Start small, work with enthusiasts

Chris Brogan, writing from the US, offers advice on how a nonprofit organisation might begin using social media:

A friend from the UK writes to ask me how she might help her somewhat traditional trade association see the value of using a social networking application to facilitate communications between association members, and maybe also as a way to encourage new members to participate. Trade associations are a perfect type of organization to employ social networking tools to encourage conversations and build digital relationships. Here are some potential next steps.

He suggests using a platform like Ning, and taking gradual steps:

Starting with a big empty platform is scary. I recommend building out a few user accounts for some members, and maybe finding a few “friendlies” to build a profile and start messaging back and forth. It always feels easier to understand when you can see real world examples of members using the system. Round up about a half dozen people who might be more inclined to “get it,” help them build an account, add a user pic, etc, and then send a few messages back and forth. Then, when you display and/or demonstrate to the member base, they will see “themselves” in it.

Chris's post has prompted some equally helpful comments from people emphasing the importance of top-level commitment, and noting that bottom-up approaches may meet with resistance in traditional hierarchical organisations.

I'll be looking out for more useful posts on Chris's blog after reading this footnote:

The Social Media 100 is a project by Chris Brogan dedicated to writing 100 useful blog posts in a row about the tools, techniques, and strategies behind using social media for your business, your organization, or your own personal interests. Swing by [] for more posts in the series, and if you have topic ideas, feel free to share them, as this is a group project, and your opinion matters.

Maybe a model for developing content on this blog?

Hat tip for Dave Briggs

Active members and nosiness

Interesting. The Third Sector Foresight website has members. You don't have to join but you do if you want to download pdfs, comment, email a link etc.

But, the thing that actually encourages most people to join is that they want to look at other members' profiles. You can browse the members list without joining but as soon as you're nosy and click on a link to view who is on the site you have to join. And that's what seems to drive most people to join!

Now, its free membership so I'm sure that doesn't always apply, but I agree that in an online space, having people already signed up and active is essential to get others interested

Thanks for the link

Thanks for the link. I'm glad that it worked for you, and equally glad that I've got another new friend in the UK. : )

re:thanks for the link

Chris - thanks for dropping by, and do feel free to contribute and make some more friends!



actually i've been playing around on ning recently i was very impressed. and according to a friend who has one, if you get a pro account you lose the ads, get to create your own domain names for it, and have access to the code. neat stuff.

re: ning

Thanks Laura - I've had good reports too. We could set something up and try it out if you and others are up for it. Or join yours?

i've got an account, but

i've got an account, but haven't started a group. i joined someone else's to help them out with their MA work. I'm not sure about starting something on there unless we've a specific reason. To be honest there's only so many websites and groups I can keep track of in one go! I was thinking that we could use some tricks and ideas from them (and the new UnLtdWorld - confusingly in RSA orange and grey) to improve the Networks platform.

re: ning and other sites

Laura - good idea to look at Ning, UnLtdWorld etc for ideas for RSA Networks. What's needed in my view is a core group of enthusiastic users (mix of staff and Fellows) on RSA Networks to work together to develop ideas about the platform, pull in other people and create some buzz. Happy to help. The meetings so far have been great, but not everyone there wants to do much online ... familiar issue. Also some people are out of London. The process of developing a core group would be a useful model for others in this Membership Project.