For five years, I’ve been walking around in beat up sneakers and work clothes, sleeves pushed up over the elbows to make way for the social media muddle in my backyard. My backyard being the sharply-dressed, well-rehearsed world of a 25+ -year public relations career. Well, that’s what it was until social media stormed in. I could have hired a yard guy to put it all back to order, but why ruin a good chance to play in the dirt, I always say. When a new world order descends on your job, you can get the gist from books and talks and trade articles – enough to know how to hire someone else to do the job. Or you can get in there and get dirty. When you’re a consultant, you are the yard guy.
Turns out, getting your hands dirty is just about the only way you can learn and do social media. Back in 2006, when I began blogging and crafting the first eNewsletters for clients, we were still trying to control the message, the image, and the media. We thought we could implement social media the same way. By 2008, the shared experience had reshaped communications, and the old guard quickly grew frustrated every few months when some 25-year-old whiz kid invented a cool new social media tool.
It was time to bury the old mindset, and was that timing ever blessed. I’d worked with high-tech start-ups for most of my career, but it was my work with charities that made me want to get up in the morning. So I put away the pumps (which were starting to pinch anyway) and went outside to play with nonprofits and businesses who put social values right up there with fair profit. These were the organizations where social media was really powering results. Five years in the dirt, I’ve learned two things:
1. Social media is not a destination; order is not the aim. Rather, it is a journey down the rabbit hole. Just drink the elixir, jump in, and enjoy the wild and muddy ride. As I used to tell my kids when they came in from the backyard, “if you’re not dirty, you haven’t finished playing.”
2. Nonprofits and socially conscious businesses benefit from the social web like no one else. Social communities encourage emotional expression and personal connection, drawing advocates and their big open hearts together and making it easier for them to get involved. The proof is in the data: online giving has continuously increased over the last 15 years. Most recently, according to the 2011 Blackbaud report, online giving increased by 13% over 24 months with 54% of organizations experienced that growth rate.
All My Lovin’
After giving all of my social media love to clients’ causes for these past several years, I’ve taken the last four months to create a Web 3.0 nest to call my own.
Hello World! Meet my new WordPress website, which took three months to build (Thanks BlogAid), design, create content, and tweak, tweak, tweak for some very serious SEO. (I had no idea!) Welcome, too, to the content4good blog, bringing you ideas that put social media best practices to work for nonprofits and conscious businesses. This isn’t where you’ll find a lot of those numbered lists posts; there are plenty of those at the click of a Google search. I’ll point out the good ones and use similar headlines to capture SEO, of course. Instead, we’re going to suggest ways to put those stats into action on your social sites, using case “stories” and creative contributors to help us.
Think of this site as a living lab for that full social web experience you want to create for your organization. Over the next several months, what happens with the site, the blog, and new content4good social sites, including Facebook page, Twitter, Linkedin company page and groups (under construction), and YouTube to start – should demonstrate results you’d like to see with social communications best practices and smart techniques. Since the twigs are only recently arranged in the nest, things are still pretty fresh and early, so there will be lots of lessons to share. As always, jump on in the dirt pile, and submit your questions, thoughts, & recommendations.