Tag Archives: charleneli

traveling without moving

I’ve been watching Beth Kanter traipsing across the globe over the last couple of weeks, as she traveled to Australia to give some workshops and a keynote on social media for nonprofits. She’s been blogging and twittering and uploading pictures to Flickr the whole time, and I’ve checked in with her updates a couple of times to see how things were going (mainly to see if she had met up with my friend Jules Woodward, the Executive Director of Flying Arts in Brisbane — she did).

One of the best things she pointed to during this trip, for me, was the blog maintained by Seb Chan, of the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney, fresh + new(er). (Thanks to Beth Kanter for the image.)

Seb writes about all manner of things touching on social media and how cultural organizations (including museums, performing arts venues, and others) can use these tools to get things done. The depth and intelligence of the coverage of this space on this blog is just superb — among the best I’ve seen.

A recent post that spoke to what I’ve been working on lately was Seb’s review of Groundswell by Forrester senior analysts Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff. I recently finished reading Groundswell myself, and I’ve been busy incorporating its ideas into the round of workshops on social media and nonprofits I’m in the midst of right now.

One of the most useful points I’ve found in Groundswell is the importance of planning for how engagement in web 2.0 will change your organization — how it works, how it processes information, how it responds to praise and criticism, and more. Some of this you can’t plan for — but you should at least know that change is likely.

Put simply, if you do engage, you organisation will change. If you engage strategically then this change can be managed and paced appropriately. For some organisations it might be most appropriate to deploy a range of ‘listening’ techniques and technologies before leaping into a poorly planned social media project. Even here at the Powerhouse we’ve had social media projects fail because we have over-estimated our intended audiences and their predicted behaviour. {Seb Chan, fresh + new(er)}

Often, I think we embark on social media “strategies” thinking that we are going to change our audience’s behavior — that we’re going to “get” them to do something we want them to do.

This is the sort of strategy that is likely to fail. People don’t like being “gotten” to do stuff. If there’s one thing people can sniff out, it’s coercion.

That’s where my other favorite part of Groundswell comes in (and Jeremiah Owyang talks about this a lot, too): Fish Where the Fish Are.

It’s not about getting people to do something new, so much as it is about going where they are already engaged, and getting down with them there.

That’s why the folks at Forrester are always banging on about this POST method of theirs — it makes you look first at the people you are trying to reach, second at what they are already doing online, and then you can start talking strategy and tools.

I banged on about this myself at some length during my class at Mount Holyoke on Friday, when I presented to a roomful of alumnae of various ages on how they can start thinking about using tools like blogging, social networking, and photosharing for their own nonprofits.

I used the occasion of my own 15th reunion at Mount Holyoke to sharpen some of my favorite event-broadcasting-through-social-media skills. As a result, I know I experienced the weekend very differently — I was more reflective, more thoughtful about how I spent my time, where I stood, and what I noticed — because, I suppose, I wasn’t just there for me. I was thinking about what you might want to see, what you might care or not care about, and what I might be otherwise taking for granted.

If you want to see some of what I got up to during my reunion/social media workout, you can check it out on:




and coming soon to YouTube…


i heart data

Have you tried making the case for your nonprofit to start blogging, or get into social networks, or in some other way try something bolder than Ye Olde Corporate Website as a means of engaging your community online… only to be rebuffed by the mentality that “our constituents aren’t online” or “our members don’t read blogs” or something of the sort?

Ever get frustrated that you didn’t have the data to either refute or confirm that kind of assertion?

Well, my heroes over at Forrester Research have released an interactive tool that allows you to build a profile of your constituents (assuming you have an accurate profile of who exactly they are) and how they use the internet.

Plug in different profiles based on age, gender, and country, and you’ll get information where those users sit on the ladder of engagement.

Forrester Groundswell Tool

Data from Forrester Research Technographics® surveys, 2007. For further details on the Social Technographics profile, see groundswell.forrester.com.

(For more information on what exactly the different levels of engagement mean, check out this quick slide deck.)

The authors of the new book Groundswell: Winning in a world transformed by social technologies, Josh Bernoff and Charlene Li, are also releasing more in-depth research information on groups — like small business owners — once a week on their blog, also called Groundswell.

These weekly tidbits should give a finer-grained view of various groups of people who might be persons of interest, let’s say, to a nonprofit looking to interact more meaningfully with their existing constituents, or to reach new supporters who are already online, interested in similar causes, and engaged in social media.

I’m hoping to read and review Groundswell (the book) soon. In the meantime, I’m enjoying the rare peek behind the curtain that these top analysts at Forrester are giving us at some serious market research.

why nonprofits should care about bebo & aol

Nonprofits have a hard enough time determining if, when, and how they should get shaking on Facebook or MySpace, the two massive players in the United States social networking space.

Now comes news that AOL has acquired Bebo, a popular social network in the United Kingdom and New Zealand, but a bit of an also-ran in the States, and nptechies in the US will be forgiven if their response borders on the “so what” or “please shut up” side of things.

Charlene Li at Forrester Research analyzes what the deal means for the future of social networking, and Kara Swisher breaks down the numbers a bit, if you’re into that sort of thing.

But even if you’re not interested in the numbers, don’t lose sight of these numbers:

AOL users still number in the 40 millions (remember that this includes the still-popular AIM and ICQ instant messaging services). And a committed core of users is, in fact, still loyal to the walled garden AOL community that made the company successful in the 1990’s.

If AOL can successfully integrate a true social network into its core community, then this will introduce an otherwise somewhat internet-shy group of users to the culture and mores of social networks. This integration would have the effect of making social networks more mainstream to these older, more tech-resistant groups.

“Older” and “more tech-resistant” describes the core donor base of many nonprofits today.

So it makes sense for the nonprofits to whom these donors are important to become fluent in that culture as well.