Social Media Muse

Infusing Social Media with Spiritual Chocolate

Nonprofit & Social Media: a Match Made in Cyber Space

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There is no perceived difference between the two terms nonprofit and not-for-profit (only the IRS makes a distinction). Note here that nonprofit does not necessarily mean “charitable.” In this posting I intend to talk about organizations established for purposes other than profit-making, this includes entities like local government.

The online technologies and practices used to share information, knowledge, opinions, ideas, experiences, perspectives, and insights with other people; Social Media is changing the way we learn, teach, and interact with other people worldwide. People everywhere are having conversations online. There is a new on-line wave of influencers out there, and it is powerful.

Many nonprofits are limited in resources — money and time as well as staff and technical expertise. The biggest challenge is to apply the technologies that are useful to a certain audience. Most businesses have focused exclusively on using Social Media as a marketing tool. Many employers see it as simply a workplace distraction. But Social Media has the potential to revolutionize service networks and workplace learning.

In order to engage with citizens today, it is important to communicate in new ways, keep the message clear, and make information easy to get. However, technology is only an enabler and not the solution. Integration of the various online tools for access to services and information is needed to make the most out of the web. Active promotion and an integrated approach to managing digital channels are key to effective communication and engagement.

The new socially informed generation calls for two-way dialogs as nonprofits and governments are shifting their view of citizens as consumers, and allowing citizens to become contributors in the development of their materials. Social Media provides the ultimate platform to reach out and strengthen and build communities. Social networks contribute to raising awareness and increasing engagement, by inspiring people to join others to create a community that embraces certain norms and values.

How to reduce communications costs while giving citizens the information they want, when they want it? A skillfully created Social Media strategy can drastically improve online presence, increase traffic and enhance search engine results, in a very cost-effective way. The correct and timely use of on-line technologies will enhance organizational efficiency and effectiveness. People like to have the option to subscribe to certain information. More subscribers amount to more information “pulled” by citizens; this can increase website usage by 20% to 50%! People have always learned best from one another—Social Media enables this to happen unrestricted by physical location and in all kinds of extraordinarily creative ways.

Update October 15: Found this article today http://radar.oreilly.com/2010/10/gov-20-goes-local.html

“The primary benefits of Gov 2.0 that IT professionals cite include improved e-services to the public, resident participation in government, and collaboration between agencies.”

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Written by Monique DiCarlo

August 30, 2010 at 10:41 pm

Focus of a Social Media Pioneer

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This morning while enjoying a dark roast I opened an e-mail from a large on-line job board that targets the $100k+ job market. It was the Monday Newsletter from the founder Marc Cenedella, sent to 4 million people, mostly job seekers just like me.

In this newsletter he is talking about the importance of having a great elevator speech, something we had just covered a week ago in a workshop called: “Strategic Bragging for Job Hunters”. He had some valuable tips and several questions that will help you to formulate what your passions are, your motivations, and how you look at the future within your work environment. He suggested to make it sound like a conversation and test it with friends over a beer.

As I am preparing myself to re-enter the workforce I do often encounter the simple questions: “what do you do?” and “what kind of job are you looking for?” The short questionnaire from Marc really helps you to focus on who you are, what you have done, and what you would like to do.

In many recent articles about hiring Social Media staff, companies are warned for so-called or self-proclaimed Social Media Specialists. In an interview with the famous Amber MacArthur (a.k.a. Amber Mac) she also cautions businesses to do some good research and urges them to make sure that the person they hire has a visible track record and a passion for the industry, especially for the firm they wish to work for.

We all have to gain experience, and hopefully we’ll find a place and environment that allows for developing the necessary skills while receiving some guidance. I the past year I had the opportunity to gain such experience (on a volunteer basis) with 2 small businesses. With very little budget and no official marketing plan we did gain a lot of positive publicity with a mostly viral approach. We generated traffic (digital and physical), got many new members and clients, and of course followers and friends.

I am not an expert (yet), but I do learn something new every single day, I follow “my mentors” and try to help others who need basic Social Media advice. I am lucky because I started my career in 1993 in Direct Marketing research for the company called: “Who Mails What?” and gained so much insight in Customer Experience Management. The founder Yolanda Eijgenstein had one very clear mantra: Hug your clients (when communicating with them)! This early form of Social Media provided me with a strong foundation in both Branding and Communication.

I agree strongly with Amber that it is very important to have a deep affinity with the industry you’re working in and to have a passion for your particular service or product, in order to be a succesful Social Media Specialist. I would like to add that basic Marketing, (Copy) Writing, Branding, PR, Research, and Communications experience should be part of your back ground.

My elevator speech is almost ready, in the mean time I’ll share some of my answers to Marc’s questions.

  • I enjoy communication with a distinct audience, improving connections and processes, and help people improving their life in general.
  • It is very rewarding to see the results of gained knowledge and inspired actions.
  • I learn something new every day and it is such manifold and variegated content.
  • The Social Media field is rather young and has so much potential. I want to be a Social Media pioneer, exploring new grounds and working on fine tuning our communication around this planet
  • I have a passion for communication, research, writing, and refining.

“Social Media is about sociology and psychology more than technology.” – Briann Solis Principal of FutureWorks

10 Social Media Muses

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Audience

10 Social Media Muses by Monique DiCarlo (and others)

  1. New Media is focused on being found by customers. Most companies focus on finding customers.
  2. Social Media cannot succeed without a genuine focus on your customers. Social media is about listening, engaging, and responding to your customers. If you are not truly focused on your customer, you will not succeed — period.
  3. Social media cannot be a one-off project. It is a conversation not a broadcast. A successful social media initiative is not a one-and-done deal. From a marketing perspective, you can certainly integrate a promotion to ignite participation, engage more customers, and so forth, but it does not end there. This tool is there for clients to hear their own voices, to be heard by others, and to hear what the crowd thinks.
  4. Social media cannot work without organization alignment. Even if your social media efforts are focused on marketing objectives, you are opening up your brand to the world. Anyone anywhere can say anything. The purpose and objective strategy and guidelines must be shared across disciplines to respond appropriately to the “what if?” scenario. In addition, regardless of the message platform, it is rare for some customer service issues or questions not to arise, so you need to know and have a process in place to get the information you need in a timely matter to respond appropriately. The same applies if your brand is using social media as a customer service platform or any other purpose; there needs to be an understood process for communication when “stuff” happens, as well as consistency in messaging. HR, legal, PR, marketing, and other areas in the organization must be aligned.
  5. Whatever it is that you communicate it needs to be an authentic story. When customers are making a decision that matters to them, the often rely on the truth as they receive it from the community, not the story the marketer manufactured. Control what you say and when you say it.
  6. Social media and blogs are essential inbound marketing tools. The most successful blog posts are the ones that provide some kind of hard-to-find data or breaking news. Convert your Press releases into blog posts and increase views and traffic. Businesses that blog have 192% more Twitter followers.
  7. Do not only include news about your organization but also “your industry news”. Your company is in a better position than anyone else to unearth breaking news stories about your industry. What may not seem like news to you may be news to your prospective customer.
  8. Measure your link popularity and find the roads that lead to Rome.
  9. “When I’m asked about the ROI of social media sometimes an appropriate response is… What’s the ROI of your phone?” Erik Qualman
  10. People are not buying what you have they are buying WHO you are!

Written by Monique DiCarlo

August 15, 2010 at 1:21 am

On-line Marketing is not an option

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During the early days of the Internet I heard the same kind of negative noise about on-line presence as I do now about Social Media. In 1998 I worked for an Internet provider who created and hosted some of the first businesses in town and often companies were very reluctant with creating a website, they had been in business for years without it, so why would they need it now? Believe it or not but there are still companies without a website or one that has been under construction for a while (not to mention the badly designed sites.) Maybe for some very small niche markets this is possible, but knowing that a vast amount of  people around the world are living their life on-line…

I am usually not a “numbers” person, but while doing a little research about how much time people spend on the Internet and use Social Media I came upon some interesting data. Let’s start with the most current data from facebook:

  • More than 500 million active users
  • 50% of our active users log on to Facebook in any given day
  • Average user has 130 friends
  • People spend over 700 billion minutes per month on Facebook
  • There are over 900 million objects that people interact with (pages, groups, events and community pages)
  • Average user is connected to 80 community pages, groups and events
  • Average user creates 90 pieces of content each month
  • More than 30 billion pieces of content (web links, news stories, blog posts, notes, photo albums, etc.) shared each month.
  • About 70% of Facebook users are outside the United States (!)

The Nielsen Company recently came out with this current Internet Time table.

New Media is focused on being found by customers. Most companies still focus on finding customers. Key in your current marketing actions is to shift to on-line marketing and the communities where “your people” spend most of their time.

Selling =OUT Communicating=IN

People know what they want, when they want it and how much they want to spend on it, so why are they selecting your product or service? When people make a decision that matters to them, they rely on the truth as they receive it from the community, not the story the marketer writes. Whatever it is that you communicate, BE AUTHENTIC and BE WHERE YOUR AUDIENCE LIKES TO BE.

“Marketing by interrupting people is not cost-effective anymore. You cannot afford to seek out people and send them unwanted marketing messages, in large groups, and hope that some will send you money. Instead, the future belongs to the marketers who set up a foundation and process where interested people can market to each other. Ignite consumer networks and then get out of the way and let them talk.” —Seth Godin

The Instant Magic of Social Media

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Seven Oaks Lavender Farm is located about 50 miles West of Washington DC, near the Shenandoah mountains. There are only a few lavender farms in Virginia and not all are open to the public. Lavender only blooms for one month and that’s when the farm is open to the public and people can visit the field and cut their own lavender.

The owner Deborah Williamson has a natural talent for PR and Seven Oaks has been featured in several publications and on TV. She has built a solid e-mail list, and used it to announce the beginning of the season and all the special events during the weekend. However this year she really wanted to generate more “real traffic” to the farm. I created a facebook page and Twitter account and within a few days the followers and friends started to gather.

Soon friends told friends and the lavender crowd was growing, our Social Media efforts started to pay off and more and more people visited the farm telling us they had seen us on facebook…As it happens Deb invited me to live at her farm for a while and one morning I watched several families gathering under an Oak tree, preparing a picnic, while their children were playing in the lavender field.

A customer pointed at this little boy sitting next to a lavender bush and within seconds I ran inside and grabbed my Flip camera and started to film him. I asked his parents for permission and moments later the movie went live on our Facebook page. The next morning, only minutes after the farm opened a family with several kids arrived, while chatting with the parents as we walked to the field they said: “Yes we saw an awesome video on your Facebook page of this cute little boy and we were looking for a child friendly place for a little field trip so we thought: This is it!”

Written by Monique DiCarlo

August 5, 2010 at 12:40 am

This position is a great resume builder!

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In other words: we want you to work full-time for us, create our on-line brand, and increase our revenue, but we’re not going to pay you.  Luckily most matured companies have embraced Social Media professionally and know the added value and opportunities this huge platform may provide to them. They are also aware of the fact that this is a very new, specialized, yet comprehensive trade.

A Social Media worker needs to have communication, PR, writing, (direct) marketing, branding, on-line media, Internet applications, and Social Media networks experience, besides your particular industry and market knowledge. This is the time for the Jack or Joan of all trades to flourish!

“Jack of all trades, master of none, though ofttimes better than master of one”

A Social Media Steward should possess a polymath* quality. Above all being able to handle multiple tasks, channels, and tools! If you want to reap the benefits of a consistently implemented Social Media strategy you’ll have to invest in a very broad experienced professional to execute this multi level challenge at a very high (real-time) visibility level.

*Polymath (Greek πολυμαθής, polymathēs, “having learned much”)[1] is a person whose expertise spans a significant number of different subject areas.

Written by Monique DiCarlo

August 3, 2010 at 11:05 pm

Why Executives should NOT HATE Social Media

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“Why executives hate Social Media” is the title of an article I read today. Great article, well written and inspiring. And even though it starts in a negative way it has a happy ending!

“The Problem is Networking”

I was somewhat amazed and disturbed about the statement that CEO’s do not like networking, because I thought that was one of the main dishes on their daily menu! Just like stated a few paragraphs later: “NOBODY can tell the company story and embody the company brand like the CEO…” Utillizing the right social media tools provides an incredible on-line platform to share that story with the world!

“The problem is Social.”

Social Media tools are just that, a tool, and it is important to choose the right one and use it well. Since I am an imported European I understand this American aversion towards socialism, yet I also see the US as a toddler, meaning they are still in the “me, me, mine” phase of development. If you look at other descriptions of the word social like: “pertaining to the life, welfare, and relations of human beings in a community” it becomes clear that the US is transitioning into the “we” era. Strong communities are necessary to maintain a healthy culture and economics. The social aspect pertains to the interactiveness and the fact that communication takes place world-wide, real-time. It refers to a dialog rather than one-way broadcasting.

It’s up to you to recognize the fads and not waste time on them. Use Social Media for branding and creating a market place instead of selling your stuff. People are much more informed and engaged these days and if I want to buy something from you, I’ll find you, but I’ll also check your community (hope you have one) and listen to what they ( your customers and you) care and talk about. “Human communities are based on discourse—on human speech about human concerns. The community of discourse is the market. Companies that do not belong to a community of discourse will die.” from the Cluetrain Manifesto.

The “what’s in it for me” needs to change into: “what can I do for you?” or the old fashioned: “how can I help you?” (still like that one!). “Garbage in, garbage out” applies to any media and marketing tool. The 5 well described Social Media Values are very valuable and worth your reading. I agree Social Media needs an executive briefing in order to gain more acceptance at higher levels (followed by better implementation by all other levels). And yes, Social Media is not a “campaign (which starts and ends) – but should be discussed as part of an ongoing, strategic, and systematic dialog with our stakeholders and marketplace.”

Written by Monique DiCarlo

August 2, 2010 at 11:55 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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