November 3rd, 2006

You’ve been promoted to “Buzz Director” (what, you don’t have one?)

It’s a particular crusade of mine to encourage not-for-profits to identify an internal champion (or recruit a virtual volunteer) to take on this role. Call it what you will, and David Wilcox and Beth Kanter, have both had a go at (re)inventing job labels. I like Beth Kanter’s “Social Media Coach”. But how about “Cause Evangelist”? Anyway, you get the idea.

Interest in social media among not-for-profits right now is high. A good many are researching good practice and developing their strategies for participating in and monitoring social networks and the blogosphere.

With this in mind, I thought I’d have a stab at unpicking the role of “buzz director” (or whatever). What follows reflects my belief that social media is more of a creative discipline than a technical one:

  • Before you get your feet to comfortable beneath your desk, remember that you should maintain a 360-degree joined-up view of your organisation at all times. Work across teams and departments.
  • Research the key blogs that cover the issue areas in which your organisation works, the related policy arena and other relevant topics. Find out what others are writing about your organisation.
  • Talk to everybody. Listen. Make it easy for colleagues to find you, or manufacture the conditions by which serendipity is more likely to occur.
  • If you see the never-ending strategic review dragging your new colleagues down, remind them of the reasons they joined your organisation in the first place. Get them passionate (and close) to your cause once again. Share their passion. Be energetic. Be useful.
  • Your role is to create a buzz around your cause (and secondarily, your not-for-profit ‘brand’). But resist any desire (or pressure) to “own” the cause. Far better to identify the communities where your supporters and activists are already and join in the conversation. After all, whose cause it anyway? Again, David Wilcox hits the button:

    Many of the first round of tools – Web 1.0 – were linked to existing social structures and ways of doing things. Web sites would be like magazines online. Forums online would be places you went to, just like physical events. It was quite costly and difficult to create online places, so they tended to be collective rather than personal. You now need to be in all places at once.

  • Get into web widgets. While you’re not in the world domination business, your own website can still be a magnet. Create something useful (e.g. your events calendar, appeal running totals) that your dispersed supporters can add to their own blogs. Beth Kanter can tell you more about widgets
  • Work with legal to write your blogging guidelines. Anticipate more scrutiny into your organisation and its work (which you should welcome) and identify the possible pitfalls. Balance risks vs the opportunities. Get ready for some tough love.
  • Coach your colleagues on blogging. Help them through the inevitable rough patches. Continually give feedback on how to write, and how to be generous.
  • Talk to the press office/pr/media dept and work with them to identify key bloggers and build relationships with them to get your news and stories out. Explore the options for podcasting and video from emergency locations to get across your side of the story. Blogs can be a good way to break news that the mainstream media can pick up on and amplify. Try letting people post comments to the press releases your organisation publishes online and introduce colleagues to the concept of the social media press release.
  • Set up a group photo pool in Flickr to upload, tag, and share photo stories online with your activists and fundraisers. Create a unique tag and invite your fundraisers to post photos on Flickr using this same tag. Build a visual archive your organisation’s work. This will all have a cumulative effect over time.
  • Take baby steps and start small by blogging around an event. Josh Hallett tells you all you need to know.
  • Include blogs and social media in your next supporter survey.
  • Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. Don’t neglect those traditional methods that have served your organisation so well. Appearances can be misleading: the average age on MySpace is 35.
  • Develop social media optimisation across all your online communications. This means working tirelessly with communications, fundraising, campaigns…
  • Your role is to help colleagues to plan, deploy, monitor and refine your blogs and social media activities just as you would for any other communications and engagement tactic.
  • Share what you learn with colleagues and network with people in other organisations who sit in seats like yours to identify new ways to calculate the benefits, costs and risks of blogging. Work with them to create a framework for measuring the ROI of your blogging efforts. Join the search for a new metric for engagement.
  • Explore ways to keep in touch and to share ideas and insights and share links to new developments. Embrace opportunities for collaboration.
  • Don’t stall on starting to use this stuff until you “know the ROI of blogs”, but continually refer to your organisation’s mission and ensure that this activity aligns with your strategic goals. Plan for 6-12 months time, but start experimenting sooner. Set realistic expectations.
  • Don’t get too big for your boots and call all this a ‘project’ because it will run into the rails. Don’t call it a pilot as no one will take it seriously enough.
  • Do prepare a monthly report of activity and ensure it is distributed widely within the organisation.
  • Not-for-profits unwilling to consider some or all of the above, risk becoming irrelevant. How will your organisation be different in three years time?

Of course, this is only a start. Comments most welcome.


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18 Responses to “You’ve been promoted to “Buzz Director” (what, you don’t have one?)”

  1. Beth Says:

    I’m still not sure though if folks get the concept of social media coach enough to actually hire one…

  2. Ron Mader Says:

    Simply brilliant.

  3. Dom Waghorn Says:

    Good list Steve, particularly for bigger non-profits that do have the resources and confidence to experiment. Still, it’s going to be harder for the smaller ones. What if you don’t have ‘legal’ to get advice on your blogging policy? And how do you convince your over-stretched colleagues that posting to your organisation’s blog is more important than anything else they might be doing this afternoon?

    I think in these instances you need some quick wins. That doesn’t mean proving ROI, but having some immediate examples of the impact you can have goes a long way to getting people internally on board. This could be as simple as having some external comments appear on your blog, or friend requests on your organisation’s MySpace page. This will create the enthusiasm for your next big steps towards world domination!

  4. Steve Bridger Says:

    Dom – you’re right; I wrote this with a larger organisation in mind. I think smaller not-for-profits need to seek help from virtual volunteers and others willing to give their time.

    Your point about engineering some “quick wins” is spot on. ‘Blogging an event’ would be a good place to start, and set the team up for the best possible experience. Baby steps.

  5. Podnosh Blog : High Fibre Podcasting » Archive » Buzz Director - beyond infinity. Says:

    [...] First apologies to Steve Bridger for my inability to avoid the obvious pun on his latest and very fine post. [...]

  6. Nick Temple Says:

    Hi Steve…mentioned the ‘buzz director’ concept on the School for Social Entrepreneurs blog

    It’s an interesting one on size. I gave the opportunity to all the social entrepreneurs coming through our current programme to start a blog, and not many took me up on it. Of those that did, few have continued writing it (after that initial burst of enthusiasm), mostly due to being too busy.

    But blogging strikes me as a very quick and easy way for smaller non-profits (in which I’d include us) and social businesses to raise their profile, promote their product/service, create an audience, communicate the tone of the organisation and so on…

    They might not have time to create a monthly report or to indulge in metrics of ROI at this point, but 10 minutes a day is a small investment of time to make….

  7. » Blog Archive » London ICT Buzz Director? Says:

    [...] Clearly the need for a ‘champion’ or ‘Buzz Director’ as Steve Bridger calls it, to promote technology to the community sector is one that many commentators – including David Wilcox, Nancy White and Beth Kanter (amongst others) – have been talking about. [...]

  8. Ron Mader Says:

    I find it’s difficult enough to make suggestions from the outside. Some people just don’t want to be coached. Are there any examples of social media coaches within organizations?

    Let’s be generous with our praise for those who blog in-house and those who participate via outside websites and events in the natural world. The conclusion I draw is that now is the perfect time to reflect on what works and what does not and create incentives for communication.

  9. Steve Bridger Says:

    Ron – good question. I’m working on it ;-)

  10. ataridemocrat » Blog Archive » How to Be a Social Media Guru Says:

    [...] Many campaigns and issue groups have recently hired staff bloggers or blog outreach staffers. But what, exactly should these people do, particularly in the ever changing world of social media. Steve Bridger at Not For Profit 2.0 offers some great suggestions that can be transferred with relative ease to the political world. [...]

  11. Shake the Pillars » You’ve been promoted to “Buzz Director” (what, you don’t have one?) Says:

    [...] Some good high-view perspectives:

    Before you get your feet to comfortable beneath your desk, remember that you should maintain a 360-degree joined-up view of your organisation at all times. Work across teams and departments. Your role is to create a buzz around your cause (and secondarily, your not-for-profit ‘brand’). But resist any desire (or pressure) to “own” the cause. Far better to identify the communities where your supporters and activists are already and join in the conversation. After all, whose cause it anyway? Develop social media optimisation across all your online communications. This means working tirelessly with communications, fundraising, campaigns…

  12. nfp 2.0 » Blog Archive » Bertie, Blogs and Breast Cancer Care Says:

    [...] You’ve been promoted to “Buzz Director” (what, you don’t have one?) [...]

  13. Kara C Says:

    its great to hear that other organizations are finding social media to be useful, and i know my organization has had a hard time trying to create a box enticing and with appropriate jargon to really find that person that would enable us to take these great steps and implement them.. do you have any suggestions? is it really a Buzz Director we’re looking for?

  14. Steve Bridger Says:

    Hi Kara – do you mean you’re recruiting and need guidance on how to word the ad??

  15. Hans Mundahl Says:

    Boy this article really recapped my experiences with blogging an event and frustrations with more static web layouts – thanks, I thought I was the only one!

  16. Cassandra Mack Says:

    Hello Steve

    Great article. I host a weekly internet radio show with a large nonprofit listening audience under the Carib News entitled, “The No More Drama Hour of Power” and not only is this information excellent for nonprofits, but for social entreprenuers as well. Thank you for the helpful tips.

  17. links for 2007-08-31 « Working Notes 2.0 Says:

    [...] nfp 2.0 » You’ve been promoted to “Buzz Director” (what, you don’t have one?) Great outline for Community developer/evangelist etc role (tags: roles Web2.0 community collaboration consolidator socialnetworking howto social) [...]

  18. The Buzz Bin Talks to the "Buzz" Director » The Buzz Bin Says:

    [...] Much of my work is with not-for-profits, and in November 2006 I began to work up the concept of a “buzz director” for people inside organizations who champion the use of social media to promote the cause (although [...]