Tech Tuesday: Pitching Social Media To Your Organization

by guest Tech writer Jesse Luna (@jesseluna)

I’m proud to be a part of the new convergence between online worlds and offline community-based organizations.

This past week, I helped lead a community building training session with 20 of the county’s top leaders. These leaders were city council members, founders and executive directors of nonprofits, and longtime community activists.

As I introduced myself to some new faces, I told them I was an independent business consultant. A couple of people felt a pitch coming their way and said that their organizations didn’t need that type of help. Then I told them that my goal was to help empower organizations through training and by providing resources to help them succeed online. After I told them that I’d been working with other organizations to help them build their communications and fundraising capacity, they became much more interested. When I told them that I was co-producing the LATISM #CAUSE2012 conference, which focuses on training organizations on social networking, they lit up and we started looking at ways to work together.

Using social media as a part of an organization’s strategic activities is not a given. The value has to be explained. The online community building aspect must be explained. The target of those online activities must be explained. The strategies have to match up with the organization’s mission and vision. When that happens then it’s not about introducing a shiny new website feature or being on a bunch of social networking sites – it’s about helping the organization build power online.

Explaining this concept can be challenging, so examples help. is my favorite example of an organization that is tuned into the social Web. has different causes and allows people to sign petitions then share them with broader social networks like Twitter. The site gets hundreds of people to sign petitions in a matter of hours. When organizations see this, they can start to envision how their own communities can make a difference by connecting with other online.

The site seems to resonate with organizations for three main reasons:

1) The site goals and objective are crystal clear – get people to interact, sign petitions, and share content.
2) The value of the site is obvious to all, including to the organization’s funders.
3) The site is active and current.

Leading an offline organization to the social Web is a lot more than a matter of website functionality. It is also about understanding how to connect networks and enhance relationships online.

I’ve helped and have seen more and more organizations tap into the power of social media and it is the way of the future.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jesse Luna has been in the tech industry for the past 12 years doing Web development, marketing, and tech training. He is an active blogger and has created dozens of tech/social media tutorial videos. He has a BA from Stanford University and an MBA and Masters in Computer Information Systems from the University of Denver. You can find more of his writings on tech at


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    Reina Valenzuela 9 years ago

    Jesse, I want to thank you for sharing this here. My experience has been that non-profits don’t have time and resources to shift their focus from the base community to the online community. However, when you present it as a fund raising opportunity they pay attention. Still, they must turn to the new generation to help out with Social Media efforts because to them it is like second nature… effortless!

    jesseluna 9 years ago

    Reina, I agree. nonprofits usually have few resources and have to be intently focused on their mission and vision. The key is to show them how social media can help them with their current efforts – fundraising, delivering services, sharing great news, PR, building relationships, etc.

    Reina Valenzuela 9 years ago

    Jesse, I agree but there is more…
    I’m talking about the local non-profits that depend mostly on grassroots marketing, word of mouth, calls, flyers, emails, to do their outreach because let’s face it! not everyone has access to technology or the same comfort level using it.

    So when you go to a board and suggest Social Media they look at you like you have three heads. What they don’t understand is that members of the community are already active in these forums and the organization needs to use SM tools to connect and expand their base.

    jesseluna 9 years ago

    Reina, we’re talking about the same types of groups.

    There is definitely the “three headed” factor for people who don’t get social media at all. But once they see that social media can help them organize, it starts to make sense. And the more they trust you, the more they listen. That takes time.

    We have one grassroots effort here in Santa Paula where members receive information via text messages, flyers, email, and phone calls. The organizers use email and Facebook to communicate and share information. I’ve joined several rallies with them and I tweet from events, blog about things, and post pictures and videos to YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook. I do that to share what’s going on here with the world but also to model the behavior.

    We’re working with a lot of grassroots organizations as we plan the #CAUSE2012 LATISM conference.

    Reina Valenzuela 9 years ago

    So glad that #CAUSA2012 LATISM conference will focus on helping the non-profit sector and that you are leading the effort. I believe that NGOs are the backbone of our society as much as the small businesses are the backbone of our economy. That’s why I’m a business and social entrepreneur.

    There are so many great models of how to use SM to build capacity, outreach, and fundraise. I like to use the DreamActivists, which BTW can make a great case study, as a sample of how well they organized and lobbied.

    In a recent presentation at Rutgers I used @Changents as a sample, @AbolishCancer and other similar orgs that are using SM successfully; not to mention LATISM that evolved out of our need to work together breaking the barriers of time, geography, language, and space.

    see post 5 years ago

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