Beth Kanter and Katie Delahaye Paine have written a book that is the essential 21st-century guide for non-profits using social media. Kanter, a long-time thought leader in the non-profit field, and Paine, a leader in measurement for organizational communications have combined their formidable skills to provide concrete case studies and actionable advice as to how non-profits measure the concrete results from their social change efforts.
Importantly, the authors first lay out the necessary leadership mindset that makes such measurement possible that includes attributes such as active participation, openness, decentralized decision-making, and collective action. They clearly describe the new dynamics of a network, rather than broadcast, communication model so that non-profits identify and participate in conversations where they are happening. Finally, they clearly explain the networked non-profit practices that, in addition to social media and mobile fluency, are necessary to execute an effective multi-channel strategy.
Leadership and organizational considerations such as these ultimately allow for the effective measurement of a non-profit’s impact as it evolves through four stages outlined by Kanter and Paine – Crawl, Walk, Run, Fly. The chart (above) shared in SSIR, lays out the indicators by which to measure all aspects of impact from internal organization to external engagement to social impact. It’s frameworks such as these that make this book so valuable because they give non-profits a structure through which to more effectively measure and manage their important work. And without coordinated measurement across all three areas, none can be individually optimized. As Kanter explains:
The biggest challenge with most nonprofits with integrating social media isn’t technology concerns. Cut through all the comments and issues, and what social media success typically boils down to is culture. Organizations that are risk-adverse, or don’t have a culture that is agile and nimble, may not be able to embrace best practices.
It’s this unique combination of internal cultural insights and comprehensive measurement expertise that makes Measuring the Networked Non-Profit such essential reading. In carefully describing the internal and leadership culture that a non-profit must create, they empower non-profit leaders to create an environment in which social media engagement can truly thrive. As the authors assert, such expertise starts with incremental learning and there is no better place to begin than with this book.
In the context of the violent attacks on the U.S. embassies, catalyzed in part by a hateful anti-Muslim film, I wanted to share this panel discussion around the role of media, including social media, in promoting tolerance and understanding between the U.S. and Muslim world.
I had the pleasure of joining Farah Pandith, the U.S. Dept. of State’s Special Envoy to Muslim Communities, working directly under U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, moderator Mariam Atash Nawabi, and Alesia Weston of the Sundance Institute. (Apologies for the sound quality.)
I spoke specifically about the role of social media as a force for political and social change, as well as how it can be used to create a safe space in which to foster compassion, tolerance and understanding between U.S. and Islamic cultures. Here is the full video of my comments.
I hope the insights we shared about how media can provide possible solutions to cultural conflict can be useful in today’s discussions around ending the violence surrounding the expanding U.S. embassy riots.
The tragic unfolding of violence and protests at U.S. embassies around the world in response to the hateful anti-Islamic film created by an individual in the U.S. and posted on You Tube in an edited form, begs the question of why we can’t do a better job of managing inflammatory and potentially dangerous content before it reaches such heights. Freedom of speech is an incredibly important right to protect, but the new availability of social media channels means that hateful messaging can receive far wider exposure more quickly than what was possible in the past.
The responsibility for managing the availability of such content surely lies with its creator, but those in charge of the platforms themselves such a You Tube must also consider the rising specter of such circumstances. Here is a 3-step suggestion for how to handle this situation:
1. EARLY WARNING SOCIAL LISTENING SYSTEM: Provide an early monitoring system, much like an earthquake monitoring system, where content that receives a sudden and negative response is flagged and categorized according to the subject matter. Parties then directly responsible for the content including its creator, platform owner and relevant parties (political, institutional, corporate or non-profit) are informed of its existence and rising resonance.
2. CRISIS PROTOCOL: Beyond the obvious step of taking down the content and tracking it’s various iterations around the web, both regulatory and clandestine bodies such as Anonymous can be engaged to minimize the spread of the hateful content.
3. REDRESS STRATEGY: A crisis protocol should be established, as exists with almost every large brand, that details, step-by-step , how to damage control the situation. This includes PR efforts that range from apologies through to a variety of content across all media channels that contains, contextualizes and redresses the issues.
Obviously this approach begs several questions including:
1. At what point do the rights to freedom of speech and privacy supersede the explicit or implicit intent of a piece of content.
2. How do you define hateful and where do you draw the line?
3. Whose responsibility is it to monitor, moderate and manage such situations?
These questions still elude answers but the volatility of international relations has thrown this issue into stark relief. Many factors beyond this film have played into the embassy attacks ranging from food prices and terrorism to frustrations surrounding the Arab Spring revolutions, but this situation demonstrates how inflammatory content must be carefully managed now that media is in the hands of citizens and customers potentially putting innocent lives at stake.
Do you think it is appropriate to intercept hateful content on open social media channels? If so whose responsibility is it to manage it?
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Simon Mainwaring is founder of We First, a social branding consulting firm that helps companies, non-profits and individuals use social media to build communities, profits and positive impact.