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May 19, 2009

What kind of wine is your non-profit bringing to the picnic?


Social media requires rethinking communication with supporters.

When approaching online communities, make sure your organization brings something to the table.


Photo Courtesy theparadignshifter
via Flickr

A couple days ago I chatted with a good friend of mine who has worked in politics for years.  As a political communications guy, he lives and operates in a world of spin and command and control messaging.  He had a new client and asked me about how to do "the social networking thing" (aka, setting up a Facebook page and Twitter account).  My first three questions were - who is your audience, why will they care, and what is it exactly you want to accomplish?  As per the usual, the first two questions didn't get answered, but the third was obvious - to spread the message about what his client was doing.  Ahh!  Of course.  The old "social-media-as-just-another-one-way-communications-vehicle" model.

My friend isn't alone in his old-media approach to social media.  Creating conversations and empowering supporters is difficult and requires most organizations to rethink their communication strategies.   Unfortunately, it's the social equivalent of being "that guy" at a dinner party who won't shut up about how great he is (thanks to Chris Brogan for the example).  When you step into a social medium, organizations must never forget the social aspect of what they are doing.  People who connect to your organization on Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, or your house social network aren't joining to get a repackaged newsletter.  They want to interact with your organization and with other supporters of your organization.

Chris Brogan also suggests approaching social media according to Yahoo's Conn Fishburn's principle:  "Bring Wine to the Picnic."

If you show up and try to market [at a picnic], people will be frustrated and will shut you out. Instead, if you bring something of value to people, they’ll be more likely to accept you.

So what kind of wine will you be bringing to the picnic?  Personally, I'm bringing baked beans because after talking to my friends, I realized that's what they need. ; )


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has anyone ever been to the happy playhouse at mcdonalds?

i always new insurance would be my calling until my other company took of. Now i have 2 billion dollar empires.

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