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Liveblogging #WAMNYC: Social media for organizations

jpozners Icon Posted by Jennifer L Pozner

March 31st, 2012

I’ve been liveblogging all day from the #WAMNYC conference, and below as always, if there are any errors, please attribute to me, not to the panelists, as I’m typing quickly but it’s impossible to capture verbatim what these fabulous, fast-talking New York women have to say:

Social Media for Organizations:

Moderator: Elana Levin,
Sarah Kennedy,
Yana Walton, communications for Retail Action Project
Diana Duarte, communications director at MADRE
Janna Zinzi, Swirl PR

Diana: The tools are free, the content isn’t.

Janna: Help organizations understand that the internet isn’t magic. Manage expectations, most don’t get two million hits…

Elana: asks the audience how many people do social media as a job, and a large number raise hands. She says that’s huge progress, because even a year ago, the convo would have been, how do we get our bosses to see that doing social media is an important job? Now, the convo has to be: the tools are free but man hours, “lady hours,” are not free. So, we need staffing, capacity, field organizers.

Yana: Orgs often think social media should be done by some intern, not actually the staffers who have the information they need to communicate effectively online. Make sure your development team is on board looking for grants to pay people to do online communications work. Make sure someone on board on staff is being paid to do this work — or actually teach the interns the tools to work effectively online. With small orgs that use interns and volunteers to do this work, integrate linking Twitter and Facebook if you need to get that done. Interns send me FB and Twitter posts that I can look at and respond to. You can have “Future Tweets,” “Feature tweets” responding to news hooks. If you’re doing social media for clients, when I’ve consulted some of the most successful experiences I’ve had getting more followers, etc., the author has to help me find their friends, etc. You’ll get more quality rather than random quantity.

Elana: volunteers on a picket line can take photos in the moment, more effective than if I leave my office and go and take a photo later.

Janna: Having the conversations, even if your org is already on social media: what are our main objkectives? What are our gials? Who are we trying to talk to? As an overall strategy, but esp. related to campaigns, what is your audience, what is your goal? Twitter and Facebook are innundated, but now there’s Pintarest. Tumblr. Know you will be coming up against new technologies and platforms while you’re still figuring out the ones you’re already on. It can be difficult because there’s a desire to be FAST. Up to the minute. Instant. But there also needs to be a place where you’re stepping back, really assessing short term and long term strategies. It’s not an overnight thing, it’s very rare for things to become overnight viral sensations. Get buy-in from everybody, get everybody involved. If you’re a consultant coming into an org, you need to get everyone from interns to the CEO or president involved with understanding how they can get involved in social media, whether that is getting them to send pictures, pass on articles, etc. — be authentic. Have policies and procedures — so important when having convos about goals and plans, have it written out in terms of defining roles, covering backs. Accountability — who has ownership of each piece of the social media work. It’s a pain in the ass and seems nitpicky and obnoxious to put the policies and procedures in place at the outset, even if it is evolving over time.

Elana: how many of you had to run a tweet or post by your boss or CEO before you could post it? One of my policies is that within the company, they have to get back to me within an hour or else it goes live (because otherwise there is no way to get the tweet or post up in a timely manner).

Sarah Kennedy: never set up a campaign with your own email address…. just create socialmedia@organizationname.org Make sure everyone knows what the names are, passwords are, etc.

Diana: When Twitter and FB were new there was a push to put up something so that we weren’t the last on it, but there is a loosening now, less fear around what gets put online now. That has strengthened our ability to have autonomy within departments about what it allowed to be put online.

Elana: Your boss says, “Make this 15 minute video with your boss standing in front of a white wall, just like that Kony video?” how do you handle that?

Sarah Kennedy: I always say no. I ask them to name two or three things that went viral online in the last year. Then I work backwards: all the ads, all the fundraising events, all the strategy and the resources that went into getting something to go viral. Working to help them understand what we have vs. what that other thing had.

Yana: I was hired once because I had previously gotten something huge number of hits, and the next project didn’t get the numbers they expected. Walk them through the strategy: that some of the resources need to be in promotion, not just production. It’s earned media, not just paid media. If you want to spend a lot of money to buy an ad, sure, do it. But if it’s earned media, you need to pay a person to do the work that gets the media.

Diana: I work full time for an org. If I’m asked to make something go viral, then I explain that all my other projects drop off — so that they understand it’s part of the work plan.

Janna: I’d rather have ten “taste makers” or niche following with specific audiences, rather than a thousand hits/followers who aren’t invested. Have a plan rather than just going with the flow. Also don’t attach too many expectations to the outcome.

Elana: Right: as in, 100 people didn’t RT this, but we reached two reporters, and that had specific outcomes.

[Wifi just went down — I missed being able to transcribe Diana’s discussion of MADRE’s communications social media strategy related to the Arab Spring and women’s rights internationally. Also couldn’t transcribe a big win Yana discussed about using an online petition to pressure MSNBC to get Ed Shultz suspended for a week after he called a woman a slut on air.]]

Sarah: Was in charge of campaign for NY marriage equality — we ended up getting two Republicans who came out in support of this. For every org I consult for I try to get emails, earned media, etc. I was thinking we need to get a thank you card with emails/petitions to the senators — but not only was this going to take more than the ten minutes we needed to get it done, but also it wasn’t a public thing that was appropriate. So instead, we had hundreds of supporters post thank you comments on their FB pages. So the message: stay flexible. And, don’t always do something that has a direct benefit for your org in the short term, but sometimes has a benefit in the long run on your strategic goals.

Elana: we’ve worked in coalition with other orgs - sometimes they have more, or much less, capacity for social media.

Janna: That’s how I know you, Elana! Through my work with the Human Services Council, they put together a “Who Cares? I Do” campaign re human services (domestic violence, education, child care, etc.) and the funding gets cut year after year. So we did coalition building around marches for May 12th, we joined with health, education, women’s rights advocates. We all had the same messages because we were all getting the same cuts. So we shared info, collaborated on Twitter campaigns, listservs, petitions, campaigns, etc.

Elana: Teamwork. Coordination. We shared hashtags. We ended up getting a ton of mainstream coverage, too — the Daily News, of all places.

Yana: Also want to talk about cleaning up social media when you come in doing social media for an org after there was no strategy and it was all over the place. When there are five pages, three streams, etc. — how to streamline, etc. without losing people. For example: If you switch from a profile page to a fan page, you lose everything — your content/functionality, photos, contacts, etc. Your “friends” become your “fans.” Fan pages: we couldn’t do event invites.

Yana: Also–there is money available now, or should be, for this work. Work with development staffers to paint the picture. Online organizing is the new organizing — we need to invest in it. Show examples of when activism shows real change.

Diana: When I first came to Madre, I was hired to do traditional media. Then a month later, they wanted me to make a blog. Then it expanded over time to communicate directly with our membership through social media. The expectation of people out in the world, they want to communicate in social media with the org. FOr a long time, orgs needed only to have a good looking website. Now, you have to have a FB page, too.

Janna: I consult with small orgs that don’t have a dedicated media staffer, let alone a social media staffer. A lot of times social media becomes a priority even more so than traditional media outreach.

[[Opening up now to Q&A, I’m not able to transcribe this section in nearly as much detail…]]

Diana responds to a Q about multiple strategies about the need to work with multiple platforms — folks on MADRE’s direct mail since the 1980s are not generally interacting with their social media platforms.

Elana: But older people ARE online — they’re spying on their kids’ email, if nothing else!

Diana: We finally moved to an integrated donor database: online and offline, in one. Exciting!

Yana: Important to integrate old strategies with new. Online organizing with offline organizing.

Elana responds to a question about CEOs or staffers vs. organizational profiles: people are more interesting than institutional names, so have individuals tweet rather than just the org.

Yana: Be real about capacity, though: it is better for an organization to have one Twitter handle rather than individual handles that won’t be kept up regularly.

Question about not owning your data: how can you save data, at whim of Facebook policies, etc

Sarah: People can RSVP on FB but I make it clear that they cannot get in to an event without signing up on your own website, because FB owns your data and won’t allow you access to it afterward.

Question about pintarest and tumblr:

Janna: Tumblr from what I’ve seen, it’s been good for individual campaigns, for example #occupyvday by Samhita Mukhopadhyay. FOr orgs overall, I haven’t generally used it. It can be an extension of their blog, FB/Twitter all in one. People think, “It’s serving a different audience. It’s a way to get in touch with youth.” It’s good for #iamtrayvonmartin, etc.

Elana: Tumblr isn’t for institutional platforms, more for individuals or campaigns.

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