Linking in to social networks with social media guru Beth Kanter

Beth Kanter describes how nonprofits can harness the power of social networking to achieve their goals

Social media expert Beth Kanter, author of the bestselling book The Networked Nonprofit, spoke about how nonprofit organizations can harness the power of social networking technology during several events sponsored by World Learning in DC on Wednesday.

The social media training began when World Learning sponsored Beth Kanter’s presentation at the US State Department’s Tech@State: Civil Society 2.0 conference. Beth’s session was part of the third edition of Tech@State. These events are aimed at connecting established leaders, new innovators, government personnel, and others to work together on 21st century technology solutions to improve the education, health, and welfare of the world’s population. You can watch Beth’s sold out presentation streamed live, view her powerpoint and read more on Beth’s Blog.   

Later that afternoon, about 70 people came to World Learning’s DC offices to see Beth discuss ways for nonprofit organizations to maximize their social change goals using Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other tools that are sometimes misunderstood by organizations more accustomed to traditional outreach tactics. 

 “Networked nonprofits act less like isolated institutions and more like networks. They allow insiders to get out and outsiders to get in,” she said, explaining the need for nonprofits to embrace social media technology.

Beth Kanter at Tech@State

World Learning sponsored Beth Kanter at Tech@State.

Organizations should shy away from a “fortress” model that seeks to tightly control the flow of information and instead adopt a social culture where organizational staff – from directors to interns – actively engage and listen to online constituents and social media users.

Another common social media misstep is to presume that simply setting up social media tools is enough to attract users – a tactic that often leads to empty chat rooms and minimal user activity. Instead, organizations must cultivate relationships in their networks over time, treating their online constituents as they would before the era of Facebook and Twitter. According to Beth, organizations must build two-way relationships with users instead of merely “shouting” at them.

Were you at Beth Kanter’s presentation? Want to learn more about how to tap into social media technology? Share what you learned by posting in our online discussion forum, part of the World Learning Online Global Community.

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4 Responses to Linking in to social networks with social media guru Beth Kanter

  1. Peter says:

    Networking through social media is an obvious step for World Learning. We have long viewed ourselves as a network of people and programs, working in exchange, development and education. Our study abroad programs— as well as our inbound exchanges sponsored by the US State Department and USAID—are prime examples of how we use people-to-people contact to foster personal growth and societal transformation in more than 140 countries. Our world-class development specialists and alumni of our graduate institute build networks of individuals, institutions and communities worldwide that together address issues like HIV/AIDS, basic education and democratic governance. Add to this a network of hundreds of thousands of alumni, staff, partners, and friends who support our work.
    The value of social media was not always so obvious to us, though. Not too long ago we ascribed to one of the myths Beth describes in her book The Networked Nonprofit as the “social media zero sum game,” meaning the presumption that online networking in some manner supplants face-to-face networking. We now know that the two activities augment each other and we are seeking ways to magnify and extend the impact of physical exchanges through the virtual possibilities for exchange that social media offers.

    • Avatar of alejandra says:

      Peter, thanks for the comment and for bringing up the important connection among all World Learning’s programs. The potential for online networking for us is huge…and so exciting.

  2. Beth Kanter says:

    Thanks so much for hosting me earlier this week. It was a pleasure to work with your staff on social media efforts and learn more about your organization’s impressive work.

    • Avatar of alejandra says:

      Beth, it was great to host you at World Learning and at the State Department last week. As social media becomes mainstream, we must all learn to be agile and adapt to new tools and ways to share our message. Social media is such an exciting way to get participants involved in distributing the power of mission to others in their networks.

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