Lessons for profit-making enterprises also

What’s your social media elevator pitch for your nonprofit’s executive director or board?:
[Via Beth’s Blog: How Nonprofits Can Use Social Media]

Photo by Marco Wessel

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of attending one of NTEN’s “Ask the Expert” calls and chats with Wendy Harman who is the professional listener for the Red Cross. She has a social media elevator pitch just in case she runs into one of the senior managers. It goes something like this: “I’m the social media lady who builds relationships with our stakeholders online.”

I bet she also extends that pitch to include the phrase “that results in increased goodwill, improves our reputation, and donations.”


You have to be able to explain social media, Web 2.0, etc. in terms that people can quickly understand. ‘Social media is about connecting online.’ ‘Web 2.0 is all about online conversations.’

As Jeremiah Owyang noted in a post the other day, measurement of social media is key because when marketing dollars are stretched, marketers are under pressure to prove their programs. With social media being largely experimental, it is imperative to measure quickly and make real time course corrections and to figure out what is working. This underscores the importance of listen, learn, and adapt.

But when you’re just starting out, organizational culture can get in the way of embracing social media. Wendy Harman shared some insights that Wendy shared parallel what has worked in the corporate sector. (See this IBM Social Media/Corporate Culture Case Study). What’s important is a social media policy

In order to measure something, you have to know what it is and why you do it. While the touch-feely stuff may make people feel good, measurables will be what makes it successful.

A couple of takeaways from Wendy:

  • First thing every morning, she spends a couple of hours listening – reviewing hundreds of mentions that have been captured in their monitoring radar using a variety of free and professional tools, including Radian 6. Wendy estimates it’s about 1/4 of her time presently. I suspect it took more of time in the beginning as she developed her work flow and got over the learning curve – and of course was able to upgrade her tool set.
  • Senior management is not turned off by the term listening. She often writes social media manifestos, filled with examples, pros/cons, and shows tangible, measurable results from their social media strategy.
  • She has a social media elevator pitch in case she encounters one of the senior people at the organization in the elevator: “I’m the social media lady who builds relationships with our community online.” Perhaps she extends that to include “that results in increased goodwill, improves our reputation, and donations.”
  • She and the others on staff are no longer afraid of negative comments or posts. “The opposite of hate is indifference, if someone bothers to post a negative comment it means they care.” She was also pleasantly surprised about how much was positive. Negative comments are an opportunity to educate and improve what they are doing. “It is about being polite and honest.”

Concerns of content and concerns of negative comments are big in most organizations with respect to Web 2.0 But, as Wendy says, hate can actually be more useful than indifference. Engagement and conversation can deal with hate, perhaps ameliorating it. Indifference will not respond to engagement.

People hate faceless organizations. They very seldom actually hate an individual who has a name and is trying to help. Listening is a very important aspect of Web 2.0 tools.

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One thought on “Lessons for profit-making enterprises also”

  1. Concerns about Web 2.0 acceptance are vastly overated. It has been our experience with deploying Confluence wiki and Jumper knowledgebase that users quickly take to the software and manage access to content by creating their own access policies based on indivudual and group requirements.

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