2 min Read
August 20, 2010

Social media organizing for nonprofits

Big Duck

Wednesday night was 501 Tech NYC‘s August meetup, so Farra and I headed off to Witness (this month’s kind hosts) to hear Deanna Zandt share her thoughts on social media, organizing and nonprofits from her new book, Share this! Social media organizing for nonprofits.

Rather than get tangled up in nitty-gritty tactics, the discussion stayed on big-picture themes for successful social media organizing – important stuff that’s easy to forget in the day-to-day reality of managing your social media presence.

Highlights included learning what Kermit the Frog can teach us about social media (answer: a lot) from Deanna’s Ignite presentation on the subject. Watch the video here, or take a look at my other key takeaways below.

A few more key takeaways:

  • Don’t forget to tell stories – personal stories. Sharing and storytelling are fundamental to movement-building, because they build trust and empathy.
  • Individual updates matter less than the overall picture they create. Sometimes sharing small bits of seemingly inconsequential information is important for movement-building too. The picture they create over time, and the ambient awareness of your cause that they generate, helps build empathy and stronger relationships in your community.
  • Change doesn’t happen on its own – you have to participate if you want to see social media succeed at movement-building. While nonprofits should always think carefully and strategically before getting involved in social media, it’s still true that the potential of social media to bring about change will go untapped unless people who care join in.
  • The internet is not an ATM. A great reminder – social media is best for cultivating and engaging your audiences, not necessarily raising money directly.
  • Don’t let your interns manage your social media… but do let them help educate you. If your interns manage your social media, what happens when they leave? All of their knowledge leaves with them, and you’re left in a tricky situation. A better way to get interns involved in social media might be to use them as peer educators, to coach staff through using social media on their own.
  • Demonstrate to management why social media is relevant by showing them what peers and competitors are doing. If your management team is resisting getting into social media personally, show them what their peers, friends, or rivals are doing already.

Great stuff, I think you’ll agree. If you were there and have insights I missed, share them in the comments!