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May 2010

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« Fundraising Appeal on SlideShare for Cyclone Nargis Relief Efforts | Main | Listening with Social Media: Social Media Archaeologists »


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Beth Dunn

It's true, I started a couple of blogs as pilots "under the radar" because I never would have gotten buy-in before the fact. I had to show that there was a need, a desire to participate, and the capacity to keep it going.

But each new technology seems to require a new stealth strategy -- I'd like to start making short, informal videos for our website, but my proposals have been met with "we'll ask one of our filmmaker friends to come in and do it right."

Without upper management actually getting involved in social media themselves, it's hard to explain how the actual aesthetic is radically different -- short, quick webcams or flip cam vids being preferable to professionally produced "films."

the point, and the goal, is not "let's put video on the web," but "let's engage people in a different way that might be more compelling to them --and invite them to do the same with us." Our members can't (for the most part) create a slick video to express what they want from us, so our attempt at video would just be another way of yelling at them, not furthering communication.


Beth Kanter


Thanks for such an insightful comment. I hear your pain.

So, how do we get upper management to dip their toes in the water? Or, what is the stealth adoption strategy for video blogging?

I'm gonna try to ping some folks ..

Kate Carruthers

You need to chat to @maverickwoman as she's doing some amazing stuff behind the firewall in her organisation

Connie Bensen

My suggestion for change is to introduce the concept well in advance to the affected parties, then continue to talk about it. Depending on how long it goes - pretty soon they'll anticipate by the look on my face that I'm going to bring it up...

The tech writer at my company uses the analogy of a dripping tap. I prefer to consider it persistence with a good idea.

Maryann Devine

A comment that I get from upper mgmt types is, "How long will twitter (or facebook, or blogging, or fill-in-the-blank) be around? We can't expend resources on chasing the latest fad." It's a reasonable argument, but misses the point. People seem to approach social media with the same approach as choosing which donor software to use -- they're focused on the specific technology as if it would be an investment, rather than looking at the concept of having a conversation with their constituents, engaging them more deeply, with the available tools. I think getting mgmt to understand and buy into the concept might be more effective.

Mike Graham

Our firm is not non-profit. We're big with 10,000+ employees and have a communication problem that looms large. Our business is not tech based, and is very much old economy. we're also wildly successful and considered a tech innovator in our market, which gives me pause because it only serves to let me know how far behind our competition must be.

There is a cadre of people in our (huge) IT department that try to sneak technology in the backdoor. A sametime server here, a PHP driven calendar app there--our department has had quite a good experience using wikis within Developer and Project Manager circles for collaborative document authoring.

Most backdoor projects, regardless of their success, get the kabosh once someone director level or higher discover it. Why? There is a fear that pervades the corporation of what will be said if anyone could have a platform. What if they were to voice discontent, or say something off-message? Our firm has controlled the message, or has the impression of such control for so long that the idea of relinquishing even the illusion of that control is not something they are ready to do.

That said, a VP must have overheard someone saying how important social media and collaboration are, because there is a committee forming on Social Media, to see how it can fit into our business strategy. Social Media is too scary for anyone right now, so it is called "Collaboration and Sharing"

I'm trying to take a supportive stance--I would actually love to help. Executed properly, such an intiative would breathe new life into our enterprise, but I already fear the worst. A few days ago a member of the committee called us to ask: "What is RSS?"

I wrote a letter to our CTO to indicate my interest in the committee, and see if there might be any assistance I could offer. It turns out that the initative is to bring wikis into the enterprise to help the sales staff share information (This is so much more disastrous than it sounds) and to bring in *a* blog, either for the CEO or COO, and that is all.

The crime is that there is so much energy and potential at this company. Most of the employees are in their early to mid twenties and are spread in small groups throughout the world. What an opportunity to gather business intelligence and grassroots business knowledge.

We won't though. Well, we may eventually, but years from now--when it's impact will not be negligable.

Wow. Now that's venting! I would love some constructive advice. Is it too much to overcome? Should I try heading to a different employer that is already prepared to use collaborative technology?

Beth Kanter

some advice from twitter user

Michael Hoffman

Beth. Thanks for reaching out. I think this is very important. The connection between internal use, and a sense it's good for your career and good for the quality of your work product, and how an organization uses this for outside communication seems to be to be totally connected.

One issue I have been thinking a lot about is talent within an organization and the divide between digital natives and whatever the opposite of digital natives is. As you and I know from the email lists we are on, nary a day goes by without a social media, online community manager, etc. job being posted. But the way to grow this talent is also or more so through this internal use and connection and when employees are routinely rewarded for their insight in their writing and the connections they make, internal or otherwise, the entire organization will take note.

I just came back from a very interesting discussion of Web 2.0 and its impact on corporate social responsibility. This conversation was hosted by SAP, with Intel, Verizon and Kimberly-Clark at the table, among others. The questions that were raised there was both about stakeholder relations and Web 2.0, but also in using community to figure out problems and share solutions.

One of the best interventions of the conversation we had at the SAP event was from Devin Stewart, Director of the Global Policy Innovations program at the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs. Devin said that we have to stop talking about consumers over here and the enterprise over there and impacted communities over there. The enterprise is made up of people and just like Web 2.0 erases the lines between the consumers and the creators of content, we need to see that it is people that make up organizations - people who are both creators and consumer and live in communities.

That seems to be the point here as well, it is not the organization that is blogging or communicating it is the people inside and getting them to do it, internally, externally... it's all the same conversation.


Our strategy at HSUS was to dive into everything we could at first, under the radar, find what works, and present the results to upper management. When we found that MySpace was good for advocacy, Facebook for fundraising, Flickr for easy website photo slideshows, and YouTube for increasing video views, we decided to invest our time into those four.

After awhile, we presented the amount raised and number of new email names we acquired via social networking, and those hard numbers sold them. As a result, I was able to hire 2 full time employees this year to help with internet marketing!!

Beth Kanter


identify and communicate the upside for npos to enter the networked world, need at least one credible, respected change agent

Are gen xers in the workplace the respected change agent or is someone from senior management who may "get it?"

Hoping she will unpack her 140 character response

Maryann Devine

Carie, I like how your organization isn't looking for one social media application to cover all your needs, and great to know that the numbers clinched it!

Beth J. Bates

I totally agree with Carie. Hard numbers speak volumes to folks who are solely concerned with ROI. Also, try to find an influencer that understands the space and bring them onboard. They may not make the final decision, but having someone pulling strings in your favor will help you get your message heard.


Show them the money!

We used social media to help promote and fund our "Holiday Love" campaign last year. It was the most successful year we'd had. We blogged about it, tweeted about it, promoted it on MySpace, Facebook, Jaiku and Pownce. Once an organization can show that social media can help raise money for the non-profit I don't there will be too many people who will deny that social media has a place in today's non-profit environments.

- @MailOurMilitary on twitter


Beth -

First, thanks for the budge to expand my answer! And fantastic question...

I believe that a Gen Xer can certainly be a change agent within an organization. It is all about how that individual presents the ideas, the tools available, and what that individual sees as the benefits for the organization. If our hypothetical Gen Xer arrives, new at an organization, and presents Web 2.0 as, "OMG. You guys are so lame. I can't believe we are not on FB Causes and why isn't the ED on LinkedIn? And how come no one is twittering?" It won't go very far. The change agent must understand their audience within the organization, identify the key decision makers, understand what are the current marketinig/fundraising programs (and how Web 2.0 may fit in), and clearly articulate the benefits of beginning to use some of the Web 2.0 tools.

One of the simplest ways, that I have heard, to think about changes in behavior is this: information and inclusion. What information does someone need? And how to they prefer to receive it? And who needs to be included in the process? When? And how? Thinking through these questions...GenXer or ED or new marketing person...will be helpful in supporting changes in organizational culture.

Happy to be a part of the discussion!

Marnie Webb


Thanks for the conversation and thought starter. This is something that I wrestle with a lot -- inside and outside of my organization.

I think that one of the problems is the "but you just don't GET IT" attitude of many of the social media advocates. I think you have to start with the idea that upper mgmt (or whomever is the block) does get it. In fact, they are in their job, presumably, because they get it. The problem, and the part of the solution that is entirely organizational/individual, is how to you make the connections between the two worlds.

So, let's say that communication director gets response, traffic, visibility, etc. Benchmark things you think your project will impact, agree to a pilot, and then come back and tweak.

Sometimes I think the "but they don't GET IT" can be a way to avoid talking about what is and isn't working.

Of course, this assumes that you can have these kinds of convo w/ mgmt which isn't always possible. In those instances, go stealth, make sure you aren't doing something terminally stupid, and then show the results.

Will Nourse

Beth, we actually did a short, fairly non-scientific survey about usage patterns and perceptions of success a couple of weeks ago (

Some of the key findings include:
• Overwhelmingly, blogging was viewed as a sure, effective way to
reach net citizenry and support the nonprofit.
• Respondents were optimistic about the value of social networking
technologies to “organize an event” and “spread news” about the
• Respondents were less optimistic about the prospects of social
networking technologies to help raise significant monetary or
goods donations for their organization.
• Respondents indicated that “web traffic” was the most prominent
value they have gained through use of various technologies. Other
specific gains were harder to quantify.

At Citizen Schools, we're starting to make a significant push in this area and will be tracking metrics on both awareness as well as (more critically) engagement of community users.

jay dedman

All good comments. The best way to begin videoblogging is to just start. The barriers are so low to begin. What I suggest is to first interview each other and post those videos. Simple stuff.

Another strategy is to just record the work you already do.
Things are already just throw a camera into the midst.
Short videos, and a lot of them.

The powers that be should begin to recognize the power of documenting ideas, work, and events. Usually this stuff is just forgotten...but now we can create our own institutional memories.

David Wilcox

The most telling quote I heard recently in a social media workshop I was running was "We can't do that - and they mustn't do it either". In other words, since senior management won't let us experiment with social media, we won't encourage other people to do so either. In this instance the organisations were housing associations, who might aim to help residents use social media. Here's the post


Love the post!

I also like the secret social media agent one :) --

As for me, I'm definitely proactive when it comes to getting things done and yes, I tend to just "do" things without much consulting. But I try not to go very far without consulting our OGC. Especially when dealing with political activism and keeping consistent with our 501c3 status. As far as convincing my higher-ups, I think we should look at it as a new way to do old business because many of the same rules apply. So like any other campaign, it’s important to be organized and have something palpable to present to your bosses. I haven’t had much trouble and the issues I have had are because I’ve been unable to quantify a number of benefits that social media has bestowed upon me. Including, communication with some of the most incredible people! (ahem Beth), so yes… break a few rules but make sure to keep track and collect data wherever you can!

Will Hull - United Cerebral Palsy National Office  eAdvocacy/eCommunications Coordinator

We kind of dove in using Facebook when the "Causes" application came out. Once I got the ball rolling on that, with my boss allowing experimentation, we are now on YouTube, MySpace and We are now converting a weekly e-newsletter into a blog because there are more features that we can use to enhance the delivery of our message to our 96 affiliates world-wide.

Starting small is key and working slowly to gain acceptance of one social network and they providing the numbers that visit these social networks also helps management make the decision, something you can find at that ranks web traffic.

Statistics for the data people and the big idea for the intuitive people in reflecting using the Myers-Briggs personality model.

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