BEDJ 13: NXNEi and #charityfail

I was absolutely delighted to be asked to speak atNorth by Northeast interactive alongside fellow social media superstars Holly Knowlman and Laura Bradley.

Back at Be Good Be Social Holly and I presented #charityfail, highlighting great examples of nonprofit do’s and dont’s on social media. I say Holly and I presented, but Holly got held up at work and I gave the presentation solo. Like a boss, as they say.

So of course I was game to revisit the topic on a broader scope and with these two fine nonfprofit professionals at NXNEi. Which is sort of a big deal.

For those who missed our awesomeness today, here’s a rundown on the panel:

Cards on the table, what’s the biggest mistake you’ve make working on a social media campaign?
I am a huge fan of the Toronto Rock. Been going to their games for ten years. When we win (something we do often, unlike every other Toronto team) I tend to post a very braggy tweet. Along the lines of:

That’s game, son. Awesome game @TorontoRockLax, sorry suckers from [insert visiting team’s town here] but that’s just how we do!

Yeah, I’m a bad winner.

So I’m getting driven home, scrolling through my tweets. And I don’t see that one. And then the icy realization dawns that I have just tweeted from my work account. This was back when the twitter app didn’t let you switch between accounts easily. Hands shaking, I frantically logged out, logged back in, tracked down the tweet, and deleted it. Fortunately it went unnoticed. Moving on.

How do you define failure? Or to put it another way, do you put goals and targets in place before a campaign in order to judge whether it’s been successful?
Especially for new campaigns, if you have nothing to benchmark against, you pretty much have to pick numbers out of the air. You might find you have set your expectations far too high or too low, but it’s key to have something to strive towards, and some logic for that goal. While it might be frustrating not to know if you’re on track the first time you go at a campaign, you’ll have a better idea of how things go when you do it the next time around.

How do you learn from your mistakes? Do you have a post-mortem after campaigns?
We do, and while it’s not always structured and formal, we do look at how a campaign went, and how successful it was. Laura pointed out there are two types of failure: you have set out to do something and it made no impact, or you set out to do something and you managed to piss off alienate your community. Look, if you failed (either way) look at how and why you failed. Congratulations, you have just worked out what not to do again.

Do you think it’s easier for some nonprofits to make visible mistakes on social media than others?
Absolutely. Generally with nonprofits, your community members are your beneficiaries, your advocates, your donors, and your volunteers. They already support the work for you, and are more likely to defend you against negativity than bring it to your doorstep themselves. I credit Laura again with pointing out that depending on your cause and brand, you might not have that leniency.  Again, don’t alienate your community. Would a conservationist organization ever offer to sell baby polar bear boots as part of a fundraiser? No, because it goes completely against their brand and the reason their community supports them. On the other hand, if a massive company tweets or posts in a way that rubs its community the wrong way, a maelstrom of unhappiness descends. Take for example Coca Cola (oh gosh, or was it McDonald’s? anyway, some massive international trillionaire company) posted to its US Facebook page in Spanish, and the community had at it. How dare they put any language other than English on a page for the US? I mean, when I post occasionally in French on the Canadian Music Centre’s Facebook page, our francophone community members appreciate it and our anglophone ones ignore it.

You are the social media manager for a well-known Canadian nonprofit. One afternoon your CEO accidentally drinks too much tequila and steals a golf buggy, driving it on to the highway and yelling at passing cars. Even worse, there’s a video that is already doing the rounds online. What do you do?
Of course my ED would never do this. But as an audience member pointed out, certain RIM executives proved that yes, management sometimes gets tipsy and obnoxious and it can do some serious damage to your brand. Whatever the case may be, you need to apologize. Get your CEO in, get them some water for the hangover, and get them to give a sincere and honest apology. Since the incident is in video format, make a video apology. Change your front page to a written apology with the video. Tweet and Facebook and Pin the video so it is seen. A good apology can go so far in mitigating damage. And pro tip: an apology does not include the word “if.”

I can think of some good examples of apologies, that were deserved. Good ol’ mea culpas from: Tumblr, the Toronto Maple Leafs, and Domino’s (who addressed a prank via YouTube). What do they all have in common? Accepting the responsibility, emphasizing how bad they feel, and laying out steps to service its users better.

Your nonprofit regularly encourages its supporters to donate money online. One day your discover your database has been hacked, putting the credit card information of all of these supporters at risk. Which social channels do you use to communicate with your customers about the hack, and what do you say?
The channels you use depends on how you most often connect with your donors. Ravelry (an online knitting community – yes, knitting) did a great job in such a situation by posting the notice on its page right when you logged in. It laid out the timeline of when the breach had occurred, the extent of the breach, how to change your password to help limit the damage, and how to directly contact a staff member to follow up with more concerns. I was so put at ease by the message I didn’t feel like my trust had been compromised in anyway. Ravelry had my back. On the other hand, recently LinkedIn tweeted about its recent breach, but had no other information to give, and didn’t even tell us where to look for information when it would be ready. I read a newspaper article online with more details and directions on changing my password before I got any more news from LinkedIn. And I felt that was a bit of a failing. Now again, depending on your relationship with the donors, the best way to do it might be through an email rather than a blog post or tweet. Use the right medium for your organization. In my opinion, it’s actually useful to put it somewhere public and easy to reach in case your email doesn’t get read in time. Plus, like, if you do it well you can be used as an example in a presentation at a wicked conference.

You work for a nonprofit that supports women who are victimes of domestic violence. On your Facebook page you have a user who continually posts inflammatory sexist statements and baits other members of the community. How do you deal with this troll?
We all know the adage Don’t feed the trolls. I happen to prefer Feed your advocates, starve your trolls. It’s no good if the members of your community with whom you engage the most are the ones who disagree with your content and cause. You don’t need to pay attention to the loudest voice in the room. @solchrom oftens says attention is a troll’s oxygen, so why give it to them? And mostly it’s a good perspective to have.

I recently had the privilege of working on Women in Toronto Politics panel events. You had women, and politics, and social media. Like a lightning rod for trolls. One troll had made the assumption that we had asked for public funding to host our event, as we were a bunch of feminazi communist union pimps. Or something like that. We actually responded to him her it to let them know that in truth the whole panel series had been paid for out of the organizer’s pockets, with the great help of corporate sponsors, and that we were selling buttons to help cover our cost. Why respond at all? Because it was a learning and teaching opportunity. The troll made some comment that well, in that case, I’ll buy some buttons because I support funding things with private money.

It’s possible to engage with a troll as long as it’s in the mindset of killing them with kindness. Insert that video you’ve already seen.

But, then, if individuals come to your page for a safe space, it’s your place to ensure that space stays safe. Develop community guidelines that outline acceptable behaviour. When naughty folks break those rules, you have something to back you up when you block them. Which in the right situation, you should do.

A disgruntled employee with access to your social media accounts begins posting negative, expletive-filled comments about your non-profit, calling out specific members of your company by name. This goes on for almost a whole day before the employee is removed. How do you explain his actions to your online audiences?
First, if should not take you a whole day to notice that. Step up your monitoring. Second, change those passwords. Third, apologize. If you’re lucky, you can make light of the situation. But only if levity in the situation isn’t distasteful. Insert that example you’ve already seen. This scenario is a really good example as to why you should have more than one staff person have access to your social media accounts and understand how they work. At the very least in the case that your community manager falls ill or goes walkabout.

You have just started working at a small nonprofit that helps young people to start on their own businesses. You find that currently their social media efforts are focused on LinkedIn and MySpace. What advice fo you give them on where to go from here?
Less the first: Get off MySpace. Second, find out where your audience is. Look at similar organizations and where they are. Join them on those networks and become their friends. What’s so great about social media is that your best practices are right there in front of you, every day. Take in to consideration your staff and time resources. It’s better to have a better presence on fewer networks than spread yourself thin and have weak presence everywhere (including places your audience might never be). Something I think is really useful for startups (and many organizations) is when the founder has a personal account that advocates for its organization. I know the Canadian Opera Company (COC) is no small shop startup, but I adore the way in which Alexander Neef (the COC’s CEO) tweets about himself (he suffers from #firstworldproblems just like you and me!) but also give props to the COC and its performers, and other opera companies. It humanizes the COC without the COC account having to get too casual – the COC can’t really complain about how it spilled its Starbucks coffee, but Mr.Neef can. And if I can relate to the CEO, the organization starts to look a lot friendlier.

Oh no! Your campaign is tanking! Your nonprofit made a hilarious video full of cats, hipsters, and dubstep. Your CEO hoped it would “go viral” but nobody’s watching. What’s wrong, and how do you fix it?
This is why sites like this exist. If it’s failing, don’t try pushing it. Congratulations, you’ve learned another thing not to do again. Now look at it and realize why it tanked. Was it totally off-brand? Was it of no interest to your main demographic? Most likely, yes. Also it’s painfully obvious when an organization tries to piggyback off the success of internet memes, and really it’s just sad. Focus on making something good.

How do you do deal with a manager who can’t cut loose and insists on a rigid approvals process for every single post you make? 
A content calendar can absolutely help show a manager who is uncomfortable with on-the-fly posts how social media fits in to a broader communications strategy, and gives them the control they need. Hopefully as time progresses they become more at ease with the concept of ad hoc posts, which is really how a voice can shine through and how you can best interact and respond to your community.

You accidentally tweet a naked picture of yourself from your work account. What do you do?
So the easiest thing is not to make a habit of posting naked pictures of yourself online, ever, anywhere. You ever want to be Prime Minister? These kids today are gonna have a heck of a time hiding their partying past when they try to get in to office in future years. My advice? Prepare your two weeks’ notice. That is not something you can bounce back from within an organization.

And there you go! Hope you enjoyed my run down of our great panel today. Would love to hear your thoughts on the questions – whether you agree or disagree! I also love examples, so if you’ve got some good ones please share!

I’ll be at NXNEi for the next two days, so if you’re there are well drop me a line!


One thought on “BEDJ 13: NXNEi and #charityfail

  1. Pingback: #charityfail: The Olympic Edition | emmajenkin

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