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« How To Develop a Social Media Plan in Five Easy Steps | Main | It’s time to identify the appropriate person (s) within your nonprofit to participate on the Social Web! »


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Erin Johansen Hurwitt

I'm loving this series of posts.

Here are my thoughts for those reading:

Some boards and EDs only understand numbers; they want to see something that is effective and has some kind of return on investment. So - educate yourself on the numbers. Look at case studies, and talk to other nonprofits who are using social media effectively to find out how it worked for them. When you can show examples and facts with numbers attached, it ups your game quite a bit.

Also, remember that social marketing is not about having a good MySpace page (argh). Get away from saying things like "we should be on MySpace" to start a conversation, and instead approach it strategically, with something like, "Social media is a powerful tool, and if we think strategically about it, we can leverage that tool to build relationships with people who will give more money and take more action on our behalf." And then point them to Beth's recap about America's Giving Challenge to blow some minds about the potential power of Twitter, blogs and social marketing.

And of course, reminding them that the sooner you get started, the better - it takes time to build those relationships.

Approach it strategically, with solid numbers, and it will seem less crackpot and more pot of gold to those higher-ups.

Bill Kennedy, CA

Erin hit the nail on the head: talk to the people in their own language. If they are strategists, talk strategy. If they are financial people, talk dollars. What I would add is, use concrete examples. When I proposed creating my church's first web site, I downloaded 20 example of church websites onto my laptop -- 10 great examples and 10 I'd prefer not to be like. That gave the Executive Committee something solid to work with as well as some material to ponder while making their decision.

When I moved into social media, I started first with a hobby. After several months of blogging, Facebooking and Twittering I felt I had enough experience to do it "for real". Now, when talking to people in not-for-profits, I have some credibility and can speak with confidence about my experiences. It makes a stronger presentation.

Finally, I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest that it's better to use social media to advance your CAUSE rather than your INSTITUTION. For example, if I were an international aid agency, I would start a blog on Darfur before I'd create one about my charity per se.

The only unbreakable rule is: Don't be boring.


The Girl

Hey Beth,
I'm also loving this series of posts. I've already added this to the BeTheMedia wiki, but I think the presentation that I gave with you at SXSW sums up my thoughts on what non profits need to consider before implementing technology, in order to better anticipate success.

1. Buy-In: by staff members and senior management - those who know technology and those who don’t!

This ensures proper funding, internal ownership, and the diffusion of the technology across the organization. Make sure to keep your IT team involved every step of the way so they can support you and the technology and help you manage resources.

2. Technical Resources: Either in-house or contracted.

Know how you will be able to make changes to the technology and who will be providing tech support to your team. Software needs to be updated periodically, a graphic may need to be altered, and someone will need to be available to troubleshoot any issues that arise.

3. Human Resources and Interest in the technology/campaign.

This goes back to buy-in. If your staff isn’t interested in the type of technology you’re using (or familiar with how to use it), it’s unlikely they’ll come up with new content to keep it looking fresh, or that they’ll truly own it, be creative with it, and run with it!

4. Time: Supporting media and developing content doesn’t happen in a vacuum.

People in non-profits wear a lot of hats and hold multiple responsibilities. This role can’t be ancillary to someone’s job, it must be made a priority by their managers and if possible, written into their job description.

5. Access: To broadband and/or any internet connection for both contributors and your audience.

When using these types of technologies in developing countries, fast connections are limited. This inhibits the types of technology that can be used regularly, such as video or audio. Even access to the internet (to post a blog post or upload a picture) may be hard to find.

6. Proximity: To constituents/participants contributing to your campaign/web media

A lot of technology training can be handled remotely, but organizations/universities may have better success with their blogging projects if they have had face-to-face contact with their contributors. This creates a sense of community and ownership over the software. This isn’t necessary, but definitely can help.

7. Replicable: If staff leaves, is there a contingency plan? Can others take over?

Do others have the same interest/ stake in the success of the technology? Do they have the skill-set to take-over? Is their institutional redundancy? Can they keep the momentum going?

8. Empowerment: Can owners be successful with the technology?

Are the implementers truly owners of the software, and can they share their excitement for and champion its potential both within and outside the organization?

9. Capacity: The choice of technology should be realistic, based on the above factors.

You can design the coolest online campaign in the world, but if you don’t have the funds to keep it going, or the human resources to maintain it, or the content to keep it new and exciting, you might be better of with something more simple and easier to maintain.

Success isn’t directly proportional to the type of technology you employ, but rather the creativity and enthusiasm drummed up by your team and the campaign you devise.

Here is a link to the blog post recap.

John Redford

Suggest link to seo friendly and free general web directory.
Thank you!


Beth -

I haven't yet posted these thoughts over at BetheMedia yet -- but I've been thinking about the traditional organizational change for an article I am writing -- hence this post on our blog over here...

When thinking about social media, though, I believe perhaps it is not just about communicating the benefits, undertaking new initiatives - somewhere in the mix, as a social media evangelist, you need to acknowledge what is changing for people being affected...William Bridges points out that one of the keys to helping people through change - is to analyze and acknowledge what people are losing. For some, the loss is the way we used to business, the way nonprofits used to raise money, or simply the loss of "we know what is right for this organization." By allowing people to express that loss and acknowledge that is very real.... it may open the doors to hear new ideas - and accept that social media is a new way of doing business for nonprofits...

My 2 cents -

James H. Peterson III

Here are my thoughts:

> How do you get your whole organization to own the social media strategy?

You don’t. In fact, do not even bother. Trying to get the whole organization in on it is not only likely to be impossible; it will also generally be counter productive.

In my organization, the Louisville Creative Centre, Inc. for example, three fifths of my Board of Directors have Facebook accounts, and one has a MySpace account. The remaining Board Members at least know about Facebook and MySpace, but have little interest in either. (Although, it was certainly a moment when our oldest Board Member found his daughter’s profile and her home address listed on her profile.)

Overall, I am lucky that my Board of Directors either endorses social media, or at least, does not believe it to be a waste of time. Another Board that I serve on, only as a Board Member, contains a much wider spread of ages, everything from the fresh out of undergraduate to the grandmotherly figure. The problem here is not so much the “I don’t see any point to this social media thing…” as it is “How does this translate into money?” The argument that goes around this Board of Directors table is “Is this social media thing a cost effective use of staff time?” This argument is very difficult to combat without internally traced statistics, which also means- you are already doing it so that it can be tracked. The argument then can, all too quickly, become the “younger” set telling the “older” set that the paradigm has shifted and that they are not with it anymore. This is not really something you want to tell an older Board Member who has, over dent of time, brought many good things to the organization. In this second example, it is that much more difficult because the staff themselves already have too many things to do anyway, and are resistant to having anything else “dumped” on their plate.

There are other pitfalls that go along with even engaging in the argument, or even civil conversation. I found most of them after I had already fallen into them. The biggest one I would caution against would be the idea of a stealth implementation, particularly if there are any possible liability issues common in the business dealings of the institution.

The one course of action that I would advocate is talking your nay-saying governance officers to a position of ‘let’s try it, and see what happens.’ (This will go a great deal easier if you can speak to a personal success with social media.) I would caution though that if you take this route though, be perfectly prepared to do the work yourself- at least for a while.

Our type of social media can be used to great success, but only by people vested in it. The only thing worse than having someone do a job they do not know how to do, is for that person to also not care about the results. Let everyone else do their thing, and always work as amiably as possible to the snail mailers and the print readers.

So, that is my ten cents worth on that question. The short version is; pitch experiment, do the work yourself, and never alienate anyone if possible.

Thank you for your time and attention.

Pax Tibi,

James H. Peterson III
Executive Director
Louisville Creative Centre, Inc.
Louisville, KY

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