The Awe, the Meme and the Dooce

0 Flares Twitter 0 Facebook 0 Google+ 0 0 Flares ×

Guest Blog Post by Lisa Rau, Co-founder & CEO, Confluence

It is too easy to forget how miraculous the Internet Age is. We take for granted having all of human knowledge literally in the palm of our hands. But let’s remember – having our activities and locations always available to other people or programs – while scary, makes possible applications we simply can’t conceive of yet. I start to be thankful that the Chinese wish / curse “May you live in interesting times” came true for me, and see from Wikipedia that there is no such Chinese saying! As a part of the very tail end of the baby boomers, it took my son to introduce me to the internet memes – including the meme of memes.  My personal favorite is the three wolves howling at the moon – see “Think a T-Shirt Can’t Change Your Life? A Skeptic Thinks Again (NY Times, 5/24/09)”

What happens when we can be corrected, learn, look up and discover anything, any time? We don’t know yet – and I can’t wait to find out. What comes next, when “visiting a website” is as obsolete as a pay phone? What won’t we be able to live without next? The infrastructure of the internet, GPS, wireless broadband, and mobile devices is being birthed right now – really now — laying the groundwork for tomorrow’s unimaginable applications. It’s wide open – limited only by our ingenuity and imagination.

What is the lesson for nonprofits? Certainly it is too easy to believe that good things accrue just by virtue of entering the world of social media. This reminds me of the clients that believe that the right fundraising software will cause their individual donations to increase. The tools are enablers, and only work as part of effective, well thought-out and well executed plans.  If a tweet goes out to no followers, does anybody hear it? Looking down the road, how will your messages fare against the increasing volume of competition clogging up our social media channels? Can you effectively measure the impact your social media efforts are having on your mission?

Our brave new world still comes with its own pitfalls. You could get “dooced” or fired because of internet postings / websites. It’s hard to put yourself in the position of imagining your future self in your future life, looking back on the electronic tracks you are laying now because the internet remembers everything. As an organization, when you start to use social media, you need to make sure your reputation is preserved, your liability is low, and you don’t expose your organization to the ills of the world: copyright, liable, harassment, discrimination…This can be done pretty easily by education and making it clear what the behavior standards are. As Warren Buffett is widely quoted as saying “It takes a lifetime to build a reputation and only 15 minutes to destroy it” — look what happened to ACORN. What is your reputation worth?

Social media policies should at least be discussed as you move into using the tools. They should cover all postings that staff might do – from blogs, facebook, social networking sites to even comments on other sites.  You can separate out personal use (which shouldn’t interfere with one’s duties) from professional use. Some guidelines are obvious (like don’t put confidential or copyrighted material out on the internet) and some are not (like don’t use your nonprofit’s email address as your identifier). In all cases, staff should abide by the unwritten world of our brave new world – be honest, disclose conflicts, don’t flame or disrespect, protect others’ privacy and most of all – if you’re wrong, admit it and move on.

Meanwhile, enjoy our interesting times.

0 Flares Twitter 0 Facebook 0 Google+ 0 0 Flares ×
Recent Posts
Contact Us

We're not around right now. But you can send us an email and we'll get back to you, asap.

Not readable? Change text. captcha txt
0 Flares Twitter 0 Facebook 0 Google+ 0 0 Flares ×