This great article and research which I found through Rebecca Leaman on Twitter shows that "transparency and authenticity are the new marketing imperatives." In other words, if you want to succeed on- and offline "TELL THE TRUTH & KEEP IT REAL!"
Frankly, it's sad that it taken an economic melt down to force us to reclaim these core values. Alas.
Here is some help to get you started. I'd love to hear your ideas as well.
1. Read "Beyond Buzz: The Next Generation of Word of Mouth Marketing." I love Lois Kelly's advice to strike all the unnecessary adjectives from your copy.
For example, instead of saying "we are a world-class, values-based, leading nonprofit working in our community to reduce poverty every day." (Yuck!)
Try, "we feed hot food to hungry families."
Better yet, get a Flip video and interview your clients and ask them to tell you why they use your services. Post your new video to YouTube and publish it everywhere - your website, blog, Facebook, Linkedin, etc. Then ask your supporters to share it with their friends.
2. Focus on one thing and one thing only. According to his website, Andy Sernovitz gave up a successful email marketing practice to become the go-to-guy for Word of Mouth Marketing. Why? He knew he couldn't be best at both. You must do this too if you want to succeed or people will do it for you; it's called positioning.
3. Practice being vulnerable. This may sound like an unusual suggestion but (in my humble opinion) part of the reason that many organizations - for profit and nonprofit - fail online is that they are not used to telling the truth.
Get in the habit of clear and honest speak by flexing your muscles offline first. For example, speak up in a meeting where you usually sit silent. Make an unusual suggestion or ask a pointed question. Better yet, admit that you don't really understand the new plan. (If you don't get it, it's likely that there are other folks who don't understand it either.) In short, practice telling the truth and being clear in you every day life. This way you'll be better poised to have clearer and franker conversations online.