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Struggling to Use Social Media? Some Insights

Hat tip to Michael Remaley, President of Hamill Remaley Communications, for giving us permission to post the following from his blog at Public Policy Communicators of NYC (PPCNYC):

Yesterday I participated in a thought-provoking and valuable webinar hosted by the Communications Network and produced by the Nonprofit Technology Network (NTEN), session leaders Holly Ross, Executive Director of NTEN, and Nancy Schwartz, NTEN board member and blogger at Getting Attention.

If you want to get a very quick overview of what people were getting out of the webinar, you can also check out what was being said about the session on Twitter by checking out the #comnet tag on Twitter or clicking here.

A few points that I came away from the discussion:

– While most seem to agree that communications professionals need to get into social media to advance our causes, there is still very little hard evidence about the impact.  It is such a new area of communications with little research.  A Kauffman Foundation initiative cited by the webinar leaders showed that its social media efforts — as
part of a larger communications effort — produced only 8% of the overall increase in traffic to the initiative’s site. Given that we all agree social media work is very time consuming, that didn’t seem like a lot to me.

– One communications executive said that his organization was spending 2.5 hours a day Twittering. That seemed like a lot of time to many on the call, but he clarified that there were 5 staff members each maybe Twittering for half an hour a day.  I guess that sounds more reasonable.

– It was noted that to build a following on Twitter, you need to do a lot of Re-Tweeting, at like a ratio of 3 Re-Tweets to every Tweet about your own organization.  I’m not sure I agree with that, but it was an interesting point.

– “Buzz is based on Trust.” This was a core concept I can get behind. Don’t do or say anything in social media that would decrease the trust that your audience has in your organization (i.e. deluging with crap, or repeating yourself a zillion times with self-serving crap).  Seems basic, but does get violated all the time.

Overall, the main idea that I took away from the session was that even those who are the most advanced in social media still have big questions about the best ways to go about it, how much time to invest, most effective strategies, etc.  I was about to write that we’re all stumbling around in the dark, but given the media under discussion I think a better metaphor is that we’re all equally blinded by the light and struggling to gain focus.  I think we’ll figure it out eventually, but we need to keep experimenting and asking questions.


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