I'm live blogging this panel from the Making Media Connections Conference. All live blogging disclaimers apply.
Social Networking and Web Tools for Chicago Nonprofits. You already know Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn et al–now hear from homegrown social networks and what they have to offer local nonprofits. Paul Baker, Webitects; Kara Carrell, 501 Tech Club Chicago/Interfaith Youth Core; Todd McMeen, CitizenPowered.org. Moderator: Justin Massa, MoveSmart.org.
The majority of the room had experience in social networking sites and tools, both personally and for their organization.
Each of the panelists shared a brief overview of the current social networking projects.
Paul Taylor gave an overview of their work. He mentioned that they will be sharing the work process and issues around adoption of social media.
Kara Carrell shared her experience, much of based on her personal passion for social networking sites. Described her organizational's first conversations - our audience is on Facebook and why aren't we there? How can we communicate with them? Struggled with issues around staffing, privacy, control, etc. Her organization is a storytelling organization, so the goal is to get people to share and tell their stories. A Different Kind of Story. Have also worked a lot in video because stories need a visual medium. they have a YouTube Channel. Facebook is also being used for internal communications - conversations between staff about how programs are going as well as cultivate the next generation of donors.
Todd McMeen did a project with the Mayor's Office. People told them that they wanted more social capital. How can we best support you? They wanted a social networking platform - white label social networking site - called Citizen Powered. They got feedback from users - wanted their own web sites on the platform. Cost them about $1m in in-kind services. Long term vision: They think there are many more activists out there and the best way to connect and collaborate, but give them their own tools. Rolling out widgets in next few weeks so community members can use them. Goal is getting people to connect and collaborate.
Some better idea of what social networking sites and how to put them together.
- Once you start a network, how many hours a week do you need to keep it going?
- What is the best mix of content between social networking profiles and main web site page? Is there a difference? If there is what should it be?
- What technologies do you need to encourage user-generated content on video?
- What are the best examples of social networking use?
- How do increase internet literacy with communities?
- How do you decide which sites and tools are right for your audience?
- What are the specific social networking sites in Chicago?
- What is the connection between social networking and fundraising?
- How to keep this conversation going?
- Before content, you need to know your audience. Who am I talking to? There may be three or four audiences. Where do they access the content? What type of language should i use? What will resonate with them (format and content)?
- Content can be crowd-sourced or user-contributed. The power of a network increases as the network grows. You can't just push your message out to the world.
- Spectrum - passive observer to active participants. Best way to manage the content, is not to do it yourself. Find ways for people to contribute.
How do you managed user-generated content? How much time does it take? How much staff?
- Managing the content so people don't inappropriate comments. Not that much time. The big time investment is getting people to contribute.
- What happens when the public dialogs moves away from a public dialog? How do you manage that conversation? (Don't have anonymous posting). Let the crowd remove the posts and flag in appropriate comments.
How you ever encountered problems related to your funding and what you're doing on the site? How you moderate inappropriate behavior or conversation?
- Let your partners know that you will take down inappropriate comments. We want dialog, not just hear from people who agree with us.
- User policies - a standard policy of user/community conduct is useful.
- If an appropriate comment, do you remove it? You have a feature to flag something and you let the community flag - and the administrator can remove or you can program in an algorithm. You don't want people to just take down anything.
- The public is in direct conversation with you. You have to learn how to let your message go on a certain level.
What are some resources if you don't understand social networking? What are some resources to help your constituents?
- Go where the people are - if they are offline - help them get connected. Use this to communicate with your children.
- References Lee LeFever's Common Craft Videos for basic introductions. Kari sites down and asks about what tools they are using in their life. Are you using your phone? Are you going to certain web sites. Understand where people are coming from and use simple English.
- Strategy question: Hire an expert.
What do you do when you have a younger staff and you have a board or executive director who don't understand the process?
Do introduction. Experiment. Then showed the results. Have patience.
- Sustainability - give and get. People are motivated by their self-interest. Go to your executive director and figure out what motivates them.
- Tools are very agile and can be used for different purposes. Figure out how you meet your goals and demonstrate the power.
- We've a tipping point in the last two years. Organizations are changing. The cultural gap isn't changing.
- Don't ask permission, apologize.
- Don't want to be locked into a silo. Can you pull data in and data out easily.
What are some specific tools you like?
- GapersBlock - great example. Every community group should have a site like Obama. You should be giving all your users to Facebook and interacting with Facebook and have your content syndicated on Facebook.
- Twitter - micro blogging tool. Interesting to see how nonprofits start to use it.
- Mobile phones - text for social networking - particularly youth. Next frontier.
Here's the summary of people using twitter for this conference.