The Networked Nonprofit - connecting with social media to drive change

publication date: May 10, 2012
From the first page of The Networked Nonprofit, authors Allison Fine and Beth Kanter work to debunk the myths surrounding social media. First and foremost they write, "social media will not fade away."  In fact, with near-universal access to the World Wide Web in the United States, and the ubiquity of mobile phone and e-mail, the use of social media will only continue to grow. 

These authors define social media as an array of digital tools including instant messaging, text messaging, blogs, videos and social networking sites and they are concerned that too many nonprofit organizations are losing ground because they fear what might happen if they open themselves up to this new world.  Ms. Kanter and Ms. Fine would argue that using social media is easy; but using it effectively for social change is the challenge, and they question whether false assumptions are holding your organization back?

Myth - Social media is just for kids

Social media tools look complex from the outside - a beeping, flashing, chattering din.  Watching young people glide through the social media world adds to the perception that social media is only for the technologically savvy or the young. But, as many have proven, remembering a world before the Internet does not disqualify a person from using social media well.  According to the Pew Center for American Life and the Internet, the average age of Web users is mid-forties, the average age of Facebook users is climbing, and 95 percent of the population have mobile phones and use email.

Myth - Our constituents aren't online

The old assumptions of a digital divide that makes access to technology in low-income communities difficult to overcome no longer hold.  Although a gap of access persists, it is closing very rapidly and the almost-universal mobile phone usage here and abroad will soon put this issue to rest.

Myth - Using social media is hard

If social media tools were hard to use, they wouldn't be so widespread.  But with anything in life, mastering social media requires practice.  Everyone needs to try the tools to understand why they are so powerful and important, and to discover for themselves which ones they like and which work best for them.

The Networked Nonprofit is built on a simple equation: social media powers social networks for social change. People working within nonprofit organizations need to focus less on the gadgetry and embrace the opportunity for effecting new behaviors leading to societal change.

Purchase your copy of The Networked Nonprofit by Beth Kanter and Allison Fine for just $41.95.

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