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The topics discussed here grow out of the bread-and-butter issues that confront my consulting and software clients on a daily basis. We'll talk about prosaic stuff like Membership Management, Meetings and Events Management and Fundraising, broader ideas like security and software project management, and the social, cultural, and organizational issues that impact IT decision-making.

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Thursday, February 07, 2008

Policing your Online Image

The other day I noticed one of my clients had an account on Facebook and I asked her how she was using it. "Mainly", she said, "to police our staff to make sure they haven't posted anything that would reflect badly on our organization".
-- "You could also take the opportunity to post stuff yourself that would promote your organization and mission", I prompted.
--"I don't think so." she chuckled. Then I'd have to be on here twice as much patrolling the responses to my posting."

With a growing number of non-profit communicators finding a powerful role for the social media in their online strategy, it's disturbing to realize how many of their peers still approach things this way. Another client of our voiced this same fearful approach when I was urging them to set up an intranet for in-house conversation and information among their several hundred employees. "Impossible - who will read each of those postings to keep an eye out for inappropriate language or content?"

The fallacy here is simple. These managers believe they currently have control over the organization's image and they don't want to loose it. The fact is, people are already saying whatever they want about them - in private emails, on blogs, on Facebook walls.

Marketing guru Seth Godin in a recent post compares classic brand management to what he calls "tribe management".:
...what people really want is the ability to connect to each other, not to companies. So the permission is used to build a tribe, to build people who want to hear from the company because it helps them connect, it helps them find each other, it gives them a story to tell and something to talk about.
In other words, when non-profit communicators give up and join the tribe that already exists around their organization, they discover that participating in the conversation is far more powerful than policing it.

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