Comparing Content

The Networked Nonprofit by Beth Kanter and Allison H. Fine does a good job of applying their theory to real life situations; it’s about applying content instead of simply the content itself. For example, in the beginning of the book they talk about an individual, Peggy, who used the internet to raise money for the Fanconi Anemia Research Fund using free agents (Fine 6). She didn’t know very much about using technology but that didn’t stop her from trying and she managed to master the basics (Fine 7). A large part of her success was due to free agents as is indicated by this statement: “Her cause had gone viral, meaning friends of friends were doing things on her behalf without Peggy having to ask them to do so directly” (Fine 7). The concept of free agents was vague until they used Peggy’s story to show how people that we don’t necessarily have face to face relationships can help bring nonprofits causes go viral.

Content Strategy for the Web by Kristina Halvorson and Melissa Rach does the opposite of The Networked Nonprofit when explaining content strategy but they made it work. They present their material in way that makes it easy to read; it’s not too wording and they like to use lists and bullet points to make the content simpler. A section that I thought was important but potentially extremely boring is about channels; if the information had been presented differently I would have skipped over it because it’s such a basic subject. It’s an important section because they discuss the importance of nonprofits spreading their messages across channels (Halvorson 75). They made a nice list with some basic thoughts on what channels are out there; if I had skipped over it I wouldn’t have missed out a few channels such as print media (Halvorson 76). I’ve been only focusing on online channels and completely disregarding anything outside of the internet. In that list they also included email campaigns; I’ve been using email to communicate with my group members during the entire half of the semester but I forgot to consider that it can used to advertise a cause (Halverson 76). If that information wasn’t organized in list form I would have completely ignored it.

While the two books differ on their approaches of presenting their written content one thing that they both use well are pictures. In chapter nine of The Networked Nonprofit they open with a story about The Humane Society of the United Society moving onto YouTube and they included a screen shop of their YouTube page (Fine 122); it’s a very old screen shot that isn’t as relevant as it was when the book was published in 2010 but the basics are there. They posted their own video and prompted those outraged by animal cruelty to make their own to raise awareness (Fine 123). The picture shows that their video was viewed almost one million times and then they proceeded to explain how they got those views; the screen shot adds interest to the topic. Content Strategy for the Web doesn’t use as many screen shots but they use plenty of graphs and pictures to add interest to important sections. When they’re explaining the breakdown of content strategy they included a cute picture of a cake that draws in your attention to that section. They say not to think of it as a cake because it’s not just about having all the ingredients; it’s more like managing the bakery—it’s not just about the product your working to produce; it’s about what it takes to get there (Halvorson 21).

Both books emphasize the importance of human interaction; you can’t just let robot do your work for you. In the audit section they make it known that there are tools that can used to monitor basic information but they don’t recommend them because “if you really want an in-depth understanding of your content…people power is the best way to go” (Halvorson 48). An automated system can give you a basic idea of what’s going on with your content but it can’t tell you what you’re doing right and wrong; it isn’t going to be able to appreciate support from their supporters and tell them thank you. The Networked Nonprofit focuses even more on human involvement; free agents are the focus of much of the book. Going back to Peggy’s story, she wouldn’t have been able to raise as must money for her organization if there weren’t other people involved (Fine 7). She had people that where friends of friends of friends contacting her and saying they heard about her attempts from another friend and decided to contribute. Free agents are the ones that spread the word on social media so nonprofits can’t ignore them because they control how successful an organization is (Fine 16).

Fine, Allison H., Kanter, Beth. The Networked Nonprofit: Connecting with Social Media to Drive change. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2010. Print.

Halvorson, Kristina, Melissa Rach, Content Strategy for the Web. Berkeley: New Riders, 2012. Print.

One Day I Could Potentially Make a Difference

netflix2I canceled my subscription to Netflix almost six months ago, maybe more. I have contemplated paying the eight dollars a month or whatever it costs now but I decided that it worth the money because I didn’t really have time to watch it anyways.

My mom has an Amazon Prime account that she gave me the password to. The selection on there isn’t the best but I’ve made do; I’ve watched five seasons of Workaholics at least three times because it’s one of the only TV shows on there that I enjoy watching.

Even though I’ve ran out of new shows to watch, I haven’t given up and gotten a subscription to Netflix. One thing that Amazon does is it picks out movies for you based on what you’ve watched. There’s one movie that I recently watched that got me thinking about blogging more often.

bluestateThe movie, Blue State, is about a blogger who was against Bush’s reelection and ends up going to Canada because he promised that he would if Kerry lost the election. The leading male character, John, was very opinionated about how Bush was running the country; he didn’t want to live in a country with a leader that he felt was doing more harm than good, which is what he would write about in his blog.

He was very passionate about what he was writing and he was very into making a statement so that the country would understand what a mistake they had made by electing Bush but he wasn’t really doing anything himself to make a difference.

This reminded me of my dilemma of not feeling like it’s important to keep up my blog. I kept telling myself that it really wasn’t important because it’s not being read by many people and even it was it wouldn’t be doing anyone much good.

airplane-canada-usa-travelIn the end of the movie after the clichéd section were John realizes he’s made a horrible mistake by fleeing to Canada and heads back to the border with the girl he of course ended up falling madly in love with a girl he met less than a week ago because that’s just how romantic comedies work, he decides to use his words to do good for the country by running for senator.

The movie didn’t spell out whether he made a difference or not but it was pointing towards a happily ever after kind of ending so I think it’s safe to imagine he did. I might not ever end up in politics, it’s pretty safe to say I never will actually, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t make a difference by writing as well. Take our nonprofits for example; they write about what they do and what they need help with so that they can get the word out to the community and make a difference. It gives me a little bit of hope that my writing could actually make a difference one day.

I’m going to keep writing, not necessarily on this blog, because one day, like John, I could make a difference with my words and end up being really happy. In the meantime I’m going be purchasing a subscription to Netflix because Blue State was the last movie in the list that I was even remotely interested in watching and it wasn’t very good, though it did get me thinking about my writing and was did manage to entertain me for a hour and a half.

Looking Back

64194985I don’t like to look back at my work. I hate reading what I’ve written because I’m never satisfied with what I’ve produced. Even as I’m writing this, I don’t plan on looking back at what I’ve written to make sure it doesn’t need any editing but I will because I want to like what I’m writing. To start I’m not going to look back on everything I’ve written this semester; I’m going to start with just a few blog posts that I can read without completely torturing myself; I’ll save that for another night.

LehrerOne thing that I really don’t like about my reading is that I generalize way too much; I don’t like to get personal when I’m writing. It makes it hard to write when I’m trying to write about something that happened in my life without actually talking about it. I can’t really explain what it is I do; it’s confusing so now you know how I feel. Instead of picking out every blog post that I did generalize I’m going to look at the ones that I did get personal in.
I looked back and I realized that I would have more to write about if I where to look at all the times I generalized than the times I didn’t; I only would one blog post where I discussed something that happened in my life. And no I’m not going to leave it at that; I will not generalize! I wrote a blog post a few weeks ago titled “Moving Online” that I 635944711128128202-1006083443_98d00346c2af7cc38655f1a43b4739c0discussed an awkward encounter involving one of the cart guys that decided he wanted to be my friend. Me being the awkward human being that I am smiled and told him I’d love to be his friend and then he proceeded to give me his phone number while I pretended to add it into my phone. To this day I still don’t know his name and, as I indicated in my previous post, he still doesn’t have Facebook. Luckily, our paths have only crossed once since then, which resulted in an awkward hello on the stairs as we passed each other.

sltqeAnother thing that I don’t do the best job of is not sounding repetitive. I don’t even need to look back at my past blog post for this one. Just look back at the previous paragraph of this post and count the number of times I used the word awkward. I could have used a different word; I have the option to go back and edit out what doesn’t sound right but I wouldn’t be able to make my point if I did.

Finally, one thing that I missed was using images in my blog posts; I’m all over the place in that particular area. There are some post where I use plenty of pictures, some I only use one or two, and there are times when I don’t use any. I’m going to end this post by adding in some pictures so that I don’t do what I just said I don’t do a good job of.

Writing with a Purpose

BMAWDKBCMAEZ1lpBeing a part of a team to work with Jail Chaplains has not only been beneficial with helping them improve their social media, it has also helped me improved mine. I thought that I knew must of what was going on with Facebook but as I watched Katie show Geri the ins and outs of Facebook I realized that I had a lot to learn. In Content Strategy for the Web (CSW) by Kristina Halvorson and Melissa Rach they suggest getting into a group to help improve our social media (180). I don’t think they meant physical, in person groups but the concept is the same; we can strengthen our shortfalls by seeing what other do well and learn from what they’re doing.

CSW also mentioned a website called meetup.com that allows you to find people in your area that you can work with (180). We didn’t end up using this website but that initial reaching out we did is similar to what this website does; we were able to find people that have similar interests as ours and, as put by CSW, even if we weren’t able to make tons of progress at least we were able to “enjoy a drink together while venting” (181). I do believe that Katie and I have been able to make great progress but we also were able to enjoy venting a little bit about the difficulties of group projects when we’re both so busy; we complained a little more than was necessary but that made our meetings even more enjoyable!

When I first started writing these blog posts at the beginning of the semester the only reason I was writing them was to satisfy the requirements of the class but in the second half of the semester my perspective has changed; working with Jail Chaplains and working with Katie has given a purpose to my writing that I didn’t expect. I now want to improve upon myself so that I will have a better understanding of what makes social media work and so that I can pass on that knowledge to Geri so that she can use what we pass onto her for the better good of Jail Chaplains. My previous attitude towards social media was that it didn’t matter but know I realize that it does; the people Jail Chaplains help benefit when they use social media in a way that gets them noticed. Going forward I feel like not only will my online presence change for the better but my writing in general will too because I have more of a purpose because of what I’ve learned this semester.

Pleasing Myself

635e3c7c9d0eb1d05b32e4715bf8c0b8My strategy for social media in the past hasn’t been one that has helped me gain many followers. I’ve always been afraid to post on social media because I don’t know how people are going to react to what I have to say. It’s not like I’m saying anything that would upset anybody; I was more afraid of posting things that I know are socially accepted in the wrong way. It was a silly fear but I think it’s understandable; in high school in particular I always felt more pressure to conform to what was going on around me than just being myself. So what was my social media strategy? Don’t post anything and then people won’t think what I’ve shared or posted is weird because there won’t be anything to look at.

My previous strategy is the complete opposite of what should have been happening. I should have taken the risk and posted what I wanted to say or at the very least I could have posted something that would have showed I was conforming to them; it would have been better to try putting myself out there than to hide and pretend I’m just not very good at using Facebook (I wasn’t but that’s beside the point).

Now that I’m in college and I’m in an environment that is more accepting of people for who they are I feel more comfortable about posting my thoughts online in a way that I want to because in the end it doesn’t matter if someone doesn’t like what I’m doing. I have more confidence in what I’m writing because the level of judgement has gone way down; in college if someone doesn’t like what you wrote they either don’t tell you or they have a civil conversation/ argument with you that is constructive rather than being met to tear you down.

My new strategy is to follow that people and organizations that genuinely interest me regardless of their popularity status and to write what I want to write, within reason, because then the people that end up following me are going to have opinions closer to mine than if I was to only post what is “socially acceptable.” It’s no longer my goal to please everyone, just myself.

Moving Online

couch-potatoWhen I think about what a social network is I always think of the online communities but neglect to think of networks as anything other than what they are online; I thought of them as something new that has developed in recent years instead of something that has been evolving since the beginning of time. In The Networked Nonprofit they point out that social networks are not a new thing; they just moved online when we “turned into a nation of couch potatoes” (26). If you keep this concept in mind it’s not as hard to think about how to network with other people because some of same principles that we use in face to face relationships can be utilized online.
One thing that is great about social networks having moved online is that people who are shy, awkward, and seemingly socially inept now have an easier time making connections because everything is happening in an anonymous setting. Even though I feel like I’ve improved my social skills in last few years I still feel more comfortable expressing myself in an online setting than I do in person; if this class was meeting every week in a classroom I would not even admit that social situations make me uncomfortable (let’s ignore the fact that it would probably be completely obvious and I wouldn’t have to admit it).Confident-1451926498

It’s important to remember that even though it’s so easy to be yourself online those relationships that develop online are not going to replace the satisfaction that comes from face to face interactions. We can use those online interactions to supplement our face to face relationships. This is something that nonprofits can keep in mind when they’re transitioning onto social media. It can be confusing when trying to figure out where to start; start with what you know and then go from there. Looking for the organizations that they have face to face contact with can be a good place to start. They can start with strengthening the relationships they have and then move on to making new connections.

I-dont-want-your-numberWe need to move our relationships online in order to function in today’s society; making relationships that are more than two dimensional these days is almost impossible to do if you’re not online because we don’t know how to handle situations differently. Today a guy at work asked me for my phone number because he wants to be friends and I didn’t give it to him because I don’t even know his name; instead I asked if he was on Facebook because I would friend him on there if he wanted to be friends. He isn’t on any social media! It sounds really bad but we probably will not ever be friends because I don’t know how to start friendships without Facebook being involved and I’m okay with that in this particular circumstance. We have to conform to what’s happening online because if we don’t we won’t be able to grow our networks- personal and professional.

“Using Social Media is Hard”

caution-social-media-is-hard-workIn The Networked Nonprofit by Beth Kanter and Allison H. Fine they make a point of saying that it’s not hard to use social media (9). For somebody who has been using it for years and has made social media part of their daily routine I would agree that using social media is not hard. It’s not hard to figure out how to use it; the mechanics of it are pretty simple once you play with it for a few minutes. Making it part of your daily routine is the hard part; when you’re not used to something or you don’t have time to learn new things because you have a million and one other things that have to be done by yesterday social media can seem like a very hard thing. The worst part is the time that it takes to use it, especially when you’re still learning how to use it (9). First you have to figure out what you’re going to say and how to say it. Once you decide what you want to post you have to figure out how to say it in 140 characters or less (for twitter at least). It doesn’t have to be hard but it is for some people so to say it’s not hard is not a true statement. For the Nonprofits that we are helping strengthen their social media usage social media can seem like a very big challenge because they have so many more things on their plates that have to come first. Luckily Kanter and Fine were not completely wrong when they said social media is simple. Free agents are very helpful with getting the messages out that Nonprofits put on their pages. If the nonprofits are connected to the right people and their messages are seen they won’t have to do much work once the word is out. Once they say what they need to say and if they said it in a way that is going to catch other people’s attention the rest will be simple; they’ll just have to sit back and watch their fan base grow (assuming they have time to that).

 

Fine, Allison H., Kanter, Beth. The Networked Nonprofit: Connecting with Social Media to Drive change. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2010. Print.