Social Media Charades at the Convio Summit

Yesterday, James Young and myself had the opportunity to present to packed house of nonprofit organizations on social media at Convio Summit. Over 100 nonprofit professionals packed in (literally) to learn, discuss and brainstorm on how nonprofits can set up a full-fledged social media strategies – from setting objectives and measuring success to deciding on what tactics to use and of course, selling the use of social media to management.

We were joined by a fabulous line-up of “non-experts” including Adam Steinberg from The Port, Alan Graham from Mobile Loaves and Fishes, David Neff from Lights.Camera.Help, Kenneth Cho from the Social Agency and Carie Lewis from The Humane Society of the United States. The attendees had fun reaching under their chairs to see what they had “won” -aka – their new, fake nonprofit they had to brainstorm a social media strategy for during the workshop.

And after three hours of discussions and brainstorming….

the groups did an amazing job of presenting their ideas for the fake nonprofits they pretended to be for three hours!

And all fun and prizes aside, congrats again to Larry Oji for winning the coveted Flip cam BTW, we as presenters and discussion leaders walked away with a better understanding of just how nonprofits are using or not using social media and the pain points people are experiencing in the process of figuring out how to use these new tools.

Our top five takeaways included:

  1. Forming a strategy is a very personal exercise. There is no silver bullet.  It’s an internal process that takes place over time and watching the groups discuss potential strategies illustrated this point very well.
  2. Organizations have to be willing to think outside the box and yes, even make mistakes when forming the initial strategies. Seven groups presented ideas in the workshop yesterday and the most popular ideas presented were those based on creativity and different tactics than most of the people in the room had thought of.
  3. Everyone likes to talk about the tactics and often overlook the strategy. It was very easy for people to brainstorm the tactical use of social media tools, but the real challenge when they were asked to write out objectives, measurement benchmarks, arguments to management and integration tactics with existing media. As social media continues to permeate into everyday life, strategic use of these opportunities will continue to rise in importance.
  4. Integration is going to be key in 2010. For the past few years, social media has been seen by most as an “add-on”, something that can be tacked on to existing plans. But what came out in yesterday’s discussion was the true need to integrate social media into offline, and more traditional online media such as email, and vice versa, to make each as effective as possible.
  5. Organizations are still fearful using social media channels at all, much less using them to their full potential. At a minimum, these media can be used for an outbound channel and get their feet wet. But at a maximum, they can truly produce huge results. Don’t believe me? Just ask a Carie Lewis, David J. Neff or Alan Graham. They’d love to tell you their success stories. I promise!

To end the session, I was asked by an attendee what “the next big thing” was going to be in social media. My answer: more real-time applications like video streaming and live blogging to allow for true real-time coverage and engagement, in addition to platforms continuing to open up and naturally become more “socially enabled”.