Unlocking the True Value of Social Media


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These are my slides from the 2010 Blackbaud Conference for Nonprofits, a session focused on Unlocking the True Value of Social Media through engagement and data.

You can find more presentations and notes on my blog at http://amysampleward.org

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  • For those of you in the audience planning to tweet from the session, be sure to use the hashtag “socialvalue” in your tweets so those in other sessions and those following along online can catch the conversation. And, if we aren’t already connected on twitter, I’m @amyrsward – send me a message that says “hi” and that you’re here in the session so I can be sure to follow you back!
  • 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 NetSquared.org.But, I really want to know who is in the room! So, I’ve placed a few post it notes underneath chairs and if you feel under your chair and have one, please introduce yourself with your name, organization, and what brought you to this session.
  • 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, and I was invited to speak by the folks at Blackbaud who obviously have some very prominent tools. But, that said, I am tool agnostic and hope that for the next hour we can all remain open to the very different contexts everywhere here works in whether it’s platforms to training to budget. Let’s have a tool-safe session 
  • So, the name of the session on the door and in your books is “Unlocking the True Value of Social Media” – but what does that really mean? The concept is pretty simple: we all know that the value for using social media includes making connections, building community, creating opportunities for engagement. But what about data? Data is actually the core that makes all three of those valuable outcomes possible!
  • Here’s what I mean… You know the saying “knowledge is power?” Well, in many ways it is. And, in that same vein, monitoring (the knowledge part) is measuring (the power part). And lastly, we get to data is success! This is just the first session in the series and the others will go into much deeper detail about the ins and outs about surfacing and using data. But it is still the concept we’ll be using for this session as well.
  • Here is our session agenda – so you can be sure I don’t get caught on an interesting picture in a few minutes and get us sidetracked. We’ll start with a few operating definitions and then dive in to the power of social media, elements of success, and how to become a data-driven organization. There will be time, I hope, at the end for a few people to share how your organization is using data and social media, so keep that in mind if there is something I cover that you have a great example of! We’ll also buffer in some time at the end for questions and answers but I do ask that if I’m talking about something and it makes no sense at all, raise your hand or shout out to me because I don’t want to hold clarifications until the end.
  • 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 start arguing 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 “data.” Whether we believe it or not, there are ways to measure everything we are doing, even with social media. Some times we need help, okay all the time we need help and will continue figuring out how, to quantify or measure interactions, actions, and impact. But, data can mean not just followers on twitter but the kind of conversations you’re having on twitter – the number of email addresses receiving your newsletter and where you get the content for that newseltter – and so on. For this session we are going to talk about data in terms of all that feedback and information, numbers and everything else.
  • Moving right in – let’s talk about how to leverage the power of social media. We can do this really in four key ways: active listening, community-based actions, constant iteration and leadership development.
  • Active listening – the operative word here is active. What this means and how you can do it: Active listening is asking questions and then actually responding when community members give an answer – imagine that! But, that’s an example of organization-generated listening. The other side of the coin, and an important part of active listening, is the community-generated listening. So, being ready, prepared – proactive even – to find conversations, or pick up queues, or recognize opportunities to share. The community is talking, and you know it, but rather than simply putting out messages, links, questions and so on into the stream of content, listen to what the community is putting out and respond to their questions, give your feedback about the links they post, and listen for calls for help or assistance where you can really inject value into the network.What the data tells you: The data here (remember you can start tracking opportunities, the people who are emerging as leaders in the community, and so forth) gives you signals and indicators to support strategy development. If you’re listening actively to the community, you may find that people respond to and post pictures WAY more than news articles, or videos vs photos, or whatever it is. That means maybe you should think about concentrating on a medium the community likes. Just one example.
  • Community-based actions – these are closely tied to active listening.What this means and how you can do it: Community-based actions are things, using the same differentiation as before, actions that aren’t organization-generated (like posting a campaign video or fundraising request or volunteer opportunity) but are community-generated. How many people have ever seen a community member post on facebook about an event that isn’t your organization’s or the opportunity to take action on an issue locally? How about community members that start a fundraising campaign that supports your cause or even your organization directly but without you asking them to do it? Those are community-based actions – they may not always directly serve your fundraising efforts or your campaign calls to action, but they do serve your mission by building and strengthening the community and raising engagement throughout the network.What the data tells you: The data here, things like number of volunteers and actions generated or started, even things like the number of community members supporting your efforts in their own ways, can help you understand the line between your engaged community and the community at large. Traditional metrics would be limited to measuring engagement by the number of donors or volunteers and that’s about it – but looking at community-based actions lets you open up to more social actions. Fancy that: using engagement to measure engagement and not just donations!
  • Constant iteration – anyone who has read anything about the way Google works has read about this concept.What this means and how you can do it: Constant integration means trying something, evaluating, building, launching, improving, evaluating, rebuilding and so forth in tiny bits in short time lines. Instead of redesigning your entire service delivery program and then unveiling it; constant iteration means changing just one part, seeing if that was a helpful or not helpful change, and building on top of it.What the data tells you: Data is really important in constant iteration. You need to be actively listening (both for reactions and for cues to where to change) and tracking use, response, and so on all help you evaluate, in near to real time. You can see right away if the new donate button is better or worse or the same as the last – then you can work on changing up the donation confirmation page and comparing that to previous data. If you change it all at once you won’t know if it was the button on the home page, the in between steps, or the confirmation page at the end that really changed the results.
  • Leadership development – something often overlooked but incredibly important to social media.What this means and how you can do it: How does leadership development have anything to do with your organization using social media? Simple: imagine not having to find content for your newsletter or not have to wonder where to find a compelling volunteer story – supporting community members to take on more responsibility and contribute in more valuable ways helps them own your mission and cause and even campaigns but also helps you refocus your work.What the data tells you: Thinking about the data here it seems pretty obviously how it can support your work – finding engaged community members that can transition to being valuable contributors clearly puts more capacity in your office.
  • The four main ways to harness the power of social media have a few things in common and those are the four core principles for success: recognizing there is no autopilot in this work, and there are no quick fixes either (!), we need to concentrate on the sweet spot and always lead by example.
  • Using social media is reliant on being a human. Brick and mortar buildings are not very funny, they aren’t very smart, they aren’t very engaging. Social media is. So, you can’t just be “an organization” online but you need to be human and there is no autopilot for that. What does that mean? Well, for example, thanking people or welcoming them when they join your group, or responding directly to questions – those are all human things that have a voice and maybe even a unique response and all require you to think and engage. There is also no autopilot for active listening, or supporting community actions, or leadership development; those all require you to listen, respond, and adapt, and importantly to also remain open to growing and changing the same way the community is.
  • So, we know we can’t operate in social media on autopilot, but we also have to recognize that there are no quick fixes. This means trial and error. It means that when you are constantly iterating, some of the iterations and changes may be total flops. Maybe you change up your donation button and no one donates at all anymore! Hey, learn from it! And go ahead and put the previous donate button back in place. But also recognize that increasing donations isn’t going to come from ONLY changing up the donate button. It’ll come from more engagement, an improved donation process, a quality value exchange, and so on. As the model goes, “admitting you have a problem is the first step” so recognize that no one little fix or change is going to be all you need.
  • The next principle is concentrating 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” areaswill 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.
  • The last principle: lead by example. Interact with the community the way you want other organizations and the community members to do. It’s like the golden rule for community engagement. I like this picture for this point because often mother ducks will bring up the rear, supporting the ducklings and swimming along side them, instead of shooting ahead and expecting them to keep up. Being human, and using social media tools whether you are using a 3rd party platform like facebook or you have created your own online space, the best way to get people engaged is to be engaged yourself. If you and especially if your organization are using the tool and having conversations, sharing content, whatever it is you want others to do, they will see how you’re doing it, and know where they can step in. Just be sure to keep things open so others can join. It’s like talking at a conference – you stand with your body a little open so others can join your circle.
  • We’ve talked about social media and some best practices – but let’s get into some things you can start doing to become a data driven organization, including: measuring, understanding your goals, mapping your community and using a 3-part community strategy.
  • First, start measuring everything and anything you can. If you have a database, start exploring the kinds of reports you can generate that are already built into the tool. The same goes for whatever you use for web analytics. One thing to remember is that often we have a general sense of something but don’t ever keep track of the number – for example, we have a sense that people really like when we share breaking news alerts on twitter for issues in our sector (like if we work in human rights for example), but start charting it! Keep track of the amount of retweets you get on breaking news posts compared to organizational news or interesting content. Create a way to validate your intuition.
  • It seems like this is obvious. But it isn’t. I can’t tell you how many organizations I’ve worked with where you get a different answer about what the organization’s goals are from every person you talk to. This isn’t a messaging issue. This is an issue with identifying goals, back to the sweet spot concept, that are clear to everyone – whether they integrate with the community or not. The more clear you can be about what the goals are (and where they fall), the more your data can help you deliver.
  • You might be an avid user of flickr, and love sharing photos. But that doesn’t mean all your volunteers are. So, map your community – ask them which tools they prefer, use listening tools (ask me later about how to create a listening dashboard) to see where they are having conversations and interactions. Even though you’ll end up concentrating efforts where the most people are, you still want to have a map so that if your work changes, if you have a targeted campaign, or you want to explore engaging other segments of the network, you’ll want to have a guide to help you.
  • Now for some fun stuff – and I just want to remind you, too, that these slides are all available online with speaker notes so if you can’t write everything down in these next few slides you can still get it after the session. These three steps are all DIY style; I’m sure there are paid-for services you can find but as part of my agnostic approach to using technology in nonprofits, I like to show the home-made version.
  • Part 1 of the 3-part strategy: Community Mapping. 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 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.
  • Now you’re ready for the second part! Things start getting a little bit more complicated at this level but the output here is something your team and organization can then use every day. I find it best to create this chart in an excel (and if you really want to, you can email me for a blank template!). You will start by putting in all your content types – whether it is something your organization creates or something the community creates, and then note to the left of it what the goals are for that content. Along the right, list every kind of communications method you have, and be specific. Don’t list facebook, list facebook page and facebook group separately, or if you have two pages list them as such. You can really use any method you want, but on my team we use X for a confirmed method, a O for a “if it is relevant” method, and blank if it isn’t used.
  • The third step is reporting. There is no point tracking what you’re doing if you are reporting it! On my team, we have A LOT of things that we track. And it would be silly to think that we would have monthly reporting that covers all of it. Why? Well if we wanted to talk about all of it we would just look at the tracking documents! Instead, we have monthly reports that are created for two areas: content and community. They each pull out a few items that are noteworthy – whether it’s a change, a marked increase, or something we can see reflected in other areas of our work. And from those two reports, I create a global report that touches on the items highlighted from content and community as well as our programs. It can be shared with the CEOs in a way that is directly translated into their understanding of our work as well as into their conversations with other organizations or funders. These are a few tips for internal and external reporting.
  • So, a quick recap! We know how to unlock the power of social media, we learned about operating principles for success and some basic steps to becoming a data-driven organization… and that it is all rooted in data!
  • 1 thing you can do today? One thing you can do when you get back to your office? Start with the community map, the first step in the 3-Part strategy building process. It’ll set the foundation for more strategic development and it’ll get people excited to build with you.If you have other recommendations for things people can do today, go ahead and tweet them using the #socialvaluehashtag so everyone can see!
  • Anyone want to share how your organization is using social media and the way data is helping contribute to your strategy?
  • Thank you for coming today! I’d love to continue talking with all of you and here are all kinds of ways you can connect with me. Anyone have questions?
  • Unlocking the True Value of Social Media

    1. 1. Unlocking the True Value of Social Media<br />Amy Sample Ward<br />
    2. 2. Tweet this session:<br />#socialvalue<br />Connect with me on Twitter:<br />@amyrsward<br />
    3. 3. Welcome.<br />I’m Amy: <br /> 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.<br />http://amysampleward.org | @amyrsward | amy@amysampleward.org<br />Who are you? <br /> 3 chairs have post-it notes underneath – would you introduce yourself?<br />
    4. 4. Transparency.<br />I might:<br /><ul><li>work for TechSoup Global
    5. 5. have been invited to speak by Blackbaud
    6. 6. have friends that work for various vendors, sponsors, and funders</li></ul>but I’m tool agnostic. <br />For the next hour, <br />please respect the technology choices of all those in the room. <br />
    7. 7. Concept.<br />What is the value of social media?<br /><ul><li>Connections
    8. 8. Community
    9. 9. Engagement</li></ul>What about:<br /><ul><li>DATA</li></li></ul><li>Data.<br />So, let’s say that<br />Knowledge :: Power<br />And,<br />Monitoring :: Measuring<br /> Then, <br />Data :: Success<br />
    10. 10. Agenda.<br />Definitions<br />Leveraging the power of social media<br />Operating principles for success<br />Becoming a data-driven organization<br />Sharing the stage<br />Questions & conversation<br />To continue the conversation during the session and after, use #socialvalue or @amyrsward<br />
    11. 11. Definitions.<br />What is “community”…<br />
    12. 12. Definitions.<br />What is “social media”…<br />
    13. 13. Definitions.<br />What is “data”…<br />
    14. 14. Leveraging the power of social media.<br /><ul><li>Active listening
    15. 15. Community-based actions
    16. 16. Constant iteration
    17. 17. Leadership development</li></li></ul><li>Active listening.<br />
    18. 18. Community-based actions.<br />
    19. 19. Constant iteration.<br />
    20. 20. Leadership development.<br />
    21. 21. Operating principles for success.<br /><ul><li>There’s no autopilot
    22. 22. There are no quick fixes
    23. 23. Concentrate on the sweet spot
    24. 24. Lead by example</li></li></ul><li>There’s no autopilot.<br />
    25. 25. There are no quick fixes.<br />
    26. 26. Concentrate on the sweet spot.<br />
    27. 27. Lead by example.<br />
    28. 28. Becoming a data-driven organization.<br /><ul><li>Start measuring, everything
    29. 29. Understand your goals
    30. 30. Start mapping the community
    31. 31. 3-Part Community Strategy</li></li></ul><li>Start measuring, everything.<br />
    32. 32. Understand your goals.<br />
    33. 33. Start mapping your community.<br />
    34. 34. 3-Part Process for Community Strategy<br /><ul><li>Part 1: Community Mapping
    35. 35. Part 2: Content Mapping
    36. 36. Part 3: Reporting</li></ul>Resources:<br /><ul><li>http://amysampleward.org/2010/09/20/women-who-tech-tools-and-apps-to-energize-your-base/
    37. 37. http://amysampleward.org/2009/08/18/5-steps-to-a-successful-social-media-strategy/</li></li></ul><li>Part 1: Community Mapping<br />
    38. 38. Part 2: Content Mapping<br />
    39. 39. Part 3: Reporting<br />Internal reporting:<br /><ul><li>Weekly metrics for various platforms
    40. 40. Add metrics as you go
    41. 41. Look at long term, not just short term changes
    42. 42. Monthly reporting of trends and insights</li></ul>External reporting:<br /><ul><li>Share when there is something worth sharing
    43. 43. Reporting context, not just numbers
    44. 44. Ask for input and feedback</li></li></ul><li>Recap.<br /><ul><li>Unlocking the power of social media
    45. 45. Operating principles for success
    46. 46. Becoming a data-driven organization</li></ul>The value in social media is in the data. <br />
    47. 47. 1 thing to do today.<br />Start with the community map – it’ll ignite enthusiasm from others!<br />
    48. 48. Sharing the stage.<br />
    49. 49. Thank you!<br />I look forward to continuing the conversation with all of you:<br /><ul><li>http://amysampleward.org
    50. 50. http://netsquared.org
    51. 51. http://techsoupglobal.org
    52. 52. @amyrsward
    53. 53. @netsquared
    54. 54. amy@amysampleward.org</li></li></ul><li>Photo credits.<br />Slide 8: http://flickr.com/photos/efleming/237379252/<br />Slide 9: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ivanwalsh/3677282034/<br />Slide 10: http://www.flickr.com/photos/45053493@N08/4237886048/<br />Slide 12: http://www.flickr.com/photos/laszlo-photo/467278351/<br />Slide 13: http://www.flickr.com/photos/opensourceway/4371000464/<br />Slide 15: http://www.flickr.com/photos/51487460@N00/144670634/<br />Slide 17: http://www.flickr.com/photos/johnath/3899109256<br />Slide 18: http://www.flickr.com/photos/nauright/4687557016/<br />Slide 20: http://www.flickr.com/photos/zenobia_joy/2708679303/<br />Slide 22: http://www.flickr.com/photos/aussiegall/286709039<br />Slide 23: http://www.flickr.com/photos/scott06/4156991609/<br />Slide 24: http://xkcd.com/256/<br />Slide 30: http://www.flickr.com/photos/theknowlesgallery/4536616288/<br />Slide 31: http://www.flickr.com/photos/hiddedevries/599606659<br />
    55. 55. Tweet this session:<br />#socialvalue<br />Connect with me on Twitter:<br />@amyrsward<br />
    56. 56. Unlocking the True Value of Social Media<br />Amy Sample Ward<br />