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Yes, Blog Action Day is Kind of a Big Deal - What Can Your Nonprofit Learn from #BAD09?

Lori Halley 15 October 2009 4 comments

Blog Action Day started in 2007 as the initiative of just two people. Look how it’s grown! This year — today, October 15 — some 9,400 blogs in 150 countries are spreading the word about climate change to almost 13 million readers: Change.org is running the event this year, and clearly doing a stellar job of it. 

There are good lessons and ideas to be found in Blog Action Day, for even the smallest nonprofit organization.

Take the Blog Action Day video, to start with:


Video has Viral Potential

Like many nonprofit causes, “climate change” is large, complex, and difficult to show in video footage. Graphics and animation, set to an ear-catching soundtrack, can help to fill that need. We’ve talked before, too, about Animoto for nonprofits — an easy-to-use tool that turns your still photographs into a dynamic video without the need of high-tech skills or software.

Posting your video to YouTube makes it easy for supporters to share, comment, embed the video on their own blogs and websites (as we’ve done here), or — best yet — to respond with videos of their own. Bear in mind, although YouTube is certainly the traffic leader, there are many other video-sharing sites that can be used, too — you’ll find the same BAD09 video at VodPod, for example.  (Here's a list of 8 best free video-sharing sites for nonprofits, if you’d like to explore those wider options for sharing your own organization’s video projects.)

RSS gives legs to Social Media

One click lets supporters promote Blog Action Day on Twitter or Facebook, but that’s just the beginning. A designated Twitter hashtag, #BAD09, helps Twitter users share links to their climate change blog posts, and the links are rebroadcast at http://twitter.com/blogactionday as well as being livestreamed on the Blog Action Day website through the magic of RSS feeds.  Given the viral nature of RSS, there's no telling how far those links will travel to find new readers and help to educate them about climate change!

Facebook share screenshotTweets and backlinks are a compelling reward for bloggers, too, so participants get a little something back in exchange for raising awareness of both the event and the cause — as well as the positive feeling of taking part in a global online movement for good.

But you still need to make it incredibly easy for people to participate, if you want your cause or event to get the numbers to be noticed.

Easy Tools for your Supporters

Asking bloggers to write about climate change for one single post may sound simple enough, but the topic can be a challenge even for the environmentally inclined to tackle — and it is far removed from the subjects that many of the participating bloggers might normally cover. Blog Action Day has that covered, with a resource list to get bloggers started, and specific suggestions for how to write about climate change (without going far off-topic) on blogs about business, technology, lifestyle, health, design, travel, and more.

Badges for participation are an obvious extension of an offline tradition for nonprofits, and the distinctive Blog Action Day badge comes in a variety of sizes and shapes to fit just about any blog layout. Again, make it easy — provide your supporters by giving them a snippet of code that they can just copy and paste to their own websites in order to display your badge.

Some campaigns create badges but then ask their supporters to save the image to their own web space, rather than “hot-linking” from the original site. I’d advise against this if you’ve got the bandwidth to host the badge images on your own space. For one thing, it’s much easier for your non-techy readers in particular — several fewer steps to take, and much less time involved, if all they need to do is copy and paste a bit of code.

This also gives you an easy way to measure the exposure that your badge is getting: the number of times the image is called from your server will give about the most accurate gauge of its views that you could hope for.

Do be sure to include a link back to your site in the copy-paste badge code, too, as the click-throughs from various websites that display your badge will be another important success metric of its success when you come to review your campaign and plan the next one.

Audience Participation, too!

And — this is vital — don’t forget about all those people who are not creators of online content, but primarily consumers of it! Online action must convert to offline, real-world action, and these people are just as capable of making that happen as the Internet content creators, the webmasters and social media mavens and bloggers.

For those who don’t have a blog or other Web-content space of their own, or for those who simply prefer to find another way to participate, Blog Action Day offers a big list of other ways to take action — from petitioning the US President to “lead the United States in taking bold and significant action to reduce greenhouse gasses,” to connecting with one of the many organizations who work globally on the climate change issue year-round, to simply learning more about the science and implications of climate change.

Could you do the same, for your own supporters?

What other aspects of Blog Action Day give you ideas for promoting your nonprofit’s cause, campaign, or event?


Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot] Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot]

Posted by Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot]

Published Thursday, 15 October 2009 at 7:27 PM


  • Twitter Trackbacks for Wild Apricot Blog : Yes, Blog Action Day is Kind of a Big Deal - What Can Your Nonprofit Learn from #BAD09? [wildapricot.com] on Topsy.com  said:

    Thursday, 15 October 2009 at 12:13 PM
  • John Haydon said:

    Friday, 16 October 2009 at 6:03 AM

    Rebecca - Thanks for writing this post. There's so much that BAD does right - especially the social proof factor. "Look who else is participating!"

    Bloggers are motivated to register their sites for the exposure. BAD are motivated to list the sites for social proof.

  • Aizen said:

    Friday, 16 October 2009 at 8:34 AM

    Thanks for participating in BAD. This was an great and insightful post.

    For anyone who doubts climate change please read my blog action day post

    <a href="http://enviralment.wordpress.com/2009/10/15/responses-to-questions-objections-on-climate-change/">Responses to questions and objections on climate change</a>. It's a good place to send your skeptical friends and colleagues — at least as a starting point for whetting their intellectual appetite to learn more (or, as a quick answer to blog comments).

  • Debra Askanase said:

    Saturday, 17 October 2009 at 9:52 AM

    Rebecca- what a wonderful post! I think you hit all the highlights of how #BAD09 really utilized the web and created a powerful campaign. As a Blog Action Day blogger, I do think they missed the opportunity to create downloadable icons for social media profiles All the badges on the website were html code - or at least that's all I found - when I searched the site's resources for a badge. I wanted to change my twitter icon to promote blog action day. I would have loved to have changed my twitter icon for the few days leading up to #BAD09, and would have happily changed my Facebook icon as well.

    As for your post, you brought up aspects of the campaign that I hadn't even realized: the backlinks from BAD, and the other ways to take action. Great analysis of a campaign - everyone can learn from this post.


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