Archive for the ‘non profits’ Category

TAKE THE SOCIAL MEDIA PLUNGE AND LISTEN

Saturday, November 24th, 2012

It never ceases to amaze me how so many organizations still remain outside of the social media loop. And while most senior managers readily acknowledge the importance of digital engagement, many still will throw up their hands and respond with a litany of predictable objections and roadblocks when pressed on why their organization is still on the outside or failing to fully leverage social media’s potential.

But whatever the reasons invoked for not actively engaging in the conversations that social media allows with clients and audiences, there is no reason for an organization not to take the first step in social media engagement:  listening.

Unlike full blown social media engagement where an organization openly and transparently shares content, responds to comments and queries, and actually becomes part of a community, listening is just the first step in successful social media engagement.

As a general principle of social engagement, listening  uncovers the nature of the conversations within a particular community.

Think of it this way: Just as you would not arrive at a cocktail party unannounced and elbow your way into a conversation, listening within a social network allows you to determine how best to ease into conversations in a way that’s relevant to the community.

That simple step can be the difference between a campaign or product launch with digital sizzle, or one that fizzles.

Whether it’s from a business perspective, or that of a not-for-profit advocacy organization,  listening allows you to determine who the influencers are in a given community and what it is that makes them most relevant.

Listening also allows you to  determine what content is most relevant,  what it is that makes it sharable, and on what platforms it is likely to be shared.

Most importantly, listening allows you to hear what people are saying about you, your brand or your issues.

There are a number of social media monitoring tools available, and these range from simple listening to advanced brand and reputation management platforms.

The point is that with the ever-accelerating growth of social networking and social media, organizations cannot afford to wait on the sidelines.  Whether the problem is figuring out the return on investment of social media, or uncertainty about its relevance within your marketplace; there is only one way to answer those concerns, and that’s by listening.

Take that first step, listen to the conversations, identify the online communities most relevant to your organization, identify who the movers and shakers are and why. Most of all, listen to what is being said about you in those communities. Whether your organization or brand is creating a buzz or total silence, you need to know and understand why. That’s the first step in either leveraging a positive vibe, or fixing a problem.

SOCIAL MEDIA AND NONPROFITS: THE COMMUNITY MANAGER

Friday, September 2nd, 2011

Many nonprofits looking to  use social media to boost their profile, mobilize their base or raise funds assume that all they have to do is create a Facebook page or a Twitter account and people will automatically converge.  That may be the case for the most visible brands (personal or corporate) but for most nonprofits, building a network and a following requires work and genuine engagement.

That’s where a community manager can help.

While for smaller organizations it may not be necessary to have a  person dedicated full-time to social media engagement, it is absolutely necessary for every organization that hopes to leverage social media to have  someone on staff with primary responsibility for online outreach and engagement.  

The role of an organization’s online community manager is to listen, engage and fuel conversations within the social environment created for the organization.  

Typically, the community manager is expected to interact with the community to help maintain a smooth flow of information as well as coordinate and moderate online discussions; less frequently, they are expected to act as the corporate social evangelist.

Too often the role of corporate evangelist is overlooked because of an exclusively external focus by the organization, and that is a mistake. 

By keeping the entire organization focused, engaged, contributing to the conversations and following policy guidelines and principles, the community manager can help employees, associates and volunteers become brand ambassadors and leverage their own networks in support of the organization’s goals.  

Another way that the community manager can play a key role is by ensuring that content responds to the needs and expectations of both the community and the organization.  

Social content is what brings people to your site; jump starts conversations and amplifies messages. The best content is informative, timely, original and easy-to-share.  Content should always be developed with an organization’s audience and community in mind, and the best way to start is by listening to ongoing conversations and identifying what it is that most resonates or gains traction within the key communities.

The community manager’s role is to listen to these conversations and figure out how they align with the organization’s own narrative and then help develop content that reflects and leverages these linkages.

It’s not everybody that can be a good community manager.  Sure,  it helps if they understand the basic technology and functionalities of the most popular platforms, but it doesn’t mean that they have to be tecchies.  Howvere, they do have to be good communicators and most important, they have to be social.

A good community manager is someone who understands the basic principles of effective communications and who genuinely likes to connect with people and share information, ideas and opinions.  It is also someone who is passionate about social media and who can communicate that passion to colleagues as well as to the organization’s leadership.

For a nonprofit that is struggling to gain traction in the social sphere, creating a commuity manager role within the organization can bring focus, energy and ultimately, success.