Take My Copy of Twitterville

Yes, it’s true. I want you to take this book out of my hands. I’ve read it, it’s great, but now it should be yours. As I’ve written before, I won this book from Beth Kanter and the author Shel Israel, with a promise that I’d pay it forward. So it’s your turn to elbow and claw your way through the throngs of hungry readers with your insightful comments, but first a few reflections to whet your appetite:

  1. While I’ve loved Shel’s previous work, I did expect this to be a well written “capitalize on Twitter’s exponential growth” book. In fact, it’s incredibly insightful, with great profiles of people and companies using Twitter in really creative ways. It stretched me. It’s also completely accessible to beginners. A fine line that Shel seems to have walked perfectly. I was pleasantly surprised.
  2. It challenged some decisions I’ve made – decisions that were strategic and thoughtful when I made them. For example, using the organization name and logo instead of the person’s name and photo, even when they are tweeting for the company. I’m still chewing on this one. In the meantime, I’ve edited @DarimOnline to show that it’s mostly, not entirely, Lisa at the keys. I’m curious how others think about offering this “human face” and transparency while still promoting the brand and, perhaps most importantly for many small organizations, creating continuity if/when staff turns over.
  3. I was reminded that you can start small and casual. As one guy from Ford is quoted, “Twitter was… the country store, where people came in and out and shared their gossip, and there I was, sitting by the pickle barrel.” (pg. 85)
  4. It’s more about listening than about talking. It’s so counter intuitive to so many of us that it can’t be said enough.
  5. One person in the organization can actually lead major change. So many examples were about one person in a large organization using this little tool in their remote cubicle, and it seeped into company culture because it was so darn useful.

So… that leads us to the question: How is Twitter useful for you? Alternatively, you can share your best piece of Twitter wisdom, or a Twitter-related question you’re wrestling with. We’ll choose our winner around Sukkot. And… please leave your Twitter username with your comment so we can check you out!

Where Do You Take Your Pulse?

We all compare ourselves to others. It’s natural. How do we measure up compared to that person, that organization, that company. We often compare ourselves to the competition, because we need to stay just an inch ahead in order to compete. In the Jewish community, that often means looking at the other synagogue or school just down the street. We take the pulse of our immediate surroundings.

We’re taking the wrong pulse.

The people we’re trying to reach are comparing their experience with our Jewish communal organizations against every other organization and company they are dealing with in their day-to-day lives. We don’t get a free pass to have mediocre customer service or out of date information on our web site, or poorly formatted e-newsletters.

In today’s marketplace, we’re competing for attention. People don’t allocate 10% of their attention for Jewish causes, they put their attention where they find quality, value, social capital, and authenticity.

Thus staff and board members of Jewish organizations would be wise to expand their gaze, and learn from examples in other nonprofit organizations and the for-profit world. Even the trends that big corporations are responding to are applicable to local Jewish organizations, and today can be accomplished with no additional out-of-pocket dollars, and little (sometimes saved) staff time.

As Shel Israel writes in his new book Twitterville, companies like Dell and Comcast have pulled their reputations out of the gutter by putting real people out on the front lines of Twitter to listen and respond. Innovative companies like Zappos have made this culture of “paying attention” part of their company ethos. There’s a lot to learn from these guys.

Want to learn more? We’ll be giving away a copy of Twitterville soon. Next week we’ll be asking you about how you listen and pay attention to your community, and how you’re using social media to do so. Start thinking …

What other companies or organizations do you see as useful models for us to learn from? How have they inspired you?

How I Won a Copy of Twitterville (and you can too!)

Shel Israel (co-author of Naked Conversations with Robert Scoble) has a new book, Twitterville.

Beth Kanter was giving away copies Twitterville the other day. I saw it on Facebook (I’m a fan of hers) but it was also on Twitter and her blog. (She’s a pro at making the most of multiple channels, without leaving me feeling inundated from every direction. It’s a real art.)

Beth periodically runs contests like this. She asks people to leave a comment responding to a particular question to enter the contest. It’s not random — she picks those whom she thinks are most deserving or will make the most of the prize. What I love about these contests is that by having a public entry process, she creates a forum for interesting people to share their work and ideas. I always learn something from reading the other entries.

So I left a comment saying how much I appreciate this approach to surfacing great ideas and practices. And heck, if giving away the book can do it, if I win, I’ll re-give-away the book to surface more good things, specifically in the Jewish community where we work.

She loved the idea and I won the book! (Well, to be honest, by the time she announced the winners she had about a dozen books – there were so many good responses that the author kicked in some copies, she found more promo copies, and others bought copies to add to the contest!) You can read about the results here.

And the punchline is … Shortly we’ll be putting up our own blog post to give away the book (once I get it, and read it). We’ll be asking about how you’re using Twitter in strategic and goal oriented ways. So start thinking about it, and experimenting on Twitter so you’ll have something juicy to share when we announce the contest. And, as always, you’re welcome to share your experiences (what’s working as well as what you’re challenged by) in the comments here.

P.S Another great Beth post on Twitter: How nonprofits are using hashtags

What you’re favorite Beth Kanter nugget of wisdom? Leave a link in the comments.

Getting Social Media Buy-In From Above

Oftentimes we hear from someone who is eager to ramp up the use of social media in their work — starting a Facebook group or page, starting an organizational blog, or otherwise allocating some of their hours to “getting in the game”. One of the greatest challenges is when the powers that be (your boss, or peers, or board members) just don’t understand social media, and either think you’re wasting your time, or are not supportive of the initiatives you’re trying to get off the ground.

If this speaks to you, you’re not alone, and there is a wealth of support out there for you. A few suggestions:

  1. Be goal oriented. If you can frame your social media project to be in support of larger or more specific goals of your organization, then you’re defining yourself on the same team.
  2. Sometimes there are egos involved. Two thoughts here: First, give credit to your boss for great goals and big picture, so he/she feels validated, and not challenged. Second, the unknown is sometimes scary — think about how you can help teach that person about your work in an exciting and not belittling way. He/she may feel “out of date” or “being passed by”, and if you can temper these negative emotions, the whole conversation may be smoother.
  3. Find low costs ways to begin, so all you’re asking for is a bit of time, not an outlay of cash.
  4. Make sure you can articulate how you’ll measure your success, and then measure it. You must be able to declare victory in order to build trust and future support.
  5. Find relevant examples from related organizations or people who have the same job responsibilities as you do. While some leadership might assume that “all technology things belong with the IT guy”, we believe that all staff (and volunteers) need to be using the most up to date tools in their work. The phone, photocopier, fax and email are all “technologies” that we use in our daily work.
  6. Listen to their fears and objections. If someone is terrified about a negative comment on a blog, consider meeting them half way by more aggressively moderating comments (needing to approve before they go live, etc.) to reduce fears and help everyone take baby steps forward.
  7. Ask about privacy policies and any other guidelines that you should know about and use as you implement your project. Avoiding accidental mis-steps will buy you good will down the road.
  8. Consider framing your project as a “pilot” — short term, very focused, low cost – so that leadership feels they have an opportunity to reflect and assess whether the project will move forward.

Check out this blog post from The Buzz Bin on the topic, and if you’re hungry for more, read chapter 11 in Groundswell for strategies on how to move forward with social media in your organization. Better yet, buy a copy for your boss!

How have you approached “selling social media” in your organization? How have you been an advocate? How are you teaching others? What sort of feedback do you provide to others to demonstrate your impact? What support do YOU need?

Alban’s New Book: Reaching Out in a Networked World: Expressing Your Congregation’s Heart and Soul

The Alban Institute has clearly identified technology as a fundamental tool for successful congregations. Their recent magazine focused on connected congregations, and they’ve just published a new book, Reaching Out in a Networked World. Communications expert and pastor Lynne Baab examines a variety of technologies such as websites, blogs, online communities, and desktop publishing, and counsels congregations on how to evaluate these tools and use them appropriately to communicate their identities to members and prospects

Alban’s in depth knowledge of congregations (Jewish and otherwise) make this publication a unique and focused read for synagogue staff and lay leadership. Check out Lynne’s blog post on Myths about Communicating Congregational Identity for insights into her writing and thinking. Learn more about the book and order it here.

Giving Community

flickr credit: redverse
flickr credit: redverse

The holiday season is one in which we reflect on our place in the world how we live our own lives, how we interact in our communities, how to make the world a better place.

Ive been reading Digital Giving: How Technology is Changing Charity by Richard C. McPherson, thanks to a tip from e-Jewish Philanthropys Dan Brown. Digital Giving is a good, quick read chockfull of ideas and case studies. What Im realizing is that its not just a book about philanthropy and creating change in a Web 2.0 world. Its about community.

How can organizations tap into their extended communities?

Allow your supporters to contribute not just funding, but their energy to the cause. McPherson cites the example of Kiva, a person-person microlending site. In addition to its focus on matching lenders with projects, Kiva provides benefactors with the opportunity to create lending teams, send emails to friends and family who might want to support a personally meaningful project, and resources for learning more about microfinancing to become better informed about the theory behind the practice. Help supporters identify with your organization by making it easy to embed a badge or logo on their own sites. Create ways for supporters to educate themselves, act, be heard, and share in community building. Remember the tag line from the Syms clothing store: An educated consumer is our best customer.

Part of that community ethos is transparency and accountability.

GlobalGiving is another project that connects donors with projects. McPherson notes how they present a project and its funding goals. Once those goals are met, donors are directed to similar projects that are in need of support. Users can subscribe to updates and monitor the projects progress. Reports from the field are expected and shared online. In addition, each project includes contact information to connect directly with the project sponsors.

These ideas and other lessons learned in Digital Giving can be applied to more local organizations to help our communities help themselves and each other. Who makes up your community? How do you respond to their desire to become more active supporters? What opportunities can you create together?

Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies

Groundswell book cover

While a host of recent publications have focused on social media (and many of them very useful and worth reading, such as Naked Converastions and The Long Tail), the mere fact that Forrest Research has published this book is a major statement not just for big business, but far beyond.

According to the authors, Josh Bernoff and Charlene Li, the groundswell is a social trend in which people use technologies to get things from each other, rather than from traditional institutions like corporations. The themes, data, strategies and suggestions they present are just as relevant for Jewish life and Jewish organizations as they are for corporations. In this new landscape, we must examine how our organizations can adjust to remain relevant to the consumer or community member, and explore how both the organization and community can benefit from these trends.

Groundswell is a huge help in understanding these questions and deriving useful answers. The book is extremely well organized, and accessible to readers of all sophistications. Part 1 defines a variety of tools (blogs, wikis, social networking, etc.) and their strategic value and practical uses. However the real value of the book is in its second part, Tapping the Groundswell. This four-step planning process is a fantastic tool for any organization that wants to better align itself with this important shift, focusing on People, Objectives, Strategy and (finally) Technology.

Ultimately, the Groundswell is all about relationships. And this is the business we are in. Thus, we cannot ignore the significance of these trends and their implications for the relevance and success (or lack thereof) of our work. The social media tools are just that: tools. They not sufficient, but are increasingly necessary for our continued success in our work. This book will help you understand the tectonic shift taking place, the tools and trends, and the strategies through which you can take part in this excitement and power of the groundswell.

Groundswell is an important, accessible and thorough work, which is valuable to both novice web 2.0 folks as well as those who are more experienced. For more, check out the Groundswell blog.

Have you read the book already? What did you think? What was the most valuable “take away” for you?