Why You Can’t Think About Social Media In A Vacuum

Social media strategy and practice is so much richer when ideas are shared and commented upon. Beth Kanter famously sets up wikis to share and gather knowledge for almost all of her projects, and uses her official Facebook Page to source ideas and get feedback. Linkedin groups emphasize knowledge-sharing. Brands have marketing and project management teams that collectively think about their social media. We are all trying out social media in new ways, while dealing with a geometrically increasing amount of data and information, and staying on top of ever-evolving platforms and new channels.

We all need a social media support team.

Last week, I had the privilege of working with a nonprofit team to brainstorm for two days about their social media. Not only was it fun, but what came out of the two days was so much better than I could have developed on my own! I developed a draft strategy to present to the team. Using the strategy as a starting point, we created a much better social strategy together that what we began with. Why? Group dynamics, internal organizational knowledge, individual capabilities and strengths, and group energy. We were able to access the resources and knowledge within the group members. We all think differently. Most importantly, we all respect each other.

Even if you are the only person at your organization working on social media, you can still create an external informal (or formal) social media advisory team.

I have an informal team that I call upon to help me think through ideas. My team is both long-distance and local. My “team” includes a web developer, a PR professional, a marketing VP of a brand, an SEO expert, a fundraising expert, and a local social media implementer. I call upon them individually, as I see the need for their individual expertise, to bounce ideas off of them. I skype and share documents with another nonprofit social media consultant for feedback. Most importantly, there’s a strong element of trust – I trust that my teammates are unselfishly providing their best advice, and I in turn am ready to offer it to each of them at all times.

I think the ideal team would include these knowledge proficiencies:

  • social media strategy
  • social media implementation
  • website design and programming
  • Facebook development
  • SEO expertise
  • fundraising expertise
  • marketing experience (corporate or nonprofit)
  • other tech capacities as needed: software development, database development, etc.

I use Linkedin Groups (especially the Nonprofit Professionals Forum and Social Media for Nonprofit Organizations) to ask for help, ideas, and feedback as necessary. Twitter is also a great place to ask for feedback and input, as well. I blog at Idealware, and we created a private blogger’s group to discuss blog post ideas. I also use the Community Organizer 2.0 blog as a channel for ideas and feedback.

Most importantly, my clients are also part of my team. I’m not a “guru” that goes off and works on the mountain. I start with a concept, pass it through the client for feedback, develop it further, pass it back through the client for feedback, and so forth. Ideally, I would facilitate a brainstorming session like the one described above, which greatly enhances any idea. In other words, clients are important members of any social media team.

I can’t create social media strategy in a vacuum and neither should you.

Social media is about connection. The core of it is about connecting ideas, people and places, and organizations to actions. There are so many ways to create your social media team, and so may different types of teams. When you develop social media in a vacuum, the ideas are just half-finished.

Who is on your team?

Debra Askanase has 20 years of experience working in nonprofit organizations, from Community Organizer to Executive Director. She is the founder and lead consultant at Community Organizer 2.0, a social media strategy firm for non-profit organizations and businesses. She blogs about the intersection of social media, nonprofits, and technology at communityorganizer20.com and regularly provides advice and commentary to our eJewish Philanthropy community.