Last week, I had the pleasure of designing and facilitating the ultimate social media practitioner panel at the Social Media on Purpose Conference hosted by Stanford Social Innovation Review. The panelists included:
- Cindy Johanson , Executive Director, Edutopia
- Matt Fitzgerald , Attention Lab Director, Upwell
- Humberto Kam , Director, Online Engagement & Marketing, Monterey Bay Aquarium
- Abdi Soltani , Executive Director, American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California
- James Nickerson , Social Media Strategist, San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus
- Trenton DuVal , Development & Communications Manager, International Development Exchange (IDEX)
The design and format of the panel was inspired by “poetry slams” where poets share their poems and there is audience participation. There are variations on poetry slams, for example, a “Theme Slam,” one in which all poems must conform to a specified theme, genre, or formal constraint. Poetry slams can feature a broad range of voices, styles, cultural traditions, and approaches to writing and performance. This was a theme slam where panelists had to share their case study in five minutes or less using a similar format and unique style of delivery. Each person kicked it off with their favorite poem that related to their lessons learned.
I kicked off the session by reciting my favorite poem, Joyce Kilmer’s Trees and shared the rules of audience interaction and format in Iambic pentameter.
The panelists delivered their case studies and poems in three rounds, each with a sub-theme. Humberto Kam from the Monterrey Bay Aquarium and Cindy Johanson from Edutopia shared some case studies about storytelling and what inspires people to share your organization’s content. Humberto Kam talked about how they engage with influencers and let them spread and remix their content. His take away: “Let the talent be themselves.”
Johanson discussed a recent user generated video campaign for Teacher Appreciation Day in partnership with Soul Pancake that invited teachers to share a letter they would write to themselves when they first started teaching. The campaign leveraged nostalgia. While Cindy pointed to impressive quantitative results, she also pointed out how they listen to the individual responses on Twitter and share those quotes. She also mentioned that since they don’t have cute otters, they find that on target quotes in visual format often work really well on social channels. (Looking for some sources for quotes, see my curated list)
The next set of case studies came from ACLU-Northern California and IDEX and both touch on cultural differences and translation on social media channels and how to optimize. Abdi Soltani talked about their Estamos Unidos campaign, Spanish for “We Are United,” which connects Latino communities through their stories. The campaign launched with a bus tour across, but it didn’t quite “go viral” online until they started investing in Facebook advertising. “I hope someday Mark Zuckerberg will return the favor,” said Soltani, echoing the frustration of many nonprofit leaders about Facebook’s pay-to-play policy. I had to ask this question:
Abdi said that the $20 per day was “worth it” compared to the cost of the bus and its carbon footprint, but also increasingly they have a hard time connecting the dots from their big outcomes (policy change) to spending for ads on Facebook. He mentioned that the most important thing about Facebook ads is “always be testing” and keeping it simple.
IDEX Trenton DeVal discussed how they work with their partners to respectfully get their stories and how they optimize these content for both social media, email, and print. “The key is working with a good designer.”
The final set of case studies discussed social media success and failure. Matt Fitzgerald from Upwell shared their approach to Big Listening and Spotting Awesome which helped them leverage “Shark Week,” ocean conservation social media super bowl. Matt gave great advice about how to get started with big listening for small organizations. He said, “Start a tumblr blog where everyone in the organizations captures content that they think is awesome and that can be shared on social channels.”
Finally, James Nickerson shared an amazing story of learning from failure from the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus, kicking it off with some Barry Manilow poety. I asked what comes between failing and learning. His answers:
You can find a curated transcript of the tweets and other resources from this panel here. And if you are in the Bay Area and want to attend a social media and nonprofit conference, The Social Media 4 Nonprofits Conference is coming up (check out this for a special discount code)