Beth Kanter just asked me, “what is your best introduction to social media blog post that you would point a noobie to?”  My answer was, “hmmm – good question!  I’m not sure.  Maybe I’ll have to write one tomorrow!”  So, here it is!

Ready = Resources

Where do I find ’em and what will they give me

Knowing how to find answers to your questions is the most important part of adoptiong new technologies.  You can’t have all your questions now, because you don’t even know what lies ahead.  Here are some of the best places to go first when you need to know how to use something, how to do something, or why you would be interested:

CommonCraft:  These guys get to be a category unto themselves because they are that cool.  They have a series of videos that explain social media tools “in plain English,” meaning pictures, sketches and fun stories that make even new and complex technologies seem fun and manageable.  Check them out!

Blogs:  There is A LOT of information out in the blogosphere for FREE.  Take advantage of it!  AllTop has a nonprofit page that can get you started finding blogs to read.  Once there are some you like, check out the other blogs they link to in posts or in the sidebar to find even more good ones!

WeAreMedia:  One of the best reasons to take advantage of information online is that it’s been crowdsourced.  What’s that mean?  Projects like WeAreMedia are the culmination of many smart people pooling their smartness, not just one person on a soapbox.  The WeAreMedia wiki has a toolbox to help you get started with all kinds of social media tools and is a wiki, so it can continue to be updated and improved.

Groups:  Why connect with groups?  I know that working in a nonprofit organization on tech/social media/web ‘stuff’ can be a lonely job as you’re often the only one doing it.  Connecting with communities online like NetSquared and NTEN mean you can learn, share and collaborate with others around the country and the world working on similar projects, using similar tools and/or facing the same issues.

Set = Strategy

Thinking about you need, not what you want

It’s hard to avoid the “shiny new tool” syndrome; believe me, I know!  But it’s worth it.  Thinking about what your organization is doing now, where you want to be/go, and then how to get there will help you most appropriately pick the tools to do it.  Resources like the POST method and other social media guides can be fun to use (make it a strategy afternoon in the office!) and help focus social media adoption.

Here are the 3 most important things to remember:

  • If you build it, they won’t necessarily come
  • Tools are only as effective as the resources to maintain them
  • Social media doesn’t just mean Facebook

Go = Give it a try!

You’ll never know til you try it…

Isn’t that what they always say?  It’s very true for social media.  You can read all about Twitter and watch other people use it, even, but it really doesn’t make any sense until you do it yourself.  This is true for understanding how tools work but also to see how they could be put to use organizationally.  It wasn’t until many people started blogging for themselves (about a hobby or their family) that they were able to see the way their organization could use blogs to tell stories, share information, and create community.

Don’t be nervous or scared.  You have the resources at the top of this list to help you answer questions and feel your way through.  Like I said, you can’t know the questions now; you have to start using the tools and then ask as you learn.  It’s exciting and fun – and watch out, this social media stuff is pretty addicting!  🙂

Keep us posted how you do and what other resources and support helped you as you started out!

Image: Ready…Set…Go! by Saskia B

So you’re interested in social media…
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  • Nice post!

  • Thanks, Beth! I have to say, though – nice question! Thanks for asking 🙂

  • Great post Amy! I love the middle section – something I always stress when speaking. The POST method rocks!

  • Thanks, Chad! I think it’s the most important and most overlooked part. I think that it’s easy for groups, working on advocacy and campaigns – right in the thick of things – to feel like they don’t have time or resources to step back and think about the over all strategy and the very best tools to help them get there. The POST method and other structured social media strategy planning tools make it feasible for even those busy nonprofit worker bees to be strategic.

    What would you say are your “and remember…”s?

  • Hi Amy! Found your name on Britt Bravo’s blog & followed up because your name was familiar. So glad that I did because this post was just what I needed.

    I work for a really small nonprofit in the PDX metro area. Our total staff is 3 people & until last week I was the only one who even knew that social media is relevant.

    I’ve already discovered CommonCraft and a few blogs (Beth’s, Britt’s & now yours!) and am on Twitter. I’m looking forward to exploring some of the other suggestions that you made!

  • Cynthia –

    Thanks for finding me! I just moved to London from Portland two months ago so am happy to have another Portlander in the fold; welcome!

    I’m glad to hear you’re diving in and finding your way through the resources. Be sure to drop a line/comment if there’s something you’re looking for and you can’t find. I think the community here would love to help!

    Oh, and I’m @amyrsward on Twitter – let’s be friends!

  • Amy, that was quick, lol! Thanks so much for the words of encouragement. I’ll be sure to speak up when I need to, and appreciate your openness to helping.

    After posting here the first time, I found you on Twitter and am now following you! I am both @PeepsHelpPeeps (work) and @Hyacinths4.

  • Great, Cynthia! Look forward to learning together…

  • you mean…

    and remember to… *Track. Everything. It’s hard to demonstrate success or ROI without good metrics. Get a spreadsheet going from day one, because social media metrics aren’t tracked in Google Analytics.

    and remember to… *After you’ve gone through a full cycle, don’t forget to evaluate the effectiveness of your process. How well did the planning, execution, tracking, reporting, and project communication go? What worked, what didn’t. Tweak, then start another cycle.

  • Nice post. Thank you for the info. Keep it up.

  • Chad – Exactly what I was looking for – thanks for adding to the list/conversation! My favorite part: Tweak. You don’t have to make huge changes to get very different results; it’s all about the little refinements, the little tweaks. Thanks, Chad!

  • Thanks, Tim; I appreciate it!