One of my colleagues came to a social media workshop where I presented highlights from a book we featured in 2007 called Citizen Marketers. Her question afterward struck a chord with me because it reminded me of how I felt when I started experimenting on Twitter. She asked me “How am I going to find time for social networking when I’ve got an overwhelming schedule already?”
I think this is how a lot of us felt early on until we started to hear from authors like Jackie Huba and Ben McConnell of Citizen Marketers or more recently, from Beth Kanter and Allison Fine of The Networked Nonprofit.
We began to connect the dots and realize that because social media presented a world of opportunity if we were willing to make time and strategically incorporate our online networking into the way we already do business. And, that social networking could boost our outcomes in many areas like fundraising, public relations, constituency communication, and advocacy.
And even those of us who try to keep the time we spend online at bay, more myths are debunked about social media, including just how many of us are online. More recently, my sister got involved in a community emissions campaign to increase carpooling and asked “Can I really use social media to reach all ages?”
In Kivi Leroux Miller’s new book, The Nonprofit Marketing Guide she says “The biggest increase in Internet use between 2005 and 2008 was within the seventy- to seventy-five-year-old age group and the gap between their usage and other generations is closing quickly.” So it’s time to embrace all that social media can accomplish for nonprofits—even if it requires finding the time. In the spirit of those who are still hedging, I’ve included an excerpt of this month’s Page to Practice™ where Beth Kanter and Allison Fine talk about taking the first step in social media and how they got started as early adopters.
CausePlanet: What advice do you have for readers who are under-resourced and over-extended but want to take the first step toward social media?
Kanter and Fine: They have already started. Everyone has a website, is using email and cell phones. Many are reading blog posts and have set up an account on Facebook. One important first step, and an easy one, is to start to systematically listen to what others are saying about your issue and your organization. Listening includes reading blogs, following influencers on Facebook and Twitter and reading what they say and the articles that they link to. Then an organization can decide what it wants to say online and for what purpose. It does not have to be terribly time-consuming to get started, but it helps tremendously to be purposeful.
CausePlanet: Rather than try to use all social media avenues, you make the point of choosing which work best for you personally. Which tools appealed to each of you when you began working heavily in social media and why?
Fine: We were both early adopters, so at that time, five years ago or so, blogs were the way into social media. I still blog, but my favorite channel of the moment is Twitter because it’s so easy to get in and out. My key influences (like Beth!) save me huge amounts of time by pointing out interesting articles and blog posts, and 140 characters forces everyone to just get to the point!
Kanter: When I first got started, I took on one tool at a time and lived in it until it was second nature. I tend to gravitate toward visual tools because I’m a visual thinker. One of my favorites is Flickr, especially because I do a lot of presentations and I find the creative commons licenses photos really valuable.