I am here in Romania for a conference hosted by the Soros Foundation as part of their pilot advocacy through blogging program. I just finished a presentation and later this afternoon will facilitate a workshop on strategy which will include the Romanian version of the Social Media Game.
I'm live blogging the conference sessions which are being conducted in Romanian. I am understanding this only because it is being translated through headphones. The translator is in a booth. So all the disclaimers of live blogging apply and particularly here - with translations, jet lag, etc.
After the introduction, I gave my brief presentation.
Next, Iulian Comanescu - Training coordinator for the program is explaining the program. There were five organizations participating. One organization did not finish the program. Can't just build a blog and let it be. You need to fuel it and we have so much to do at work. We need to make the time to blog after hours. Doing a blog involves additional time and energy and some of us won't have this time available. They replaced the organization.
What is Web 2.0 by Iulian Commanescu
The definitions are fluid when it comes to Web 2.0. He selected some definitions from the Internet. A mix of conversational marketing.
He covered the following platforms:
- Blogs: It is more than a web site, built by one person or a small community or group of bloggers. A blog is more than a personal journal. Blogs focus on a particular niche - and this determines the target audience. Conversation is very important and the nature of Web 2.0. Niche content. Blogs are connected - we're talking about a blogosphere. A rating of 100 or more is considered good in Romania. Personality is important.
- Social Networks: Facebook, Myspace, and many more. Each has a composite page that has biography, conversation, and music/media area. The key is the interconnectivity of users - and what can happen when you get connected with people with similar goals. It is not a book with pages, but it is about relationships.
- Wiki: Collective brain of humanity. He told the story of the founding of wikipedia and the meaning of the Hawaiin word - quickly, quickly. He talked about the growth of wikipedia. He also mentioned a Romanian wiki called MediaPedia.Ro. Talked about the problem of wiki spam and how easy it is to administrator.
- Video Sharing: Youtube and several inspired by YouTube including a Romanian video sharing platform. Described the features and content. Difference between amatuer and professional videographer.
- Collective Tagging: Tagging is a keyword that describes the content. Gave examples of how to tag the presentation. Described the difference between taxonomy and folksonomy.
- User generated content - Web 2.0 means involving the user - it's beyond the platform
- Collective intelligence - The written press can no longer lie. Internet is difficult to stop.
- Web 2.0 is a process - continuous change
Next, he showed a fundraising video for an independent living center for IHTIS. The goal is to get $1 from 350,000 people to support this program. They plan to make it viral. It was very moving. I will be preparing a separate post about this project. Below is a clip describing the fundraising campaign.
Civil Society Catalogue
Ciprian Ciucu – PR & Marketing Manager, Foundation for Civil Society Development
Gave an overivew of their program and how ngos web presences have evolved from web 1.0 to web .0.
Presented a case study of Catalogul Societatii Civile - which is a large portal site for NGOS in Romania. It has Web 2.0 components, including a blog community. Goal is to provide web presence for most ngos in Romania. It also has events with a goal of being a news agency for NGOS. Part of the content is created by ngo users and the other part is managed by an editors. They have over 3,500 registered users. They hope to grow to 35,000 users, which is comparable to newspaper circulation. They also have an advocacy role on behalf of ngos.
Gabriela Tanasan – Executive Director, Orizonturi Foundation, Campulung Moldovenesc. Her project Blogging the Dream, is one of the six new health-focused citizen media outreach projects that were announced in June by Rising Voices and Open Society Institute’s Health Media Initiative.
She presented a case study about her project and organization:
- A mental health organization - it is easier to be integrated than not.
- Been active since 1995, working in the northern part fo Romania to help mentally challenged people overturn the stigma. They want to improve their quality of life and confidence and lead an independent life.
- A good collaboration between the state hospital and ngo.
- They have a full communications strategy - including print magazine,
- Difficult to work with journalists - because they believe nothing is happening - they call "lunatics" - it is a rural community with villages spread across mountains. It is why they wanted to blog. They wanted to dispel myths about what mental problems really mean.
- Volunteer training - volunteer would design small projects and implement them in the communtiy - mental health care in the students. The volunteers were high school students. Through the Internet, they learned about the Rising Voices Grant. They submitted an application, assisted by volunteers from the Peace Corps.
- The purpose of the project is to keep mental health patients to share their ideas and experiences.
- They have several months of training, they are now half-way - the training is both theory and practical. The participants will build personal blogs which are public or not depending on whether the blogger wants it public. There 10-15 bloggers - a wide range of ages. Encourage them to work as a team. Discussed the differences in perspective between generations. They also prepared them about how to respond to comments.
- Training materials from Rising Voices and other sources.
- Assessment forms at the end of the session. They discovered that participants were glad to have the opportunity to be open, work with computer, meet other participants, etc.
We Have a Blog. What Next?
Integrated communication strategies for NGOs
- A blog is an ecosystem that creates opportunities for readers to participate.
- A blog is an interactive where communication flows --
- Remember Alice in Wonderland - watching yourself in a mirror which you write and you receive comments. It is interactive. Information comes to the blog and leaves from the blog. It is two-way.
- You don't just write, you link to others, make comments on other blogs, and respond to comments. If you don't do this, your ecosystem won't work. If you want to be successful, you must link.
- You have to write to invite comments - a different way of writing. You are writing to create conversation, not to just inform.
- Gave Daily Kos, Little Green Footballs, Huffington Post, and Tech Crunch as examples of blogs with ecosystems. Keep in mind that the big one eats the little one. You have to be very good to be a leader in your niche. If you put some effort into your blog, you will see results. Requires sustained effort.
- Need to create a community in your comments around our blog. People with too much energy can be channeled. For example, Daily Kos created a wiki. It isn't just talking, you can channel your community to take action.
- Form follows function -- don't distract the readers with flying monkeys - the goal is to get them to participate. Don't start the blog until you know what you want to talk about. "Less is More."
- Tolerance: You must be kind and understanding to the people who contribute or comment. If you make a mistake, you need to admit it. Create a friendly atmosphere.
- Multi-media: Not only text. It is important to use video, photos, and audio. Don't be shy in using other media.
- The blogs won't fly on their own - they don't work on their own - no blog takes off without being pushed. Needs an engine. Commenting on other blogs.
- Keywords are important, particularly in titles - if you want to show up in google.