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Social Media for Beginners

Angela Siefer offered virtually out of the blue to do a social media workshop at CMW last week… it filled up in 2 hours! (If  you wanted to go and couldn’t get in, we apologize and will see about holding similar free sessions in the new year–contact me or comment here with suggestions or questions about this). She wrote this guest post after the event. 

Social media is a conversation that can easily expand.  Social networking is a piece of social media.  Social networking develops relationships.

Social media is another avenue for promoting a business or nonprofit.  An avenue that if integrated into an organization’s overall customer service/promotion/sales strategy can produce amazing results.  Folks who do not use social media or slightly use it often find the field overwhelming.
12-10-08 workshop
Last week I launched Shiny Door with my first social networking presentation (Net Tuesday Chicago) and my first two social networking workshops (Community Media Workshop and New America Foundation).  One of the attendees asked if she must have a Facebook profile before creating a Group to promote her organization.  I am so ingrained in social networking, the issue had not occurred to me.  That was when I realized I need to include a discussion at the beginning of the workshops about the structure of social networking and the importance of the individual.

In order to promote a business or nonprofit online, one needs to first establish an individual presence online. Companies and nonprofits are often uncomfortable putting themselves out front. They are accustomed to promoting the organization itself.   We all know that organizations benefit from individuals networking offline, (this is why networking events are popular and why some folks even attend events at all).  Online networking very much relies upon the individual.  Organizations have an online presence but since we cannot physically see with whom we are having a conversation, we want to know that who represents that organization is a real person.  Why else would automated help systems be given first names?  “Hi-my-na-me-is-Ju-lie.  I-will-be-as-sis-ting-you.  Pl-ea-se-pr-ess-1-to be an-noy-ed-by-me-per-son-al-ly…”

A social media strategy must be based in the understanding that organizations represented online are 12-10-08 workshop Angrepresented by real people.  Those real people have real personalities.  Each of them will not represent the organization in exactly the same way.  They can be given guidelines and tools to assist them but the reason others will want to communicate with these representatives is because they are real and interesting.  Its very difficult to comment on a blog post when the author is “admin” because you do not know who you are address your comment toward.

So, first step in creating a social media strategy is to use social media yourself.  As an individual.  Watch, listen, participate.  Second step is to mix your organization into social media.  But that is a second step.

Angela Siefer – Founder & Chancellor at Shiny Door, Fan of Community Media Workshop

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