Last week I went down home, to the south, to present at CASE District III. It felt great to have a new audience, make new friends and be wrapped up in the kind of hug that only the south can give... But I digress.
The session I felt had the most pop and response from my audience was the one on social media. From the moment I began to when I finished the conversations at the bar (lol) I felt that it was one of the best I had done and one of the best audiences I have ever had! So what follows will be a short discussion of the high notes including links to articles and videos and some clever photos I steal at every moment! First, the video I show at the beginning of every social media session for those who are still wavering on the non believer side.
And a couple of explanatory photos about social media and links to some simple tutorials:
LINK: 12 Awesome Tutorials
Social media is just like a cocktail party where everyone is invited. You have the wallflowers, the listeners, the conversation starters and those who contribute content and this great mix is the human experience of interaction, just in a virtual arena and medium. Remember your first party? Scary at first, but once you figure it out and give it the old college try (irony intended) not so bad after all, pretty soon you were the one doing keg stands and jello shots, or uhm, maybe that's just me!
Regardless, if you aren't building a social media strategy just like you do a development strategy, you are missing out on a free way to engage with your constituents and to make them feel valuable and thanked. Regardless of the platform, meeting donors where they are comfortable is the first step, then shut up and listen for a while. The worst use of social media is when I read feeds or see pages that are full of news and announcements, hello?? You can and already do that on your website. Social media is not a place to regurgitate your press releases and announcements in abbreviated form. It's about a conversation, as someone just pointed out for AFP here. And you know what? Its NOT about you!!!
Social media is a place to interact, to share, to converse, like at the open bar of a networking event! It's not about what you want to say, it's about what others are saying about you and how you can join the dialogue. What does this mean for us as fundraisers? It means that social media isn't an afterthought, something you tack onto your communication plans. Social media is integrated in everything we do, how we communicate with our donors and how we live together with them supporting a common mission in a public space. It's not the solution to all of your woes, no magic bullet, and isn't going to generate millions of cash overnight. What it will do us allow your constituents to understand you, know you are listening and responding in their preferred medium and slow for an open exchange of ideas.
Don't restrict or censor your social media, being a pseudo online dictator the online community self polices just fine! But what you MUST do, is capture the information you glean from your participants. Last week I did a live demonstration of some of the free aggregate capabilities of linked in to a room of stunned folks, showing intensely valuable data on my connections while the room scribbled notes, this shouldn't have been a surprise to this room. Linked in is one of the most valuable tools that is untapped by research departments industry wide. The first thing I do upon returning home from a conference with a stack of business cards, besides writing a hand written note to everyone, is to add these new connections to my linked in profile. That way when people call me, like the two recruiters looking to hire yesterday, I have these folks at my virtual fingertips for referrals!
Ask your research department if they are updating employment information using social media, if the answer is no, ask why not? Hmmmm...
I'm getting long winded so I'll stop here for now and let you leave comments and questions for the next post...
For now here's an article on the latest social media platform we're all playing with, Pinterest...