Social Media for Nonprofits, San FranciscoSocial Media for Nonprofits delivered its 8th conference in its popular series to a packed room of hundreds at the Marine’s Memorial Club in San Francisco last week.The conference kicked off with an engaging video–complete with vivid statistics and action-inspiring music—and filled the day with sessions on social media from noted thought leaders in the industry.

Social Media Learnings Apply Across Sectors
And though the conference focused on providing social media tools to progress the non-profit space—there was ample for social entrepreneurs to learn it from too.
Here are a few takeaways that social entrepreneurs can implement today to make their social media campaigns more effective, farther reaching, and more impactful.
6 Key Takeaways for Social Entrepreneurs from Social Media for Nonprofits Conference (#sm4np)

1. There are no social media experts. Conference convener and emcee Darian Rodriguez Heyman and various other speakers including Victor d’Allant of SocialEdge emphasized the point that in the fast-paced world of social media–there are no bonafide experts. We learn so that we can ask better questions.

They may agree that it is valuable to strive for inexpertise—so that you can come closer to knowing what you don’t know about social media. And so you can focus on asking better questions, testing out bolder hypotheses, and tracking more far-fetched metrics so you can develop a better understanding of this space.

2. Learn to ask. Something I picked up was the need to be able to ask your friends, followers, fans, and readers to take action. The recommendation to avoid “press-release” verbiage and instead opt for open, frank communication with a humble request was helpful. Especially since it came from non-profits, foundations, and websites with massive followings and ambitious goals to create change. It makes sense that a personal appeal with individuals who you already have a personal connection with is often far more impactful in broadening reach, raising funds, and spreading a message.

3. Create the best content. I loved the talk by Evan Baylin, author of Outsmarting Google and his upcoming release, Outsmarting Social Media. Maybe it was because it tied so directly to the daily efforts related to Innov8Social—creating compelling content, connecting with what Google bots register as good content, and focusing on “long-tail” keywords rather than popular keywords was telling. Evan’s view of excellent content? Puppies, babies, love; fascinating images; and clever commentary.

4. Measure, set goals, evaluate…even if its like root canal. One of the speakers made her presence felt in many of the sessions preceding her. Beth Kanter is a known and beloved thought leader in the non-profit social media space and is the author of  The Networked Nonprofit. She polled the audience on whether using social media measurement tools felt more like root canal or like being in a candy shop.

Kanter outlined four stages of sophistication with regards to measurement analytics, and offered tips on defining results and establishing SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely) results. It reminded me that no matter what stage our social media efforts are in, there is great value in measuring, projecting, trying, and then evaluating our efforts. Something I plan to put into effect…now!

5. Reward and recognize your fans. If Netflix has reminded us of anything, it is to value our fans and followers. This theme was reinforced by speakers such as David Boyce of Fund.ly. He drove home the point that we all want to be winners (especially those who support us) and that we should take every opportunity to recognize, reward, and celebrate our collective achievements.

The reason that Innov8Social is still here (after nearly 6 months) is not due to my interest in the subject alone. It is because you have shown up and shown me that there is interest and value in this content. It has given my work a unique sense of purpose and given me the next challenge of how think bigger and grow these efforts into something useful and sustainable.

6. It’s all about the story. We have heard it so often, tell a story. Perfect your pitch. Describe your journey. These all make complete sense—and the conference provided a unique perspective about this advice. As I saw tens of speakers share their social media learnings, I realized that I remembered best the ones who presented a compelling story about the issues their organization is trying to address, why they individually are involved, and how their social media efforts have progressed. One such speaker was Christina Samala of the Story of Stuff. She told the story of the stories that her site produces. I am intrigued and look forward to their release of “The Story of Broke” on November 8th.

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