Three ways to build social media literacy within your foundation

Three ways to build social media literacy within your foundation

Posted on August 22, 2012 by The Patterson Foundation

"You want me to tweet my what?"

This may sound familiar. It's a verbal response indicative of Twitterphobia. Other signs? Sweaty palms and eye twitches.

While you might not be hearing this exact phrase shouted through the halls of your foundation, even today, there's no denying that fear of using social media still exists in the social sector.

Anecdotally, we know many foundations rely heavily on their websites to share information. Expanding beyond this digital=website mentality takes education, consistency and commitment.

More than two and a half years ago, when The Patterson Foundation launched its vision, we asked our initiative consultants (those on the front lines working with partners to create new realities) to share what they were learning through blog posts.

Do you think this request was met with happy claps, smiles and high fives? Definitely not.

There was some fear. Fear of trying something new. Fear of writing. Fear of putting one's point of view out there.

How did we handle it?

1) Leadership - Debra Jacobs, President and CEO of The Patterson Foundation, was on board from day one. She advocates weaving communications - including social media - throughout the foundation's endeavors. Was Debra a social media guru back in 2010? No. Did she have the leadership and willingness to make it a priority? Yes.

You can follow Debra on Twitter: @DebraMJacobs 

 2) Education - What's a blog? We've had those conversations. In fact, we dissect what makes a good blog every time we host a blog training session with a new initiative consultant. How do I tweet at a conference? We train for that, too. Training and refreshers are essential to help people feel comfortable. Train in bite-sized chunks and give people reference sheets (digital or otherwise) as they start their maiden social media voyage. We use a web-based "toolbox" of training materials (including a social media policy) to keep everything organized and easily accessible.

3) Praise in Public - Celebrating success is a great motivator for someone new to social media and helps those lurking on the sidelines realize it's not so bad once you jump in.

Is your foundation dipping its toe in social media waters? How are you helping employees adapt?

If you've been using social media for a while, what's your advice for foundations just starting out?

  • Learn about these and other concepts used in TPF's approach to philanthropy.


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