Archive for June, 2012

Dear Non-profit Funder – Please fund my social media strategy!

June 25th, 2012

An Executive Director of an non profit organization program asked me for a some ideas on what a social media strategy might look like. She was preparing for a meeting with a government funder and wanted to be ready for questions about her plans to develop and implement a social media strategy.

I sent her a quick email giving her an overview of what I believe is an effective approach to developing a social media strategy. On reflection, I decided to write up an expanded version of my response as a blog post. I thought it was a good example of how an everyday communication can be re-purposed. Posting my response in my blog also helps me solidify my thinking as I narrate my work.

What’s a Social Media Strategy? (my expanded snapshot response)

You can think of your social media strategy as your organization’s online communications strategy. Within your organization, you have your services, users, staff, funders, partners, supporters, different departments (if you are a large organization) and general visitors to your site.

When you develop your social media strategy you look at all parts (above) of your organization and strive to integrate your social strategy into your operations within and outside the organization. Your overarching social media policies and goals you create are the foundation for developing and driving your social media strategy.

I emphasized that your social strategy is much more than promoting (marketing) your agency although increased awareness can be an indicator that connects to the goals you are trying to achieve. To help her see how goals are the foundation of your social media strategy I provided a few examples.

With Your Social Strategy You Want to: (your goals)

  • Increase your audience and reach of your organization so that your online funding campaigns connect with intended audiences and result in an increase in the funds received from donors, partners, supporters and government funders;
  • Increase or improve the quality, efficiency and quantity of the services you deliver so your target communities are better served;
  • Increase and deepen your relationships in and outside the organization to attract and retain highly motivated and skilled staff which in turn adds to long term sustainability of your organization;
  • Increase your capacity to be an open, transparent organization that listens to stakeholders and engages them in meaningful dialogue so services are improved;
  • Increase your organizational capacity to innovate and respond to complex challenges by: encouraging listening, sharing, collaboration and innovation with social tools and fostering (rewarding) a culture that promotes staff innovation, critical thinking and problem solving;

So with those goals – social media is not just a strategy but a mindset about how you relate to your work and how you want to improve the outcomes of your your work.

The social media tools you employ are important but the thinking and planning – which you do so well as a Non profit Executive Director is what makes your social media strategies work.

Also, your social media strategy (and your own learning) is always evolving as you test, learn and make sense of what’s happening as you communicate with your audiences.

Your social media strategy is a central part of this process and is designed to reach those goals. You (as Executive Director) need to think in terms of how Social Media will accomplish or contribute to your organization’s goals.

So many organizations slap up a YouTube or twitter channel and don’t think through why or what they want to accomplish or how they will measure or know what’s happening or even worse, who is going to put up the content for my social media and respond to questions and comments that follow.

That was a very quick overview of what I think of when it comes to the question “what’s a social media strategy”. I’d love to hear what others think about the starting points for a social media strategy.

In closing, I’ll give huge props to “Social Media ROI – Managing and Measuring Social Media Efforts in Your Organization by Olivier Blanchard. His book helped me dispel so many myths and assumptions about social media strategies for businesses and non profits. Also, Harold Jarche’s writing on personal knowledge management informs me everyday about the importance of narrating your work.


Making Your Learning Public

June 6th, 2012

I’m inspired by a David Weinberg video where he speaks about the importance of narrating your work and sharing what you are learning. David is participating in the Adidas blog carnival on a new way of working and learning.

He says that by narrating your work you solidify or make sense out of what you are doing and when you share what you are learning with others, you add to the strength of the environment. Harold Jarche writes extensively about the importance of network learning. You can read many articles on this subject at Harold’s website.

As a consultant working primarily in the non profit and public sectors, I am interested in helping individuals and organizations be better at what they do through web based collaboration and networking tools. I’m also focused on deepening my understanding of our changing workscape and continuously improving my skills and abilities.

Writing on my blog is a way for me to make real and solidify what I’m learning. I also feel a sense of accomplishment after sharing my viewpoint or perspective. It’s more a case of making tangible what I’m thinking about than seeking to win readers approval or followers. Harold Jarche call his blog writing his “outboard brain”. I think I’m in that camp as well.

In the spirit of narrating what you are learning, here are a few snapshots of what I’m learning in my work with Boards, coalitions, committees etc. and non profit organizations.

Work with Boards of Directors, Coalitions and Committees:

In general, I find introducing and using social media tools to improve sharing, innovation and collaboration on projects a slow and difficult process. For these  groups I am finding that there is more openness to use social media as their work revolves so much around collaboration on projects. The fact that members of these groups only meet occasionally makes it more appealing to adapt collaboration and networking tools as a practical way to achieve outcomes.

Working with non profit organizations, business & public sector institutions:

There are so many challenges to integrating social media thinking and practices within non profit groups and businesses. The larger public sector institutions seem more open to adopting and integrating social tools to reach their audience. Perhaps using social media is just understood (and proven) to be a more cost efficient way to connect with their user groups and provide services. No doubt, user groups are increasingly expecting online services from their public sector institutions.

Non profit organizations (like the small business sector) have constant money challenges and are usually overwhelmed by service demands. I find that non profits have difficulty understanding that using collaboration and network learning tools improves individual and workplace performance.

The usual culprits that add to the slow adoption rate for non profits and businesses are: perceived loss of control by senior staff & Boards of Directors, resistance to co-learning, sharing and risk taking in the workplace and refusing to recognize that there is no normal anymore (thanks to Harold Jarche for that line which now is firmly planted in his blog header).

I added a slideshare created by Harold Jarche that does a nice job of describing what he calls work and learning in the network era. These visual calling cards bring together so many aspects of our 21st century work and learning environment.

Collaboration in the Workplace