beautiful scenery and weather alone could provide so much fodder for discussion.

Looking for suggestions to promote visits to small town in rural Indiana

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Though not as popular and well-known as the North Carolina Outer Banks, an old schoolhouse in a charming village in Jackson County of southern Indiana  has much to offer. We are looking for blog topic suggestions for the Houston School Restoration Committee (HSRC), a non-profit effort to preserve this school building in Houston, Indiana.

This small town in Indiana is nestled in the hills of the Hoosier National Forest.  A website and Facebook page have recently been implemented for this non-profit organization.
Fall Festival is held as a fundraiser for the HSRC every October, with proceeds dedicated to help maintain the schoolhouse. Pictures of the old schoolhouse and scenery in the Houston area have been the subjects of Facebook posts.

Deer

Which of the following do you think would be of most interest?

  1. Various topics relevant to Indiana
  2. Discussion about history and old schoolhouses from a variety of locations
  3. Memories from a person or people who grew up in Houston, Indiana
  4. The beautiful scenery in the backwoods of Jackson County, Indiana

Do you think pictures of nature scenery in rural Indiana are relevant and helpful Web content to promote awareness of the Houston schoolhouse? Would love to hear any ideas, comments, or questions you have.

Web Design Tips Applicable to Social Marketing Strategy

The bar is higher for Web Designers than some other professions to be knowledgeable about online social media. The Web Design industry is directly connected to Internet Marketing. Websites are the central focus of the online presence for organizations, but social media are an important supplement. A large percentage of people in the world are using social media. Web Designers must be well versed in social media marketing strategies, for their own professional image as well as the clients the represent.

Some great information related to this topic can be found in the following articles:

The digital portfolio of a Web Designer should center on the Website, but include popular social media such as Facebook or Twitter, or a Blog. Maintaining the digital presence is an ongoing challenge, with the consistent changes of technology and social media. Continually providing fresh and interesting content for social media and the Website is an ongoing endeavor.

Luckily, much Web Design knowledge can be applied toward Social Media Marketing. Areas of importance for both of these channels of online promotion include:

  1. Clarity about your organization’s goals
  2. Knowing Your Target Audience
  3. Time commitment
  4. Content Strategy to appeal to Target Audience
    • Adequate resources for finding relevant and unique content
    • Consistently providing fresh and interesting content.
  5. Human Resources with Various skills
    • Effective communication
    • Knowledge to promote organization
    • Ability to engage viewer interaction

In addition to Web Designers own portfolio, expertise to offer for the digital presence for clients must available. It is likely that customers will look to Web Designer for guidance on implementing and maintaining their social media. For social media recommendations for the clients of Web Designers, it would be dependent on several factors. The social media to be utilized should be determined on a case by case basis, with consideration for the specific goals, strategies, time, and budget of the organization.

A Web Designer must be knowledgeable enough about various social media aspects to assist the client or or direct them to other resources for help. By staying up to date for trends and new technologies necessary to maintain a Web Designer portfolio, you will automatically acquire knowledge to better assist your clients in regards to their digital marketing.

Tools to monitor your Website as well as Social Media may vary, but the process has many similarities.  Google has tools for both, as discussed in the articles below.

Check out a recent online presence that was implemented for an old schoolhouse, to include Website and the Facebook to supplement this site.

Do you have any questions or comments about the Website or Facebook for this charming schoolhouse? Any suggestions you could recommend to better serve viewers would be greatly appreciated. This digital promotion is part of a project to help save a historic and unique building in a small midwest town. The HSRC Facebook currently has 99 “likes”. Do you want to “like” this page to help us further promote this conservation effort future generations?

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Designing Websites for Mobile Devices

Websites should look attractive as well as provide uniform content in a wide variety of browsers and platforms, including mobile devices.  There are a wide range of approaches to achieve this task, but it can be difficult for Web developers to accommodate the vast array of mobile devices. Testing the plethora of mobile devices is a practical impossibility. Discussion  of some technologies that can aid in ensuring Websites are visually appealing across digital devices are included below.

Responsive Web Design (RWD)

  • Delivers web pages in variable sizes
  • Is necessary for tablets and mobile devices
  • This task can be challenging, but there are many potential solutions.

Creating Responsive Design

Code your own

  • Must be well versed in HTML, especially HTML5.

W3.CSS – Develop sites that look nice at any size; desktop, laptop, tablet, or phone

  • Free
  • No license
  • Inspired by Google Material Design

Google Web Designer

  •  Create HTML5-based designs  that can run on any device.

jQuery Mobile  – framework for creating web content for mobile web applications.

  • Flexible tool to craft appealing web pages that will look the same on all smartphone, tablet and desktop devices
  • Free – open source project of jQuery.org
  • Tutorials on W3Schools.com

jQuery Foundation non-profit association supported by members. This organization assists Web development in various ways, such as:

  • Project documentation
  • World-wide conferences
  • Participation in the Web standards
  • Advocate for Web developers, through groups such as the W3C.

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W3C’s mission includes ensuring that as many devices as possible are capable of viewing  Web content. With the growth of mobile device usage, the importance of Web applications and services on these devices is continually increasing.

Helpful information about Mobile Web Development

Does the extensive training, knowledge, and acronyms about Mobile Web Design seem like too much to deal with? Adobe has solutions for all your Web Design & Marketing issues, including mobile development.

Adobe Marketing Cloud

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What are your thoughts? Do you think there are adequate open-source resources to efficiently solve designing for mobile devices? Or is something such as Adobe Marketing Cloud a necessity for Web Designers/Marketers?  Anyone have experiences to share?

 

Social Media Important, but NOT Website Replacement

Social Media + Website = Uniform Marketing Message

With the popularity of social media as a channel for promotion of products and services, the question arises as to whether there is still the need for a company website. The answer to this inquiry, per an article on forbes.com by Davia Teminis, is that websites are absolutely necessary. Without a website, the online marketing control would be given to social media, which is not wise. Social media is crucial in facilitating online marketing, but should be integrated as part of digital communications with the website the central focus. An effort that employs the combined benefits of a one or more websites with social media is the best mix of Internet marketing.

Organizations should use their websites as the center of their electronic portfolio, with social media as spokes, taking advantage of the various platforms dependent on the benefits and target audience. Social media and your website should work in a concentrated and uniform manner to promote your brand.

Facebook to help Supplement Awareness of a Website

Selecting the right cover photo on your Facebook page is critical, per Davia Teminis. The first image people see when visiting your page should grab their attention and make a lasting impression. A strong visually appealing, eye-catching, and relevant picture is needed in this important place on Facebook. Pictures are important in Facebook posts as well. People like to see visual content and will be more likely to share photos and videos.

I know from experience on promoting Facebook for the Houston School Restoration Committee (HSRC) that posts with photos did garner more “likes”. Recently I have not had the time to present compelling content. Two recent messages for the HSRC have been text only posts to send wishes for a nice day. One post received 1 “like” and another no response.

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In contrast, some previous posts with very simple text that included photos were better received. A post with the words “Wildflowers blooming along roadside near Houston, Indiana” and several bright, colorful flower pictures received several “likes”.

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Similarly, photos of pretty sunset by the school and the text “Breathtaking sky Thursday evening at school” obtained viewer attention.

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A “Hello from Houston.  Hope your Tuesday is great” message presented with a deer picture also garnered some “likes”.  Being able to present compelling content and tell a story with pictures is a goal for websites and social media alike.  The photos selected for promoting the HSRC are intended to present the peaceful and charming small town atmosphere of Houston, Indiana.  We want to grab people’s attention and encourage the value of attending the Houston Fall Festival.

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Critical to Obtain Permission from People in Photos Prior to Posting Online
It is very important to get approval from people in photos before you put their pictures online.   It shows courtesy and respect to ask someone before putting their photo on the Web.  Additionally, legal issues could arise if someone’s  image is posted without permission.

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It is also important to obtain permission to use pictures if you are not the photographer.  That is one reason I have acquired an interest in photography. The majority of the photos I use for websites and social media are ones I have snapped.  There is a lot to consider for social media promotion of websites, but it can be a lot of fun and well worth the effort.

Was this article helpful?  Would love to hear  your thoughts about the Facebook and wwebsite for HSRC (Houston School Restoration Committee.

 

 

Facebook/Twitter for Website Marketing

Social Media Fantastic way to Promote a Website
Having a Website is a crucial part of promoting your organization, but does not serve much purpose if people are not aware of your site.  A book by Susan Sweeney named 101 Ways to Promote Your Website offers a wealth of information for website marketing, including discussion about the value of social media such as Facebook and Twitter for helping to spread the word about your site and organization’s goals.   Online social media is powerful tool getting stronger every day.

Facebook Helping to Preserve a Schoolhouse Built in 1910
An effort to preserve a schoolhouse in Houston, Indiana that is over 100 years old is a mission of the Houston School Restoration Committee (HSRC).  A company had offered to pay $1,000 for the rights to burn the school building for a movie. At that time the community decided to save the schoolhouse instead of destroying it.

  • I am thankful and proud that people from my hometown value history and appreciate what the Houston schoolhouse represents.
  • I recently joined the HSRC committee and have implemented a Website and Facebook for this cause.
  • I am glad I can use my technical skills and the opportunities of the Internet and social media to help this wonderful endeavor.

school-facebook Snapshot of cover of Facebook for the Houston School Restoration Committee

The Facebook page created May 7, 2015 currently has 102 “likes”. Pictures of the schoolhouse, monthly pitch-in dinners in the building, and items of local interest have provided content for some recent posts.

school-church-houston-2015-june Photo of the schoolhouse in Houston, Indiana demonstrates small town tranquility

Twitter offers Extensive Marketing Tools
Twitter is well-known social networking tool that is suitable for short messages. The posts, called “tweets”, have a limit of 140 characters. There are various programs to make using Twitter easier. TweetDeck helps keep track of data such as those on Twitter of interest to you, your followers, and who has mentioned or re-tweeted your comments. You can save time by scheduling your tweets in advance with HootSuite.

Twitter directing viewers to Facebook and Websites
Twitter can be used to draw attention to other social media and Websites. I used a Tweet on July 19, 2015 to encourage people to visit the newly formed Facebook page for the Houston School Restoration Committee. A link to the Website, houstonschoolrestorationcommittee.org, can be found in the About section on the Facebook to further promote details about this cause.

Tweeting with Technology to help Bluebird Conservation
 Tweets can be used to promote upcoming events for an organization and to encourage viewers to visit the Website. Twitter helps me promote non-profit causes, such as communicating the date for the next quarterly meeting for the Bluebirders of Wake County, North Carolina with encouragement to see the Website for more details. Similarly, information about the annual meeting for the North Carolina Bluebird Society and the Web URL is communicated via a Tweet.

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Social Media requires Committment, Consistency, and Customization
An organization can benefit greatly by incorporating social media into their marketing strategy, but it requires a focused effort that is consistent and committed. Customizing content and the social media application for the target audience is critical to forming and maintaining relationships and user engagement, per an article by  Ginger Killian & Kristy McManus on science direct.com.

Social Media helps give Tiny Rural Town & Tiny Wildlife a Big Voice
Houston is a tiny village in a remote area near the Hoosier National Forest in Jackson County, Indiana. The effort to restore and maintain a schoolhouse  in this town built over a century ago is being assisted with tools of modern technology. Houston, Indiana is online!  Check out this charming place at HSRC’s Facebook.

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Similarly, the plight of the Bluebird and ways to help are being communicated  by technology. The voices that are promoting causes for small organizations are given a much bigger chance of being heard with the extensive power of social media. Check out the NCBS Facebook page and website learn more about this sweet, precious bird.  Many ways you can help, such as becoming a member or volunteering as county coordinator, are listed on the site.

What type of information on a website or social media would motivate you to assist with volunteer work?  Would love to hear your thoughts on how we could improve the following non-profit websites to encourage more interest and volunteerism.  Thanks for your interest.

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