I recently had the pleasure of being on a panel at SXSWi called Social Media for the Social Good, with David Armano, Beth Kanter, Stacey Monk, Scott Goodstein and Randi Zuckerberg, moderdated by Jeff Pulver and Tikva Morowati (it was my honor to be on stage with that group). Each of these folks has a lot to say about using social media tools as a way for people, from non-profits or not from non-profits, to reach out and generate some support for any cause and generate change in the world.
I came away from the experience with a clear message, that it all starts with one person deciding to act. If one person acts to help another, then at least two people know about it. If social media tools are involved, then the chances are good that a lot more people know about it, and the chances are equally good that the message will be passed on at least a few more times in ever expanding circles.
The tools are already in place, but we can all be sure that more will be on the way soon. Right now, the leading tools are Twitter, Facebook and all it’s internal tools like Change.org, Causes, and independent apps, and individual blogs.
I see the task for non-profit organizations that want to leverage social media for this kind of ripple effect to be simply this:
- Get in the game and learn about the tools
- Educate your constituents on how and when to use the tools
- Teach your constituents the basic building blocks of the messages (calls to action) you want to propogate
- Give them opportunities to act, talk, preach, etc. using the tools
If you don’t think you have constituents who want to do this, then find some more constituents. This is pretty easily done.
- Listen in on the conversation about your organization, mission and related topics
- Identify the people who are passionate and positive
- Make contact with them and start a relationship
All of the pieces are in place. The tools are here, but it is the people that matter most. You know your mission better than anyone, so become teachers (or parents, using the analogy I spoke about at the panel) and prepare your constituents to be your advocates using their own voice. Use your people to reach other people, and those people will reach even more people. And the chain continues.