Monday, October 04, 2010

Social Networking advice from N-TEN, Chicago

Today's post is a collection of thoughts from, or inspired by, the keynote presentation of an N-TEN meet-up I was at in Chicago.

Geoff Livingston was the keynote presenter and as we are seeing more often these days, he presented to us from the comfort of his home via Skype. This is becoming common enough that it barely deserves mentioning, but I do so because it underscored one of his key points. The way we do things in the world today is changing... and changing fast.

The changes related to mobile technology and the evolution of social networking are going to have the biggest impact on us. Individually they will be large: combined they will be enormous! One of the many challenges nonprofits face is keeping up with the changes in technology. They have to move with the social networking flow to new platforms as easily as their constituents do. The issues of "who has time" and "our IT department won't let us" simply have to be broken down to be a successful nonprofit in the future (and the future is now).

When you consider the popularity of iPhones and other smart phones along with iPads and the competitive versions that are already hitting the market, people are simply going to be able to connect to the internet more often and form more places. It is forecasted that by 2013, mobile devices will overtake PCs as the most common Web access device worldwide. You might like this or not like this, but you cannot ignore it for it will have an impact on your organization.

When it comes to using social media Geoff's advice is to avoid using it only to tell people what you are going to do. Use it first to learn from your constituents. They might have some good insights on the things you could do to help accomplish your mission. They might have questions or concerns worth addressing. Use it to let people know what you have done recently. Be specific through the use of stories, pictures and videos. Show volunteers making a difference: show the result of the volunteers' efforts. Encourage your volunteers to tell stories. They will likely anyhow but if you offer some encouragement, they will tell more stories and better stories.

The combination of the growth of mobile technology and the evolution of social media are creating a world of broad reaching, decentralized and speed-of-light communications. It makes it easy to envision a situation where by the time you even get back to the office from one of your events, volunteers from the event have already posted stories, pictures and videos describing their experience and their accomplishments.

Let the volunteers' stories be part of your organization's stories and be certain to pay attention to them. If you have not already, start telling your own organization's stories. A plenary presentation delivered via Skype attests, the future has arrived.

If you would like to get some of Geoff's thoughts straight from him (and I encourage you to do so) you can follow him on Twitter @geofflivingston or check out his blog at

1 comment:

Geoff_Livingston said...

Thanks, Tony. You are very kind. It was my first speech via video, and I am glad it went over well!