Flickr Photo: VisualAgeOne
of the tensions that surfaces when nonprofits start to integrate social
media into their communications strategy is that social media is, by
nature, personal and organizational communications, well, aren't.
Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, and blogs are all about helping individual
actors share, and by so doing, meet other individuals. The central
question of Twitter
is, "What are you doing?" Facebook has Groups, but the Groups are
designed to be expressions of individual enthusiasms, and aren't really
geared toward organization-speak.
Another way of putting this: Organizations don't make friends. People make friends.
In the friend-crazy world of social media, you've really got to
think about how the people who work for and empower your organization
can build your organization into their social media brand. How will
you make sure that when Staffer A blogs, tweets, or friends someone
else as part of her work with you, that her posts, tweets, and friends
are representative of your organization and your brand, while still
It's a tough line to walk. I do it all the time. On the one hand,
I want to make sure NTEN's values are imbued in all my social media
contributions. On the other hand, sometimes I'm just looking for a
good cornbread recipe. Are those two things at odds? I don't think
so, but I actually do a lot of self-editing in my head.
One resource I've found helpful over the last week is a handy guide from Chris Brogan, "Personal Branding for the Business Professional." I think the guide should be an exercise organizations go through with their staff who use social media on the org's behalf.
I also just found a post from one of my favorite women in tech,
Deborah Schultz. Looks like we're on the same brainwave lately. She writes:
No matter how you slice it - everything is personal.
Not personal as in taking things personally [tho there is plenty of
that taking place], but personal as in this is 'personal to me'.
Social web tools are just that social and personal. They are a
reflection of their creator - without a personal voice and tone there
is no "there there". And they are changing the dynamics of how we
interact, relate and do business.
The challenge for a business or political campaign is how
do you infuse the personal without over-sharing and how do you find the
balance of what is appropriate?
Neither Chris's guide nor Deborah's post actually contains answers.
Nope. Instead, they have pointers. That's the fun of all this: no one
has the answers, but we're all required to try.
UPDATE: I just found this post from Dave Crain which offers a complimentary perspective. I especially loved his "dichotomies of Personal Branding"