Using Social Media to Build Your Base

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Facilitated by Matt Garcia, Aspiration

Session Description

Matt is Online Communications Manager at Aspiration, and has developed a number of processes and tracking mechanisms to get the most out of social media efforts. In this session, he'll explain the workflows he follows to maximize distribution of Aspiration content and strengthen network connections.

Session Notes

Facilitated by Matt. Notes taken by Todd. Other Participants: Skye, Daniel, Robyn Emunah, Christine, Julio

Summary & Highlights

  • Your goals for what you want to accomplish with social media should always be set first, and the goals should drive the process -- both what to use and how to use it.
  • Although it can take take, it is best practice to create an organizational policy towards the use of social media so that multiple people can help in the content creation and management! It's helpful to have one connected voice for your organization, but everyone within your organization should be able to help in social media, not just one individual. This helps share the load and reduces fatigue for both the writers and the readers.
  • Fostering individual-to-individual conversation is more important than pushing institutional messages to your donor base. It can be valuable to figure out how to find & encourage "champions" for your cause to reach out to their friends and spread the word (& love) on your behalf.
  • Organizations are often afraid of losing control of the discussion online, but that's the whole point -- they shouldn't be in complete control! People are going to talk about you online whether you like it or not, so it's good to at least have a voice in the conversation.
  • Perhaps the ideal use of social networks like facebook is to model the communities around aspiration's format: it's about occasional facilitation & moderation, not control (this approach gives focus to & reduces the amount of time you need to devote to your social media presence). Your social networks should be a place for your online users to discuss & connect online.

"Full" Session Notes

People should ask "what do we want to do? " Once this is decided, then you can ask: What tools are best for that?

  • Question: How do we reduce the clutter? what's important?
  • Question: fundraising? how to make it effective? Social media has been great for connecting people, but only successful for some organizations in fundraising. What can we learn from the successes & failures?
  • Question: how useful is social media? What if your organization's consitutents are organizations, not individuals? Is there a point in that instance?
  • Question: is there a value of just retweating interesting & relevant content you find? should social media be all about communication?
  • Question: What else needs to be there? What's missing? just using social media doesn't work. It's a part of the whole, but not all of it.

As soon as you lose the "social" -- there's no point; it's not effective.

"It can be pretty effective, but I feel like there's more."

  • Question: Is it keeping people online (and out of the "real" world)? Is it hard to turn supporters online into donors?

You need a champion that's willing to dive in and fill in the gaps here. Build real relationships with real people! But this takes time & money! FirstGiving, etc. are a decent example of this being successful: getting people to reach out to their social networks to fundraise for you!

once you cross the critical threshold, that's great, but it takes a while.

We're slapping an organizational face to our social media presence, and it doesn't work as well as when it's individuals doing this and there's no policy to guide them.

  • Question: should individuals collectively form the "voice" of the organization? or should messages be presented as the voice of the organization, and not as the voices of individuals within the organization?

Social media is supposed to supplement relationships, not replace them.

Orgs often say: "we want to grow to this number of people" -- but that's not most important, its about the type of relationship you have with the people you interact with online.

There aren't levels of "like" on Facebook. This is too bad. There are major issues with clutter as a result!

Best use is possibly to make it easier to get individuals to discuss and share on your behalf. how can this be solved?

in some orgs, people are blocked from using social media tools b/c there isn't an instiutional policy towards the org.

your website is for your strangers. your facebook is for your followers.

You should be asking your organizations: "what do you do for your communities online?" social media gives them a virtual place to connect!

Twitter is a great place for information sharing and potentially quick dissemination of ideas.

Facebook is harder to share info to other people (privacy barriers)...Twitter is built to be more open.

Orgs. are typically afraid of losing control of the conversation!

But If people are going to create the content anyways, you want to be a part of it, part of the communication.

Problem: Anyone can just retweet info, even if you didn't write it! This has happened to Aspriation. People claim that Aspriation wrote something they didn't, then they just slap an RT: on it and no-one ever checks the source! From aspiration's standpoint, commenting on it just gives them twice as much press! very frustrating.

Can we just occasionally moderate and have the social network be for your community to connect and have discussions amongst themselves?

If there's a problem, we want to know about it! How do you curtail dishonest use? Anyone can say what they want, true or not. How to avoid spam?

The more people want to push out messages on twitter, the less useful it is -- the more noise there is!

A lot of organizations don't have an organizational twitter account...they often have individuals who create their profile FOR the organization. eg, @MattAspirationTech (note: this is probably not his actual tag...) vs. @AspirationTech

  • Question: What about mixing professional vs. personal voice?

Should social networking be used for organizing your online community, or for pushing out info? The goal is most important, then you should figure out how you want to use it.

It can be scary if the NPO organizers aren't familiar w/ FB or Twitter themselves -- should they really be using it?

Perhaps we should be better learning how to cultivate the champions for our organization.

Creating a social media policy & strategy can (and really should) take a lot of time to be effective.

A lot of times, an organization assigns one person to be the "social media" person, but this can tire both the person writing for the org and the readers.

Maybe it's better to create a company policy so that everyone can participate in the content creation, but in a unified way.

Don't just assign it to an intern!