guest posts, social media strategy

Guest Post by Manny Hernandez: Crowdsourcing No Sugar Added Poetry

1 Comment 16 August 2010

In early 2009, we asked all members of TuDiabetes.org, a social network for people touched by diabetes, to share their diabetes poems as part of a contest we ran. It was called No-Sugar Added Poetry. In July 2010 the Diabetes Hands Foundation (the nonprofit that runs TuDiabetes) published a compilation with 39 of those poems, offering profound insight into the challenges, hopes, and fears of those living with diabetes through the power of their poetry. The end result was the No-Sugar Added Poetry book.

The compilation showcases what can be accomplished through crowdsourcing, putting people’s stories together as they live with a chronic condition and describe their experiences with diabetes through poetry. As Dr. Bill Polonsky, CEO of the Behavioral Diabetes Institute, writes in the foreword, these poems “speak to the emotional effort of trying to figure out how to fit the uninvited guest of diabetes into life.”

I was humbled to read the submissions from the participants. It was very difficult to choose from so many beautiful poems. The ones that we included in the book describe fairly well the stages of life with diabetes – from diagnosis all the way to acceptance.

We learned a lot of valuable lessons in the process:
•    Publishing is a crazy world. We found a great self-publishing company called SelfPublishing.com that made the most sense for us, striking the best balance between quality and cost. But, regardless of the solution you choose, publishing is a book is a LOT of work.

•    Once you print the book, the marketing and PR begins. We realized the message to different audiences would vary from people touched by diabetes to people who like poetry, for instance.

•    We’ve invited members on TuDiabetes to host book parties as a way to connect with others and raise diabetes awareness and get the book in the hands of people who may have not otherwise gotten it. We documented the first book party we did in Berkeley to show others how they could go about their own.

•    We held a daily giveaway of the book on Twitter, to get the word out about the book. People re-tweeting a message about the giveaway were entered for a chance to win a copy.

•    Getting your store set up and running may make the most sense financially: your organization retains the most money from the sale, compared to selling through Amazon.com, for instance. But don’t underestimate the costs associated with fulfillment.

•    E-Commerce… the “E” does not stand for “Easy.” From setting up the Diabetes Hands Foundation store through Volusion to getting a Virtual Merchant set up (they let you accept credit cards on your store and/or points of sale), it was a LOT of work. But we quickly saw more people paying with credit card than via PayPal.

The lessons continue to pour in and I hope to continue to share them so that other nonprofits may be able to learn from our successes and avoid our mistakes. In the meantime, we’d love to hear your thoughts about the book.

No-Sugar Added Poetry can be ordered at: www.bit.ly/askNSAP.

Manny Hernandez is a nonprofit executive, social media author and consultant and a diabetes advocate committed to connecting people touched by diabetes and raising diabetes awareness. He is the president of the Diabetes Hands Foundation (DHF), a 501(c)3 nonprofit that runs two social networks for people touched by diabetes: TuDiabetes.org (in English, started in March 2007) and EsTuDiabetes.org (in Spanish, started in August 2007). He has had LADA (Latent Autoimmune Diabetes in Adults) since 2002 and has used an insulin pump since 2005. He has also been a columnist for dLife.com since 2007, he wrote “Ning for Dummies” (published in April 2009) and collaborated on “Twitter For Marketing for Dummies” (published in the Fall of 2009).

Diabetes Hands Foundation is a nonprofit that connects people touched by diabetes and raises diabetes awareness.

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Debra Askanase is an experienced digital engagement strategist, non-profit executive, and community organizer. She works with mission-driven organizations to develop digital strategies and campaigns that engage, create trust, and move stakeholders to action. Debra speaks at conferences worldwide on the intersection of technology, social media, and nonprofit organizations.

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