My connection to technology began with my connection to my father. It continued with my connection to my friends, as we all got our first personal PC in 1976 so the conservative, financial “types” wouldn’t be the only ones to understand this technology thing. We were a bunch of hippies and for us to wade into the technology world was a real transition.
But I fell in love. I would get as frustrated as you can imagine when it didn’t work they way I thought it was supposed to and then as euphoric as you can imagine when I figured it out and made it work. Those feelings are still part of what drives my love of technology. At the National Association of Social Workers I helped to put a computer on each workers desk – a revolutionary thing at the time. And while my digital photo business was consumed by the very technology I loved, all that I learned about that technology was one of the few pay offs of the business (or maybe the only).
My social media for nonprofits work means a great deal to me, because I was able to take my love of technology and marry it to my love of my profession. I can work with nonprofit organizations and help them accomplish what I believe in by using a tool that I think is marvelous. While it still has its moments of grrrrr frustration, it also has more and more of the “happy dance” moments of conquering something new and making it work.
At the present moment, I find myself in a very different set of circumstances. For the last 20 months I have been the caring for my mother, who has pulmonary fibrosis and is in Home Hospice. There is so much more that can and probably should be said after a sentence like that, but it is difficult for me to evaluate how much of that information is necessary to understand this post. So, bear with me if I veer a bit too far in one direction or the other.
I believe that home hospice is about dying in the midst of life. My mother is dying, but she is doing it in the midst of my life. (and my family’s and my partners, etc). This arrangement is filled with paradox and confusion, joy and laughter, tears and frustrations – and stress. I am on call for my mom 24/7 unless someone else has come to provide some relief, which family and friends, hospice volunteers and aides, all do. But no amount of breaks can take away the constancy of home care giving. It is something you carry around, like a heavy back-pack all of the time. You can make no other choice but you would often like to put the burden down.
So – back to technology being personal. Because I need to keep as much of my work at home as possible, technology has given me a lifeline. It is my tether from the past to the hope of the future, keeping me anchored in the present. I can go away in my technology. I can have a happy dance moment in my technology. I can use social media to connect to others who I cannot go and meet. I can see the wonderful things nonprofits accomplish with social media. I can teach, and teach, and teach. Since my father was also a teacher, it makes sense that the ability to teach technology is also a lifeline.
So when you are thinking about how you use and learn technology, remember that underneath all of those grrrr frustration moments are “happy dance” moments. You just have to find your own way through your personal connection (or lack thereof) to technology.
May you all find the happy dance moments and connect to your lifeline.]]>
As I was “listening” around the Internet on NetVibes for various blog post topics I stopped by one of my favorite blogger’s sites to see what he was talking about. I was caught totally off guard by his post on depression.
This wasn’t a folksy, informative, light weight post on depression. This was a real, raw, honest post from someone who lives with depression. I reacted with several emotions, some of which did not make me proud.
“Him – depression?”
This is a successful, talented guy who writes great blog posts and tells amazing stories. His blog topics emails have saved me at times when the content well was just dry and I didn’t know which way to turn. Then I faced my own shame at that reaction. What, I didn’t know successful people suffer from depression?
“Ouch – he hit all the ‘social worker helper’ buttons.”
What do you mean, don’t talk to me? Of course it helps to talk to us. What are you thinking? Of course you want to “talk it out.” Oh, yeah, maybe not.
“You can see it in the photo.”
Most of us who write online work very hard to use images to communicate exactly what we want you to see. We are the ones telling the story and we control the story line. I have never been as totally honest with a blogging audience in either content or image.
“I am not that brave.”
Chris talks about one of the pillars of his business model (The Human Business Way) as being “brave.” For him, that means being brave enough to work through his depression, but also being brave enough to talk openly about it. My final reaction to this post was that he walked the talk. I’m not sure I am that brave.
Chris perhaps said it best –
“Bravery is a muscle, like love. You have to exercise it constantly or it will turn flabby. When I am depressed, it’s very easy to fall away from bravery. But because I’m working harder and harder to stop avoiding things, when I tell you about my depression, it’s because I have something to tell myself, and I just want you to hear so you can think about your own personal bravery.”
Social media is dynamic and continuous. But listeners are still looking for stories that are genuine, true and honest. Those are the messages that are heard above the din and those are the relationships that will be built through a successful social media campaign.
Let’s practice being both brave and honest. I promise if you are, you will be heard.
Location:Hamilton Ave SE,Atlanta,United States]]>
Whether you are a procrastinator or an early bird, I decided to put up a little teaser here about what will be presented at my workshops.
Seniors and Technology – Glass half full or half empty
Social Networking Surges
The Long view of Pew
Closing the Gap
Seniors online and Socioeconomics
Low income seniors and health services online
Benton Foundation, Connected Living and Broadband Technology Opportunities Program. Here is the full report.
SOCIAL MEDIA AND ORGANIZATIONS
E-Book – 30 Tips
Wikispace on Nonprofits and Social Media
And here are some links to the new ideas we will be discussing – new since my E-book came out in April!
Ten Social Media Facts You Probably Don’t Know
11 Nonprofits that Excel at Social Media
12 Common Mistakes Nonprofits Make in Social Media
But then I was beginning to write a new post about finishing my E-Book, “30 Social Media Tips for Nonprofits: 10 Rules, 10 Schools and 10 Tools,” and it just came out spontaneously. WOOT, WOOT WOOT – I finished. I am well aware that in this business of social media finishing an E-Book simply means that you are getting ready to start the next revision. But I just had to take a minute to celebrate – and WOOT was the first word that came to mind. (BTW – I just added WOOT to my computer spell checker!) So, if I was going to use it, I needed to be sure that all of those friends and family that tried to convince me otherwise were wrong. And look what I found!!!
‘Woot’ is officially a thing, according to Oxford English Dictionary – woot: used to express elation, enthusiasm, or triumph (especially in electronic communication). So – I am vindicated and I just want to say WOOT! I have a new E-Book and you can find it here.]]>
I graduated with an MSW in 1974. Yes, that makes me old. But even us old ladies can still turn into tech-geeks. When I was working at NASW (many years beyond the MSW and after the PhD) I was responsible for upgrading technology at the national office. This was back in the days when people didn’t have computers on their desks yet – and they needed to. That’s when I met my buddy Tibbs.
I think every non-tech person has had a tech person come into their lives. You will find this to be true if you talk with anyone from any profession. My sister-in-law is a very good and very important lawyer, but she still loves the tech person at her law firm. I know CEOs who swear a good tech person is essential in making the rest of their organization run smoothly. The really goods ones are the ones who “get” the nonprofit process.
Yes, that partly means that they understand there often aren’t enough resources to do it the “right” way. It’s also about knowing that the organization is made up of staff who are NOT tech-geeks. In fact, they alternate between thinking what you do can’t be that difficult and thinking you walk on water. And they basically believe it’s pretty much magic that they could never learn.
I have a father who taught me you can do pretty much anything you set your mind to. He also got me started in technology. This picture gives you an idea of both his fascination with the topic and how old I am.
So I was connected to technology early. And it stuck. So when I got together with my friend James Tibbs, I was thrilled to find someone who would put up with the non-geek and help her learn.
My greatest hope for everyone who is involved in social media or any other technical role in a nonprofit is that you find your own “Tech Guy” who will not only help you but teach you!]]>
For example, I have a new ipad – something I always said I would never get – primarily because I can’t ignore changing technology. I have always been a PC kind of gal, the only exception being my very first computer – an Apple 2e. Don’t worry, unless you are over 60 you won’t have a clue what I am talking about. After that I switched to a PC just to have the ability to function in the work world. I haven’t looked back since.
But there are elements of the iPad that make it important to consider when you are thinking about computer technology for older adults. One of my other passions in technology is helping older adults stay connected through their ability to use technology. I also teach them basic social media skills. (Did you know that the fastest growing group on Facebook is women asked 55 to 65?) Many many grandparents love to see the photos of their grandchildren on Facebook. And they don’t all act like the older couple that has been viewed on YouTube trying to use their web cam.
I have been working on developing a mobile lab – the ability to take laptops and a hotspot and teach computers at anyone’s kitchen table. When I thought about what laptops to purchase I found myself thinking about the iPad. The next thing I know, I have one. All for research, you understand.
The beauty of this thing is that you can be anywhere and still work. Now, those of you who have read my article on having a life and boundaries might think that’s a problem. But for me, with other issues of accessibility, it is a gift.
I am learning that nothing is the same on this platform as on the PC platform. There are positive and negative things about both – surprise, surprise – and I am enjoying learning the differences. So you will be hearing more as time goes on.]]>
Those posts were two years ago, and some of the resources mentioned have faded away. Some of them continue to offer great support for all of us working in social media and nonprofits. And, of course, in the way of this Internet age of ever expanding information, there are now thousands, even hundreds of thousands, of new blogs available claiming to offer you the essential information you need to build a social media campaign for your nonprofit. It is impossible for me to research, edit and reference all of the options you have out there. And as soon as I finished my work, it would be out of date. When I began, so little was available from a nonprofit perspective and it took a lot of work to figure out the good sources. Today, there is so much, and it takes a lot of work to figure out the good sources.
Those of us who work in the nonprofit sector aren’t in it for the money. We aren’t in it for the fame. We do have a passion for the work – for the difference the work can make in people’s lives. As I learned more about social media, I realized the opportunity it presented to communicate this passion for the work and increase our ability to make a difference.
So I started reading, researching and learning. As I learned more about the power of social media, I became convinced this set of tools could have an amazing impact on our ability to communicate our message. I kept searching for others who shared my passion about social media and nonprofits. There were lots of voices talking abut social media. But for what purpose? Social media are a set of tools – a “design point.” They can be used to accomplish something larger. Learning the technology was essential, but I kept looking for voices that understood the passion as well as the technology.
I found three sources for that voice. Interestingly, they are all women, or represented by women. (I won’t go into my theories on that fact.) The first voice I heard was Beth Kanter. Beth’s work was cutting edge, at a grass roots level that changed the very essence of organizations. The second was Heather Mansfield and her .Nonprofit Tech 2.0 blog. Heather worked as social media coordinator for change.org (which pretty much says it all in terms of the passion part). But she also provided strong, sensible, easy to understand training that helps all of us increase our expertise in this new technology. The third voice was Holly Ross, representing a wonderful group of passionate folks at the Nonprofit Technology Network. Take a look at the values of the organization and you will get what I mean.
I went to classes and webinars that these folks offered. I heard them lecture at conferences. I joined their networks and signed up for their information. And they are still offering the same quality information and support they provided from the very beginning. I wanted to tell you about a new book that just came out from Heather Mansfield called Social Media for Social Good: A How-to Guide for Nonprofits. I am scheduled to teach an elective on Social Media and Communication for second year social work students in January at Georgia State University and I plan to use this book for the text. That probably sounds weird that you would use a text for a social media class. But Heather knows so well what most of us in the nonprofit world deal with each day. We are the “tech guy”, the “pr person”, the ‘”web master” and the “social media coordinator” all rolled into one. This book will give you the tools and resources you need to accomplish the impossible. Enjoy.]]>
So, how can a practicing social worker use social media to support their organization? Here are a few suggestions about how to proceed.
Start a Movement
I know we all cringe when someone mentions a committee – but in this case, you really need one. A group of people in your organization need to start talking about the benefits of social media. This may start with informal conversations around the lunch room and blossom into something more formal. Eventually to proceed you will need a team, sanctioned by the organization to begin looking at the issue, with representatives from a wide range of departments and levels within the organization. But it might get started just with a conversation. Be patient.
Don’t try to do it yourself
Folks who are committed to social media sometimes think they can just go ahead and promote their organization on their own personal social media platform. In a well managed social media campaign, you will encourage your staff to participate in a number of ways, not the least of which will be through their personal social media accounts. But be careful not to put the cart before the horse.
You don’t speak for your organization on your personal Facebook page. In fact, we can all cite examples of folks who have talked about their organization on Facebook and faced negative consequences. Your organization’s social media presence must originate with your organization. Then you can join in and be a contributing participant, following your organization’s social media guidelines.
Study Best Practices
If you are going to try something new, it just makes sense to look at those who have gone before you. Heather Mansfield from Nonprofit Tech 2.0 is a great source of information on best practices. (Look for her book coming out in September). And Beth Kanter has one of the best blogs for nonprofits and social media. These two women are an invaluable source of information and experience in world of social media for nonprofits. One of the things they do best is pointing out nonprofits that have utilized social media to advance their mission.
Never stray from your mission
I have probably said a million times on this blog that social media is a tool – a vehicle. It is not the message. It’s the train to carry the product, not the product itself. Therefore, a “build it and they will come” mentality is doomed to failure. Think carefully about what your organization’s goals are and then decide which social media tools can help you achieve those goals. If they can’t, don’t start them. If you believe this vehicle can reach people you need to reach, help people you need to help and make a difference in the lives of your clients – then go for it.
Building your audience takes time
The most important thing for nonprofits to remember is that social media campaigns are a commitment. Just like any other PR campaign or media plan, your goals need to be incremental. We believe that social media is a tool that can help you promote your organization and increase your support. But don’t expect to get your return on investment in five minutes.]]>
TELL IT NOW
The first is the need to move at the pace people expect in social media. In case you haven’t noticed, the whole point with social media is immediate gratification. I was asking one of my younger colleagues about why chatting is better than email. Her answer? Why should I wait? When something cool happens, blog about it, post it on your Facebook wall and send out a tweet. (This is also the great content rule – people like to hear interesting things). If you wait, you won’t do it.
TELL IT EVERYWHERE
You have multiple channels for a reason. Do you remember the days when some of us got our news from the TV and others really wanted to read the newspaper? OK, so I am dating myself. But I suspect many of you remember that also. Well, social media is the same thing. Some people like the fast and furious tweet to give them a taste of what’s up. Others want to go to your Facebook page when they are on their computer at 12 midnight and the kids are finally asleep. And some folks really want to read this whole blog about telling stories, believe it or not.
TELL IT WELL
Your brand/organization/mission’s success is totally dependent on your ability to clearly articulate it in a concise and consistent manner. In writing class we always called this “telling” versus “showing.” You always want to show and try never to tell. Show me the family you helped (anonymously, of course), show me the difference you made. Don’t just tell me you did. And be consistent. The need for a consistent message is still important even though your method of delivery has changed. If you tweet something and then post something totally different on your Facebook wall – well, let’s just say people notice this stuff.
TELL IT OFTEN
There is no such thing as too much story telling. There is too much asking and too many emails and too many phone calls. but stories are always welcome when they are well told and communicate a real human message. The same story over and over won’t work. But if you are successful in the first of these suggestions, you can’t tell too many stories. You can never know which story works for which supporter when on what channel. I think you get it.
TELL IT WITH PASSION TO ME
Make it personal. Write as if I am sitting across the table from you with a cup of coffee and you are sharing the amazing things your organization has done. You know what I mean. You know when you have passion and when you are writing in panic. Panic never wins support. Passion always does.]]>
Before I left for Costa Rica, my good friend kept asking me to define vacation. There seemed to be an opinion going around that I needed to unplug and take a break. I was caught up in all of the “get it done before I go on vacation craziness.” Right before I got ready to pack I looked up the definition of a vacation: A period of time devoted to pleasure, rest or relaxation. Wow. It hit me. It’s not taking a few breaks from your computer during the day. It’s not looking outside at the view and then going back to work. A vacation is devoted to pleasure – rest – or relaxation. Well, what do you know?
So I went off to Costa Rica with that goal in mind. I did it so well, I have been having a very hard time plugging back in. In fact, this trip has caused me to think hard about my non-vacation life. But that’s another story. For now, here is the Costa Rica story.
We stayed at a wonderful resort in Tamarindo – the JW Marriott. Yes, it was decadent and lavish and had the largest pool in central america. And I took advantage of every part of that. So, take a little tour with me. You may decide to unplug yourself.
Driving in Costa Rica
We decided to rent a car and drive from the airport in Liberia to the resort in Tamarindo. We had such detailed directions, we just knew we would find our way just fine. Huh, uh. Well, we did ok, but there were certainly moments when we weren’t sure we were going the right way. When we made the last turn toward the resort and the “road” was just a gravel path, we really weren’t confident.
There was tremendous relief when we drove into the resort and they came to greet us. Whew! Plus, the 95 degrees was a shock after the 45 degrees we left in Atlanta. But we were thrilled to get to a beautiful room, have a view of palm trees and green grass, and change clothes. We had lunch at the pool restaurant looking at the ocean while we ate.
The next step was swimsuits, sun block and costa rica hats.
First Night Sunset
The first night we were there, I learned about being so close to the equator. You get about 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of night. I didn’t totally understand all of that, until I realized that we were walking on the beach and folks were setting up to get photos of the sunset – at 5:30 pm! After I got out of my geographically challenged mode, I realized that I was in exactly the right place at the right time – totally by accident. As I watched Nancy walk the beach with her new costa rica hat, I was also ready for the first sunset.
We ventured into town the next morning and realized the definition of roads in Costa Rica. The people are wonderful and friendly, we just had to get our brains away from the urban definitions of road signs. We did find our way to Auto Mercado (the grocery story), and were relieved to be able to use dollars and just get colones in exchange. With an exchange rate of 10,000 colones to $18, my brain couldn’t do the conversion in my head. I got better as the trip went on (move the decimal point over three and multiply by 2 – take off a little), but our dollar was more popular here than it is at home.
Roads and signs aren’t quite the same in Costa Rica, but we loved driving around feeling like we were big and brave. It was great fun! And yes, I know the self photo is dumb, but I couldn’t resist.
I can’t describe the resort. It is even more amazing than the photos on the website. OK, OK, I work for nonprofits. I know about the contrast between the resort and the “real” Costa Rica. I spent some time talking with the folks who worked there, partly because I like to know people and partly because those little guilty moments crept in. I was impressed with the folks I met and how much they seemed to enjoy what they were doing.
One waiter talked with us quite a bit about his work and his boss and his goals in life. He was appreciative of the opportunities he has, is almost finished with business school (to change is waiter life style and see his girlfriend more. Hummm, sound familiar?), and talked about being tired but loving the overtime pay. The country may be different, I’m not sure the goals are.
So, enjoy some resort photos.
Eating in Costa Rica was a wonderful experience. The freshness of the food was a delight. Our breakfast buffet allowed us to have fresh fruit to the max. Pineapple, mangos, melons – yum!!! The fish was fantastic and it was all I ate. These photos are of the resort at night and us having a great time. I just couldn’t resist the night photos – remember, I’m on vacation… On Friday night all the power went off at the resort and it was more than a little weird. But then we managed to find our way our the sliding glass doors to the our garden and the stars were amazing.
We loved our snorkeling trip, perhaps more for the boat trip than the snorkeling itself. The ocean was a bit rough and we got swamped a lot. But check out the landscape (and I don’t mean me…)! Wow.
Lolas is the place everyone wants to go and with good reason. It’s a local restaurant right on the beach with all the informality that implies. We thought about walking to Lola’s, but we were put off by having to leave early to avoid the tide coming in and blocking our way back. Since we had the rental car and had managed to find our way to the resort from the airport, we thought we could handle this one. Imagine our surprise when we met these folks on our way out! It was a very interesting road trip…
Lola’s is named after a 300 pound pig (no longer with us, the photos below are of a descendant), the seating and ambiance are wonderful and the view cannot be beat. You can relax in your swimsuit, drink beer (or whatever) and enjoy a spectacular view of the ocean. I’m not sure there is anything better. It’s also a place where you can soak up the local culture. Dogs are indeed everywhere, something we had no problem with. This was probably our best outing. It’s a wonderful place. This is one of those times where photos speak louder than words.
The Last Sunset
People who know me are well aware of my penchant for sunset photos. But the last night we found a wonderful location to take the photos and had our best sunset ever. I couldn’t resist and if you are a sunset photo lover like me, you can see a bunch more on my flickr site. But here are three that will tell you why we didn’t want to come home.
What did I learn?
Be careful when you unplug. You may not plug back in. More to come in a later post.]]>