Photo by Dietrich
I love the Red Cross's approach to scaling its engagement strategy by involving the whole organization - it is spelled out in their strategy handbook and policy guidelines. The first steps are simple once you have policy/philosophy in place and the right mix of bottom up/top down adoption or acceptance of social media.
Here's how the Red Cross handbook states it:
Step 1: Get Social Media Savvy
- Initiate personal social media use:
- Explore the tools you’d like to adopt by using them in your personal life first. It’s easier to understand the culture behind tools like Facebook and Twitter when you spend some time posting your own pictures and experiences.
- Follow the personal online communications guidelines
Using social media as part of getting your job done is easier to imagine and put into practice if you're in the communications, marketing, outreach, or fundraising departments. The listening as a first step is familiar - it's free market research, it's brand monitoring, it's an analysis of press mentions.
Using social media listening is somewhat more difficult to imagine, perhaps, if you're managing programs or at the policy/funding level.
One of the approaches I've been thinking about lately is how professional learning through social media channels can be put into practice by using listening (and engaging techniques) for program development. Before this can happen, there are a couple of culture shifts:
- Professional learning is and should be a part of your job and honored by the culture. That you feel it is okay to spend some of your work day investing in your knowledge and you gather wisdom from your professional networks, including via social media channels.
- The importance of carving out time for this type of learning. It is difficult because you have shift gears from your Outlook calendar, answering emails, getting tasks done mind shift. It's a shift from a getting things done sort of productivity to social productivity. Or rather it is finding your social productivity sweet spot.
- Using social media is an enhancement to your offline professional networking and relationship building. That you may use it to extend relationships with people you've met at conferences. The shift is the comfort level in using these tools to develop or initiate new connections. For me, personally, I've found that social media has connected me with people who are thinking deeply about a lot of the same topics and that by connecting via social media it has enriched my learning. I think there are some generational differences as well as industry differences in comfort level of using social media tools to leverage your personal networks.
- The concern about information overload and too much unstructured information. Attending to your professional learning using social media and networks requires making sense out of the leaves rather than being presented a knowledge tree. The initial dip into the leaves can be overwhelming and unpleasant at first.
Paying Yourself First
Jeremiah Owyang wrote a great post two years ago called "Pay Yourself First." In a nutshell:
In the comment thread, there was a suggestion about putting a sticky note on your monitor. I needed to do that for myself!
Getting Started: You Don't Have To Be Joey Chestnut
The photo above is Joey Chestnut who won the Nathan's hot dog eating contest in 2008. His total for the day was 64 hot dogs. In 2009, he won again, beating his own record by consuming 68 hot dogs. The thought of consuming 68 hot dogs makes me feel a little uncomfortable. No downright sick in the stomach. It's the same sort of discomfort that some people feel about approaching the task of listening for learning using the social web.
Doesn't listening require plowing through mountains and mountains of unstructured information? Won't it make you dizzy and uncomfortable? Don't you have to be Joey Chestnut to be successful? NO!
To get started, think about just eating one small pig in a blanket!
Ask yourself how time you can allocate to listening for professional learning. Is it a half-hour a day, an hour a day, or is an hour or two a week? The point is to get started, block out that time, and start paying yourself.
Here are some steps to get started with listening for professional learning via social media. The bigger questions is - are you ready make the shift?
How do you carve out time for professional learning via social media? Has it been valuable? If you're a leader in your organization, how to encourage professional learning?