Thursday, November 09, 2006

It's a Social Networking Carnival

As usual, been doing tons of thinking about Social Networking (check out Dogster for my latest - thanks Randal) and am writing this post to collect some additional thoughts, and to participate in the latest "Carnival."

I'm going to literally address the e-mail I got from Nancy asking me to participate in this weeks festivities point by point. Otherwise, I'll just ramble on as usual!

Context (from Nancy Schwartz): As more and more communications channels come on the scene, we, as communicators, have more to analyze, experiment with, and staff (and sometimes pay for).

How do we:

Find the time to explore an ever expanding menu of communications channels
By simply believing that these channels have future (or present) value, we simply make some time to get to know these systems and how they work. Each site is different - LinkedIn has a different vibe than Myspace - and very different users. Once we think we understand who is using a given site, we'll decide either to jump in or not... that's when we start to experiment by joining different groups, creating our own profiles and becoming part of the community. At LLS, our success with myspace does mean some staff time - so we've divided up the responsibilities but have given those folks ownership to experiment and "play."

Decide what channels to focus on
This one can be difficult if you think about any given channel too much. I never overthink these things - they'll come and go over time. Our focus right now is on figuring out what outcomes we can get from these types of channels. Here's a hint: it isn't always about revenue!

Ramp up our skill base in those channels
Social Networking 101: Be yourself.
Social Netoworking Advanced Class: Stay involved and listen.

If we can't handle these types of skills, we should be doing marketing in 2006.

Convince leadership of the value of investing in these channels (even if it means more budget, or doing less via traditional channels
While I was at the March of Dimes and built the Share Your Story community, the investment was so nominal it wasn't even worth talking about. That said, a significant investment in a Second Life build or interactive game is a totally different story. I personally like to try to build consensus around specific outcomes, and then figure out the tactics of how we'll get there. Usually, if there is a strategic reason to do something, money appears.

Or you can take a direct route now that I think about it... as I was writing this post we got a new comment on our myspace LLS profile that said:
"i want to thank you so much for having a myspace. i myself was diagnosed with hodgkins lymphoma two months ago. its been a tough struggle with the chemo and constant doctors visits, but i know that just having a myspace, that it will help to raise awareness about these horrible cancers and hopefully one day in the future we will find a cure for them!"
That'll convince em!

What channels have the greatest potential for various facets of nonprofit communications (giving, advocacy, program/service marketing, branding, etc.), and why?
I don't have any idea. Maybe someone could leave me a comment and save me some time.

How about some social marketing “don’ts”?
Don't act like a marketer, act like a HUMAN BEING. People appreciate that along with a sense of humor.

This is such a juicy topic that I feel like I need to spend days and days thinking and collaborating with all of you on what's next... so leave some comments and let's start talking.

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