Clever Conversations

I recently attended a great roundtable discussion put on by John Hopkins University Communications (@JHUComm). The three panelists Henri Makembe (@Henrim), Beth Becker (@spedwybabs) and Malaka Gharib (@MalakaGharib) talked about using social media for non-profits. For me, the main takeaway was ‘conversations’.

I believe that whether you’re engaging people over social media or using more traditional public relations, the principles are the same. Especially when your goal is to influence behavior or engage people in actions to support a cause. The rise of social media has made it easier to have this conversation, but remember the principles of effective community engagement and treat your online community, the facebook liker and the @twitterer with the same approach. Here are a few tips that relate:

  1. Know who you’re talking to – general audience identification on social media is vital but so is identifying those online influencers and community leaders. When you go into a community to promote or discuss an issue, you don’t stand in the street, microphone in hand and spruke your message. First you identify who you need to talk to, whether it’s 1 or 100 people, and you begin a conversation with them that will flow on to be heard by the community. Continue reading

If I share with you my story would you share your dollar with me?

Storytelling is an ancient art. This post is not about the ancient art of storytelling.  It’s about playing the supporting role in other people’s stories.

Take the example of Nike Plus. By setting up an online platform, Nike played the supporting role in millions of people’s stories about how they were losing weight and becoming better runners. This was a story that their audience desperately wanted to tell so with the opportunity to share their story, people were also happy to ‘share their dollar(s)’ with Nike by buying their products. Read How Nike’s Social Network Sells to Runners for more on the success of this campaign.

Kiva.org is an excellent example of a not-for-profit organization that has built a beautiful platform for sharing stories – entrepreneur’s from the developing world share their stories with Kiva (and their partners), then Kiva publishes those stories online and their platform allows people to become part of this story by investing in those entrepreneurs.  Kiva then continues the story by providing updates to the investor as the entrepreneur pays back the loan and experiences success. Continue reading

The Nonprofit Rooster!!

I was recently trying to write an explanation about why nonprofits should invest in social engagement. The most obvious point that came to mind was fundraising. When individuals or partners are more engaged they’re more likely to donate regularly and invest more in your cause.
But when I started to visualize the relationship between raising funds and engagement and how these interact or which comes first, I found myself thinking about chickens and eggs!

Either way it’s clear that engagement and dollars connect people with projects and the cause.

Continue reading