The 'Heart' of Social-Networking Communities
This past week my computer died. To most people, this would be an inconvenience. But to someone who makes her living using online tools and a consistent Internet connection, it was a slightly different story. I was nearing hysteria by day four of using a loaner computer that would probably be more useful as a coaster than for accessing the Web.
Once I got my computer back and stopped twitching, I thought back on why exactly my inability to be as “connected” as I’m accustomed to was so frustrating for me. I realized it was the online communities and supporter relationships I was concerned about damaging. It wasn’t the inconvenience of not being able to perform my normal day-to-day tasks that bothered me (although that was frustrating). I’ve got a system to respond and monitor community discussions and comments regarding organizations I work with down to a science, and I’ve worked hard to make it efficient. Without my tools, my system gets more complicated and speed of response is left wanting.
Like most clouds though, there was a silver lining. My technical failure highlighted a social-networking takeaway. Social networking, at least in my opinion, is about people and relationships. When my Web world threw me a monkey wrench, the first place my mind went was to the communities — not the technologies. This may sound pretty basic — social networking being focused on relationships — but as nonprofit professionals we also have social-media strategies, goals, tactics, tools, analytics and results taking up some serious real estate on our priority lists.
I keep a “best of” list of comments from supporters of organizations that I help implement social media; these comments range anywhere from explanations of why a donor decides to sacrificially give to a specific cause each month to a high-school student asking for ways to spread awareness about a cause at school and in the community. I don’t know if these comments came from a donor who gives $5 a year, $5,000 a year or nothing at all. What I do know is that the comments on my list remind me of why social media is so important for organizations to be involved with and, more importantly, where the majority of their focused efforts should be — in the communities and relationships. This list is my go-to when I’m overwhelmed with the ever-changing technologies and new social-media tools popping up almost daily.