Posts about web2.0
Web 2.0 refers to the trend among websites to engage in conversations with their visitors, rather than simply acting as a digital billboard or brochure. In the context of online social change, web 2.0 is about engaging supporters with effective tools and drawing a campaign's power to effect change from the participants themselves.
Online activism didn’t come out of nowhere. The methods and tactics of online activists — be they individuals or international nonprofits with hundreds of staff — are drawn on social change movements and community organizing strategies that have been tried, experimented with, failed, tweaked, and tried again, long before the Internet existed.
Last week, Special Envoy to Sudan Gen. Scott Gration sat down with representatives from Save Darfur and the student network STAND for an unprecedented live Q&A, webcast directly from the White House website. The webcast was notable not just for its interactivity — members of both STAND and Save Darfur were encouraged to submit questions, which were then asked directly of Gration on air — but for its accountability.
Gurus, mavens and experts convey information — they tell you the way things are.
Organizers, conversely, cultivate leadership and facilitate a community's exploration of its vision — they offer a way to see how things could be.
Naturally, we need an accurate picture of how things are before we can strategize ways to improve them, and so it's important to continually listen to and learn from the experts, taking from them relevant information and measuring it against our own experience and knowledge. But folks involved in social change — online or offline — can't stay there. We have to be willing to step up and do the difficult organizing work that leverages our knowledge and experts' data into something larger: a movement.
Social media doesn’t mean you do less organizing — it means you (can) do it better, or at least differently. You still have to use all the old skills of coalition-building, strategic planning, creative social action, managing relationships and preventing burnout. None of that goes away just because you’re engaging with people on Facebook instead of in town halls.
In this presentation from the Democracy in Action Community Conference 2008, I talk about some of the successful approaches for nonprofits in using social networks like Facebook and MySpace, and social media like Flickr and YouTube. I give detailed examples of how the Genocide Intervention Network, where I served as director of communications and Internet strategy coordinator for four years, used social networking to achieve its goals in membership development, advocacy and fundraising.
Some nonprofits, older and more institutionalized, are wary of giving their members “control” of their “message” in the realm of social networks and social media. Mostly, I think that’s nothing more than a fear of losing power. When you think you know how to change the world, it can be hard for some people to want to involve others — or give anyone else the credit. What’s interesting here is that there’s a significant ability for activists to self-organize. The message to nonprofits from the past few years seems pretty clear: Stand in our way, and we’ll just go around you.
For the Genocide Intervention Network, involvement in the “social web” is really an outgrowth of our entire mission: To form the first anti-genocide constituency, and to empower our members with the tools to prevent and stop genocide. The words “constituency” and “empower” are key. We’re not simply looking for a mailing list or an ATM — we want an educated, active movement of people interested in preventing and stopping genocide. Our members need to be able to think for themselves on the issue, not to simply be another name on a list, but to be a hub in an ever-expanding network.
Although these two panels — “Leveraging the Power of Participatory Media” and “The Future of Online Outreach” — were held separately at the 2007 Nonprofit Technology Conference, I thought that they related so well that I’d present them together.
Ivan Boothe helped start the Genocide Intervention Network in 2004, and was responsible for communications, web development and social networking strategy. He has since started doing freelance work on his own at rootwork.org. So he cautioned me that some of the information might not be entirely up to date that he shared on listserv including a pointer to his awesome slide show with audio.
Ivan is one of a small number of nonprofit early adopters in social media and social networks — he has a couple of years of experience under his belt — so his wisdom is priceless.
Ivan says their organization’s social networking initiatives have been successful in building the “brand” of an anti-genocide constituency. Ivan notes, “Social networking is a long-term approach and using traditional metrics of advocacy or fundraising it may not look like much. But over a long period of time social networking is actually critical in building an effective, educated political constituency.”
So, what is the right fit to use a social networking strategy? Ivan suggests:
Social networking is a natural fit for an organization that wants more than an ATM of donors or a list of petition-signers, but active and engaged political organizers.