daily dish

andrewsullivanI blogged this practical but fresh perspective from Andrew Sullivan’s keynote talk at NTC (NTEN‘s annual conference). Sullivan, top blogger at The Atlantic‘s Daily Dish, shared his take on the potential value of blogging (and other online channels) for orgs and what it takes to realize that value to strengthen relationships.

Author, provocateur and early (since 2000) blogger Sullivan covered what’s different about online communications and community, and what that means for your nonprofit:

  • Blogging (and other online content and conversations, I’d say) is about relationships, not content.
  • Online readers, even when alone, are not really alone. Immediately, without waiting for the news or the paper, they enter in a relationship with the writer.
    • Readers interact w/content in a personal setting–at their computers, which are personal–where they do their work, keep photos, etc–so you are speaking directly to each one in a way you can’t via print, even if they don’t participate actively in online conversation.
    • So online reading and conversation becomes more part of your audience’s lives. It’s a great opportunity.
  • But, for that to work, online content has to be ever-changing.  If it’s not (like a static brochure site, as so many orgs have), it’ll fail to engage your network. And likely to alienate them.
    • When you have this relationship with your network, you already have their permission. So your organization can move quickly to introduce them to a campaign.
    • The speed is critical since our focus shifts very quickly.

Online communications is unequaled for relationship building, but is reinforced through direct mail, phone outreach and in-person gatherings.

But your organization’s online communications success may not come easily. Here are some of the common challenges cited by Sullivan:

  • The lack of control inherent in social media (such as enabling readers to comment on your blog, which I suggest you do) is terrifying, especially for those with something to hide. That’s everyone, and every  organization.
  • As a blogger or site producer, your role changes from expert to conduit of thought for your network.  Most organizations fear this shift, thinking it signals a decrease in their significance.
  • A personal face and voice (or a few of them) for your organization online is a must. You don’t develop a relationship with an institution, you do so with an individual.

What do you have to add to the list of benefits, or deterrents? Please comment below.

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Photo: Flickr Lydia Mann

Nancy Schwartz on April 13, 2010 in Blogging for Nonprofits | 7 comments
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