Last month I attended the "Twenty-Something Meet Up" at the BlogHer Conference, facilitated by the fabulous Zandria. The question ... "Where are the twenty something/millennial bloggers writing about social change, activism, and nonprofits?" was raised. I left room inspired to compile a living list. The next logical step, of course, is to start to get to know some of these bloggers by doing interviews.
1. Tell me about you
The first thing people ask me is the story behind my name. It's short for Quitrina (pronounced kee-tree-nuh & roll the 'r'). My parents (one Spanish/Cuban) made it up, tapping the spelling for Quixote. One day I'd like to say that was a providential move - "quixotic" describes someone who "takes on an idealistic quest against great odds." I want to take more risks in life.
In the safety of my day-to-day in DC, there is a lot of laughter, love and champagne. Things aren't so bad when you take time to celebrate the small blessings in life! Still, I feel strongly that we are here on this earth to see each other through. There's a quote that I very much identify with, by E.B. White: "I arise each morning torn between a desire to save the world and a desire to savor it. That makes it hard to plan the day." So, paralysis is my Achilles heel.
2. Tell me about your blog
Evange.List kicked off as a personal 'social media experiment' to see if anyone gave a flip about my voice. A few people did! So after 50 days of writing about 50 things I love, it was time to "Madonna" the blog and keep it going. For about a year now it's been dedicated to 'social media for social causes,' and I usually write about nonprofits and people I adore. I also get a lot of pleasure from incorporating religious lingo, too. Evangelism is a critical aspect of word of mouth and cause-related marketing, I am personally an evangelist for many causes, and we are all in the Church of the Internet.
I also blog on The Buzz Bin, the company blog, which is well known in the marketing, PR and social media space. My 'beat' is social good.
3. I understand you work with nonprofits and social media strategy -- Can share a story about one of your clients and how you worked with them to incorporate a social media strategy?
My agency, Livingston Communications, is currently helping Network Solutions with reputation management across blogs, Twitter, and forums to significantly decrease the company's 58 percent negative commentary ratio (as of June 30) by more than 20 points. It's not a nonprofit example, but it serves as an interesting case study for nonprofits.
Any organization is susceptible to critique, and overtime that can be detrimental to end goals. What nonprofit wasn't impacted by post 9/11 scrutiny? Plus, let's face it, the more controversial or provocative the issue, the more potential there is for outlash. Listening and responding are vital, but so is resolution. And those efforts have to be sustained over time. What we're seeing with Network Solutions is that, even if we can't always provide the desired answer, engaging in the right way at the right time is having an immediate impact.
4. What is your advice to nonprofits about integrating social media? What should they do first to ensure success?
After (and only after) defining a clear objective, honing in on a specific targeted
audience (i.e., not "the general public" or "women"), and setting measurable goals for meeting your objective - do your homework. Don't rush your research either - give yourself a few weeks to initiate what is basically a SWOT analysis of social media related to your mission. Find out what is (or isn't) already being said, by who, and where. Get a handle of the space, then develop your strategy. More than likely, you'll need to engage your audience in said strategy, and social media will play a role in that. All engagements should be meaningful and contribute to the measurable outcomes you set upfront. Otherwise, as is often said on Twitter, "fail."
5. What do you think is the biggest challenge to nonprofits in embracing social media? Are there certain types of nonprofits or situations where you'd advise a nonprofit to use social media?
Challenges: Justifying the means through ROI. Integration with other name lists. Also a general lack of comfort with navigating the rapidly-evolving digital ecosystem. (Weren't we all just breaking through into email marketing 4 years ago?) Nobody is doing any of this perfectly though, no one is an expert. There is a lot of commiseration. I really like the foundational and exploratory spirit of WeAreMedia, too.
Certain causes warrant full-on exploitation of social media if resources allow. For me, the deal breaker is death. Genocide, poverty, slavery, clean water, AIDS. I just saw the screening of Call+Response, which is the newest in a series of initiatives to end today's rampant slave trades, from child soldiering to sex trafficking. It's been set up as an "open source activism" movement - anything goes.
6. As a Gen Y, who uses social media and social networks, what advice would you give to nonprofits about interacting successfully with people of your generation on socnets?
Don't expect much for another couple years. We're Gen Y, remember? Joking aside, our generation at large (in the U.S.) was not groomed with an empowered activist mindset the way kids today are. However, the youth-driven, social media-supported campaigns we see right now are paving the way for more action in coming years. By setting up camp in social media and testing word of mouth campaigns, your organization can prepare for the fight for mind-share in our increasingly fragmented media culture. Keep an open mind, love your evangelists, and expect great things.