Stacey Ramirez, Program Officer, E-Mediat shares her insights from the Social Media Conference for Non-Profits Conference held in San Francisco in November 2011.
The excitement was palpable during the Social Media for Nonprofits conference that took place last month in San Francisco. The crowd was gearing up to hear from social media icons, such as Beth Kanter, author of the Networked Nonprofit, Craig Newmark of Craigslist, and speakers from LinkedIn and Kiva.org. Perhaps even more thrilling was to see a very packed conference room teeming with people of all ages representing Bay Area non-profits. Then came the Social Media Revolution 2011 Video. It mesmerized us with its cutting-edge look and rhythmic beat, as it ticked off a number of striking facts: over 50% the world’s population is under 30; if Wikipedia were a book, it would be 2.25 million pages and if Facebook were a country, it would be the 3rd largest in the world.
By the time the video ended, we had no doubt that social media was an absolute must if our organizations were going to be successful in this day and age. And then the first speaker strode up to the stage, Victor d’Allant, CEO and founder of dallant networks, a successful company which develops and manages online communities, build brands and empower users. “I’m going to tell you a secret,” he confessed. “I despise Facebook. I don’t even have a Facebook account.” The room went silent, a gasp or two punctured the air. And then laughter. Victor had just made a very important point, social media is critical and necessary, but you can pick and choose the tools you want to use, and more importantly, it’s okay to love some and discard others.
Victor went on to give us a list of the seven most important points to improve our social media life. I have whittled them down to two:
- It’s not about the tools, it’s about the story.
Such a simple yet profound concept. We can get so dazzled with the array of social media tools out there, and the bells and whistles of each one, that we may expend lots of time and energy without asking, “How is using this tool helping us achieve our goals?” Whether organizations are trying to fundraise, raise awareness, or develop online campaigns, the successful ones know the point they want to make, who they want to make it to and how to make it well. In d’Allant’s words, “information tells, a story sells.”
The second important point:
- Don’t trust the experts, they don’t know much!
Because with social media, there really are no experts! We have creative license to experiment and see what works for us. It’s okay to try something and fail. Which leads me to the next point made by Beth Kanter when talking about the motto from the online advocacy group Mom’s Rising: “Fail Often, Fail Forward.” It’s okay to take risks and make mistakes, and in fact it’s extremely important, but we need to take the time to learn from those mistakes and incorporate our lessons learned into our social media plans. So as you venture out into the great new world of social media, be bold, but be reflective.
You can access the slide presentations from the various speakers at http://www.slideshare.net/sm4nonprofits
Also don’t miss the interesting Social Media Revolution Video 2011: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3SuNx0UrnEo