How To Have a Conversation With The World

For this month’s Connect theme, a number of speakers are previewing the great breakout sessions they are preparing for the 2015 Nonprofit Technology Conference in Austin, TX March 4-6. Following is a preview of one of over 100 breakout sessions.

Let’s face it: we are living in a world of followers, friends, and instant feedback. Nonprofits and for-profits alike are competing to be heard in a world that can’t stop screaming online. So how do you break through the noise and develop a captive diverse audience? It’s as simple as 1-2-3.


1. Understand that the world is watching.

According to Business Insider, Twitter had over 232 million users prior to its IPO in 2013; Facebook, not to be outdone, boasts over 1.23 billion monthly active users with a majority of users accessing the site through a mobile device. This means thatone out of every seven human beings on the planet has a social media account! It’s important to get an understanding of not just your target audience but your global audience as well.

Since the world is watching, be sensitive to all the jargon, slang, and modern vernacular you use. The English language is a tough language, but it can be successful to draw in a new, diverse audience.  The late, great ESPN sports broadcaster, Stuart Scott, was able to capture an audience by bringing his cultural vernacular to the sportscasting booth with phrases like, “Just call him butter, ‘cause he’s on a roll.” While vernacular like this can draw in people who understand it, it can also confuse those who don’t. There were two musicians working together: Noel Park, who is Korean; and Nikki Lerner, who is African-American. When they finished playing, Lerner said, “That was solid.” Park became confused. He thought she said, “That was salad” and thought maybe she meant that the music was fresh. When Park shared this Lerner, they both laughed and learned a lesson. The lesson learned was to explain slang whenever possible so that everyone is included in your conversation.  Applying this concept to your social media posts will ensure people don’t have to go to Wikipedia to try to figure out what you meant. Embrace the fact that a diverse group of individuals will be able to view your social media messages and use this to your benefit to increase awareness and donor support.


2. Understand that everyone should be represented.

In a recent conversation regarding our upcoming presentation on diversity in social media at the 2015 NonProfit Technology Conference, Sara Eastham of Bridgeway Community Church encouraged us to remember that, “What you reflect is what you attract.” If you want to attract a diverse group of people, then don’t post a picture of people who are all Caucasian, or all African-American, or all Asian. Post a picture of a person from each of those cultures together.

If you prepare Italian food, then you may attract Italian people. If you prepare Filipino food, then you may attract Filipino people. But if you are preparing a meal for a diverse group of people, than you will probably prepare one main dish that everyone can enjoy and side dishes that are specific to each culture. That way, everyone has at least one dish they are comfortable with while also having the opportunity to get a taste of cuisine from cultures that are different than their own. We should make sure everyone is represented at the tables of our lives and the tables of our organizations. Identify a unique example of a “main dish” value in your organization that many cultures share. Doing this will develop messaging that focuses on core values that a diverse group of individuals can believe in, and you’ll find yourself having a larger network of individuals in your support group than you would have ever imagined.


3. Understand that intentionality is key.

“We accelerate what we celebrate,” says Bridgeway Community Church CFO, Tim Samuel. With that in mind, intentionally plan to celebrate the diversity you currently have as well as the growth you make towards more diversity. Take, for example, the Maryland Association of CPAs (MACPA), a member association working hard on issues of equality, diversity, and inclusion in the accounting profession. A group of diverse individuals in the profession got together with the MACPA to plan the state’s first Women to Watch award event. The event sold out as people packed into the room to watch the MACPA reward and honor women leaders. Since that event, the MACPA has taken to social media to build on the momentum from the event.  They blogged, placed pictures of the award winners in their promotional materials, and used social media to celebrate these amazing women in the accounting profession.  They broke through their typical audience and now are able to collaborate with an even more diverse audience to help the CPA profession.   It’s a simple but really effective concept when working on issues of diversity.  Let’s celebrate our beauty!

If you want to build bridges and establish a global social network, it’s important to be intentional about answering the following questions:

  1. Who do we want to hear/see/react to our message?
  2. Who might hear/see/react to our message?
  3. How will we judge the effectiveness of our message?  Intentionally infusing values that resonate with various demographics will help your social media efforts tremendously.

Got questions about how to reach a larger audience through social media? Join Sara, Tim, and Joey as we present “Teamwork Makes the Dream Work: How to amplify your message through a diverse team” on Thursday, March 5 at 1:30pm. Want to connect with us sooner? Shoot us an email or tweet and we’d be happy to engage with you!

Tim Samuel
Bridgeway Community Church
Tim Samuel is CFO of Bridgeway Community Church. He creates future opportunities for an international model for a multicultural organization which has diversity of colors, classes, and cultures. Bridgeway is home to over 4,000 people from 52 different nations. You can find him on Twitter @TimSamuelCFO.