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 He/she may feel “out of date” or “being passed by”, and if you can temper these negative emotions, the whole conversation may be smoother.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?

Making Your Media Matter 2009

The Center for Social Media is hosting the 5th annual Making Your Media Matter conference — a perfect opportunity to learn and share cutting-edge practices for creating media that matters. Held at American Universitys Katzen Arts Center in Washington, DC February 12-13, the conference brings together filmmakers, non-profit communications leaders, funders, and students to share and learn about using the latest tools and trends in creating, distributing, and fundraising for social issue media. Danny Alpert, a producer at See3 and others will be speaking in a number of panels. The best part? Only $100! ($50 for students).

If you’re going, let us know so the Jews can get together!

The Gift of Time and Organization. For Free! It’s Called RSS.

RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication. With a name like that, you’d think it would be so simple. While RSS can seem confusing, it really is so simple, and so valuable. Imagine a single newspaper delivered to your door every morning with articles on your favorite topics by your favorite authors. And nothing else to slog through. Welcome to RSS!

Common Craft, a great little firm from Seattle has produced a fun, short video to help us understand RSS:

I use Google Reader. There are many good readers out there, but I’ll use this as an example. Down the left side are all the “feeds” I subscribe to. When I run across a blog that I like, and want to keep up with, I click the “subscribe” button — commonly shown as this orange icon. That blog is then added to my reader.

Each morning when I sit down at my computer, I open my Google Reader. It shows me all my feeds down the left. I’ve organized them into folders by topic. The bold titles are the feeds with new posts. I can then scan the posts in the main part of the window, and click on any headline to open a new window to go directly to the blog. This way, I don’t have to remember all my favorite blogs, and remember to go to my “favorites” and take the time to check on each one, or waste time if there is no new content. It all comes to me.

I scan my feeds — I don’t read every single post of every single feed. And if over the course of time I find I’m skipping more than I’m reading, I can unsubscribe in one click and remove that feed from my reader.

This is a very useful way of organizing your own reading to keep up with the most amount of high quality and useful information in the least amount of time. It is also useful to know that this is how an increasingly large percentage of your constituents are aggregating and consuming content online. By RSS enabling your content, your readers will be alerted every time you post something new.

I add new feeds to my reader regularly, as I’m turned on to a new blog, or a trusted friend makes a recommendation. By pulling all of the greatest content together, it makes catching up on my reading a real treat — sometimes even a reward after I’ve completed a big task. What’s on your RSS reader?

Modeling the “Whole Internet” Strategy

RedWriteWeb, one of the most popular blogs on web technology news, is running a series of posts this week on how religious organizations are using technology. Today they focused on the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem, pluralistic research and training institute that trains and ordains rabbis as well as runs high schools in Jerusalem, among other things.

As their work attracts and serves a very diverse (and worldwide) audience, so too must their online strategy. Beyond information about the organization and programs via their web site, the Institute incorporates extensive video and slide sharing throughout the site to share their value and make their work (and their extraordinary teachers) come alive. Further, they are developing a Facebook strategy, working their Wikipedia entries, venturing into podcasting, blogging, using video-based distance learning, and experimenting with Twitter.

Alan Abbey, the organization’s web site manager, is turning theory into practice, experimenting, and measuring his success. More than dabbling in this and that, he is creating an internet strategy for his organization, and is implementing the multiple facets of that strategy. Alan knows that the age of focusing only on your web site ended in 2007, and he’s integrating multiple tools and approaches. He understands it may take time for each venture to get rooted and attract and audience. And for his audience to mature and start to use these tools as well. And perhaps, in the coming year or two, he’ll weed his garden and pursue a smaller number of approaches that have the greatest returns for his mission. Or maybe he’ll find great success in all of his approaches. Learn about his work at ReadWriteWeb. And check out the other religion postings this week too.

Further reading:

  • Andrea Useem writes about religious life and web 2.0 on the Religion Writer blog.
  • offers wisdom on using online video for non profit causes on their blog, See What’s Out There.
  • Short video tutorials on a number of social media tools, such as social bookmarking, Twitter and others from Common Craft.

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?

Social Media Workshops – Coming to a Federation Near You

I’m going on tour. Though I won’t have a tour bus or a back-up band, I am planning to be speaking at many local professional development events in the coming months. These events range from a hour workshop to a full day seminar. The goal is to answer this question: What Is Social Media, and How Can It Help Me?

The first of the series is part of the Wiener Educational Center’s series at the UJA Federation of New York on September 19, 2008. You can learn more about the event and register on their site.

Watch here for announcements of similar events in other cities which are currently being schedule. Interested in hosting a very valuable professional development event in your community? Give me a holler!