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Social media airing your literacy laundry


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Presented at the 2011 Saskatchewan Literacy Network's Knowledge Exchange.

Published in: Education, Technology, Business
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Social media airing your literacy laundry

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  2. 2. The Game Has Changed2Just as the invention of the automatic washer and dryer changed theway we perform work forever, so too has social media changed the waywe communicate.How we connect, with whom we connect, and when we connect are nolonger silent, behind the scene activities.The days of creating a message and disseminating it through traditionalmedia alone are gone.Communications is now a dialogue between you and anyone interestedin you. And social media is full of effective tools to help you “get yourmessage out there!”Acknowledging this change is the first step in integrating social mediainto your overall strategic plan.
  3. 3. Know Your ToolsIn times past, women beat their dirty laundry on rocks by river banksacross the world. They used harsh lye soaps and waited for laundry todry with the help of the wind and sun. This was a painful and labourintensive process. Today we have automated machines andenvironmentally friendly detergents that perform the same activity in afraction of the time and with a fraction of the energy.But just as the process of doing our laundry has evolved, so too havethe methods and processes of communicating our message. We nolonger solely rely on typical communications tools such as the annualreport, the press release, your website, or even email and the phone.But we dont throw this knowledge out with the water, we incorporate itinto our daily routine. In today’s digital age, the process of “getting yourmessage out there” is augmented and amplified by the addition of socialmedia just as the process of doing the laundry has been augmented bynew technology.3
  4. 4. Prepare YourselfPrepare yourself and your team: Integrating a new process into anyplan is a process in itself. It takes time, energy, and preparation.Before you begin the process of laundering, you no doubt sort yourlaundry into whites, darks, and colours. You probably sort your delicatesand work wear into other piles. A communications is no different.Information is conveyed through press releases, annual reports,newsletters, websites, and other publications. You announce events,introduce new concepts, and engage in a conversation about yourorganization’s vision and goals.Just as you sort your delicates out of the larger piles, you can also sortyour information. Social media adds another level of engagement ontoyour communications plan. Create “bite sized” information that can beeasily spread and consumed through Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, andother social media.But first, we must:4
  5. 5. Take it Seriously:Expecting someone in your IT department or a friend who is “intocomputers” to throw up a Facebook page or establish a Twitter accountis NOT engaging in social media. Social media, like communications, isabout engaging, dialogue, and building relationships.5
  6. 6. Social media needs your attention. It is effective only when integrated intoyour current strategic and communications strategies, and this must be doneyour current strategic and communications strategies, and this must be doneat the strategic level.This means assigning social media activities to a member of your staffwho knows the organization inside and out. This person needs to becomfortable online and be passionate about your organization’s visionand goals. Pick someone who can reflect your brand and send aconsistent message.Social media may look easy and fun, but it requires a plannedapproach, a commitment to your objectives, and continual research toensure the online message is consistent with your other messaging inyour communications platformAssigning the management of your online presence to an intern orsomeone who does not have a grounded knowledge of what yourorganization is all about is like throwing bleach in with your Denim. Itrarely ends up with the results you intended.I suggest assigning the responsibility for social media to one person.This helps your message remain consistent and clear across allplatforms. Be sure that this person understands the value oftransparency and the importance of acting as the voice of yourorganization.6
  7. 7. Define your ObjectivesThe first step to developing any plan is to define your objectives. Whenyou do the laundry you sort and pre-treat before you toss things in thewasher, dont you? Your objective is clear. Is it just as clear when youthink about the objectives of your messaging activities?What is it that you want to achieve?Do you want to improve public access to your organization?Social media can do that.Do you want to increase subscriptions to your e-publications?Social media can accomplish this.Do you want to mobilize your community or raise money? Socialmedia can definitely help you here.Are you building community and advocacy? Then social media isthe right tool to help you do that too!Defining your objectives first will help you in deciding which socialmedia to use, the type of content that needs to be developed, and theresources to allocate.7
  8. 8. Determine your AudienceDepending upon your objectives, the audience you wish to reach may change.Depending upon your objectives, the audience you wish to reach may change.Social media connects you to communities of individuals and organizationsfrom every walk of life. So, how do you define your audience?Building your community: Take a look beyond the demographics ofthose you communicate with. Think about other social circles relatedto yours. Corporate partners, media supporters, and volunteer groupsare great to connect with.Take the time to find out where your audience is. Are theyposting on Facebook pages connected to one of your causes?Are they discussing trends and issues on Twitter? Are theyactive on LinkedIn groups, connecting and sharing with theircolleagues and peers? Are they watching YouTube to informthemselves about a cause or issue?Before friending or following them, consider what you are doingthat will be relevant to them. Will they add value to you?Once youve connected, begin contributing by commenting andengaging in conversation. Help them by retweeting, orblogging about their advocacy efforts or events. Youll besurprised at how quickly the relationship grows and they willreciprocate your efforts.Decide where your audience hangs out, who they are, what they areinterested in, and why they are following you. This is all about buildinga relationship.This process will uncover the many faces of your audience and allow you toforge a plan to speak to them in their language and on their terms.8
  9. 9. Evaluate the LandscapeYou likely didnt just grab a detergent off the shelf or invest in the first washer/dryerYou likely didnt just grab a detergent off the shelf or invest in the first washer/dryerpair that you saw. You took the time to know what they could do for you; right? Socialmedia is no different.It is important to allow time to research the various social media tools available anddetermine which ones will help you achieve your goals. We have the "BIG FOUR:"YouTube: Is an effective tool in putting a face on your organization. Itconnects you on a visual level with your audience and does well at helpingyou “sell” your message. It allows you to key into your audience in a multi-sensory and emotional manner. You can use it to demonstrate a need forservices.Facebook: connects you with communities across the globe and is veryeffective for cause marketing. Facebook ads can act as billboards, extendingthe reach of fundraising, advocacy, and cause marketing efforts.Twitter: helps you build relationships in 140 characters or less. You can drivetraffic to your website, you announce events, or you can engage inconversations and address issues important to you.LinkedIn is a large, searchable database with detailed information about theplaces people work now and where they have been. Its about finding commonground. Its about finding someone you know who knows someone you wantto know to make that all important introduction. You can use it to researchdonors, prospective board members, other organizations, or potentialemployees.Sometimes we hang our laundry on the line and let Mother Nature dry it for us.Sometimes we use our automated dryers. And, sometimes we let laundry lie flat toavoid shrinkage.Social media is similar: Pick the tool that is right for you and your message. If your audienceisn’t using Twitter they may be on Facebook or watching YouTube. Find out where they areand join them!9
  10. 10. Begin to IntegrateWhere does social media fit?Remember social media is not an all or nothing game. It is meantto augment your current activities, not replace them. It adds newtouch points that allow you to reach people you might haveotherwise missed. Social media, done well, strengthens the bondbetween you and your audience. Experiment with various toolsand see what works for you.Can you use Facebook or Twitter to announce an event?Can you start a blog that allows your audience to posttheir own thoughts and concerns?Can you receive feedback via LinkedIn to improve yourpractice?10
  11. 11. Create Relevant ContentThis is THE most important aspect of social media. Return to your objectivesto help you decide what you are going to say and how you are going to say it.Today’s savvy online user is inundated with information all the time, so makesure they find yours of value.The content you share on your blog, post on Facebook, or in 140 characterTweets needs to add value to your audience for them to continue to connectwith you.Create compelling content that engages, invites a conversation, and is wellwritten. Remember there are no "take backs" on the internet. Once you post, itis out there forever. So be sure it is appropriate and good. Be transparent,approachable, and freely share. In other words, air your laundry.Write about topics that matter to you and your audience.Share your expertise and be open to receiving new ideas andperspectives.Engage in conversations by commenting, retweeting, and replying tocomments on your own social media.Offer good advice and make an emotional connection.Teach them something new.Entertain them.To help "get your message out there," dont forget to cross promote. Whenyou update your website or post a new blog tell your followers and friends bytweeting a link or posting it to Facebook.11
  12. 12. Train Your Staff to be Social Media ExpertsEven if your organization is new to social media, I’ll lay odds youremployees and board members are not. We need to accept the fact thatpeople are communicating via social media and embrace it. Many of usassociate ourselves with our professions and workplaces. This, ineffect, transforms each of us into ambassadors for our organizations.Train everyone in what social media is, how it is used, and whatbenefits it offers to your organization. In other words, develop a socialmedia policy and ensure that everyone understands it well.Create systems and procedures that streamline processes. In otherwords, replace the rock with the machine! Simplify and make the socialmedia process easier and less time consuming. Be sure of yourobjectives, decide which tools will help you meet those objectives, andinvest in someone who has the expertise to make social media work foryou.Create a policy that guides your organization and employees in usingsocial media effectively. It will empower your employees with the abilityto monitor social media to help protect your message. Include directionon how to respond to both positive and negative issues and establish aculture of communication between all levels of management and staff.12
  13. 13. Time to fold the laundryYou now have the tools, the means, and the know how to effectivelyintegrate social media into your overall strategic communications plan.You can move forward from the age of beating your clothes on the rockinto the modern age of engaging with a worldwide community.The most important thing to remember here is to prepare, plan,integrate, and, above all, have fun. Social media is a tool that helps youachieve the success you determine.13
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