To Causes, leaving MySpace to focus on its core community on Facebook made good business sense, but certainly those organizations left in the lurch on MySpace feel otherwise. Simply put, you can’t rely on third-party, often for-profit services to support your organization’s interests. What would it look like if nonprofits and social change movements – which these third party applications often use to market themselves as effective and “good” – started demanding some openness?
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 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. But the message to nonprofits seems pretty clear: Stand in our way, and we’ll just go around you.
Offering concrete ideas for how to solve a seemingly insurmountable problem can give people a sense that they, as individuals, have a stake in an issue. This sort of advocacy is similar to bottom-up, open-source collaborative projects like Wikipedia, in which no one group has proprietary ownership over an idea or a product; instead, the goal is a constant generation of awareness and ideas. Social media can be “a tool for mobilizing people for different kinds of action.”