This semester has been a good learning opportunity filled with tools to use in future endeavors. The skills taught and learned gave deeper insight into how to use social media for social good, and to create content that reflects the passion in whatever we decide to do. Besides the other two books for the class, we focused on Halvorson and Rach’s Content Strategy for the Web (CSW) and Kanter and Fine’s The Networked Nonprofit (TNN). Both books are good starting points for anyone interested in developing their online avatar, and provide extra valuable information for anyone working in the nonprofit sector who may be looking for ways to increase their online traffic. This final blog post will be an overview of the strengths of both texts and how together they can be effective tools for anyone looking to strengthening their online presence.
CSW focuses on building content for anyone who is interested. The broader themes and ideas align with the nonprofit goals of TNN. Beginning with CSW the biggest takeaway I found that overlapped with the goal of TNN is the idea of transparency. In CSW, the first chapter discusses the importance of learning how to listen (Halvorson 10). The two biggest categories that need this attention are those inside the organization and those outside of it. TNN also have a section on listening (Kanter 61) which is a useful tool that can allow organizations, “to orient themselves online”. TNN further states that the process, “involves sifiting through online conversations on multiple channels like social networks and blogs” (61). CSW starts this process by listening to those on the inside. Focusing on internal relations is important because it can identify key issues within the organization and could reveal how people outside of it views or understand the mission of the organization. One way suggested in both texts is conducting different types of analyses within and outside the organization. CSW begins with the alignment of stakeholders and the importance of keeping the momentum going with them through regular communication during the entire process (Halvorson 45). Keeping stakeholders happy is important but further more, “the best way to conduct an internal analysis -by far- is to talk to people inside the organization” (69). Interacting with those who handle the day-to-day grind of the organization are the ones who are going to have some of the best insight of what is going on inside and outside the group. After listening to the internal relations CSW moves onto focusing on the core strategy of the organization and lists being “inclusive” as one of the effective core strategies allowing for a “wide variety of individual and team contributions” (96). Being inclusive throughout the entire process allows for open dialogue and a greater understanding of the problems or strengths of the organizations.
TNN focuses on the ways that content strategy can help a nonprofit and gives tactics for people wanting to strengthen their online presence. TNN’s greatest focus which overlaps with CSW is the importance of good content in order to create the transparency desired and also create traffic for the sites. One of the first strategies towards creating good content once again focuses on the importance of transparency within and outside the organization. This can be achieved through content that demonstrates the social culture of the organization. The organization’s culture, “comes from melding the psychology, attitudes, experiences, and beliefs of the people who lead organizations. Others inside and outside of the organization react to those patterns and norms” (Kanter 42). Good content creates good reactions from those representations of the organization. Although transparency is important throughout the content strategy, TNN recognizes the challenges of figuring, “out what to use when and how so we can better manage a world with social media in it” (96). Some of the suggestions of simplifying the content presented includes: creating a schedule for the posts, pruning information flow and finding trusted sources (97). This allows for the most direct and informative content without overwhelming visitors or burning out those who post the information. CSW breaks this process down into four categories: substance, structure, workflow and governance (Halvorson 103). These rules allow for content to be, “more more effective and easy to manage if you set some parameters and priorities about who your content is for” (105). Both texts not only focus on the importance of transparency through communication but the importance of transparency also through the use of well crafted and sourced content which gives not builds internal relations but also builds relationships with those outside the organization.
The biggest strength of CSW which is not covered in TNN is the importance of conducting an audit on the social media and sites already in use and good instructions on the best ways to go about this task. The chapter begins with the different kind of content audits and the process and the kind of information involved or discovered during and after the audit. The book does a good job of laying out the important steps and tasks involved in the audit process and the importance of taking the time to conduct then audit. After the completion of the audit the book does a good job going into the process of analyzing the information from the audit. The book notes the importance of this analysis as something that cannot be ignored or out-of-date otherwise, “entire strategies are build on un-researched assumptions and isolated opinions- costing everyone time and money” (Halvorson 70). The importance of taking the time to conduct the audit gives the organization an opportunity to patch any holes that are causing misrepresentation of the organization. By creating a content audit and analysis its purpose is not to create suggestions for the content but instead, “its sole purpose is to ensure that everyone on the content team starts the content strategy process with the same information about the complex ecosystem [the] content lives in” (89). Looking at what others are seeing as the representation of the organization gives insight into what strategies would be best to make the campaign seamless and effective.
The best strength of TNN is the chapters which focus on the use of content to develop a fundraising campaign. Once again focusing on transparency, TNN goes into the importance of transparency when it comes to raising funds for your organization. Transparency in the fundraising sector is demonstrated through, “annual reports, financial statements, and audit reports [posted] online” and by, “listening, engaging, and building relationships” with the target audiences or donors (135-137). TNN gives successful online fundraising tactics including: credibility, donor recognition and storytelling as all effective ways for the organization to further connect with those interested in helping (146). Another way mentioned earlier in the book is the use of crowdsourcing, or the, “process of organization many people to participate in a join project often in small ways” (106). Although TNN focuses on the volunteering aspect of crowdsourcing, this tactic can also be used today when it comes to fundraising. In tangent with crowdsourcing is the use of free agents, or, “individuals working outside of organizations to organize, mobilize raise funds, and communicate with constitutes” (15). Both are cheap solutions that nonprofit are looking for in order to increase awareness of their organization while also limiting the funds used. This is one of the biggest differences between the two texts: TNN focuses on the use of content for nonprofits while CSW focuses on content strategies for anyone wanting to increase their knowledge of online traffic and representation. Both books are valuable on their own but I believe someone working within the nonprofit sector would benefit from reading CSW first and then TNN to close the gaps while CSW on its own is valuable to anyone wanting to build their online avatar.