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Notes from the Social Media for Nonprofits Conference

The Social Media for Nonprofits conference recently kicked off its 7-city tour in San Francisco. The conference is designed to connect nonprofit leaders with leading experts in social media to give them the tools and strategies to use social media for their organizations’ fundraising, advocacy and marketing goals.

I could probably write several pages on the advice given by the conference’s assembled experts but in the interest of keeping the reader’s eyes from glazing over (and because I’m still exhausted due to recently moving), the following is a brief summary:

  • Dr. Kellie McElhaney, Professor, Haas School of Business, UC Berkeley: Although McElhaney’s experience is mostly with private sector companies, her work provides some valuable insight for nonprofits. Chief among these insights is that trust in institutions, the private sector, media government, and even, nonprofits is low. What people do trust is people, particularly those in their social circles. Social media allows us to build trust with people and in turn leverage that trust to reach out to other potential supporters.
  • Guy Kawasaki, Author, Enchanted and Co-Founder, Alltop.com: Drawing from his recently published book, Enchanted, Kawasaki outlines the three pillars of enchantment with social media: always be likable, always be trustworthy and always be DICEE. “DICEE” refers to the five qualities of “great stuff:” deep, intelligent, complete, empowering and elegant. Nonprofit leaders who do not think they have “great stuff” to offer much in the way of software or airline companies, need only realize that the services they offer and causes they work for are their “stuff.”
  • Charles Porch, Consumer Marketing Strategy, Facebook: Porch began his talk by discussing Facebook’s mission and how the company views its relationship to the organizations it works with. The heart of the discussion, however, was on Porch’s 10 tips for social sharing on Facebook many of which are simple steps that nonprofits easily overlook when using this social network. Organizations looking for more advice are advised to visit Facebook’s Nonprofit Resource page.
  • Susan Gordon, Director of Nonprofit Services: Causes: Gordon’s talk, “The Secret Sauce of Fundraising,” gave four simple tips organizations should bear in mind should they decide to use the Causes platform for their fundraising. The four tips, build community; give the people what they want; promote across channels; and create excitement/momentum, are also valuable as they can be applied to online fundraising in general.
  • Susan Tenby, Senior Manager of Online Community Development, TechSoup Global: Tenby took a look at the “don’ts” of social media, a deliberate departure from the “do’s” offered by the preceding speakers to help the nonprofit leaders in attendance avoid undermining their social media efforts. Tenby’s talk, “Social Media: A Conversation with a Community, Not a Monologue with a Megaphone,” also provided suggestions of useful tools to use to monitor and facilitate conversation in the social media sphere.
  • JD Lasica, Founder Socialbrite and SocialMedia.biz: Lasica’s “Six Steps to Create a Powerhouse Social Strategy for Your Nonprofit” made the case for developing a social media strategy and integrating social media as part of an organization’s larger communications strategy. Not to be outdone by his co-speakers, Lasica also gave advice on mobile technology, digital storytelling and peppered his talk with information on additional social media and marketing resources available for download.
  • Jonah Sachs, Co-Founder and Creative Director, Free Range Studios: Sachs’ talk on successfully creating video for nonprofits asked the audience to switch their perspective from one of asking “what makes video go viral” to “what makes stories matter to people?” Sachs went on to explain how thinking of videos in much the way myths are created is key to developing stories that resonate with your intended audience. For more on how this process works, including how it worked for “The Story of Stuff,” Sachs’ full presentation can be found here.
  • Beth Kanter, Author, The Networked Nonprofit and Co-Founder, Zoetica: Kanter’s closing “un-keynote” talk looked at “free agents,” a topic she discusses at length in The Networked Nonprofit. Kanter engaged the crowed in a conversation on free agents following a brief presentation that illustrated what free-agents are and how they can support nonprofits.

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