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Penning 5: Tortoises, storytelling and photo-journalism

This blog follows Pennings 3 and 4 and is based on learnings in a webinar that I participated in last month; see the details in earlier posts.

Mistake #7 – Not being an early adopter.

Association and not-for-profit staff, as mentioned, have been slow on the uptake of social media. If you do not intend to engage immediately or are still developing your strategy – at least reserve your name, so that when you do get “out there”, your brand is yours – not someone else’s.
Mistake #8 – Not blogging.

Often times NFPs and associations that have become engaged in social media are missing out on one key piece – blogging. Nothing helps you tell your story better than a well-written blog. There are numerous blogging tools and they’re simple to use. And if you think blogging once a week is good – not so. According to measurement stats, anything older than three days isn’t getting you anything – accept perhaps resentment that your blog is old!

What blogs do you follow? Why? If you aren’t already reading blogs – start! And if you are reading, find what appeals to you as a reader. What works? What doesn’t?

Mistake #9

Not building your digital library.

With most phones having the capability of taking pictures, you really have no excuse for not being able to capture moments in your association’s life.

Social media managers need to think of themselves as reporters for their NFP. These images will help you  tell your story. Chances are you do events? Or conferences? Or stakeholder recognition of some kind? Capture these moments. That being said… spontaneous activity is hard to catch and you have a limited opportunity to do – but make sure the photo is more than a black square and that there are identifiable objects within! If you know you are holding an event, have someone from your organization designated as a photographer – so that spontaneous and planned photo opps stand a better chance of being captured.

I’m an amateur photographer – so I will try to use some of my own photos in my blogs. With apps like Instagram it’s easy for anyone to make content that looks interesting.

And, if you’re thinking about #8 – blogs look better (see mistake #2 – good design) with illustrations and make a whole lot of text easier on the eye.

So… this is the end of part 3; the final three points of this four-part blog post will be posted tomorrow. Hope you’ll come back!


Penning 2: Anthropomorphize to ascend

Recently, I attended a webinar with two social media personalities with super social status (more on that later): Mari Smith and Guy Kawasaki.

I found out about the webinar by chance – while searching for additional listening posts in the not-for-profit and social media world. My listening quest took me to the webinar. I immediately signed up for the 7 hottest social media business trends. While the content was focused on business trends, I think the seven carry over into member-based organizations and their use of social media (SM).

Big brand bypass

Sure big brands are still important but within the SM context, the opportunity now exists to connect directly to the consumer. Individuals can now create audiences and build communities without big brands (or smaller ones). Members may not need to come to you anymore for connections to their clients – they can do that online. Brands need to be part of the community that they hope to connect with and not be seen as marketing to them but rather connecting to them via the ideas being circulated within. Are you listening to what your community is talking about? Or are you simply shouting out random thoughts?  By engaging, you may earn the right to occasionally add your marketing content to the conversation. Has your language and tone changed as you participate in these dialogues? If it hasn’t, you may be left by the curbside because you’re constantly shouting “look at us, look at us, look at us”.

Humanize to monetize

SM has delivered the ability for organizations to conduct themselves in a more human way – no longer are you a nameless, faceless body – you can have a personality. In the same way that people connect face-to-face, they connect with organizations – they either like you or they don’t based on your personality. Are you pushy and loud? Or are you introspective and quiet? Do you have a sense of humour? What’s your organization’s personality? By making your association seem human, and likeable, you have a chance at success.

Cause-based consumers

Whatever your cause – be it animal welfare or the environment – what do you stand for? For your communities, you, as an organization, need to be transparent. You need to have a handle on what your real mission is. Just because you exist, and have for generations, doesn’t mean that people are obligated to buy whatever it is you’re “selling”. Listen to what people are talking about “out there”. How does your organization fit? People will follow when they see a connection. The growth of SM has made it easier to connect people and causes; don’t miss out on your opportunity to relate to their needs.

Super social status

The growth of SM programs like Klout has made it easier for people to check out and determine the influencers…people like Mari Smith and Guy Kawasaki. The influencers don’t get there by being disingenuous. They get their clout by connecting with their communities – saying and doing things that matter now, making is relevant to their audiences. What are you saying and doing that people might repeat to others? Twitter, and SM in general, makes the old Herbal Essence commercial reality… “I told two friends, and they told two friends and so on and so on…”. You want your story to be passed on; so say or do something that is worth repeating… Or don’t, and risk being engaged in a monologue.

Awesome versus flawsome

One of the fears that organizations have had with engaging in SM is that they fear being wrong. In fact, with SM, this has become another way that organizations have become more human. Consumers are more accepting of organizations making mistakes. It’s OK to be wrong … but do correct yourself… apologize, be humble, be HUMAN. Without some mistakes, people become skeptical about you.


Decisions are increasingly made on the fly. The quoted number during this webinar was that 5 to 1 decisions are made via mobile devices versus computer-based decisions. That’s HUGE! Is your website mobile-optimized? If it isn’t, consider this as the growth of mobile devices is not slowing. If you have a smart phone, take a look at your website – what might you want to change?

Privacy paranoia

Sure the tech world has brought along horror stories…think privacy breaches in data capture which make consumers apprehensive about sharing data. The most popular SM site, Facebook, it seems to me is constantly tweaking its site to conform to privacy concerns. Because of its vast numbers and popularity, Facebook seems to have stirred a heightened sense of privacy concerns. Within this context, have you done a privacy audit of your organization’s data capturing and storage? The privacy commissioner of Canada has useful tools on their site for assessment purposes. Bearing all this hypersensitivity in mind, do an audit; make sure you’re good to go and then state, to the world, what your privacy policy is – loud and clear and up front.

I hope my reiteration of the content, as I heard it, proves useful to you as you think about your own community and how you can further engage for growth. To me, the overwhelming message was: be human, be real and the rest will follow.

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