By Leanne Clare
People love talking about “how to get the message out”. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been asked by someone looking for communications advice whether or not they should be using Twitter. My answer is always, “It depends”.
It depends on how you’ve designed your communications outreach. It is very important (very) that you think intentionally about to whom and what you want to communicate about before you think about how you design your use of all the cool new tools and tactics we have available to us. The “how” are the sparkly, shiny things that can get us lost and distract us from what’s really important.
In a previous blog I wrote about the three questions every story collector needs to ask. The answers to those three questions are critical in designing any communications strategy, whether you are collecting stories or not; who do you want to reach, why are you reaching out to them, and what do you want to learn/share with them? Notice none of those questions contains the word “how”. Once you know the answers to those questions, you can move on to considering tools and tactics.
Now, it’s going sound like I am contradicting myself a bit when I say that organizations, particularly in the nonprofit and government sectors, have not done enough to learn “how” to use social media tools to their benefit.
Several studies have shown that the growth of online tools and opportunities for “many to many communication” remain largely under-utilized or ignored by the nonprofit community due to challenges such as a lack of resources and understanding, as well as an inability to execute formal communications strategies.
Large institutions, including governments, as well as community-based organizations primarily use the Social Web as a traditional broadcasting tool, a way to push out information, as opposed to a platform that allows citizens to interact and contribute. We are not using the full potential of new digital tools to engage with our followers in meaningful ways.
The Campfire Project wants to change that. We intend to share what we have learned about best practices for online engagement in the fields of online consumer marketing and e-learning and are incorporating them into this project. By creating a unique space online for Canadians to engage and re-engage with each other through the sharing of micro-narratives our partners will have an opportunity to experiment with ways to encourage greater civic participation on and offline.
Campfire wants create a community of practice to help organizations learn how to create online environments where users can go beyond merely seeking information to participating as citizens co-producing knowledge that will contribute towards the betterment of society.
Join us and help all of us figure out “how” to do it better.