Posts Tagged twitter

What I thought of The Networked Nonprofit

I just finished reading The Networked Nonprofit: Connecting with Social Media to Drive Change by Beth Kanter and Allison H. Fine.  If you haven’t read it, you probably should.

Why?

Because it’s chock full of tangible, realistic changes that organizations can make in order to move towards becoming a Networked Nonprofit.  The book defines Networked Nonprofits as “simple and transparent organizations.”  They are simple in that they stick to what they are good at and they streamline their efforts according to what works and what doesn’t.  They are transparent in that they communicate with their audiences about their intentions, plans, successes, and failures.  Best of all, they engage in two-way dialogue with their audiences– acknowledging the essential role of people in enabling social change.

One of the examples that I found most interesting was from an organization I had never heard of– the Surfrider Foundation.  The Surfrider Foundation is the essential Networked Nonprofit in that it relies on its volunteers not just to spread the word, but to ignite action.  Though I had never heard of it, 10 seconds after visiting the organization’s Twitter feed, I found that members were doing good in my community along the Potomac/Capital Crescent Trail.

Though the book focuses on streamlining nonprofits and making them adept to change in order to succeed, I found much of the contents relevant to my every day life.  At work, I focus on social marketing– helping people become aware and able to make decisions that hopefully lead to a better, healthier life.  As this book attests (page 131), “social media can be used to affect change directly.”  I certainly am a believer that social media can be used to bring messages to wider, hard-to-reach audiences, but this book reminded me that it’s not just for pushing out messages– it’s for engaging in conversation.

For example, I hadn’t given crowdsourcing too much thought, but I loved the idea that engaging people early on, in the planning stages of a project, could actually lead to a much deeper engagement (more likely to lead to actual action).  The book mentions The Humane Society’s video contest launched in response to Michael Vick’s dogfighting scandal.  Check out what it ultimately resulted in– though controversial, it was a huge conversation-starter for the organization.

The focus on microplanning and learning loops, which emphasized  tweaking things along the way based on insights gleaned, related directly to my experiment with Google AdWords, which I made a few changes to along the way to encourage success.

Compared to the other books I’ve read over the past few months (Groundswell, The Long Tail, and Engage!), this came out on top, along with Groundswell, as a favorite.  I liked that it was simple with actionable steps that real organizations could take to facilitate change.  Similarly to all of the books, Networked Nonprofit pushes organizations to interact with audiences in a new way on social networks.  In order to be successful, organizations must not just talk and not just listen, but interact. In order to make the change from a fortress (least transparent) to a transactional (some transparency) and ultimately a transparent organization, humanizing communications is crucial.

Many of the ideas relayed in the book can be applied at any organization.  Imagine using Doodle.com to schedule meetings with partners (whose Outlook calendar availability is unaccessible) rather than lobbying 10 emails over the course of a week.  Imagine engaging in casual dialogue on Twitter and encouraging others to weigh in.  Imagine  editing documents in Google Docs and having access to them 24/7 via the cloud rather than a clunky shared drive.  Sound nice?  Sounds like the future to me.

For Mad River Glen, there are many lessons to be learned in this book.  In my opinion, they’ve done a great job at staying simple and sticking to what they’re good at.  Compared to many of their competitors, they’re more of a ski mountain than a ski resort, despite that a four-season resort might help them bring in money year-round.  Though they’re retweeting actively on Twitter, they could stand to interact more– actually using the platforms to facilitate conversation.  I would love to see them use crowdsourcing to engage their audiences– for example, they could use the new Facebook questions feature to encourage fans to vote for the name of a new trail, or in the social change realm, use Facebook events and Twtvite to mobilize their audiences to take part in a post-season clean up to gather any trail accumulated over the ski season.

PS: While Googling, I came across this MSNBC post on the same topic with some great nonprofit success stories in it. Check it out!

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Obama + New Media = #WINNING

Colin Delany’s Learning From Obama: Lessons for Online Communicators in 2009 & Beyond is a great insider’s look at the success stories that came out of the Obama campaign.

The following tools are identified as key elements to the success of the online component of his campaign:

  • Website
  • Email
  • MyBarackObama.com
  • Multichannel Online Outreach (i.e., YouTube, Facebook, Google Ads)
  • Grassroots Outreach/Data Collection
  • Text Messaging/Cell Phones

Personally, I am most interested to see how to mobile component of campaigning will continue to evolve.  As more and more Americans get smart phones, whether they be personal or for work, a whole new realm of communication opens up.  People normally have their phones at all times, so if urgent access is necessary, that’s likely the best way to reach them.  The fact that the Obama campaign had a list of roughly 1 million cell phone users is mindblowing— and I believe that those who can reach smart phone users in a creative way will continue to see success (this goes not just for politicians, but for organizations and brands as well).

It’s important to remember what Delany states on pg 11, that “plenty of people not named Barack Obama and not boosted by a vibrant and extensive network of active supporters also won on November 4th.”  Despite the fact that going online and “viral” are now recognized as of the utmost importance, that online works when they complement a solid offline campaign.  Delany points out that, “Even for online “movements” at the presidential level, the overall results are mixed: Obama may have won, but Dean didn’t in 2004 — and neither did Ron Paul in 2008.”

I loved reading about the structure  of the team, which was “separate and equal, but also integrated.”  I definitely think this was part of what led to success- not just the individuals, but how they worked as a team and within a larger structure played into it.  Also, the emphasis on online/offline integration really spoke to me.  This morning, I attended an event where a hashtag was prominently posted throughout the room.  Because those who were tweeting were aware of the hashtag, they were able to connect online and expand the conversation.  If the hashtag had not been posted, the tweets would not be connected and not be quite as valuable.

At the end of the day, for politicians, real-life supporters mean more than Twitter pundits who aren’t even constituents.  But when those Twitter pundits have the reach to influence constituents— that’s when the magic happens.

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Social Media + Ethics = Mess

I always enjoy seeing familiar names in the media, so it was interesting to see Andrew Noyes quoted in the New York Times article I was reading with this blog post in mind. Noyes recently spoke at an Ogilvy Exchange held at my work about Gov 2.0.

In Ethical Quandary for Social Sites, Jennifer Preston looks at something that recent events (covered in a few previous blog posts) have called into question: “whether a company should maintain its commitment to remain neutral about content, even when politicized content could offend users or even put people in danger.”  Most sites with social aspects have terms of service that they can turn to in cases of questionable content, but the article points out that Flickr does not always enforce its own rules.

Andrew Noyes of Facebook sums up the view of many sites— “We want Facebook to be a place where people can openly discuss ideas and express their views, while respecting the rights and feelings of others.” In other words, they want to serve as a forum for their uses to communicate much like they would in other parts of their lives— what is said via text, email, and spoken word can also be communicated on Facebook (and on Twitter, on Flickr, and YouTube, to name a few).

Clearly Mark Zuckerburg never thought that by creating the next “hot or not” he would enter into a situation where the Israeli government has big asks— but now that is the case.  While a strict terms of service can help to justify removal of posts that incite violence, or of users who are not using their full names, if it is not always enforced (although realistically, that is not possible), isn’t it stifling to enforce the T.O.S. only in the controversial cases?

I don’t think that this article demonstrates the “end” of this issue in the social media realm— but if a site takes down a page at the request of a government/organization, it becomes a slippery slope— who is to say that the next person to request removal of a page does not deserve their wishes granted, as well?  And what role does a social media site play in these ethical/political/social struggles?

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Is Twitter just another place to run your mouth?

Lately, it seems that social media has converged with current events more than ever before.  But as much as the media is covering uprisings in the Middle East that are using social networks to mobilize, they are covering embarrassing gaffes by people who should know better.

For example, an employee of New Media Strategies (the workplace of a friend of mine) accidentally tweeted from the account of a client, @ChryslerAutos; “I find it ironic that Detroit is known as the #motorcity and yet no one here knows how to fucking drive.”  Clearly, the Tweet was meant to be sent from a personal account, but it was not deleted before some of the account’s nearly 9,000 followers retweeted the tweet— making actual deletion impossible.  The employee was fired, and the firm is enduring even more backlash, with Chrysler refusing to renew their contract.  The tweet was covered far and wide, from The New York Times to Mashable.

While the New Media Strategies/Chrysler incident was embarrassing and the employee should have never tweeted (even from a personal account) something that could be perceived so negatively by the client, clearly it was a mistake.  What’s even more damaging for reputations is when Twitter reveals that people held in high-regard are just ignorant racists.  For example, Cappie Pondexter, (@cappa23) a WNBA star with the New York Liberty tweeted that the earthquake and tsunami in Japan probably happened because “they did pearl harbor so u can’t expect anything less,” and stated that “What if God was tired of the way they treated their own people in there own country! Idk guys he makes no mistakes.”  Not only do these remarks make her look racist—they make her look just plain stupid and insensitive.

A final incident that caught recent media attention was at the expense of Gilbert Gottfried, a comedian of Aflac duck-voice fame.  He also tweeted (@RealGilbert) disparaging remarks about the earthquake/tsunami in Japan— one of Aflac’s largest markets.  Aflac let him go and pulled all commercials with his voice.

In an era where media interviews are no longer the only way to connect with the public, are politicians and other public figures more at risk than ever of committing gaffes that hurt their reputations?  Or is there so much clamor that no one even notices everything but the big stuff?  I think that this just reinforces the necessity for proofreading.  It is essential for people to remember that tone does not come across well online— so a backhanded remark meant to be funny can actually be quite damaging (i.e., Kenneth Cole’s tweet about uproar in Cairo).

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Social Media Engagement and Impact

Prof. Rosenblatts series on Frogloop are a great summation of some essential social media concepts, tools, and best practices.  Check them out here: Measuring the Impact of Your Social Media Program, and Rules of Social Media Engagement.

Here are a few important concepts, defined in brief:

Influence: the measure of strength for your social media program.  Can be broken down into three concepts:

  1. Engagement: the interaction among people
  2. Reach: the size of your audience, how many people see your social advocacy messages
  3. Driving web traffic: this is a great metric, but most people will see your messages and not click on any links.  This is why it’s important to ensure the message is conveyed -entirely- in the post itself.

Tools: the best and worst part about Twitter is that it works best when used in conjunction with multiple other tools.  Some are obvious, like bit.ly to shorten and track links, but some are just as useful, but less visible.

  • Retweets: RetweetRank.com and SocialMention.com will give you an idea of your reach via Retweets.
  • Influence: Klout.com and Twitalyzer.com can give you a idea of your (and your competitors, partners, etc) level of influence compared to others.
  • Audience Size: TwitterCounter.com helps you analyze audience size and growth, MyTweeple.com lets you identify who among your followers are influencers.
  • Hashtags: Hashtags.org helps to get an idea of who is using hashtags, and how frequently.
  • Impressions: BackType.com tells you how many times a link appeared on someone else’s screen.

Utilize Twitter: Influence can only increase by using Twitter “correctly:” #FollowFriday participation, Retweets, hashtags, and Twitter lists should be used when appropriate.

So, with all of the great info from the Frogloop posts, I decided to research my own Twitter presence: @laurenlaughs.  My Klout score is 35, and the tool tells me that I am an explorer:

You actively engage in the social web, constantly trying out new ways to interact and network. You’re exploring the ecosystem and making it work for you. Your level of activity and engagement shows that you “get it”, we predict you’ll be moving up.

I laughed at my influential topics: David Baldacci (an author who I like, but I have probably Tweeted about like twice), Washington DC, (obviously), Fort Reno Park (I like the summer concert series there), and Facebook.  I’m a bit skeptical of the tool, as it said I was listed on 25 Twitter lists when the number is actually 37.

According to Twitalyzer, my Impact score is .6%, which places me in the 45th percentile.  I’m a Social Butterfly- someone who is active within their individual network.  They guessed that I was female, between 21 and 24, and lived in Washington, DC, all of which is correct.

Again, I laughed at the influential topics selected for me, especially since none of them overlapped with what Klout identified:

blogging clothing culture fashion geography of the united states marriage mass media Public Relations Industry wuphf.com

Overall, I think these tools are great for quick, topline analysis, but that nothing can beat actually familiarizing oneself with a user as a way to gauge influence.  I look forward to trying out more of these tools in the future.

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A cautionary tale for Twitter

Yesterday, Politico reported that Rahm Emanuel met his Twitter imposter and, with a $5,000 charitable donation, claimed the Twitter account @MayorEmanuel.  Dan Sinker, the man who created the account, racked up more than 40,000 followers and Tweeted nearly 2,000 times, parody-style.

For example:

Driving around in Axelrod’s Civic, doing loops around the block outside Chico’s offices, my ass hanging out of the missing window, laughing.

less than a minute ago via webMayorEmanuel

This emphasizes the need for brands (including politicians) to embrace social media platforms and, at the very least, secure a presence on them.  Hopefully, this does not lead organizations to jump the gun on strategizing before actually launching a plan— just because they’ve registered a Twitter account doesn’t mean they are ready to jump in with both feet and start Tweeting.  Not taking the time to think things through would be a major misstep.

Actually, this week has brought a great example of major missteps and lack of strategy on Twitter.  This week, Charlie Sheen launched his verified Twitter handle @CharlieSheen and broke a Guinness World Record for the fastest amount of time to reach 1 million followers.  Though he’s an easy target and an extreme example, his rambling tweets perfectly demonstrate lack of an effective PR strategy.

Face it folks, you just feel better when you say it. #WINNING

less than a minute ago via web

So, the moral of these stories is that while it’s important to secure usernames and presences across popular platforms, just because you sign up does not mean you need to start engaging and participating immediately.  In fact, just listening for a while could do nothing but help to prepare for solid engagement.

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Social media on a local scale

One of the most important things about social media in the political realm is that it allows people to connect on a local level.  Even when a politician is traveling, they can access social media platforms on their phones and laptops.  Even when time is tight, they can quickly send a tweet or share an article via a blog post on the fly.  On a local level, the low cost/barrier of entry is a great opportunity for politicians.

This opportunity for direct connections is a brand new concept— one that allows politician and constituent communications like never before.

Josh Sternberg’s 2009 Mashable article How Local Politicians Are Using Social Media gives many great examples of this, with the emphasis that “ultimately, the strongest aspect of social media is the human element.”  The power of social media is that it can bring together people who would not otherwise be able to connect, with much less effort and money than other initiatives.

I think that what the Mashable article demonstrates is the importance of being where the people are.  Determining the platforms that your audiences use is essential to reach them.  Only the very dedicated would actually join a social media platform dedicated to a specific politician or political issue, but if a politician is able to join platforms like Twitter and Facebook where their audiences are already active, they can easily communicate with them.

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