Tag Archives: article

Article #2: The Tech is 2.0 – are we? -aka- The Way we aren*t

[Taking a more philosophical point of view than in thelast column, I will take a look on general patterns of behavior in the use of social media by companies and organizations, in how far they match the possibilities that are social media and what are consequences, especially for NGOs.]

Looking at Facebook these days, there have been a great couple of changes, not just in the numbers and ways of Mr. Zuckerberg harvesting our data. A change that has occurred in the time from a few years ago to now is the different style of using it. The surge of people, companies and institutions joining the network led to a professionalization of its usage. We all have become more and more cautious with private matters being publicly discussed in a way that we would have thought normal in 2009, many of us are now friends with our employers, co-workers (because it would seem socially awkward otherwise), and are following a myriad of people from all kinds of professions, backgrounds and fame. It is even possible to get paid just for being on Facebook and, represent someone and talk to people now!

Are we though, talking to non-people people? And are we being motivated to do so?

Especially social media stand for the technical possibilities coined as “the Digital Revolution”, something that will very likely bring changes on scales and levels not imaginable yet and that promise fundamental changes in how we conduct our affaires. So, the technology is ready… are we? Looking at the way companies, societal institutions and organizations are conducting their social media, we are still far away from a 2.0-state of mind… The main paradigm of conducting a brand/company/organization can still be broken down to “Look at me, I am awesome!” We are still putting posters on walls to be recognized by the world. Be it a project worth promotion, a cause or an article written, the intent of posts is an imperative one most of the time: Read! Like! Share! Promote! And we do: read, like, share. But do we interact?

And how do we measure social media success? In likes, people coming to our website, in comments? And what is the exchange-rate of those? How many Likes make up for a discussion in the comments?

Using digital tech that includes the ability to comment doesn’t make something 2.0 in the same sense that having legs doesn’t make us long-distance runners. When using social media, it will not do to declare what you want to communicate and to whom, but also what you want from your audience and what degree of interaction you would like to see on your Facebook page. This goes especially for organizations highly dependent on people’s emotional ties to them and nothing bonds as well as co-authorship, no matter how small the contribution.

Of course, true 2.0 does not always make sense and cannot always be the aim for approaching people online (after all, you DO want to sell something), let alone it is a business where no one has found a consistent answer yet. That however is the good news, there is still lots of room to experiment, when wanting to get to know our audience, there is no other way to find out than trying out different things/approaches and keep the things that worked best.

Isn’t it great?

(this post was originally written for and published by No Label Project, I wasn’t able to find the source of the picture in an hours worth of searching, it was however via the Star Trek Facebook page, if you know something, do tell…)

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Article #1: (Lack of) Economic literacy in the NGO sector

First things first: yes, morality and doing the right thing do come with a price tag more often than let’s say, working for companies with questionable, or worse: no corporate identity, buying mass-production items or raising your voice in the right moment to the wrong person. We all know this, have made our choices and dealt with the results…

However, feeling a moral taint when acting economically or opportunistic, doesn’t make us independent from the world outside.

The fact that we don’t usually make that much money and have to fight for every penny of it, doesn’t mean that a) is a good thing, b) is supposed to be that way, c) has to be that way.

Most of the lessons taught to prospective start-up owners can easily be applied to starting an NGO, business-models can be applied to running one and corporate leadership is still leadership. The fact of the matter is that NGOs ARE companies, just very social ones with a small profit-margin. So why is it, that when entering offices in companies there are usually shelves with books on management, branding and advertisement while in an NGO’s office, there are tourist-guides, language courses and books on mediation? (I’m exaggerating here for making the point’s sake.) Just because we avoided these topics in university/school and made it through by relying on chance, luck and other people’s good will, it doesn’t mean they are not important, the opposite is the case!

These things like branding and advertisement (“how to make a project sound sexy”), management and corporate identity (how to get the good people to work for me and stay/volunteer) are even more important, it might be argued. Our problem is that the one product we have can scarcely be measured in material/economic terms, so we better be good at selling it. Additional to that, especially in times of economic crisis, the sources of funding get fewer and thus competition (yes, THAT word) for them is getting fiercer with a lot of brilliant ideas and approaches for projects being sold to grant-giving organizations and institutions.

Living in the 21st century, there are lots of great tools, blogs and tutorials out there that can help you to deal with many challenges we face in NGO work on a daily basis. Check out the post Bunch of great nonprofit marketing and branding tips  or Top 5 nonprofit bloggers to follow.

This Blogpost was originally written for and published by No Label Project

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