What Can Be Learned From The Congruence of the Dragonfly’s Wings

Do you ever feel like you are flailing when it comes to your social media strategy? Or that you do not have any coordination at all? Look at the dragonfly. In order for it to accelerate rapidly and change directions immediately, all four wings must move in congruence.

As Jennifer Aaker and Andy Smith in their book The Dragonfly Effect explain four metaphorical “wings” – focus, grab attention, engage, take action – must work together to ensure social media success. Utilizing these wings can provide Jewish institutions a foundation for not just maintaining an online presence, but truly galvanizing a constituency to actively engage in Judaism and the community. 4 wings

1. Focus – prior to entering the social media arena, zero in on simple and realistic goals. As opposed to top down planning, it is vital to build personal relationships, be authentic and listen intently to the communal needs. At Temple Israel in Memphis, we organized heterogeneous focus groups to hear individual thoughts concerning the temple. Based on their insights, a vision was constructed by lay leaders, stating our congregation’s role to connect Jews more deeply to Torah, spiritual fulfillment, community, and tikkun olam. Using this as the foundation, our temple’s Facebook page, alongside my Rabbi Adam Facebook and Twitter accounts, ultimately connect to our community more deeply and, subsequently, help to drive our attendance, donations, long-term membership, and new member opportunities. While some might disregard this planning stage, successful social media approaches realize the importance of slowing down before speeding up.

2. Grab Attention – getting noticed by our audience is vital to social media success. In an online world dominated with choices, we need to move away from the predictability. Too many organizations explain events or communicate information in the exact same way as was done fifty years before – title the event, share the details, expect a crowd. In the online world, this is not acceptable. Sparking the curiosity of our constituents must be done through innovative and audience centered videos and pictures that personally connect with and elicit an emotional response from our constituency. Think of the Maccabeats, Yeshiva University’s all-male a cappella group, whose fun, entertaining and unexpected song “Candlelight” became an instant Youtube sensation and now has almost 6 million views. While by no means the same number of hits, this video from Temple Israel exceeded expectations, generated excitement, and started many conversations about the event.

3. Engage – emotionally invest the community in the organization. One of the best lines of the book is that “to engage, it’s necessary to view yourself (and your effort) as a brand.” In order to do this, we need to tell our stories, which help to define and to build our constituency’s collective memories thus connecting them more deeply to the mission of and take action for the institution. Answering questions such as what inspires the community, what makes an institutional experience meaningful, and why Jews would want to connect with us gears the online conversation to the community and makes it personal. In promoting Temple Israel’s Sukkot and Simchat Torah experiences, we redefined them for the community where music became the center. We ran a fun promotional spot and an online giveaway for autographed CD’s of the artists via Facebook and Twitter. By rethinking the marketing, we have helped our community become more engaged and excited about the experience and the artists.

4. Take action – get the community to act upon your cause by giving their time, money or both. The most important take away here is to ask for time before money. Too many Jewish institutions consistently ask for money via membership, programs, events, dinners, etc. and never truly get people vested in the experience. In order to reverse this trend, it is imperative to actively seek and encourage volunteer participation. Even though individuals are involved with so many activities, we have to rethink how we invite people to volunteer. Instead of asking them to join time intensive committees, encourage them to work on smaller and tangible projects that value their individual talents, skills and interests. When a group then becomes invested in the organization, social media then becomes a tool for reaching a greater audience and receiving much needed feedback. As one experiments with social media to motivate the community, make it fun and, as our communications director, Isti Bardos, always states, make sure to respond to every message or post for that personal touch helps the audience feel they are actually having a dialogue rather than a monologue. dragonflyeffect The Dragonfly Effect provides the tools to captivate an online audience, and then inspire them to actively participate in social change. The examples and illustrations can help Jewish institutions more fully realize the potential of social media. By experimenting, having fun and continuing to evaluate results, these four wings can provide Jewish institutions a way to further engage Jews as our world proceeds to advance technologically. How are you addressing these four wings, and more importantly, how are you getting them to work in congruence with one another?

Rabbi Adam Grossman is the Associated Rabbi of Temple Israel of Memphis. Rabbi Grossman earned his Master of Arts in Hebrew Letters from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in 2008, a Bachelor of Arts in Communications from The Ohio State University and a Master of Education Administration with a Specialization in Jewish Education from Xavier University. He is an active user of social media, and contributes to Temple Israel’s effective use of online social tools for engagement and building community.

#SM4NP Wrap-Up: Uncomfortable Transparency and Practical Optimism

This year’s Social Media for Nonprofits conference in New York wasn’t actually about social media.* It was about values and personality. Two ideas in particular stood out – uncomfortable transparency and practical optimism. Here’s how they came through…

Uncomfortable Transparency:

On charity:waters fourth birthday, the young nonprofit celebrated by live-streaming an ambitious new drilling projectand failed.

When Paull Young, charity:waters Director of Digital Engagement, told this story at the conference, it was with genuine disappointment, but also gratitude. Charity:waters followers and fans posted on Facebook comments like, We appreciate your transparency, and I think this is perhaps even more important than sharing your successes. Donations flooded in, and the next day charity:water got more hits on its website than ever before.

Young called this uncomfortable transparency. He urged us to be honest about our failures as well as our successes, and to fail fast and learn. Ultimately, he reminded us, people want to hear the truth. (Several months later, charity:water returned to the drill site, this time striking water.)

Practical Optimism:

Seeing Alexis Ohanian on stage showing a picture of a grinning kitten and declaring that this shot embodied his feelings about the Internet, the audience couldnt help but be charmed. We were surprised and delighted by his joyfulness.

Ohanian, a co-founder of Reddit, Hipmunk, BreadPig, and other do-gooder projects with goofy titles and terminally cute mascots, is a firm believer in the benevolent web. At the beginning of his presentation, he asked for a show of hands, How many of you believe that most people are fundamentally good? The vast majority of attendees smiled, lifting their hands high. If you believe that, then most of the people online are good, too He went on to talk about a Reddit community devoted exclusively to sending pizzas to one another, and a save-the-whales naming contest that resulted in both the cancellation of a whale-hunting expedition and a several ton sea creature being dubbed Mr. Splashypants.

Ohanians enthusiasm was contagious. I walked away from his presentation feeling like I did after seeing Scott Pilgrim vs. The World really believing in the eventual triumph of love over hate, of light over darkness, and knowing that I could be a part of that. His optimism wasnt blind hopefulness, either; it was authentic, even strategic. Essentially, he reminded me that you cant work in the nonprofit world without believing that things can be better, and that people want to be good, and do good. That fundamental assumption, that practical optimism, should be reflected in the way we work online.

There were many other outstanding presentations, and I encourage you to check out the hashtag (#sm4np) and Slideshare for some great resources.

*(Ok, you got me – #sm4np was about social media, too. The conference provided a solid overview of some important themes in effective social media use: listening, storytelling, branding, analysis and reflection; all kinds of good stuff. Farra Trompeter of Big Duck, who also spoke at the conference, wrote an excellent overview of the complete line-up of sessions, which you can see here. Gatherings like #sm4np provide excellent opportunities for getting introduced to new tools and concepts, as well as prime networking time. I highly encourage representatives from Jewish organizations to attend these events when possible, hear about what’s happening in social media and the nonprofit world, and share what they’ve learned!)

Do the concepts of “uncomfortable transparency” and “practical optimism” resonate with you? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Free Inspiraton for New York Area Congregations

UJALogo 300 CThanks to an ongoing collaboration between Darim Online and SYNERGY: UJA-Federation of New York and Synagogues Together, we’re pleased to bring you the next series in our Social Media Boot Camp for New York area synagogues. All staff and lay leaders from congregations in the UJA Federation of New York catchment area are invited to register for the series free of charge. Not in the area and interested in learning with us? Become a member of Darim Online! Last year’s series focused on the uses of specific social media tools, such as Facebook and Twitter. This year, we’ll be focusing on the implications of these social media tools and their impact on society and business, with the goal of evolving your congregation for success in the networked age. Our 6 webinars will focus on strategy, staffing and leadership as they pertain to the mission, function and sustainability of synagogues. Join Lisa Colton, founder and president of Darim Online, and special guests, for a tour through Evolving the Synagogue as a Networked Nonprofit, inspired and informed by Beth Kanter and Allison Fine’s valuable book, The Networked Nonprofit. October 26, 2011 The Synagogue as a Networked Nonprofit Given shifts in society, culture and technology, successful organizations are evolving the ways they work to be more nimble, efficient and social. The synagogue’s origins are as a network — a group of people in a similar area who have similar observances, needs, values, and goals. Thus, today’s empowered culture is a great opportunity to realign the synagogue’s work with its origins, and to help the organization function more successfully in our networked age. Join us to learn about the principles outlined in Beth Kanter and Allison Fine’s book The Networked Nonprofit, and to explore case studies of organizations making this shift, from synagogues to local and national nonprofits. This webinar will set the stage for the next 5 in the series, and will inspire you to think differently about your work. November 17, 2011 The Skills and Mindset of a Success Community Weaver Every synagogue seeks to build community among its members and beyond. A rich and successful community leads to achieving all other aspects of a synagogue’s mission and goals, from education to tikkun olam, membership dues and event participation. One of the most important functions of leadership is to weave and support this community. Today, these responsibilities are often embedded in positions with titles like “Program Director” and “Membership Coordinator”. Join us to learn about the value of community weaving, the attributes of a successful community weaver, why both staff and board members need to be involved, and why your congregation needs to be in the business of weaving. Eager to learn more? Check out June Holly’s blog: http://www.networkweaving.com January 11, 2012 Staffing Beyond the Accidental Techie Oftentimes, congregations find someone on staff who’s good with technology, or at least likes to play around and can help out others. Sometimes this is an educator or preschool director, sometimes it’s the youngest person on staff, sometimes it’s the rabbi! This is what we call the “accidental techie”. They weren’t hired to do this, but have fallen into it. As your congregation is beginning to participate in social media, who has stepped up to lead the effort? Is that position really the one that should have this responsibility? Is that the best way for them to spend their time? And how is everyone on staff empowered to use today’s tools to do their work (like they do with email and the telephone)? Join us to discuss staffing needs, how to evolve to the right place, and how everyone should have at least some role. February 9, 2012 Social Giving How and why is the rise of social media affecting philanthropic giving? While the fundamentals of development haven’t changed significantly, the ways you go about storytelling, generating enthusiasm and motivating donors has been turned upside down in the last few years. Accordingly, as a networked nonprofit your approach to marketing a fundraising campaign needs to evolve as well. Join us to learn about the tools, strategies, and opportunities of social media based fundraising, and learn from interesting case studies in the field. March 14, 2012 Social Media for Jewish Learning: The Social Sermon Let’s consider 2 common functions of a synagogue: Jewish learning, and Shabbat services. In both cases, the dynamic is based on a hierarchical model, rather than a networked one: A teacher at the front of the class, and the rabbi talking to the congregation from behind a podium. Let’s consider how social media tools can help us evolve these dynamics to create conversation, support collaboration, and engage more voices in our community. Join us to learn about The Social Sermon and explore how rabbis and educators can put blogs, Facebook and Twitter to use in some creative ways to discuss the weekly Torah portion and build relationships, participation and engagement in your congregation online and in person. May 17, 2012 Return on Engagement: How to Measure the Impact of Your Socializing ROI ROI ROI. We’re always hearing about the return on investment of time, energy and dollars. How do you measure what something is worth? Reflecting back on our previous 5 topics, we’ll look at how to measure engagement, why it’s essential for your success, and how focusing on it can be the key for evolving your synagogue to thrive in the networked age. Interested in learning more about how Jewish organizations can function as networked nonprofits? Join the conversation in our online book group!

Educators as Accidental Techies

Several years ago during a conversation with Harlene Appelman of The Covenant Foundation, I learned an important term: The Positive Deviant. Harlene uses this term (and now so do I) to describe those people who are doing things in new and different ways, perhaps disrupting systems and organizations from the inside out in good, productive, and important ways. They are the people who are worthy of cheerleading and supporting because they are making change on the ground, and their work will — in time — impact many people. In the field of nonprofit technology, we have another term for these sorts of folks: The Accidental Techie. As defined by Webster’s Online Dictionary:

In the field of nonprofit technology, an accidental techie is an individual who has gravitated toward responsibility for an organization’s information technology infrastructure, even though his or her professional training or job description did not include tasks of this kind.

In other words, someone’s filling the void, charting new territory, and becoming a resource for others in their organization. More often than not, we find the accidental techies in synagogues are the educators. Today in the last of our 6 part webinar series for NATE and JEA educators, we explored why this is often the case (they love learning curves, rather than being intimidated by them; they are willing to try new things and refresh their approach often; the "new rules of the game" walk in their door every year; and they know technology alone isn’t a silver bullet — the SMARTboard doesn’t educate the student, the teacher does), what their colleagues and organizations actually need, and how it feels to occupy this role. As social media and other technologies are influencing individuals, society, and business, organizations must evolve the way they conduct their work and communicate with their constituents. Enter technology. From data management to communications to customer service. While few will argue about the importance of these tools, most organizations have not actually made the structural changes to support their use. One important shift is staffing. Who has these responsibilities written into their job description? Who is in charge of listening and engaging community members? When do you need to move from the occasional IT consultant to someone who has expertise in-house? In today’s webinar, educators shared the roles they are playing — from IT support to providing in-house trainings, from being the communications "nag" to the "technology advocate". In some cases participants felt they are swimming upstream in a culture that does not yet recognize the importance or need of these tools and applications, nor recognizes the asset they have in a tech-savvy educator. In other cases, participants felt that their congregation is in fact very appreciative of the expertise they bring, and are so eager to take advantage of it that they don’t have enough time to do their "real" job. This is a moment of important evolution. If you are an accidental technie or positive deviant, please know you’re not alone. It’s so valuable to hear each others stories, to know what’s working well and where you could use some creative ideas and support from your peers. How are you problem solving, balancing your various responsibilities, gaining respect and appreciation for this additional role you are playing, and ultimately advancing and maturing your organization? I invite the NATE and JEA participants — and everyone else — to use the comments on this post as a space for sharing, listening, asking and supporting. Interested in learning more about accidental techies? Judi Sohn, from the Colorectal Cancer Coalition, writing on the NTEN blog Robert Weiner, nonprofit technology consultant, writing on the NTEN blog

And the Recipients Are… Announcing Our New Cohort of Educators!

We are thrilled to announce our first cohort for the Darim Social Media Boot Camp for Educators, chosen from among over 50 applicants. Included among them are national educational organizations, congregations, and a day school. We were excited to receive over 50 applications for this cohort, and it was very difficult to make these decisions! We weighed organizational readiness, innovation in institutional design and/or project design, team formation and creativity in thinking and culture, among other attributes. We appreciate all of the work put into the process, and we look forward to continuing conversations with all applicants in one way or another. And now, announcing the 2011-12 cohort! Drumroll please… Centropa Support the work of Centropa’s United States education department and its educators through the use of social media, including curricular resources and professional development. Team Leader: Lauren Granite, US Education Director Congregation B’nai Amoona, St. Louis Create a mission driven vision that takes advantage of social media and other 21st century technology tools to create strong and meaningful connections with a focus on integrating family education, adult education, and experiential education. Team Leader: Jennifer Newfeld, Director of Congregational Learning IKAR, Los Angeles Create family-based learning activities and interacting with Jewish ideas and values through home-based Judaism that complements students’ face to face learning. Team Leader: Rabbi Rebecca Rosenthal, Director of Education Jewish Enrichment Center, Chicago Develop a strategic “networked nonprofit” model of leadership that includes school professionals, parents, and volunteers. Team Leader: Rebecca Milder, Director Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation, Evanston Investigate new meanings of community and develop a Shabbat chavurah to support reconnection of the family and expand the ways members connect and communicate Shabbat experiences. Team Leader: Terri Ginsberg Bernsohn, Religious School Director Matan Develop online professional development events for Matan’s Jewish education institutes and support associated communities of learning for leaders and future leaders in Jewish special needs inclusion. Team Leader: Meredith Polsky, Special Education Coordinator Temple Beth Abraham, Tarrytown, NY Create multiple points of community building and engagement for current and potential congregational members with support from social media and personal learning networks. Team Leader: Pamela Barkley, Director of Education Temple Judea, Coral Gables, FL Strengthen communication and engagement with parents and families in a strategic way to build and augment the synagogue’s educational community. Team Leader: Beth Young, Director of Education The Weber School, Atlanta Use social media to provide students with opportunities to develop social and academic relationships with Israeli teenagers with whom they will be visiting during a 5 week Israel component in the middle of the school year. Team Leader: Rachel Schwartz, Teacher, History and Judaics Departments University of Washington, Stroum Jewish Studies Program, Seattle Develop a localized, interactive, and immersive digital ecosystem for Jewish studies students, beginning at the University of Washington and eventually expanding to other universities. Team Leader: Professor Noam Pianko These teams exhibited exceptional enthusiasm, readiness, and vision and we look forward to working with them this year! We’re thankful to the Covenant Foundation for supporting our work with this cohort. In addition, as part of this funding, Darim will be presenting a series of webinars over the coming year with a focus on innovation and social media in Jewish education, including guest experts such as David Bryfman. All Darim Online members are welcome to join these webinars. Not a member yet? Sign up here. Finally, Darim is running a six part webinar series for congregational educators this summer, starting July 5, in conjunction with NATE and JEA. Learn more and sign up here: NATE members click here and JEA members click here

The Discomfort of Learning

My 7 year old son has been learning how to ride a 2 wheel bike. Over the past several weeks his attitude has shifted from excitement to intimidation to frustration to despondence and back again. He got in a bad mood when we suggested practicing, blamed the bike for malfunctioning, and claimed a slightly skinned knee prevented him from any further effort. At one point he screamed, “I quit!”, which prompted our older neighbor (rocking on her porch swing) to call out, “No, Eli, never give up! You’ll get it!”.

Of course, he learned how to ride a bike. There was a breakthrough moment when he felt the balance, and another when he realized dad had let go for over 10 feet without telling him. But getting there was not easy, simple, or predictable. Building the skills he needed did not happen in a linear progression, and he did not get any positive feedback on his progress for 85% of the learning curve. Ultimately, he learned how to feel his body and feel the bike, and let go of trying to over-think the endeavor. Now he’s tearing down dirt paths.

It’s not so different learning to be a networked, social media savvy nonprofit. Sometimes you try and try and nothing happens. Sometimes you skin your knees a bit, or get frustrated with the equipment, or feel like you don’t even want to practice anymore. In the Avi Chai Academy, the Jewish Day Schools have just completed a 3 week match campaign through Facebook Causes. Everyone struggled, everyone learned. Some had their breakthrough moment, and others did not. So they’ll keep practicing and soon they’ll find their balance just like Eli eventually did on his bike. And when they do, they’ll recognize all sorts of other possibilities now available to them, like mountain biking, and renting bikes on vacation, and entering a triathlon with a friend.

Learning new things is not comfortable. We’ve all had plenty of practice studying for tests or memorizing facts, but not all learning happens in this bookish-academic-structured way. Sometimes learning is more fluid — it’s about developing instincts, or rewriting the rules of engagement or the patterns of working that we’re used to. Social media is not a memorizing-the-facts sort of learning. It’s more like the feeling the balance of the bike and understanding your center of gravity and the power of shifting your weight sort of learning.

And as my son can tell you, you can expect to crash and burn at least a hundred times before you have your first ah-ha moment. And that ah-ha moment is just the beginning, it’s not the end. It’s just that little burst of confidence that you need to persevere to the next stage of learning.

More important than actually learning how to ride a bike was a life lesson Eli learned about perseverance. Now he knows that he will face challenges and resistance from time to time in life. He will feel frustration, and it will occur to him that he should just give up. But now he also knows that if he just keeps at it, the breakthrough moment will eventually come. Today he asked me if it’s hard to learn how to ride a unicycle. Oh boy.

Eli’s first solo ride down the block:

Linkedin for Nonprofits

Guest post by Debra Askanase, Community Organizer 2.0

Linkedin-logo-candies1

I had the privilege of presenting a webinar to the Darim Online community June 1, 2011 about how to use Linkedin for nonprofits. When I was preparing for the webinar, two things struck me: why cause-focused groups may not work well on Linked (more on that below), and how much Linkedin offers. The presentation focuses on five ways to best utilize Linkedin professionally: be goal-oriented, optimize both your personal and company profiles, utilize groups, and use Linkedin Answers.

If I had to offer three tips about using Linkedin effectively, they would be:

  • Think about why you and your company want to be one Linkedin, and how you use it will follow
  • Identify a combination of 10 keywords and keyword phrases that best describe you, and 10 others that best describe the organization. Integrate these keywords and keyword phrases into your personal and company profiles
  • Complete all employee personal Linkedin profiles to 100%, as well as the organizational profile

Start with your Goals

The key to using any social media platform effectively is to use it to meet your goals. Decide first why you (or your organization) would want to use Linkedin (such as finding collaborators, funders, or colleagues). Once you know why you want to use Linkedin, how you will use Linkedin follows. For example, if you want to use Linkedin to connect with foundations then you might:

  • search for people who work at those foundations
  • join groups that they have joined and participate
  • ask for introductions through mutual Linkedin connections
  • use Linkedin Answers to ask a question about contacting foundations

Identifying your goals will dictate your Linkedin strategy.

Optimize your personal profile

One aspect of optimizing your profile is completing it fully. Be sure to include your photo, a summary of who you are, keywords and interests, and a summary of what youve accomplished in every position. Its also important to have at least five recommendations, since you can search Linkedin by number of recommendations.

Use the advanced search option to understand how you can be found, and include those in your profile. Some of the search parameters are by industry, geographic location, number of recommendations, and position titles.

Optimizing your profile also means placing important phrases and keywords within your profile. Think about 10 to 15 keywords and keyword phrases that describe you professionally. Specifically, place keyword-rich content within the summary, specialties, and interests sections.

Optimize the company profile

If your organization doesnt have a company profile, create one on Linkedin. Identify the 10-15 keywords that best describe your organization, and integrate them into the company profile for the profile to be search-ready. If your organization has a blog or Twitter presence, be sure to add those to the company profile to personalize the company. Also, if you want to highlight specific products or services, do so through the new products and services feature.

Utilize the power of groups

Real connecting happens within groups. Search for groups related to your profession and industry. I also recommend joining groups your professional colleagues belong to as well. If a group is inactive or not valuable, leave. If it is, spend time within the group answering questions and offering help. When you find yourself in an interesting discussion, invite your colleagues to connect with you personally on Linkedin after the discussion has concluded. I tend to see the same group of people commenting on group discussions, which helps me to know them through our participation.

When groups are managed by nonprofits, and the discussion is about the nonprofit or a specific cause, they tend to be inactive. I looked at many public nonprofit-administered groups while researching this presentation, and most were very inactive or not lively. (I cannot comment on private groups, though.) I suspect that cause-specific or nonprofit-specific groups arent very active because Linkedin users want to discuss professional issues, not organizational mission. I also think that mission-based discussion has limited appeal while industry-based discussion has much broader appeal and basis for discussion. Additionally, Linkedin is not best used as a platform for recruiting people to become direct stakeholders; there are other platforms much better suited to cause-focused discussions.

There appears to be two exceptions to the inactive nonprofit-administered groups rule: One is Autism Speaks, which has a very lively Linkedin group, though Im not able to comment on why this is the case. The other exception seems to be professional associations. For example, the alumni group of the Princes Scottish Youth Business Trust (a youth business mentoring program) is a very active group for business class alums to connect with others and possibly do business together.

Linkedin Answers

Linkedin Answers is both a wonderful research tool and means to find new connections. By subscribing the the RSS feed of a certain category of questions (such as Social Entrepreneurship) you can stay up to date on the latest industry discussions, and also answer questions yourself. If your answer is selected as the best answer, you win the best answer designation, which enhances your professional credibility. Also, questions reach the entire Linkedin community, not just your personal connections.

Other Linkedin goodies

I love looking at whats going on in the Linkedin labs. Most recently, Ive enjoyed Linkedin Maps (visualize your own network) and Signal (trending news stories shared by your connections) from the labs. Check back each month for new labs products.

Resources

Joanne Fritz of nonprofit.about.com published a great article with many tips for nonprofit professionals using Linkedin. Fast Company also published an article with five Linkedin tips you didnt know. Read the excellent Net2 Think Tank discussion about using Linkedin for change. Allison Fine interviews Amy Sample Ward and Estrella Rosenberg on how nonprofits can use Linkedin on the December Social Good podcast. Drop in on the informative weekly Linkedin Twitter chat at 8pm every Tuesday, hosted by @LinkedinExpert and @MartineHunter.

If youd like to watch the recorded webinar that I presented with Darim Online, you may view it here.

What is your Linkedin tip? What is the most useful thing about using Linkedin that youve found?

The Value of a Social Media Policy

Consider the following tale: Gloria works for a large and respected nonprofit organization. She tweets occasionally for the organization, but also has a personal account. One day, in an innocent slip of the fingers, she tweets about drinking at a party from her work account instead of her personal one. Not registering the error, she finishes her day as usual. June’s colleague suddenly starts fielding messages from the organization’s constituents about the, ahem, unexpected tweet. How should he react? Or perhaps this little story will capture your fancy: Tom recently Googled his organization and found that there were several blogs discussing a project his team was implementing. He was pleasantly surprised to find such an enthusiastic group advocating on behalf of his organization, but the blog was hosting by an organization with explicit political leanings, and Tom’s organization is specifically non-partisan. Should Tom take advantage of building the organization’s network and strengthening relationships with individuals who could contribute a lot to their work, or should he steer clear of anything that could be interpreted as political? How should Tom respond? Both June’s colleague and Tom could really use somewhere to turn for guidance. The way many organizations are facing these and other questions is by developing a social media policy (we recently blogged about the excellent policy developed by the Avi Chai Foundation here: “Avi Chai Foundation Gets Social”). A social media policy is essentially a document that helps define how different groups associated with an organization should conduct themselves online. It is a valuable and powerful tool. A social media policy helps outline both expectations and possibilities for social media interactions. It acts as a go-to document for any questions or conflicts that may arise. A social media policy can provide a sense of security, knowing your team is approaching social media from the same set of assumptions. It can also, somewhat counter-intuitively, foster a sense of freedom in the use of social media – you can jump into the game with more confidence when you know the rules. Perhaps even more valuable than the document itself is the process of developing a social media policy. It encourages a big conversation, an honest discussion of the values and character of your organization and how they should be reflected online. As Beth Kanter explains on her blog, “…if you want the policy to truly work, you need a process, especially if your organization is still grappling with fears and concerns.” The process can present an amazing opportunity for listening, sharing, and reflection among the people who make your good work possible. Darim is here to help you have this conversation and implement your own social media policy. That way, Gloria’s accidental tweet (a true story which you can find out more about here) and Tom’s political blog posts won’t seem so daunting – with the right approach, they can become opportunities for learning and increased connection with the people who care most about what you do. To dig deeper into this topic and start the conversation, Darim is offering a webinar on social media policies (and because it’s our tenth anniversary, you’re welcome to join us for free). Here is all the information: Social Media Staffing and Policies Tuesday, May 17, 1-2pm Register here: http://bit.ly/lZTGph And we want to hear from you! Does your organization have a social media policy? If so, what did you learn, or how did you grow through the process of creating your guidelines or policy?

Last Call For Applications: Darim’s Boot Camp for Educators

Last call for applications – the deadline for the new Darim Online Social Media Boot Camp for Educators is Monday, May 2, 11:59pm: Learn more… and apply – now!! The short of it: The program will support innovative Jewish educators in using social media effectively in their work, and assist their organizations in evolving models for success in the digital age. A Little More About the Program Darim is seeking to mentor up to 10 Jewish educational organizations, represented by 3-5 person teams, that are engaged in innovation and risk taking and which serve North American Jews. These teams will participate in a year long professional development and coaching experience to advance their work. The program includes:

  • Participation in Darim’s series of monthly skill-building webinars which includes Darim’s overall Learning Network for Educators (teachers, directors of education, rabbis, lay leaders, and others interested in Jewish education);
  • Private coaching and consulting with Darim consultants to address strategic and tactical goals, and to help design, implement, and refine a technology-supported project. Teams from each organization will meet with a coach approximately twice a month over the academic year, with additional communications as needed;
  • Connection with other members of the Social Media Boot Camp, to learn from each others’ experience and projects through an online community and webinar-based sharing;
  • Membership to Darim Online and access to its other Learning Network events and resources.

The long of it, including eligibility, program structure, and a link to the application form, can be found here. The deadline for applications is Monday, May 2, 2011, 11:59pm. Got a great, innovative, social media-y Jewish education idea? What are you waiting for? The Social Media Boot Camp for Educators program is made possible through a generous grant by The Covenant Foundation.

The Four Children as Developmental Stages of Technology Leadership: Reflections from the Avi Chai Technology Academy

(Cross posted from a guest post on the Avi Chai Foundation blog) And… They’re off! As you may have heard, the Avi Chai Foundation has gathered a diverse cohort of New York and New Jersey Day Schools to learn about social media tools and strategies, and to support them in developing their own “experiments” to develop their networks, engage with parents and alumni, and ramp up development efforts over the next several months. After two full workshops, online exchanges and a bit of homework, the teams (2 from each school) are off and running with their project plans. Or maybe, more accurately we should say that they are playing and experimenting — because this is how we learn. One thing that I enjoy about this cohort is that they ask great questions. While reading about the four children (Wise, Wicked, Simple and One that does not know how to ask) this year at our Pesach seder, I began thinking about how these archetypes apply to (adult) students of social media. When teaching about something as new and different as a communications revolution, I see all of these archetypes (and, honestly, I experience all of them myself too). In the most successful situations, I’ve seen participants progress from one to the next as their openness, comfort, curiosity and enthusiasm grow. Inspired by the four children in the Haggadah, I offer you four (non-judgemental) archetypes of the social media learner: The accidental techie comes eager to learn, ready to experiment, and with some solid social media experience under their belt. They know the tools (largely self-taught), can learn by exploring themselves, and are willing to assume a pioneering role for their organization. Encourage the accidental techie to play a leadership role in the organization, to teach others, and to explain the opportunities and successes taking place that others might miss. Give them the time and encouragement to continue to explore and innovate online, and make sure they have peers and mentors to support them. The implementer is concerned with the “how-to” of social media. This person accepts the responsibility to use the tools in their job, and is developing a skill set to be able to effectively execute this role. Without an instinctual understanding of social media culture, this person may tend to post only about events, or neglect the need to be listening and engaging online as well as speaking. An early stage implementer applies the old paradigm social norms to the new paradigm spaces. An advanced implementer has learned these skills and they are on the verge of becoming instinctual and natural as he or she develops this “fluency” – it’s not unlike learning a language. Continue to point out to this person the idiosyncrasies that take their work from good to great. The deer-in-headlights is the one who doesn’t know how to ask. While they may be overwhelmed and feel like a fish out of water, this person is curious and listening. This person needs to know that there are no stupid questions – that we are all learning all the time, and that the rate of change is in fact ridiculously fast. Make sure this participant realizes that they are not alone (most of the room feels this way too!) and help them to feel confidence and success in at least a few places. Celebrate the small successes, and guide them to focus on a small number of basic tasks in order to develop their own foundation from which they can play and experiment. The nay-sayer resists acknowledging that communications revolution applies to their work. They are often heard saying, “We’ve always done it this way and it’s working just fine,” or “Our community doesn’t use these things.” The nay-sayer is often scared of change (aren’t we all?) and finds it safer and easier to deny the influence of social media tools and culture on their work than to wrestle with the inevitable questions and issues that we all must face. The best way to engage the nay-sayer is to help them see the value of these tools personally (“oh, photos of my grandson on Facebook! This is great!” or “Wow, someone volunteered to bring snack to the soccer game in 3 minutes – that’s incredible!”) before considering how to apply them to their professional work. The participants in the Academy are largely the first two archetypes. They are eager, curious, and are asking deep, meaningful, and profound questions. Some are “implementer” questions (How can we upload a video of students that we can link to for parents without making it publicly available?); some are more strategic (Should we have multiple Facebook Pages for Lower, Middle and High schools, and another for alumni, or should we consolidate into one Page?); and others are philosophical or ethical (How can we model and teach responsible online behavior for our students when we’re not in control of what people post on our wall? Should we condone use of social media when this can lead to gossip or slander?). I know that as they begin the implement their projects, the questions will become more frequent and more fascinating. They are keeping me on my toes, and I love it! On May 5th we’ll conduct our third full day workshop. Their toolboxes will be full, their goals articulated, and coaches holding their hands for the next important phase of this experience – putting it into practice. As each school team embarks on developing their project, we’ll be learning together, reflecting and revising, and sharing with each other and with you as well. Stay tuned. We may have questions for you. In the meantime, take a moment to reflect on which archetype you are. What defines your current experience with and feelings about social media either personally or professionally? What do you need to move from one stage to the next?