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Guest Post: The Social Media Collective

The time has passed when organizations ask the question: “Is social media right for us?” Today, philanthropy is increasingly present in social media. With the newfound awareness and understanding that these platforms are an integral part of any communications strategy, comes the daunting challenge of infusing the ethos within our organization and integrating our chosen platforms to fully embrace social media.


Questions remain across our organizations, but now we pose them differently: what level of engagement should we be confident in pursuing; how do we effectively match strategies to platforms; how do we build confident measurement models/systems; how can we measure influence; how can we recognize shortcomings to recalibrate or simply fail fast; when can we assess the staying power of social media and our organization’s social network? And most important of all: Are we hitting our stride in social media?

Where can you go for answers to questions like those?  We’re the Social Media Collective, and we are here to help.

Who are we, you ask? 

Nearly two years ago, a little tribe emerged from the Communications Network conference and we’ve been socially networked ever since. Every month or so we tweetup—just informal conference calls to brainstorm, swap war wounds, celebrate wins, recharge batteries, float unconventional ideas—to share with and learn from one another.

For those that are part of this collective, it’s articles like “26 Signs You Work in Social Media” that keep us chuckling, but we never proclaim ourselves to be experts. We all started out as newbies and learned our lessons the hard way. Every month, we share experiences and case studies to solicit best practices and advice. We come from very different backgrounds, probably couldn’t live further apart from one another in the continental U.S., and our organizations are as varied as we are. But collectively, we share these traits:

  • We’re using social media to advance the work of our organization.
  • We’re building a successful brand experience in these new spaces through an organizational narrative and voice.
  • We demonstrate value in social listening, informing short and long-term strategies.
  • We monitor in a systematic way, helping our organization become data-informed.
  • We’re travelling the path of bridging programs and communications.
  • We experiment alongside our grantees.
  • We’re constantly trying to improve and learn new techniques.

One of the more interesting aspects of our affinity group is the fact some of us have never met in person. We have met over the phone, via email, and in a Google Hangout, but we only meet up physically once a year at the Communications Network conference. This year, we’re particularly pleased that we’ll be able to share some of our experiences on a joint panel. Not only will we be able to get to know each other better, we hope to meet more members of the Network who can add to the discussion and to our collective experience. As the saying goes, together we’re much more than the sum of our parts.

What we want to know is: Are you hitting your stride on social media? Tell us what you and your foundation/nonprofit have been doing, learning, stumbling upon, and celebrating. Where can we see examples of your social media prowess and skills?

Respectfully submitted by:
Adrienne Faraci, communications coordinator at Carnegie Corporation of New York; Jenn Whinnem, communications officer at the Connecticut Healthcare Foundation; Marc Moorghen, senior communications manager at the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation; Erin Kelly, social media manager at Robert Wood Johnson Foundation; and Elizabeth R. Miller, communications associate at the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

The members of the Social Media Collective will be leading a discussion at the Communications Network 2013 Fall Conference in New Orleans: Hitting Your Stride in Social Media.


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