Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘social media’ Category

It Gets Better is a grassroots campaign in America launched by sex columnist Dan Savage in response to a horrific spate of teenagers killing themselves after being victimized for being (or being perceived to be) gay. There were 5 suicides in September alone. After another one of these tragedies Savage wrote in his column that he wished “I could have talked to that kid for 5 minutes and been able to tell them it gets better.”

In that same column, on September 15, he announced he was setting up a YouTube channel for those who were bullied but survived to tell their story, to tell those going through hard times that it gets better. Since then the channel has had more than 1.8 million views and 21,000 subscribers, making it the fastest-growing channel on YouTube right now.

Here’s Dan’s original video with his husband Terry:

On MSNBC last week I saw Joel Burns, a member of the Fort Worth Council in Texas, share his story, a story he told us he had never told anyone before, in a speech before the council. It’s a speech unlike many you will ever hear from a politician. It’s raw, personal and courageous and had me in tears.

It Gets Better is another inspiring example of the possibilities of social media to aggregate individual actions, share otherwise-unheard stories and to connect us across borders, classes and generations. This campaign wasn’t cooked up in a strategy session and launched with fanfare by a national gay rights organization. It wasn’t backed with millions of dollars in funding. It didn’t even require its own website. It was one person’s idea, a single video uploaded online, and an invitation to participate.

Now, yes, this particular person had a mainstream media platform from which to promote his idea, but without the enabling environment of the internet he would simply have expressed his sadness and, presumably, moved on. Thousands of readers would have nodded in agreement but then what? Now, instead of just an expression of grief there was a call to action, an invitation to participate in something, and a simple, humble, personal video to get things started, and show how it could be done.

As Dan said in his column:

“Gay adults aren’t allowed to talk to these kids. Schools and churches don’t bring us in to talk to teenagers who are being bullied. Many of these kids have homophobic parents who believe that they can prevent their gay children from growing up to be gay—or from ever coming out—by depriving them of information, resources, and positive role models.

“Why are we waiting for permission to talk to these kids? We have the ability to talk directly to them right now. We don’t have to wait for permission to let them know that it gets better. We can reach these kids.”

He’s right. Thanks to social media, we can.

Six weeks later the videos continue to roll in and the conversation around the issue continues. Employees at Google and Facebook have contributed videos, as have Project Runway’s Tim Gunn, American Idol’s Adam Lambert and Star Trek’s Zachary Quinto. Videos have come in from Muslims and Mormons, gays and straights, teenagers, parents and grandparents. And hundreds of thousands of teenagers have found out that whatever their situation they are not alone, that others went through difficult times and survived and that they need to stick around and give their lives a chance.

Read Full Post »

“Community Manager” is the job title of the moment but beyond those with this written on their business cards the truth is that anyone doing social media work on behalf of an organization is doing community management work. You are the face of the organization, front-of-house, the link between internal organization and external community, at least online.

So then, what sort of link are you?

I think there are two basic profiles for a community manager: the bridge and the wall. One represents an open stance, the other a defensive posture. Initially both can appear the same, can project the same enthusiasm, share the same great links, ask the same questions.

The differences are profound however and emerges slowly but surely over time, as the community becomes aware of just how real this engagement is. Or it emerges very quickly, in the face of a crisis. In either case your organizations openness and accessibility will ultimately characterize what sort of a community manager you are.

Characteristics of the ‘Bridge’ Community Manager:

  • You are an open channel of communications between community and organization
  • The views and interests of the online community are genuinely taken into consideration in organizational decision-making
  • You are considered senior within your organization, with the trust of the executive
  • You consider your first job to be representing the community within the organization
  • You share interests with and consider yourself a part of the community
  • You acknowledge your mistakes quickly and openly
  • When you ask questions, the answers matter, and responses are fed back
  • You think of your community as collaborators

Characteristics of the ‘Wall’ Community Manager:

  • You are considered a junior role, without internal influence
  • You consider your first job to be representing the organization to the community
  • You have little in common with your community, they are “they”, not “you”
  • You ask questions, but the answers don’t go anywhere
  • Mistakes are downplayed or denied
  • You think of your community as donors

If your organization is employing you to be a wall, and many, if not most, organizations feel most comfortable starting here, then your job should be to help evolve your role into that of a bridge, and in so doing transform your organization for the better.

What do you think? Do those lists look familiar?

Photo by Jay Cables of a Banksy piece, used under a Creative Commons license.

Read Full Post »

A couple of weeks ago my friend Geoff Livingston called me up and asked me how I’d like to be part of a new group advising Razoo, the excellent nonprofit fundraising platform, on the development of a new personal fundraising tool. The group would involve fundraising, community-building and social media experts who would engage in a series of exercises followed by conference calls and Twitter chats to share what we’re learning. In other words, a chance to connect with smart people and learn from their collective wisdom while supporting an organization or my choice to raise funds and expand their community? Hell yeah I’d like to be involved.

The group is know as the zooGooder Council and is every bit the great collection of advocates and nonprofiteers I imagined. In addition to myself it includes:

• Andre Blackman of Pulse and Signal.
• Nicole D’Alonzo of Niki’s Notes
• Abby Flottemesch of Atlas Corps
• John Haydon of his eponymous blog, http://www.johnhaydon.com
• Rachel Matthews of A Southern Fairy Tale
• William Neuheisel of DC Central Kitchen
• Armando Rayo of El Mundo de Mando
• Jennifer Roccanti of Miriam’s Kitchen
• Amber Rodriguez of Noah’s Kitchen
• Jenna Sauber at Lagniappe
• Andy Sternberg of his eponymous blog, http://andysternberg.com/
• Andrea Weckerle of CiviliNation
• Jennifer Windrum of WTF Lung Cancer

This is a fantastic group of experienced do gooders and I’m excited to have the opportunity to learn from them and share my own experiences along the way. We’ll be testing the new DonateAnywhere widget that Razoo have launched, which allows a blogger or organization to fundraise without sending their visitors to another site.

Unfortunately I cannot fully test out this functionality, which is a genuine step forward, as it requires that the host accept external javascript (that’s what allows the widget to process financial payment securely). WordPress.com does not. Another reason for me to update to a wordpress.org install soon I guess.

Regardless I’m excited to play with Razoo’s tools and help an organization I admire: The Global Lives Project. I’ll be blogging about why I chose this organization tomorrow but if you’d like to check out the DonateAnywhere widget in action and, even better, donate to this cause check out my donation page.

You can participate in the learning and conversation around the zooGooder program by joining the weekly #zooGood twitter chat, 6-6.30pm Pacific each Tuesday.

Read Full Post »

Artwork by Rose Fyson, made available by Oxfam International on a Creative Commons License.

Yesterday was Blog Action Day, an inspiring example of the power of coordination and generosity on the internet. Blog Action Day was founded by three bloggers in 2007 and asks bloggers to write about a single topic on a specific day. Last year Change.org took over management of the event. This year’s topic was Water, following on from the environment, poverty and climate change over the past three years. You can see my contribution here.

Blogs are one of the the greatest example of how free time is now focused creatively and expressively, rather than passively, in the digital world. The cognitive surplus this produces is fueling the web2.0 world, driving innovations in  politics, media, arts and play. In everything. The internet has opened up so many options for our active participation in cultural production and community formation. But the thing that makes it really powerful is its capacity for coordination.

Blog Action Day is an example of generosity online, as over ten thousand bloggers, the vast majority volunteers, contribute the content which makes the day what it is. But it’s the coordinated publishing of these blogs on a specific day that amplifies into more than a random collection of voices but rather becomes an event. Something worth paying attention to, worth the White House, Mashable, The Huffington Post, Official Google Blog, BlogHer, StumbleUpon and thousands of other blogs large and small, contributing to.

Water is a great choice of issue. How we share and manage water resources is going to be one of the defining issues of the 21st century. As climate change affects rainfall patterns conflict over water will grow, and new approaches will be required for human habitation to continue in many parts of the world, including areas of the United States and Australia.

Water is a local issue, intensely felt by the 1 billion worldwide who lack access to clean water, and to farming communities where the rain no longer comes, or the snow melt isn’t what it used to be. But it’s also a regional issue, as countries will increasingly squabble over shared resources with wars over water the likely outcome. And it’s a global issue, a leading symptom of our changing climate, a warning that we need to do things differently.As the UNDP has written “water is the medium through which climate change expresses itself.”

The universality of this experience (we all interact with water, and therefore water issues, every single day) makes it perfect for an event like Blog Action Day. We can each speak locally but together we express a global perspective: that the time for change is now.

Read Full Post »

Most organizations think about social media when they have a need: a fundraising campaign, an online voting competition, a new product, etc. There is something they have to share with the world, and which they want the world to pay attention to now.

But the world often doesn’t work like that. People are busy, they’re distracted, they’re already engaged elsewhere. Why would they drop everything to pay attention to you? How will they even know you have something important to say? Most times, they won’t.

Which is why a longer-term approach to social media is so important. Social media is not about quick wins, it’s about building relationships. Relationships take time to build but, once built, give a huge amount of value in return. Just as is true in your life. The way to make new friends is not to ask them to do something for you right off the bat. Better to listen, share and find common interests first.

So when you have something important to say, or, as is likely, a call to action, for example around a fundraising goal, those  you have built a relationship with already are most likely to respond.

It’s not that you can’t convert new people, hopefully you will. But your success rate will be higher with those you already know. If you need money for a bus fare you will probably eventually get it by asking strangers on the street, but you might need to ask 50 of them to find someone who believes you. Or you could ask a friend who will help you right away.

What’s more, it’s your existing community who will often push your call to action out to new people through their social networks. Which is why campaigns, with time-limited call to actions are also an important part of a social media strategy: when done right they can drive people to your accounts and expand your community.

Which gives you more people you can start building a relationship with. Which can lead to more response to your next campaign and so on in a virtuous cycle.

Which looks roughly like this:
Campaign or Participation

This is perhaps my favourite slide in the Social Media for Social Change presentation I developed at Ashoka, because it says in a single image what just took me a few hundred words to say.

Read Full Post »

This was my first post for the Small Act blog and was published there last week.

Last week Facebook continued their two trends of appropriating the most successful features of other social networks and making what was once a closed network increasingly public.

This time Facebook has borrowed from LinkedIN Answers, Yahoo Answers and Mahalo.com, all of which allow members to ask and answer questions, building a collaborative, searchable, repository of knowledge and opinions. Beginning with a first cohort of members last week Facebook is rolling out its own Q&A platform in for the form of “Facebook Questions”.

As with anything it does Facebook’s demographic mass with a community over 500 million strong makes this move incredibly significant. The usage of this service will in all likelihood rapidly surpass those of its rivals. All content within Facebook Questions will be completely public which will bring significant amounts of search traffic.

I think this is a smart, exciting and coherent extension of the Facebook platform. People already use their status updates to constantly ask questions of each other. And anyone who wants to continue limiting their questions to their friends, which will be the case for the vast majority of these updates, can continue to do exactly what they’re doing. But if your question is of a more general nature; “Where is the best pizza in Washington, DC?”, “What’s the best company to work for in America?” or “Why do you not eat meat?”, then you might benefit from making it public, and discovering what the citizens of Facebook at large think. In that case you would ask it as a “Question”, a new option you can select below the profile update box.

What makes the Facebook service particularly compelling is that it is contextual: if I ask a question about Google my friends who work at Google will see I and if I ask a question about San Francisco my friends who live there will see it, and so on. This context and integration with our Facebook network will ensure the success of Facebook Question.

So what does this mean for citizen sector organizations? Simply put, it’s another chance to engage your community in a meaningful way. Already many organizations use their Facebook Pages and Twitter accounts as consultation tools; this will be another valuable avenue to seek the input and opinions of your members, supporters and the community at large, and anything that allows you to do that at the scale Facebook represents is of enormous value. As your community responds they will also be sharing your question through their Facebook network, further expanding your reach.

As Facebook Questions has only been made available to a limited number of Facebook members so far (and aspects of it are still buggy) we don’t know yet if businesses and organizations will be able to pose questions or provide answers directly via their Pages. I hope so, and it would make sense for Facebook to allow this. The alternative would be staff spokespeople. And regardless of who an organization chooses to manage this interaction their staff will inevitably be drawn into responding to Questions that match their employer, issues of interest and hobbies or are asked by their friends.

As is true on other social networks, if a passionate group of people are discussing your issue you should (respectfully, humbly, openly) participate. You could learn a lot from the Facebook community and they could learn a lot from you. As a platform for aggressive advocacy I do not think it will work. But as a platform for educating it will be excellent.
When you add value by educating, when you provide links to relevant information and stories, when you don’t ask for anything in return, you create trust, which leads to attention and support. In these respects Facebook Questions could big another valuable tool in the portfolio of socially-connected organizations.

Read Full Post »

As a result of two major Ashoka events this year I’ve been thinking a lot about how social media can enhance, leverage, expand and capture the content of events. Tech4Society and the Ashoka Future Forum were the most social media-enabled events Ashoka has yet run and many leassons were learned as a result. I co-hosted a recent #4Change Twitter chat on the subject and wrote a case-study for Netsquared.

On Friday I tried to draw this all together in a webinar I delivered for Small Act (organized before I accepted an offer to work for them next). The goal was to give an accessible introduction to different ways of creating social content at events and some things to consider for small organizations as they move in that direction.

Check it out and let me know what you think:

Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 27 other followers