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Social Media For Social Good: Follow Up

Posted by at Dec 18, 2008 12:22 PM CST
Categories: Constituent Empowerment, Nonprofit Trends, Social Media

I hope you all had a chance to join us yesterday for our webinar called Social Media for Social Good. Emily Riley from Forrester Research and Beth Kanter from Beth’s Blog both gave great presentations that really complimented each other. If you missed it, you can register to receive the recording at http://www.convio.com/socialgood.

I’d like to extend my thanks to Emily and Beth for participating, and to all of the audience for your good, insightful questions. We had so many that we couldn’t get to all of them during the webinar, so we’ve answered the overflow here:

Q: How can we use social media tools when working with clients in an agency specifically concerning privacy or HIPPA issues?

Emily:  This is something I don’t have the ability to answer at a legal or privacy level. I will say that there are regulations that relate well to offline consumer relationships that don’t apply well online. It makes sense to work with your legal team as well as with colleagues to combine efforts at creating different norms for the web.

Beth:  That is a question that is not easy to answer in a couple of sentences because there are so many "it depends" variations.  It depends the context, who is having the conversation, etc.  I gave a presentation about Healthcare, Nonprofits, and Social Media. If you review the links and examples, you'll find some general answers to that question.

Q: How do we get past our fear of negative comments possibly being posted about the organization from activists etc.?  It seems like reviewing all posts and not posting those comments would defeat the purpose....

Emily:  I have one word of advice, go Google something right now and add the word “sucks” with it. For example “Starbucks sucks” will show a lot of issues around free trade and other image problems. These are talked about and posted online regardless of your participation. It is something that needs to be accepted because the groundswell is already taking place. Rather, it makes sense to start with listening. Before you feel like it is necessary to host a community or answer the posts, take some time to really understand what people are saying and who they are. Are they your typical customers, or a smaller niche that doesn’t represent the norm? Are they valuable in other ways? After you know this, you will have a better understanding of participating. Some people may need to be screened out if they are simply inflammatory, but that needs to be established with terms and conditions or a disclaimer.

Beth:  Most of the time, if you've built your community, they will correct negatives or incorrect information. I remember hearing a presentation at a recent PBS Conference where the PBS engaged bloggers talked about this and how concerned they were about negative comments - but that community corrected those.   At first you won't get many comments - it takes time to build up a community of people who will comment. You should decide internally how you want to handle potentially negative comments and what your policy will be about moderating comments or not.

When I was in Australia last year, I met Priscilla Brice Weller who worked for a native rights group.  They have a blog and they moderate comments because they don't want to publish any racist comments. They have published their commenting policy on the site. I did an interview with her about this.

Here's more two round ups I did of nonprofit blogging policies:

http://beth.typepad.com/beths_blog/2008/04/the-urge-to-edi.html

http://beth.typepad.com/beths_blog/2008/04/nonprofit-blogg.html

Q: How do you control the content of comments to your blog posted by readers?

Emily:  It is perfectly acceptable to moderate the posts on your community or blog and to have a disclaimer that any inflammatory or inaccurate comments will be removed. HOWEVER, some issues that are negative do need to be allowed in order for participants to feel that the blog or community is addressing the real issues of the readers. A middle ground needs to be reached.

Beth:  Blogging platforms give options to moderate comments - review them and decide which ones to publish.

The bloggers who cover journalism and blogs by newspapers are great resources on this topic - particularly about whether or not to edit comments by readers:

http://powazek.com/posts/1063

http://eatsleeppublish.com/the-ultimate-guide-to-newspaper-curmudgeon-talking-points/

Q: How should you deal with coordinated efforts to disrupt your community (e.g. "comment bombing")?

Emily:  Again, it is acceptable to screen posts and have a disclaimer. While some activists are unreasonable and deserve to be screened out, it is important to address all issues in the groundswell so that readers can respect your voice. They need to know that you are aware of all players’ opinions and then they will take your cause or point of view more seriously than if you completely ignore the issue.

Beth:  Hmm, I've only really on the other side of planning and organizing "comment bombing" - not fighting it.  One thing to remember with comments that are off-topic or inappropriate: don't feed the trolls.

One of the best sites on digital activism advice is Mary Joyce's Digitactive - look through her archives to find her advice or email her.

Q: Should nonprofits have organizational Twitter accounts, or should employees keep their own personal accounts to tweet about the org & engage in conversation?

Emily: This depends. If individuals have different yet valuable perspectives, individual accounts are fine. Instead, if your organization has one particular cause that deserves one larger group of followers, a more “PR” motivated twitter account could make sense. You can have both if it makes sense too.

Beth:  You know, on Twitter, your organization should have a personality. That's how some companies have been successful on Twitter- like Frank at Comcast or Lionel at Dell.

Holly Ross's Twitter account is ntenhross - so it is branded as both her and her organization.  There is also a generic organization one - but a lot of NTEN conversations happen through Holly and other staff.

Here's my roundup of Twitter advice.

Q: What books do you recommend to help us get acquainted and use social media?

Emily:  Of course I need to recommend The Groundswell by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff. I also recommend Word of Mouth Marketing by Andy Sernowitz.

Beth:  Here's my little library - the second row has my picks for social media and networking. In particular, I would recommend Clay Shirky's Here Comes Everyone and The Groundswell by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff. Also CauseWired - which was recently published and is all about online fundraising using social networks.

BTW, I get offered a lot of free copies of books from different publishers and always ask for an addition one to giveaway in a contest on my blog for my readers - so keep an eye out for upcoming book giveaways.

Q: What is the best way to acquire or create a widget for a Facebook or MySpace page?

Emily:  It makes sense to work with partners such as Buddy Media, ClearSpring or Gigya, who are adept marketers and makers of widgets for many advertisers for both MySpace and Facebook.

Beth:  See http://nonprofitwidget.wikispaces.com/

Q: Also, what are techniques for finding social influencers and what are the ethical concerns/issues about contacting them for research purposes?

Emily:  The first place to work for influencers is within your own constituency, such as the most active volunteers or the most active readers of email messages. Beyond that, it can be valuable to work with a buzz marketing firm such as Nielsen BuzzMetrics or Cymfony to identify people in your arena who influence others. The only issue around contacting influencers is your value proposition. If you don’t provide them with a good incentive to talk to you, you are simply bothering them.

Beth:  Here's some step-by-steps for finding influential bloggers.

Q: Are there any specific ideas to use social media on a regional basis?

Emily:  here are already many grassroots communities and blogs that are regional. Search Google for them and become active commenters and provide assistance and information to the leaders of the blog or community to start understand the zeitgeist of the group.

Beth:  Participate in local meet ups of social media professionals or social good professionals that are happening different cities across the countries.  You can find event listings at sites like meetup.com  or upcoming.org. Some specific groups exist: social media club, netsquared, tweetup, etc.

Search for local bloggers or social media by geography - for example you can search by location for twitter users at twellow.com, local bloggers at all.top.

There is a type of blog called hyper local that covers neighborhood, city, or regional issues. You can find a listing of these blogs at placeblogger.com.


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