Step One – “Listening”

July 26, 2009 at 2:47 pm Leave a comment

This morning I was going over the American Red Cross’ Social Media Guidelines (thanks to Beth’s Blog). What struck me most was the clarity and simplicity of this guide for RC Chapters. Figuring out how to get started in social networking can be quite a challenge for non-profits and this guide does a great job defining clear steps.listening

Basically, it lays out five chronological steps to developing and engaging in a social media strategy: Listen, Learn, Participate,  Create and Implement.

Listening to what others are saying about you is indeed, a critical first step. It’s rather like the “clipping file” many of of us have to keep track of our organization’s press coverage. These days it means knowing where you are showing up in blogs, Facebook, twitter, etc. Where are you mentioned? Is your online reputation accurate? Or worse, are you not showing up at all? There are numerous online “clipping” services that will, for a price, monitor the web for you. Most PR agencies have added this to their menu of services. However, there are tools to help you do it yourself.

The most common way to start is a simple Google search. Most people have googled their name or their organization and one time or another. In addition to the basic website search, you can use Google to search news, videos, pictures and blogs by date or by relevance. To have google results sent to you automatically, sign up for Google Alerts. This tool will send you email notices on the subjects of your choice weekly, daily, of “as it happens”.

Technorati, a blog search engine, tracks over 100 million blogs. It allows you to easily search for names, keywords and tags. Likewise Twitter’s search feature lets you see what’s being tweeted about you. FriendFeed, a social networking aggregation site, was designed to allow folks to create their own “one stop” site that combines feeds from their friends on Facebook, Twitter, blogs and more. It too, has a search feature, where you can see where your organization is showing up.

Listening also means following conversations that center around your organization’s mission or related issues. You can use these same tools to find blogs and sites that are engaging in dialogue about the issues that matter to your organization. Sign up to get RSS feeds from the most applicable sites and blogs.

There are many more tools, both free and for a fee, that can help you start listening to what others are saying about your organization, or if you are even on the radar. Tuning into this information is an important first step in using social networking to advance your mission.

But next up? Step 2, of course. Learning. Check back next time for more ideas and resources for nonprofits new to social networking.

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Entry filed under: New Media & Nonprofits, social media. Tags: , , , , , .

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July 9 Winnipeg Foundation Presentation

Recent Workshop Feedback

"Wow – great presentation today! I came into this workshop thinking I knew enough about social media to kick start the organization I work for, but once the presentation began I was immediately taken aback at how much I didn’t know as well. It was a great learning experience and opened the doors to many ideas I now have – in fact I am having a meeting tomorrow with the rest of my colleagues to discuss these ideas! " - Randi-Leigh Michaniuk, Winnipeg, Manitoba

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