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July 09, 2008

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Howard Lake

I'd hope it is a tipping point for charities, but personal experience of banging even the Web 1.0 drum at fundraising conferences since 1995 suggest that it'll be a slow process. Not that there won't be shining exceptions to this of course, and thanks for sharing some of them here.

Have just read a BBC News report:

Firms 'miss' social site success
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/7501073.stm

about Gartner research that claims that commercial companies too are missing out on the potential of using social networking sites.

Maggie Shiels, Technology reporter, quotes Gartner researcher Jeffrey Mann: "Businesses which harness how employees use these sites stand to increase savings, productivity and profits."

Rachel Beer

Thanks Howard.

I think that the sheer accessibility of Web 2.0 technologies (low cost, easy to use, flexible, open source) makes the decision for charities who want to extend their reach online so much easier now though.

The real difference is that charities won't really have to make any great commitment, in terms of budget or resource, to start experimenting and learning. They can set up profiles on a variety of ready-made platforms without paying a thing, most will have plenty of existing content that they can share, and it takes so little time to micro-blog - for instance - all of which are easy ways to dip a toe in.

Some big barriers at the moment, as I see them (for commercial organisations too), are:

That these media are still so new and young, which means there is a relative lack of successful case studies at the moment. That doesn't mean that there aren't a huge number of individuals and organisations utilising these channels, and starting to get results - just that what they are testing isn't mature enough to yield really significant learnings yet. I also think that a lot of the early adopters that are beginning to blaze a trail would rather keep a competitive advantage and keep what they are learning to themselves! (As the charity market becomes more competitive, and charities become more commercial in their approach, I think we're going to see more of this.)

Fear and/ or lack of understanding about this new landscape - the cultural changes it has brought with it, and how significant these are ('It's just a fad that will pass. We don't need to change how we do things'), the platforms themselves (what they even are and what they do), who uses them and how (e.g. Facebook is just for kids who want to throw sheep at each other), how much resource is required ('I only have a small team and they're already busy'), and so on...

And, for charities, the 'silo culture' that still seems to be so prevalent - and the politics that cause it and are caused by it – that can hinder collaboration and progress. For example, many are struggling with who should 'own' social media within their organisations and not really doing anything in the meantime, while fundraising, comms, marketing and digital (some visionaries do have these!) teams battle it out.

Problem is, these all stand in the way of being able to answer the $64,000 question - quite literally - that most direct response budget holders will ask: "What return will I get?"

Jonathan Waddingham

Very interesting points raised there. It's late on a Friday, so I don't have much to add, save for a link to a great blog post on "Ten Questions Not To Ask A Social Media Panel" that deals with that $64,000 question...
http://www.marketersstudio.com/2008/06/ten-questions-n.html
hat tip to Hugh Macleod - http://twitter.com/gapingvoid/statuses/846896716

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