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« Getting the Word Out in Age of Social Media for Nonprofits | Main | Backtype: Another Listening Tool - Who's Talking About You In The Blog Comments? »


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bob ashley

"How much time will social media take?" is a critical question from dubious cross-examiners. In a SM presentation I did recently to a group of municipal administrators, I felt like I was a defendant before a group of magistrates, awaiting sentence.

Thanks for a thoughtful, well-organized article on this subject. I suppose the time question might be counterbalanced by the priority question, especially for govt, as in, "How important is it for your public organization to connect with its constituents?" Add this dimension to your 'X' axis of time and we have a complement by way of a 'Y' axis labeled "Importance". The origin of this XY matrix would be zero time, zero importance. The far right, uppermost point in the quadrant would be high importance, lots of time.

Your article provoked thought and prompted this reply so that's a barometric reading which says you're doing a great job!



Beth -
Thank you for this! I was just in a conversation with a local community foundation who are ready to dip their toe in the water -- and they asked exactly that question..."But how much time does it take?" THANK YOU! Great framework to share with them.

And to me, your time estimates look pretty close to reality - without knowing results, in some ways, each organization should engage in a process (beautifully supported by the WeAreMedia curriculum)to determine the unique role that social media will play to further their organization's mission or program strategy.


Jeffrey Levy

Thanks for an interesting framework. I have to spend more time thinking about how it meshes with my understanding, but it's a great piece to spur such analysis.

Chris Brogan...

It makes perfect sense, and this seems to be something to bring in front of people considering next steps. Might need to be put onto two nice ppt slides.

Pete Steege

Beth, this is really useful. My team at Seagate is travelling down this path with our business together. Nice framework to help us navigate. Thanks!

Mark Varner (DairyScienceMark)

As always, an interesting conceptual construct for discussing social media. In an article on the BBC News website, Padma Warrier (yes, her real name), the Chief Technology Officer for Cisco had two interesting quotes that may be of value to you.

"One of the things we are looking at as a precursor is what happens when you combine some aspects of social networking with video. It leads to a more collaborative way of doing things and we are just beginning to see that."

and later in the article

"I have a 15-year-old son and if you ask him what is central to his internet experience he will say it is communities. The future is really about communities we create on the internet and that requires the network to play a strong role and obviously mobile devices."

I think it's about whether organizations want to be relevant in the future.

Beth Kanter

K1v1n post



Great blog. I think your idea apply to everyone using social media, not just nonprofits. I work at a newspaper, and I'm trying to get them to use social media and facing some resistance, from people who say "Oh, I don't have the time."

The way I see it, you don't have the time not to.



Thank you so much for this wonderful post! I found it very helpful and insightful. Thank you for your excellent analysis.

Brad P. from NJ

A very useful breakdown. I like the steps that you use to cascade an understanding of the time it takes. This is extremely useful, because it not only talks to how much time it takes to build community, but how much time it takes just to pay attention.


Adam Cohen

Hi Beth - Thanks for this, it's the first post I've come across that actually makes the commitment to social media tangible. While each company and social media effort may be different, this is a really great way to set some expectations on why it's difficult to move the ball on a very limited basis.

Mark Logan

Great post! Thank you very much for sharing. I think the time-to-return question is just as critical as the time invested question. That's often a tough selling point with folks contemplating an entry into this space.

Apolinaras "Apollo" Sinkevicius

Fantastic article!
The question you address is one of the most common ones I hear from founders of start-ups. In many cases, entrepreneurs know that "pounding the streets" is crucial to their success. Many don't make it out of the seed stage, because they fail to go out there and participate, create, and evangelize. Working day of of the entrepreneur is not 8 hours, but more like 16+, therefore all of us must figure out and have no excuses to not go out there an invest in ourselves via social media.

Apolinaras "Apollo" Sinkevicius
Revolve, Inc.
Flexpertise(TM) - Business Law - Capital

Beth Kanter

@Mark Logan - that's so right on - that's the next thing I'm working on ... B

Kim/hormone-colored days

Thanks for the informative post! It's great to have some benchmarks for those moments when I wonder if I am spending too much time online.

Daryl Tay

Loved this post. I guess to some in the social media world all the steps are sometimes done simultaneously, but demonstrating them in increasing commitment levels and in a "linear" format will definitely help people just coming into it to understand it better!


Thanks again for the great blog. Though its hard for me to compartmentalize the three aspects and quantify them, I see the beauty in organizing a strategy vs. the "jump in and hang on" approach of interacting in the online community. It makes perfect sense to me.There are so many tools at our disposal, it helps to get this kind of direction as to the best ways to employ them to get our charity's message out there.
Even though I have only been involved for a few short months, I have been seeing the results just within the past couple of weeks with more hits on our profiles and unsolicited followers on Twitter. Donations have actually started to come in with the website blog as the ad source!It's very exciting. I am avidly reading you and Chris Brogan along with other "experts", and am looking forward to the next installment,tweet,etc.Cheers! V.Curtis

Shailesh Ghimire


Great information. I work with for-profit organizations and sometimes I get the feeling that many are turning to social media as a quick fix. It's relatively cheaper than traditional media and they need to make the cash register ring - so you get the picture.


This is absolutely brilliant! Thanks! I know we all rather wonder how much time is too much, and how much is "enough" - great post!

Maggie McGary

This is a great post--I'm sure people all over the country are bookmarking it to show their bosses as justification to create full-time social media positions!

I typed a whole response to this then realized no way is it going to fit into this comment field; I'll have to blog about it and will share the link. As far as I'm concerned, the bottom line is that, as much time as you think it will take to integrate social media into your ogranization’s overall communications efforts, prepare for it to end up taking a lot more time.


Very interesting and informative information Beth. It's definitely a 'burning question' for a lot of folks and one that i have never been able to answer well. :)

How did you go about 'estimating' the time needed at each level of engagement?


Amy Kincaid

Thanks for this, Beth. I have to admit that I want results for even fewer hours...but this kind of chart and info will help me with my struggle to manage work time. Thanks, also, for your work to address the burning questions at the Minnesota conference. Amy

Beth Kanter


That's a such a good question. I actually tracked my own time on the various tasks. and then as part of the research for this article - I interviewed a lot of nonprofits who were using social networks to get an estimate of the time involvement

Elaine Talbert

Just found the great post. Missed it on Twitter, have been away. The time issue or "better value for time" issue is a very critical one for educators. Also, the level of engagement notion is worthy of much consideration. Get as much as you give-consume and produce. We make our choices to fit our need at the time and this can change over time and with the times.

Scott Meis

As always, great insight Beth. It's always been a big concern for my nonprofit clients and in my experience, you've identified some very accurate timeline and commitment levels pertaining to different elements of the social media process. This is a nice lead in for nonprofits that reach out with the general "how do I get started in social media?" question. Just recognizing the value and cracking into the "listening" phase is a big lift in and of itself but a crucial one for NPs to start getting their feet wet and seeing the process in action.

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