Saturday, October 31, 2009

Local nonprofit uses social media to reach out to Wisconsin constituents

Wired Wisconsin is a coalition of concerned individuals, businesses and organizations working to put the state of Wisconsin on the cutting edge of technology. However, like most nonprofits they face challenges in trying to raise funds for outreach and marketing of their message. With only two or three employees and a couple of interns, how do they accomplish statewide what they need to do?

A social approach

After meeting several key staff members of Wired Wisconsin during the recent event - Government
2.0 | Utilizing Social Media - I looked at how they are using  social media efforts to accomplish their organizational goals and the partnerships they are forming along the way.

Wired Wisconsin is actively using social media in their public relations and outreach efforts. They appear to have started their blog about 1 year ago in October of 2008 with weekly updates to Twitter included.  The blog does not identify the author(s)  in anyway, and its lacking a personality at this point. They have a Website setup as a home base for traditional media and social media.  They have links to their Twitter profile, Facebook, Youtube, Podcasts, and a RSS feed for their blog.

Practicing what you preach

At the conference I attended, Wired Wisconsin was educating government agencies and elected officials on social media.  They are actively using a variety of tools and promoted the event using social media channels as well. You can see that they started slow, with a website and added a blog.

You should have a strong "home" for social media links.  Just consider that with a bio area of 160 characters on Twitter, you don't have a lot of room to state your mission and issues. So take the time to have good landing pages on your website to explain your mission.  If your budget doesn't allow that yet, be sure to create a solid LinkedIn profile or other social media profile with very complete details
that can help deliver more of your brand and various content for you, but one should be designated as home.

The first six months of blog posts are all Twitter weekly updates of news articles that they added to the Tweet stream. This is an inbound marketing tactic.  This is a good way to start with baby steps based on resources and time. Starting in February 2009, Wired Wisconsin began to offer monthly blog opinion blog posts about the issues they have coalesced around.

May 2009 brought a new addition to the action plan. Bring article content around core issues from other journalists and editorials directly into the blog posts. The Twitter updates continued and in fact they are longer and appear to more much more active during this time period.  Wired Wisconsin also penned more opinion posts covering issues.

While it appears that their Twitter activity is all about outbound press and news media type content, by creating a blog post out of the update (through the use of TwitterTools plugin on their blog)  it does help to give them weekly posts and document activity for the non Twitter users who may want to stay in touch with these issues.

Incorporating video posts

Emily Lenard, Associate Director,  explained that they have used Youtube to post their videos for free and feed to other social media sites such as Facebook. They have an ongoing program to interview state politicians on their stands for issues pertinent to Wired Wisconsin and post them on their Website.

She also said they they follow a particular strategy for blog writing described in this interview:

Other uses that they have planned to put in practice for social media include:

    * Press conferences
    * News
    * Events
    * Issue presentations
    * Action alerts
    * Interviews
    * Programs

Audit and assess regularly

After a year, it may be time for Wired Wisconsin to take stock and review their activities, audiences, spaces and places for social media sites interaction.  Evaluating and benchmarking the progress over the past year for subscribers, comments, membership growth, partner additions and activity should shed some light on any changes in directions that they should pursue.

Ideally they should be blogging 2-3 times per week.  If the goal of the blog is to strictly be a news source they are doing a good job of that.  I think that they could  increase the Wired Wisconsin opinion pieces to give someone a sense of the passion and drive this organization has to make change happen. And personally, I would like to get sense of who the authors are.

Social media is about people after all and we don't connect with companies and organizations, we connect and share passions and interest with the people inside them.

Do you have a nonprofit I should review?

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Government 2.0 - Utilizing social media for agencies, elected officials and lobbyists

The most recent Madison, Wisconsin social media event, titled Government 2.0 Utilizing Social Media, was presented by Wired Wisconsin. It focused on social media usage for government agencies, elected officials and lobbyists. The program is an effort to get governmental agencies up to speed on social media channels and the tools to engage their audiences.

Government has some parallels to business
The presentation primarily paralleled social media strategy for business to business markets on many points. Having a lawyer, Liza Barry-Kessler, also speak about policy and the special legal issues involved in the government sector was unique, and not something seen too often in the B2B space.

The introduction was by Thad Nation, Director of Wired Wisconsin and principal of Nation Consulting. Wired Wisconsin is a nonprofit coalition of concerned individuals, businesses and organizations working to put the state of Wisconsin on the cutting edge of technology. With goals of education, collaboration and activation, it seems an appropriate platform to use and endorse social media in all sectors of the business.

Nation commented,“There is a challenge for government agencies to catch up to where most businesses and individuals are at this point of time. The goal of the session today was to provide an overview to start the learning process.”

Some of the top issues Wired Wisconsin stands on are access to wireless technologies, broadband deployment and consumer privacy. If you happen to be one of those rural residents without any, much
less consistent, access to broadband you should pay attention to the activities of this organization who is working to extend broadband reach.

Agencies need to embrace social media
Emily Lenard, the Associate Director of Wired Wisconsin gave an informative session on why these agencies need to embrace social media and some strategies to do so. As is the case in many public sessions on social media, there was a diverse group of attendees in terms of experience. Lenard, with an engaging style, did a good job of explaining how this channel can bring two-way conversation into the forefront. It can help people who, due to location, might otherwise miss the conversation. It can be an asset to listen to what the public has to say about an issue as well as help organizations achieve goals.

She also recognized that constituents in voting districts can use social media to share concerns, complain, and even disparage an elected representative. However, the same channels and tools allow you to share your side of the story and balance the information. Many of the audience's concerns were around time management, moderation and/or treatment of comments and reactions.

Some of the benefits Lenard pointed out are
  • Address feedback as it happens
  • Reach out, react and interact with people not otherwise able to speak with you
  • Allow for dialogue - two way conversation
Focus on organizational goals first
Perhaps the biggest issue is encouraging the agencies to focus on organizational goals first. Secondly, begin to listen through a social ecosystem assessment of the people who would use their services or the type of service. Once you have some information you can then determine if social media can directly or indirectly help you. It’s clear that social media will let them connect with a wider audience. Based on statistics Lenard presented, one minute out of every 11 minutes online is spent using social media sites.

How to use social media in a nonprofit

Wired Wisconsin is actively using social media in their public relations efforts. They have a twitter profile, Facebook, Youtube, podcasts with a RSS feed for their blog. Lenard explained that they have used Youtube to post their videos for free and feed to other social media sites such as Facebook. They have an ongoing program to interview all the state politicians on their stands for issues pertinent to Wired Wisconsin and post them on their Website. Other suggested uses for social media offered by Lenard include:
  • Press conferences
  • News
  • Events
  • Issue presentations
  • Action alerts
  • Interviews
  • Programs
Legal aspects of social media for public agencies
When it comes to the legal side of social media and the additional baggage of a governmental agency it gets more complicated. Liza Barry-Kessler, Privacy Counsel LLC, spoke about legal aspects, which at its core, are the same for all social media practitioners.
  1. Treat personal and campaign (insert business) communication like advertising
  2. When using state resources - make sure you are communicating about work only
  3. Make sure your staff understands what you consider appropriate versus inappropriate (for language, content, and info sharing).
  4. You can't control constituents (customers) but you can control how you respond.
Do you need a social media policy?
She also answered the question, ‘Do you need a social media policy?’ Barry-Kessler position was that there might not be a need to write one for a small office if you have active conversations with limited staff. She agreed that you might want a policy for a large office with volunteers. She also made it clear that family members need to disclose relationships when they are talking about you on social media.

What none of the speakers covered was anticipating “when” not “if” someone says something wrong. In my opinion, each organization (business, nonprofit, or public office) should have an escalation procedure to follow. This would help if they encounter a problem that gets more complicated. At least staff would know the when and who of getting management involved.

In terms of content the strategies presented for government are consistent with personal and business use of social media. Especially the best take away from this session for attendees was - placing anything, such as conversation, on the public internet allows it to be found.

According to the final advice of attorney Barry-Kessler, "Private info only stays private if it is not revealed."

Do you have some thoughts on how government should enter the social space?

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Organization models for social media

Check out this SlideShare Presentation: From the standpoint of the corporate business and also SMB market place, this is one of the best methodologies I have found to begin to get started in social media. This organization, Social Media Academy is transparent and authentic in the knowledge share they are providing to all types of business. Please take the time to view this webinar. It ran about 45 minutes when I sat in on the presentation, but I thought it was well worth the time.

Monday, September 7, 2009

New research on social media and its reflection of user identity

I just reviewed some new research just released by Adrienne Corn. My first exposure to Corn was through the Social Media Academy where I received a Social Media Consultant Certification and am a founding member. She presented on how social media has played a role in human resource management and talent management developments. It is the first quantitative research available that examines social media and identity. The research explores how accurate social media profiles are in reflecting the individual as well as its use by Human Resource departments, recruiting professionals and job hunting.

The results are encouraging in that 73% of those surveyed feel their social media profiles accurately reflect their identity: who they are, values, and personality.

What's your Internet dating personality?

Have you ever done any online dating? If you are not accurate in how you portray yourself, you may have to kiss a lot of toads before you find the right cyber toads. Social media and its success depend on being willing to share your authentic self and find the right associations. How do you portray yourself on LinkedIn (considered to be the most professional of networking sites) versus Facebook (considered to be much more casual with opportunities to be more playful)?

What side of your personality do you show on LinkedIn?

When I first started on LinkedIn, I was all business. On Facebook, I was all about my weekend activities. However over time and as I considered Facebook for business use, I found it too hard to separate the two. I also realized that either one alone was not an accurate reflection of my personality – I take my work seriously but not always myself. I do like to have fun at work and I recognized that my business contacts need to know how focused I am but also what I do in my downtime and the things that make me laugh. I want to know that about them as well. In other words, I need to know they are human not business machines.