June 6, 2011

A reality check on social media

Social Media for Social Good


It only works when it’s connected to the real world

JD LasicaAt the National Conference on Volunteering and Service — which some folks call “the Super Bowl of nonprofit conferences” — George Weiner and I teamed up on one of the most successful Social Media for Social Good Bootcamps that Socialbrite has put on to date. (Socialbrite has put on camps in New York, San Francisco, Miami, London and elsewhere.)

For those of us who live and breathe tech and social media — me in Silicon Valley and George, CTO of DoSomething.org, in New York and Washington, DC — it’s always a good reality check to come to gatherings like this and see how the non-early adopters are faring.

The three-hour session we led yesterday offered a range of tips on how to use social media strategically for campaigns, for collaboration, for building community, and I invite you to browse through the presentation above, since the attendees found it useful: “AMAZING session” (thanks, Volunteer Centre) … “awesome, fantastic session” (thanks, NCVS) … “Great session!” (thanks, Groupon).

But there were more beginners in the crowd than I expected. For instance, only about five out of 50 particpants were using Google Analytics (the free tool every website and blog ought to have). None had heard of the Grassrootsmapping.org effort to document the Gulf oil spill, even though we’re right here in New Orleans. And only one out of 80 people (not counting me) at today’s session on data had ever used Tumblr, an easy way to post blog entries and photos.

These are good, smart, motivated people — we need to break through the barriers and connect the tools and strategies with the organizations and causes that need them, starting with the basics.

So let’s take a deep breath and remember: We still have a lot of work before us, and there’s a lot of education yet to be done.

January 24, 2010

How to bridge professional and social networks with social media


This is part of the series the 31 Day Challenge To Optimize Your Blog With Social Media.

Guest post by Chris Garrett

Many people find networking to be challenging. Being an introvert, real world networking is particularly daunting for me, but my geeky side allows me to use social media to be a much more effective networker.

As I try to impress upon my Authority Blogger Course clients, networking is crucial for business and bloggers alike, even the most shy among us. From getting links through to reviews, we need the help of other people to get ahead.

You can’t do this at cocktail parties

When networking online you do not have the problem of walking into a room and introducing yourself. Unlike in a cocktail party or professional networking event, it is OK to just jump into the conversation provided you have something valuable to add — in fact, it’s kind of expected. Also if someone is becoming a nuisance, it is much easier online to ignore them!

The part I love most about networking online, though, is that you can reach more people, more often, and you do not need to hop on a plane (living in the UK, thousands of miles from the industry networking events, this is a particularly useful benefit!).

Social media is not just a more efficient way of networking, and it is not just a way to avoid some of the less appealing parts of networking that you experience in the face to face world. It can in fact allow you to reach people who would be normally way out of reach.

People have fewer barriers in the way online, the normal gatekeepers (as yet) do not block you from reaching out via Twitter and some of the other social tools. This might well change, but right now we have direct access to celebrities, CEOs, and other influential people. You can also get access to not just individuals but whole groups that you would normally find impenetrable.

Just because you can reach out to these folks doesn’t necessarily mean you should. At least, not right away.

Social media steppingstones

The smart way to reach both highly prized individual contacts and groups that you want to get in front of is by using a stepping stone approach. Rather than leap from one stranger to the next in the hope that one will “bite,” instead bridge from an existing associate and make a more friendly contact.

Social media is, as the name suggests, social. This means you can interact in a low pressure, non-salesy way. Just make yourself known as part of the natural conversation, or get introduced by your mutual friend. Doing this allows you to go to new groups and even companies, as you make new contacts and gain new introductions.

Using the “listening” aspect of social media also allows you to prepare to introduce yourself to these new contacts. I have a terrible memory so in the past have taken to using a networking contact spreadsheet to collate information about the interests and needs of the people I work with and meet.

Find ways your skills, assets or knowledge overlap with their needs to make yourself a valuable person to know. Become useful and interesting enough to know, and these introductions will form without your prompting.

How have you found social media has worked with your own networking? Please share in the comments.

If you don’t want to miss out on the 31 Day Challenge To Optimize Your Blog With Social Media, please sign up.

May 10, 2009

Global Hug Tour

Global Hug Tour from JD Lasica on Vimeo.

JD LasicaI love stories like this. In Chicago last weekend I met Gail Lynne Goodwin of Inspire Me Today, who told the Business School for Bloggers gathering about her new project: the Global Hug Tour.

Gail and her husband Darryl — an ordinary couple from Boulder, Colo. — were sitting around one day and decided to make a difference in people’s lives around the world by launching an event that combines good vibes and charitable giving with the power of social media.

This fall they’ll be boarding a small prop prop plane, flying it more than 31,000 miles and visiting 50 cities around the world over five months. They’ll do three things in each location:

• Gather inspiration from local luminaries to share on Inspiremetoday.com.

• Give 2,000 hugs in each of those locations, “literally wrapping the world in more than 100,000 hugs,” Gail says.

• Give away more than $1 million to nonprofit causes in each of those 50 locations. The causes run the gamut from breast cancer and AIDS prevention and treatment to grizzly bear preservation.

Now, here’s where you — and the power of social media — come in: Starting May 11, they’ll begin raising $1 million (it could go higher) on the Globalhugtour.com site. Remarkably, the causes will be funded in $10 increments through the use of through social media, Twitter and other outreach tools.

“One hug in Chicago will feed three homeless people. Two hugs in Cambodia will pay the entire cost of educating a child for a year. 100 hugs in Chani, India, will pay the entire cost of open heart surgery for a child,” she says. “Just in Chani city there are 53,000 kids on a waiting list. It’s a crime to me to think that it only costs $1,000 to save a life. So that’s why we’re doing this.”

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