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.
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.