Social Media for Small Enterprises


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This presentation was designed as a webinar for Washington Access Fund, delivered November 15, 2010. For more presentations and information, visit

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  • My name is Amy Sample Ward and I’m a blogger, trainer, and facilitator working with nonprofits, community groups, campaigns and individual changemakers to use technology effectively for social impact. I strongly believe that the most sustainable way to make lasting social change is to build strong communities; and much of my work is focused on using social media to do just that. I often take part in events like this to share and connect with organizations from around the world, but I also serve as the Community Development Manager for a program area at TechSoup Global called Community-Driven Innovation, where I manage, among other things, the strategy and community for

    Before we dive into the main presentation, I want to take a minute to be explicit that I do work for TechSoup Global, an organization that has many relationships and offers many nonprofit discounts. But, that said, I am tool agnostic and hope that for the next hour we can all remain open to the very different contexts everyone here works in whether it’s platforms to training to budget. Let’s have a tool-safe session 
  • The goal of this webinar is to highlight various approaches and strategies as well as examine some specific examples for small enterprises using social media to build a community, become more connected and visible, as well as grow and expand the work, services, or products. We’ll talk about a few definitions, and then jump into the basics and best practices. We’ll finish with some specific examples and hopefully have some time at the end for discussion and questions from you.

    I also want to be sure everyone knows that these slides will be shared online and emailed to you after the session. So, don’t feel that you need to take notes if you don’t want to, as you’ll have access to the slides along with the speaker notes I’m using.
  • There are just a few things I want to define before we start the conversation. First of all: community. It’s a word I personally use A LOT. And know it comes up all the time, in many different ways, with social media. For the context of this talk, I’m using a pretty loose frame: community means the most related network to your work – for someone running a local fundraising campaign for a homeless shelter, community would mean the funders, volunteers, local government or community leaders, those being served and so on. It’s easy to say that the term applies to all those in the world doing the same thing, all those serving the homeless, all those that are homeless. And when talking about movement building, I completely agree. But for the sake of this talk, and looking at your own use of social media, we need to start closer to home.
  • The next big one to define is “social media.” This graphic is really a super small snapshot of the tools and applications considered social media. What I’m defining this as for our talk today, and the same one I use generally in my work, is anything that enables interaction online. Pretty vague, but important to note that it’s interaction and not just content.
  • Lastly, we need to define what’s meant as an “enterprise.” For this webinar, I know many of you are working on building your own business, but the same best practices and information is useful for Washington Access, and many other organizations. The idea here is that enterprise relates to a small organization by the number of staff, and thus has a fairly flexible and personal face or profile.
  • Now for the basics! Let’s break these down into specific groups of listening, joining and creating. You’ll see here and on the following slides, that I’ve included questions to consider related to the topic. These are things you can use to help frame your thinking now, as well as after the webinar as you work through building a strategy and using social media tools for your work.
  • Are you familiar with the idea of barn raising? Well, essentially, the idea is that a barn is pretty quick to build if the entire community comes together to help. But, not just that, it would be impossible to do alone. Can you imagine building a barn all buy yourself, especially if it was just by hand? Even if you were to succeed it would take a very long time to do. The same is true with using social media. It’s social! You can’t talk to yourself or operate in a silo. You succeed with social media by being social, having conversations, sharing value, and being part of the community. That principle underlies all the tools and examples we’ll talk about going forward.
  • Listening is the foundation of using social media. We’ll look specifically at RSS, Alerts and Search.
  • RSS means Really Simple Syndication and here’s how it works: Most of us have a set of websites, blogs, news sites, and so on that we check every day or even multiple times per day. All of these sites have RSS, which let’s us subscribe to the content. Instead of visiting the sites to check for news or new content, you can visit your RSS reader which automatically retrieves content as it is posted from all the websites, blogs, or other places you have subscribed. The orange signal icon here is the RSS symbol. Seeing that in the URL bar of your browser, or on a website is your ticket to subscribing to the content.
  • You can find blogs to subscribe to using Google’s Blog Search or Technorati. Often, blogs are a great place to follow conversations because not only are they individuals or groups sharing ideas and news, they have communities of followers and readers that subscribe and comment. We’ll get to the commenting in a bit.
  • Google Alerts are essential. They are free and very simple to set up. You enter the search terms you want to follow, and this can be anything. I recommend creating an alert for your name, your organization’s name, any other key staff you have, and the names of any programs or services or products. The type is for the type of content, but comprehensive will bring you everything. How often is up to you if you want to receive the alerts by email, for example once a day will send you an email once each day with all results included. If you want to subscribe to alerts via RSS though, select as it happens from this drop down menu. The delivery field is if you want to get the email or RSS. Then simply hit create! You can create as many as you want and you can always delete them in the future if you find there are ones that work better for you than others.
  • You can also search for conversations taking place about you or your enterprise or your sector across the web. Searches also let you subscribe via RSS so you can see any new results for that search topic, too. This is a screen shot of Twitter Search, where you can see there is a subscribe via RSS option on the right of the search results. Keep in mind, you can search for conversations and posts on twitter even without having an account yet.
  • So, what do you do now that you have subscribe to lots of RSS feeds and set up Alerts? You need a place to organize all that information. Google’s homepage igoogle, Google Reader and Netvibes are all designed for this purpose. This is netvibes and it’s very easy to use.
  • This is a screen shot of my netvibes dashboard; each of these boxes is a separate website, blog, or other content source. You can also choose to view it as folders and items, much like an email inbox. To create this, I signed up for an account, and then visited the websites I wanted to follow, clicked on the RSS icons to get the URL, clicked the green “add content” box here, and pasted the RSS URL from the website. That’s it. The organization on the page is drag and drop, but for someone reading a screen reader, you can use the folder view. I created these tabs to help organize the content and you can customize it however you like. This is also where you would add the RSS information from your Google Alerts or searches.

    Does anyone have any questions about the listening section? We’ll see listening in action in the next section.

    RESOURCE: For a step by step guide to setting up your listening dashboard, visit:
  • Now that you’re listening online, you can start joining! Specifically, let’s look at comments, signposting and participating.
  • Comments are a great way to see our listening in action. If we’re listening to conversations as they take shape, we not only have a more informed view of what others are thinking and doing but have an idea of where we can share ideas, ask questions, and even offer our own answers. Using the listening dashboard from before, here’s an example. I have set up a Google Alert for N2Y4 which stands for NetSquared Year 4 and was the name or abbreviation for our conference in 2009. I see in my dashboard, via RSS, an alert that the name was used in a YouTube post. I can click on that and see the original content.
  • Here is the YouTube post that mentioned N2Y4. I see that it is an interview with one of the winners from the project competition, and when I watch a bit of the video I see that Josh is explaining the project in simple terms and discussing the work – something that would be great to share. I can then choose to “like” it, share it or comment. I could even write a short blog post on the NetSquared site and embed the video, or encourage either the interviewer or Josh to do so.
  • Signposting is something many people forget to do but it can make a big difference, especially when you’re getting started with social media. Signposting means ensuring that your various online profiles (including your website!) point to the other places you’re active online. Someone may find you on the web from searching for something and coming across your website – but they may not be interested in interacting with you there. Including links to other places you are online, like twitter or facebook or other social networks, you let that user choose where to engage with you. The same goes for every space – I might find Washington Access Fund on facebook because a friend posted something and it showed up in my news feed, but maybe I’d rather check them out and follow them elsewhere, so clearly including links in the profile will help people click through to where they want to be. This is an example of NetSquared’s profiles on facebook, twitter, and kabissa, a niche social network for organizations working in Africa – all of them prominently point back to the website and how to get involved.
  • Joining events online is a great way to get connected to conversations and build your community – you can find others interested in the topics you care about and can position yourself as a contributing member of the community. Twitter chats, for example, happen all the time about all kinds of topics. Hashtags are used to pull chats together so that people can easily contribute and filter the stream. A hashtag is, as you can see on the screen here, the number symbol followed by words, numbers or abbreviations. This one is npcons which stands for nonprofit consultants. It’s a monthly twitter chat for nonprofit consultants to share ideas, ask questions, and share experiences. There are also online events that use other media, like photo sharing on flickr or video sharing on youtube that ask a question or provide a topic and participants respond with the corresponding media.

    Does anyone have any questions about joining? We’ll get to creating in the next section!

    RESOURCE: Use this website to see what various hashtags mean:
  • Now that we are listening and joining in, we can really start creating! Specifically, let’s look at content, conversations and connections.
  • Creating content can really take many, many shapes. This includes blogs, photos, videos and eBooks. Once you’ve started listening and following along online, you should be able to identify the platforms and kind of content most relevant to your audience and community. If you found that there weren’t many active blogs on the topic, but lots of people chatting about the products and services in that topic on twitter, it’s probably best that you don’t invest a lot of energy in starting a blog – you already know that the community is connecting elsewhere. You also want to be sure that you are selecting a kind of content that you’re interested in using. If you see lots of people using twitter but you just don’t like it, but you do like to blog then maybe creating a blog will work better for you so long as you use plug ins and other tools that let people get notified of your blog posts and even comment via twitter. That way you are respecting their preference for another tool but still creating ways to engage with each other.
  • The next step for creating is to create conversations. You can start a chat using twitter or another tool like CoverItLive, be sure that you are commenting elsewhere. Especially for those that provide a service or product that is related to items in the news, remember that more and more news outlets provide comments on their stories online, so you can engage there as well. In social media, you’ll have the most fun and get the most out of it if you are having a conversation – whether it is on Twitter or a blog or an email newsletter, just promoting your enterprise and pushing out messages won’t win you many friends, get you many supporters, or even let you have much fun. It’s in the conversation that you can start to make those connections.

    RESOURCE: For a presentation about blogging, facebook and twitter for blind or partially sighted people, visit
    Highlights: Wordpress, facebook and Twitter are actually quite accessible. Main areas of issue are, for example, with facebook there are settings that use an adjustable slider that may not be read by screen readers. Wordpress is completely accessible with screen readers, but also allows users to subscribe in RSS to receive content in various ways. Wordpress also offers plugins for pulling in Twitter and Facebook.
  • And, with how do you make those connections? It isn’t just replying to a question, or having a conversation, but actually stregthening the network. Make recommendations or introductions between people you know. See an organization or product that seems awesome? Share your thoughts publicly online and be sure to use their username, others will see it and may follow them too – but that organization will see it as well. It’s how you build up the network and help others find each other. You become the connector and it’s a very important role in the ecosystem.

    Does anyone have any questions about creating? We will cover best practices and examples to go into further detail as well.
  • Now for some best practices. Specifically, in this section we are going to look at goals, connecting offline and online, and creating a strategy.
  • The first best practice is to concentrate your efforts in the sweet spot. To do that, we use this nifty venn diagram. Here’s how you use it: first identify what your community wants to do, and remember that the community wants to do all kinds of things, and many of them have nothing to do with your mission or your services or your work – what it is coming together around, whether it’s an event, an action, or a movement. Next, identify what you want to do, what your organizational goals are; and again, there’s going to be aspects of your work that the community is really not that interested in. Those two “wants to do” areas will overlap and that gray area is the sweet spot. The key here is knowing it’s okay that the circles don’t entirely overlap! Maybe you provide services, and your community doesn’t want to be providing those services, but they are happy you are doing so. And maybe the community wants to endorse a specific candidate, and your organization doesn’t. But both the community and your organization want to see certain laws passed, things improved, programs created or groups supported. That’s the sweet spot where you can focus your energy.
  • Much of our work requires actions offline, but using social media tools to bridge actions, communities, and conversations on both sides of the computer screen can help you with scale and accessibility. Connect online and offline by integrating a live chat or streamed video from your event offline to the online community. Allow people to ask questions or share ideas virtually. Be willing to take the lead as the shepherd between offline and online, making connections in public (by posting on the same platforms as your members) so that others can follow. And consider having an offline demo or gathering where content is created and archived online.
  • Creating a strategy can be a daunting task. So, let’s start at the beginning by mapping your community. You can do this by yourself, but I recommend doing it as a team or even as an organization. You’d be surprised the kinds of conversation that emerge when you start talking about your community, especially as it is understood by various departments in your organization.
    Create a chart – either on a whiteboard, a flipchart, or even a document on your computer.
    The first column has all of your groups or segments of the community; next their goal – try to keep this as general as possible like the examples above. The third column is your goal for the interaction with that group, and again you want to keep it pretty high level. And lastly, this is the column for the tools where that segment wants to be interacting with you.
    Having this be an exercise for a team or staff meeting, or even retreat, really gets people talking and sharing experiences from different departments and can help the entire group feel better positioned to engage.

    RESOURCE: Here’s a DIY content and community strategy post to help you out:
  • Let’s look at a few specific opportunities. I’ve selected three examples, one product, one service and one consultant.
  • For the product example, I’ve chosen MYKA shoes. This is the product website and as you can see it lends itself to a very specific audience because of the design, the colors, and so on. It allows visitors to make purchases on the site, review the collection, and find offline stores that carry the shoes.
  • Here is the shop profile for MYKA shoes on etsy. Etsy is an online network that allows people to sell crafts, art, vintage and handmake clothes, and much more. You can see from the profile screen shot here that the kind of visitor to the etsy shop is going to be different than the visitors the site markets itself toward. The benefit of setting up a shop on etsy for this shoe maker is that she can more widely distribute her product, she can be part of a vetted network as etsy allows other users to review sellers (you’ll note she has a 100% positive rating!) and be part of a community of like-spirited creators.
  • And finally, here is the MYKA shoes profile page on facebook. Nearly 600 people have “liked” the page already. Using facebook gives people who like the shoes to share photos of themselves with the fashionable product, let’s people considering the shoes see what people are saying, and encourage more sales by providing discounts or specials.

    Does anyone have any questions about this example of a product across social media?
  • Next, we have an example of a service provider using social media. Here is the website for Camden Holistic and one of the first things you see is the link to the facebook page, as we talked about earlier, so people can elect to join wherever they prefer.
  • Here’s the page on facebook. You’ll see the link back to the website in the profile box. You’ll also notice a special offer right on top!
  • Camden Holistic also offers an email list so that you can be notified of new services, discounts, and other events. Here’s an example message showing that you don’t have to always use specially designed enewsletters in order to get the attention of your community. She formatted the email so it’s easy to read and skim, and highlights the offers. When it comes to email messages, it’s more important that you segment your audience appropriately than it is to have a super slick design. If your messages are consistently irrelevant to the recipients, it doesn’t matter how pretty they are. Jana has marked me as someone that has had a back neck and shoulder massage before so I receive messages that include offers for that same service and others that are similar in purpose.

    Does anyone have any questions about this example of a service using social media?
  • Lastly, we have an example of a consultant using social media. I’m highlighting Pamela Grow because I think she does a very good job and gets a lot of things right. This is a screen shot of her blog and website where you can see she has a tab for a chat she facilitates on twitter as well as webinars and resources.
  • Here’s the author biography for her on Ezine articles and a story on where she is interviewed. These are both examples of places to cross-promote and distribute her content and expertise in a way that benefits the other platforms by having valuable content, benefits her by diversifying the places online where people could find her and connect to her website, and benefits the community by not closing in the knowledge or confining it to just one place. Social media has dramatically impacted “knowledge” in that many people expect to get the advice or information for free, and pay for the service or support that comes with it. For example, instead of buying a book, they want to read the book for free and pay the author to help them personalize the information and strategy.
  • Lastly, here are some quotes from Pamela on twitter from the twitter chat she leads where you can see she is highlighting other consultants and their work and resources. Showing that she’s part of the community and happy to help connect people looking for others, as we discussed earlier.

    Does anyone have any questions about this example of a consultant on social media? We can open for questions and general discussion next.
  • Anyone have questions? I’d love to un-mute the lines and hear how those on the call are already or are looking to use social media as well. You are welcome to type any questions you have or unmute your line to discuss.
  • Most photos used in this presentation were screen shots taken on or near October 25, 2010 – other photos were found on Flickr via creative commons license and credited here.
  • Thanks so much for joining me! I really hope we can continue talking about this topic and I’m eager to hear more about your organization’s examples. You can connect with me any time on twitter, email or the web. Thanks again!
  • Social Media for Small Enterprises

    1. 1. Amy Sample Ward Social Media Basics: Getting Your Enterprise Connected Amy Sample Ward November 15, 2010
    2. 2. Welcome I’m Amy: a blogger, trainer, and facilitator focused on supporting organizations and local communities to use social media in strengthening networks and making lasting change. I’m also the Community Development Manager, CDI at TechSoup Global. | @amyrsward | Transparency: I work for TechSoup Global but present from a tool agnostic position. Likewise, I invite everyone on this call to join me in recognizing that all organizations and individuals face a different set of needs around capacity, funding, accessibility and community that impact tool choices. Amy Sample Ward
    3. 3. Agenda • Definitions • The Basics • Best Practices • Opportunities • Questions • Discussion Amy Sample Ward
    4. 4. Definitions: Community Amy Sample Ward
    5. 5. Definitions: Social Media Amy Sample Ward
    6. 6. Definitions: Enterprise Amy Sample Ward
    7. 7. The Basics • Listening • Joining • Creating Questions to consider: What am I already doing, and how do I build on that strategically? Where is my hub & what’s my goal? Amy Sample Ward
    8. 8. The Basics Amy Sample Ward
    9. 9. The Basics: Listening • RSS • Alerts • Search Questions to consider: Who’s already talking about my work or the issues that matter to me? Where are people talking that I don’t know? Amy Sample Ward
    10. 10. The Basics: Listening & RSS Amy Sample Ward
    11. 11. The Basics: Listening & RSS Amy Sample Ward
    12. 12. The Basics: Listening & Alerts Amy Sample Ward
    13. 13. The Basics: Listening & Search Amy Sample Ward
    14. 14. The Basics: Listening Dashboard Amy Sample Ward
    15. 15. The Basics: Listening Dashboard Amy Sample Ward
    16. 16. The Basics: Joining • Comments • Signposting • Participating Questions to consider: What do I think, what have I experienced, what do I know? Where else am I engaged? Amy Sample Ward
    17. 17. The Basics: Joining with Comments Amy Sample Ward
    18. 18. The Basics: Joining with Comments Amy Sample Ward
    19. 19. The Basics: Joining with Signposts Amy Sample Ward
    20. 20. The Basics: Joining Events Amy Sample Ward
    21. 21. The Basics: Creating • Content • Conversations • Connections Questions to consider: What do I have to contribute, how can I add value to what is already there? Who, where, what can I help today? Amy Sample Ward
    22. 22. The Basics: Creating Content Amy Sample Ward • Blogs • Photos • Videos • eBooks Step 1: create and share
    23. 23. The Basics: Creating Conversations Amy Sample Ward • Twitter • Comments • Media responses • Events Step 1: create and share Step 2: comment and exchange
    24. 24. The Basics: Creating Connections Amy Sample Ward • Introductions • Link love • Creative Commons • Featured/Guest content Step 1: create and share Step 2: comment and exchange Step 3: connect those across the network
    25. 25. Best Practice • Goals – sweet spot • Connect – offline • Strategy – sustained engagement Questions to consider: How can social media spread my work? Which tools are already integrated in the community? Amy Sample Ward
    26. 26. Best Practice: Goals Amy Sample Ward
    27. 27. Best Practice: Connect Amy Sample Ward
    28. 28. Best Practice: Strategy Amy Sample Ward
    29. 29. Opportunities Amy Sample Ward • Products • Services • Consultants Questions to consider: What are the networks or platforms that provide connection to my community and work? Which platforms allow me to cover the network?
    30. 30. Opportunities: Products Amy Sample Ward
    31. 31. Opportunities: Products Amy Sample Ward
    32. 32. Opportunities: Products Amy Sample Ward
    33. 33. Opportunities: Services Amy Sample Ward
    34. 34. Opportunities: Services Amy Sample Ward
    35. 35. Opportunities: Services Amy Sample Ward
    36. 36. Opportunities: Consultants Amy Sample Ward
    37. 37. Opportunities: Consultants Amy Sample Ward
    38. 38. Opportunities: Consultants Amy Sample Ward
    39. 39. Questions & Discussion Amy Sample Ward
    40. 40. Photo Credits • Slide 3: • Slide 4: • Slide 5: • Slide 6: • Slide 8: • Slide 39: Amy Sample Ward
    41. 41. Thanks! I look forward to continuing the conversation with all of you: @amyrsward @netsquared Amy Sample Ward