Author Background: Beth Kanter is the author of Beth’s Blog: How Nonprofits Can use Social Media and was also named one of the most influential women in technology by Fast Company. Allison Fine is the founder of Innovation Network and bestselling author of Momentum: Igniting Social Change in the Connected Age.
Who should add it to their reading list: anyone interested in nonprofit communication, social media, or digital networks
The Premise: The Networked Nonprofit offers a simple approach to create engaging, two-way conversations between an organization and their key publics. According to authors Kanter and Fine, networked nonprofits are “simple and transparent organizations” that “engage in conversations with people beyond their walls – lots of conversations – to build relationships that spread their work through the network.”
The Cliff Notes:
- Social media isn’t a fad. So learn it.
- Social media is about using platforms to create engaging networks that link organizations and individuals online as a compliment to offline networks.
- Identify free agents (individuals who are natural advocates for your brand/organizaiton) and use their influence to broaden your network. Learn that you don’t have to control or create everything; you simply have to identify and engage with individuals who want to promote you.
- Integrate the ideas and characteristics of offline communities online. Although social media is new, the idea that people want to be part of a community is not.
- Social capital is key. Think of the effectiveness of a nonprofit sending a generic email asking for donations versus someone in your Facebook network posting a status about how much this nonprofit has done for their family and asking you to donate.
- Engagement is learning to be human through a computer. Focus on engaging everywhere, such as the comment section of blogs and newspapers.
- Five C’s of engagement: creating, critiquing, chattering, collecting, and clicking
- Be a “karma banker” by celebrating other people’s achievements and thanking people loudly for their efforts.
- Keep it simple. Complexity stems from trying to control almost everything.
Although the book is written through the lens of nonprofit communications, almost any type of brand, business, or organization can learn from Kanter and Fine. They focus on people, not platforms, which leads to stronger, long-lasting relationships.