adding value

Ah, it was coming sooner or later and now it is here….

A couple of years back, I started some web design work for this lovely group of people. Mind you, at the time, I wanted to do more sweeping changes, but the hosting and site framework they have doesn’t allow that, so I’m working on moving them to another platform.

In the meantime time, I’ve been developing other things for them with other projects they are doing. In the meanwhile, I noticed a crisis: no communication. Internally, things were scrambled a bit, but manageable. On the other hand, we had no communication with the outside world. The mean age of the group is like 45. No one really used many handheld devices apart from cell phones at the time, etc. At the same time, as people like me were getting interested in the group, they asked us what we were into and all of these things. Of course all this normal urban, mainstream things came up. I mentioned things like facebook, myspace, and so on to keep us in touch with the current world and the tech in it. It was a classic case.

It went something like: “Hey guys, it would be easier to reach the younger audience you’ve got in mind if you talked to them on their level. They’re on facebook and all this. Why don’t we get a page?”

Someone opened it, but no communication (of course the people in the org didn’t use it… *facepalm*…) came through so the page was mostly blank except for some sparse interaction. At the same time, I had opened a twitter account. We had all of these open channels and they were open for almost a year, but not really being used. I had to take action and fast.

What did I do? Well, I started building a model of our current website using the content and some different coloring concepts. Still not finished with that one, but I started. Then, when I got my current job, I got an iPhone and was allowed to download any app I wanted…

It. Was. On.

I downloaded the Twitter app for iPhone (the phone I was issued) and started to look at the information coming to me. When I went to meetings, I kept the iPhone on hand. Every single thought, word, action, or plan was tweeted right then and there. I left no stone unturned. Ten posts per meeting at least. Every good idea, every talent that emerged became material for another tweet.

“Hey, Marquis, what are you texting about?”

“Not texting, just tweeting…”

“What?”

“I’m tweeting what we are talking about right now.”

This went on for a few weeks. Every meeting was me tweeting until…

One day, they were commenting on pictures; “We need to take more, but…” Excuses and all of this. I don’t blame them, but it was always this idea of “If only…” that got me so riled up. So I used another one of those useful iPhone features at a meeting we had last night: the camera app.

I snapped pictures of the people in attendance, the person speaking, someone who had brought up an idea that everyone liked, and so on. Got our ideas out. Started putting faces to names. Started spitting out ideas for what was going on in our group and how our surrounding community (some of which were following us) could help. Then the unthinkable happened…

Someone. Replied.

I repeat: there was a reply.

Not just one, but a few. It spun into short dialog. It was a small success, but a success. Why? Well, because the value to this group is going to be visible now; people are seeing, people are responding, people can get involved; it is reaching out to people…

…and that is the point of social media. This company doesn’t have a bottom line really — it’s a non-profit so it isn’t driven by money. Instead, I have to show them that this gets the word out and, in turn, draws people into what they are doing. Step One (of many) is getting people engaged and I think a little bit of ground was broken in that direction last night.

Not only this, but it is breaking ground within the group itself. The members with twitter are following now and with that, they are being updated with what is going on in the group as they happen so that if meetings are missed or plans change, they get updates on the spot. My next task is to get a replacement trained in my stead, but this works for now.

It is things like this that drive people like Amber Naslund to tweet, post, and other things related to social media in spite of possible fatigue associated with it and I think I will also let it inspire me to press on and drive my point home that social media is valuable.

They better not make me break out the geotagging feature 😉

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