I was asked if I would speak at the Grant Manager’s Network conference,
starting tomorrow, on Social Media and how it might relate to the grant-maker’s experience.
A little survey was done of the registered participants. 54% said that they really never use social media. 50% indicated that they were novices on what exactly social media really means. Of those who use social media, 8% use social media just for work. 65% use it for personal reasons.
This led me to a place thinking that the presentation should really focus on the basics with short jaunts into practical usage.
The presentation has been structured to start with a little history of Web 1.0 and Web 2.0. It is important to understand the differences between the static times of the 90’s and the interactive times of the 00’s. Once you understand that 2.0 has to do with sharing and collaboration, it becomes much easier to think about the use of social media in general.
We ALL have social networks. In the case of the grant makers, this network includes applicants, panelists, and other grant making agencies.
Web 2.0 has allowed us to extend this network beyond our normal close knit groups and increased our potential network to extend world-wide.
When you engage in participation in social media, it is very important that you understand that whether you mean to, you are producing content that is in the commons. You lose control over that content. Many bloggers, photographers, and other creators of digital media license work under the Creative Commons. Basically, this says others may make use of your work without permission under certain circumstances.
That brings us to the different services that are out there:
- All manner of Blogs
- Get Satisfaction
- Different Wikis
are just a few examples of Social Media that are being actively used.
Twitter is probably the most widely known of social networks being used right now. The site allows you to post 140 character posts, called Tweets, that end up on a central site. You can follow people and they can follow you. You can track replies to you. You can send and receive direct messages from others. You can favorite posts. Twitter is kind of like radio. You can broadcast short messages. In grant making, that might include:
- Communicating to panels
- Communicating deadlines
- Announcing workshops
- Soliciting donations
The donor model has been used a fair bit through events like Twestivals. Beth Kanter has been successful in raising money for young people in Cambodia for school.
The problem with Twitter is that it is very difficult filter different kinds of posts of individuals you aren’t directly following. That’s where tools like Tweetdeck come into play. They allow you to run filters on different posts. They are usually tracked using hash tags like #grantsm (for this panel presentation) and #GMN09 for the conference as a whole.
I’ve used Twitter extensively at conferences to broadcast what I’m watching, where I’m going, and to connect with others who are interested in meeting. Twitter is often used to allow audience members to ask questions of the panels without disturbing the presentation. Twitter can be used on mobile devices as well.
FriendFeed is a similar service to Twitter but it is more flexible online. Messages can be public, semi-public, and private. They can be broken into “rooms”. Grant makers could use these rooms as places to communicate with panelists, staff, and applicants.
Facebook has many different services within the service. There have been recent issues with privacy where the company changed the TOS without informing users. They also reserve the right to use all content that you place on the site in any way they please. This makes it somewhat unsuitable for grant makers if information to be posted needs to remain confidential. The service includes profiles, status updates, groups and message boards, light-weight event management, photo sharing, and chat. The program has an excellent mobile application.
Flickr is a photo sharing site that allows rich tagging and searching of photos. Photos can be placed in personal or public groupings. Flickr photos can be made private, partially private, or public. Private groupings can be made available to a single individual. Use of Flickr by grant makers could include photos to support applications, interim reports, and final reports. It is common for folks to share photos at conferences through a single tag. It is an inexpensive way to provide large scale storage of photos.
Linkedin is marketed as the “professional” network. Your profile is essentially your resume. It provides strong tools for creating groups that can be moderated. These groups can be kept private and can, again, provide an easy tool for conversation between panelists, staff, and applicants.
So, when you are running half a dozen or more services—you probably don’t want to post to each separately unless you are having specific conversations within a single service. In comes ping.fm which allows you to send the same post to multiple services.
Multiple video services like Revver and YouTube are available for really one purpose, disseminating content. These services, allow tagging and categorization of content. Video is often used by grant makers who deal with touring and presenting for review of talent.
To ensure that your conversations are absolutely protected, the best route is to roll your own system. You can use free and open source software like Drupal or Joomla! Grant makers like the Knight Foundation have done this in building sites like the “Garage” in Drupal. The Garage allowed participants to workshop applications prior to submitting to the Foundation for consideration.
Get Satisfaction was built to crowd source customer support. Groups on Get Satisfaction are run both officially and unofficially for all manner of companies, products, and services. There is no reason that Get Satisfaction couldn’t be used for support of grant applicants in much the same fashion.
Open source software that provide forums like vBulletin, Drupal, PHPBB, and Phorum can make creating private places for conversations. Again, by rolling your own, you can ensure privacy.
Virtual worlds, like SecondLife, are starting to be used extensively by nonprofits. NPSL is program run by Techsoup Global which brings together all manner of nonprofits world wide. Weekly meetings allow for collaborations across disciplines.
Long and short is that grant making is about communities. Anything that can help foster and strengthen communication between members of communities is good.