Keeping Up with the “Cutting-Edge”

In Creating a Social Culture, Kanter and Fine talk about how The American Red Cross used social media, specifically Twitter, to engage in two-way communication with the online public. Because platforms like Twitter promote two-way communication, the opinions of bloggers and other individuals can be heard by the company or organization themself. This direct communication allows for the company, organization, or institution to better serve the needs of their consumers or audience. Kanter and Fine define this as, “conversing with the critics.” I think this could be extremely helpful for our cause in South Madison. Although we do know our audience we are not in their heads and do not know exactly what they want. Like we talked about earlier in the semester, we do not want to tell them “this is what you need to do to fix your community” but instead we want to work together to promote bonding and encourage diversity.

I think with the use of the “usual suspects,” Facebook and Twitter, we could ask the online public from South Madison what they would like to see be done in their neighborhood. This interaction could lead to some great ideas and activities that we could execute throughout the semester. I also think it would be good because people will feel as if their opinions are being heard. They will also be more likely to take part in the events if they feel like they had a say in it. The more people feel involved in the community planning and events the more they will share, post, and like our comments, questions, and events on Facebook spreading awareness of our cause and also influencing others in their social networks to get involved as well.

Social Media is constantly changing and new platforms are emerging all the time. This makes it hard to influence your audience because they are spread on so many different sites. Keeping up with the “cutting-edge” technology is important because if you have a targeted audience and good, appropriate content you can post that content on multiple sites simultaneously. Allowing for the platform to constantly be changing while the content, for the most part, stays the same or consistent with the brand image and intention.

I think Ilana’s suggestion of using Instagram to post pictures of food is the perfect way to engage the residents of South Madison through social media. People love food, people love taking pictures of food, and people love sharing photos of food. The good thing about Instagram is that you can share your photos on other sites such as Facebook and Twitter. This allows for those without smart phones to be get involved and see the photos as well. People love sharing photos with their friends and I believe that Instagram is superseding Facebook in that aspect. If we utilize Instagram to it’s full potential we can create a strong following and stay ahead of the social media curve.  

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Usual suspects and cutting-edge for social change

I thoroughly enjoyed the readings for this week, especially Kanter’s Social Media for Social Good. Not only did I find it interesting, but I learned a few things about Twitter and believe it could be an extremely useful tool if we utilize it correctly.

The “usual suspects”: Twitter and Facebook.

Like Kanter mentioned, Twitter can be hard to grasp. Not everyone “gets it” right away. I was one of those people. I felt overwhelmed by the new buttons, lingo, and users flourishing around the site. Fortunately, more and more people seem to be getting acquainted with Twitter and it is becoming increasingly more accessible. Because of Twitter’s history and possible ability to evoke confusion and stress, we need to use it wisely. In Chapter 4, Kanter explained that Twitter rebranded from a social network to a informational network. This immediately stuck out to me. Since I don’t use Twitter as actively as most people, I never really put much thought into the networking aspect of the entity – always associating “social media” with “social network.” But Kanter’s words changed my perspective (to some, this may be obvious).

Use Twitter to provide information.

No matter how extensive the user’s involvement, the information we provide on Twitter can be disseminated among a large audience in an environment where users can glance at the small phrase or read into it further – either way, they the information. It’s a great way to grab attention from a large variety of people and spread news. Kanter also suggests that we establish a Twitter “voice,” that makes us seem real. In our tweets we can also engage users and offer incentives and activities for them to participate in in person or via social media. I think effectively using popular or strategic hashtags will also be beneficial, and may also cause some users to “stumble” upon our site, and maybe even follow. We can provide information about our campaign, events, current events in South Madison, as well as other organizations’ events and news.

After thinking about Twitter as an information channel, it seems that we would utilize Facebook for its potential bonding capacity. Facebook is extremely interactive and connects people through wall-posts, “liking,” attending events, joining groups, etc. There are endless amounts of ways to connect with people and interact through Facebook. We can post more extensive information and stories on Facebook, as well as other types of media. People can also view other users’ activity and can see what their friends and acquaintances are up to. Facebook also provides more of an opportunity for interaction between our campaign and the public – media consumers can comment, ask questions, and feed off each others responses, thus interacting with the social media community and hopefully building a bit of a connection.

On Facebook and Twitter, we can post links to YouTube videos and pictures from our projects. Kanter suggests that these appeal to the emotional needs of the audience and will be more effective if they are psychologically influential. People respond more emotionally to videos and pictures, and I think this can be a very effective way of promoting South Madison and our accomplishments throughout the campaign while we continue to gain a following.

“Cutting-edge”: Instagram and Tumblr?

Like Ilana, I’m a huge fan of Instagram. One of the newer social media applications, Instagram allows users to filter and share photos, while also integrating comments, “likes,” tags and hashtags (like Twitter). A trend that I’ve noticed within my friends and peers at various universities is taking pictures of meals – either homemade or out – and posting them to Instagram with the fancy filters. Using common hashtags related to food, the images spread faster than many other categories. I believe we can use this tool to interact with the community, suggesting they post their own creations or delicious meals to Instagram and tag us – this may be more of a bonding strategy among the community. Users can also post their meals at the various South Madison restaurants, tag their location, and tag various simple words to make their pictures more accessible to a wide variety of consumers. As more pictures are posted and hashtags are utilized, we can gain a following. On our own Instagram account, we can also Tweet and Facebook our pictures, so the campaign is consistent through hashtags and our own media sharing.

Kanter also mentions Tumblr as a secondary blog. Tumblr encompasses many of the same aspects as the aforementioned social media entities. Using hashtags, tags, and word detection, Tumblr accounts are easy to find on Google when searching for all kinds of various things. Tumblr combines pictures with words in a photographic blog where many users can post and interact with each other. Although it has been around for longer than Instagram, it might be another way for us to expand.

Although social media is an awesome way to reach people and publicize our efforts, there is still the issue of access (for Instagram you need a smartphone to post pictures). Maximizing the number of people we reach with our information is an important and huge challenge that always needs to be considered.


Sticking with the Times

As I was reading the articles for this week I couldn’t help but feel a little bit confused, especially while reading the Kanter article. The article was extremely easy to read and follow, but what confused me was what little emphasis organizations used to put on social media. What seems so obvious now clearly wasn’t obvious when social media was first becoming popular. While the American Red Cross originally was scared of opening themselves up to the online community, the organization eventually realized the benefits of interacting with the public in an online setting can bring to an organization.

I think the fact that I was confused about what little emphasis they put on social media even less than 10 years ago is a testament to how quickly things change, especially online. Originally, the biggest places to get your voice heard on the internet were personal blogs. Now, there are so many other outlets available to get your opinions out and share them with the rest of the online community. The two most obvious would be Twitter and Facebook. I think we can use both of these platforms to serve our purpose in South Madison. While I’m not a huge twitter fan myself, I think that Twitter is one of the best ways to catch people’s attention. I think this is mostly because of the short length of the posts and the ability to attach quick links to get people to visit certain sites. Secondly, Facebook has proven over and over to be a useful tool to promote social change. I think the most obvious example of this is the revolution in Egypt. Facebook was the major tool used to start this revolt and it eventually led to a complete revolution in a struggling country. While we may not be trying to start a revolt, getting people to care about our cause through Facebook can help us reach a very large base of people. This is mostly because of the algorithm used on Facebook in that every time you “like” something, “post” about something, or “join” a group, it not only shows up on your profile but on other people’s “news feed” as well. This means that my “likes”, “posts”, and “groups” are shown to a completely different audience than someone else’s. So, with that said, the more people we can get to “like”, “post”, or “join” our Facebook activity, the more eyeballs we will have on our cause. In addition, creating specific hashtag slogans for Savor South Madison and Savor South Madison events can also be beneficial as discussed int he Mansfield article on Twitter. Being consistant with these is key so that other people tweeting about Savor South Madison will know which hashtags to use.

Secondly, in the “cutting-edge” category of social media, I am a big fan of Instagram. While Instagram is primarily for iPhone users, if people connect their Instagram account with their Facebook or Twitter the photos they share on Instagram will also be shared on these other social networking sites. What I like about Instagram is it is like the photographers version of Twitter. Most people post on Instagram in real-time and followers can “like” and comment on the photos. I think this could be a useful tool for Savor South Madison because of our focus on food. A large portion of Instagram users use the app to document remarkable meals and share them with their followers. If we could somehow gain a loyal following on Instagram, we will be able to show pictures of the food we eat at these different South Madison restaurants to an interested audience. You are also able to put a “geo-tag” on photos posted to Instagram. A geotag allows you to name your location and turns it into a clickable link. If a follower clicks the link, it opens a page and shows the user exactly where the restaurant or location is on a map. In addition, Instagram also has similar aspects to twitter in that you can you a hashtag. By clicking one of the hastags on Instagram, it will take you to a page that shows all other images that have been taken and labeled with that hashtag. So, if people start using Instagram and start using hashtags when they eat at specific restaurants, we will begin to build mini photo albums of South Madison food and its restaurants. For example, if I instagrammed a picture of our meal at Melly Mel’s, I could hashtag #mellymels , #macandcheese, #soulfood , #savorsouthmadison, #madison, etc. etc.

Of course, the use of al social media has challenges and drawbacks. I think the main challenge in using any of the social media is the digital divide. While Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and FourSquare may be successful marketing tools for people who have constant access to the internet or a smartphone, those without these resources will be missing out on our information. While access is obviously not something we are able to fix (I don’t think we plan to donate iPhones or lap tops to people in South Madison), finding a way around this digital divide will remain our biggest challenge.


In with the old, in with the new: Social media trends for non-profit marketing

It’s funny that the word(s) “non-profit organizations” has the word “organization” embedded within. In my mind, having a successful non-profit means staying organized. But that seems to be pretty vague, don’t you think? Organization, at least to me, implies staying on top of your tasks, staying updated on client feedback, and just as importantly, staying knowledgeable about the online social media resources that exist solely to aid non-profit organizations in their quest to better their individual communities.

Kanter, Fine and Mansfield are all experts in non-profit organization. They seem well-versed in many of the world’s most popular social media tools including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr. And while I believe these four tools are crucial to getting your non-profit’s message out there, it’s equally important to always strive to learn more, whether that means finding new apps for your social media networks or exploring uncharted social media territory.

Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr have proven to be successful outlets for non-profit organizations, but when you think about the phrase, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks,” you can’t help but feel that maybe these four need to take a backseat for a little while and let the next generation of social media outlets shine.

According to Kanter & Fine (2010), “Whether a nonprofit organization refuses to change or is stuck in transition, however, the reality is that organizations have no choice but to change” (48). Change is vital to a non-profit’s lifespan. If an organization cannot change as quickly and as dramatically as the Internet does on a regular basis, then it is not likely that that organization will last very long. Certainly, there are different levels of change to consider. For instance, there’s the change of going from no online presence to having a Facebook, Twitter or YouTube account. But an equally important change to mull over is the change from Facebook, Twitter, etc., to newer, fresher social networking sites. Organizations can certainly be stuck in their old ways if they are only committed to using Facebook and twitter, which are two of the most popular sites out there. And that makes sense. But if you’re not going to embrace the next generation of social networking, then you might as well have no online presence at all. Mansfield (2011) even says that “although [nonprofit employees] may initially resist the change, they will have to adapt if they are to stay relevant in their careers” (92).

A usual suspect social networking site that wasn’t mentioned in the readings that could prove beneficial to nonprofit organizations such as Savor South Madison is LinkedIn. LinkedIn is indeed a social networking site; however, it puts a major emphasis on networking. LinkedIn is all about making business connections. Networking 101 would say that the more people you’re connected to in the business community, the more likely you are to meet people in an industry of your liking which could subsequently lead to the job of your dreams. Savor South Madison can create a group page on LinkedIn which would allow us to gain connections with individual people within the South Madison community. LinkedIn is a great tool for speaking to people in an online business setting. If we could become connections with individuals from SMPC or other important South Madison organizations, we could potentially make our mission more transparent and available to the people who should really know about us.

Perhaps a lesser known social networking site that could work is FourSquare. While I admittedly am not quite familiar with FourSquare, I know that it allows users to “check-in” wherever they are so that their friends/followers on their fourSquare account can know where they are in case they want to meet up. By using FourSquare often, Savor South Madison can continuously check-in at South Madison restaurants and grocery stores. Obviously, this wouldn’t be relegated to the general Savor South Madison account, but rather each person could create their own account. So instead of having just one check-in, we could have 12. That’s 12 times as much exposure. It may not seem like a lot but over time, it’d add up.

Anyway, it’s just important that social media, regardless if the outlets are newer or older, should be embraced because it’s the way that many non-profit organizations will market themselves now and in the future.

 


Making South Madison into a “Smart Mob”

From what I have seen and experienced in South Madison there are two “social dilemmas” that I believe need to be addressed. The first is the segregation of the communities. Although there is a ton of diversity in the region, the different ethnicities and cultures do not interact with one another. The second is that not everyone has access to technology or the internet, which would greatly inhibits collectivity within the community.

I believe that the people of South Madison do not participate in collective action because their neighborhoods have become segregated to the point that they do not have the opportunity to speak to one another on a daily basis. This was evident at the Celebrate South Madison Festival when I observed families of different ethnicities hesitate to interact with one another and get into an argument over littering. The socio-econononic differences of the residents is also a reason for the lack of communication in the community because in the era of online communication some of the residents cannot join in on the online conversation.

In Smart Mobs: The Power of Many, Reignold talks about how mobile technology and cell phone use has changed the way we communicate with one another. The Fillipinos were able to overthrow their President with a mass text message. The text message read, “GO 2EDSA, WEAR BLCK.” This started a revolution in the Philippines and lead to nonviolent collective action that successfully changed the government. In this period of mobility it is crucial to stay connected and with the use of a cell phone you can communicate with almost anyone. Reignold calls these instances of mobile communication that have lead to nonviolent change, “smart mobs.” These “smart mobs” have lead to more peer-to-peer journalism than ever before and have increased community unity in several ways.

Online social media is important in fostering community but because computer technology is not as prevalent in South Madison, as in other areas of the United States, I believe focusing on mobile technology is what will make a difference. Today, almost everyone has access to a cell phone and with the use of text messages there can be a lot more community discussion. These mobile networks of individuals can help to bridge the gap between the different ethnic neighborhoods of South Madison in a plausible way. For example, there can be town meetings held virtually over mobile devices where everyone can say their piece and their opinions can be heard. Change is only possible when people come together and with the use of mobile technology everyone can take part in the conversation.


Taking Your Community Online

Based on the observations and experiences I have had in South Madison, a prominent example of a “social dilemma” was the Celebrate South Madison festival. From my understanding, the festival has been quite a large event in past years. However, this year the number of restaurant participants and community attendance significantly decreased. One couldn’t help but wonder, why did this happen?

In her book Here Comes Everybody, Shirky cites an observation of Robert Putnam that is quite startling: participation in group activities, the vehicle for creating and sustaining social capital, is on the decline in the United States. What causes this decline varies by region, but it hinders our whole nation and hinders the social capital of places like South Madison.

Perhaps one of the main reasons participation in group activities has declined is because communication became too difficult. The cost of picking up the phone, walking downtown or driving to a gathering outweighed the social capital benefits. Fortunately, new technology is working to lessen the social dilemmas present in South Madison and other communities around the country.

The rise of social media, particularly Facebook and Twitter, gave people a way to engage with their communities without any physical contact. The information available online is unlimited, and people have the ability to filter what they participate in. This forms “groups” of people with similar interests coming together for a similar cause. Taking it one step further, you can find people with similar interests coming together for a similar cause in your immediate surrounding area. There is no need to call anyone or drive anywhere; you can join the conversation right from your couch.

Although people in South Madison may have access to new technology, I believe the society within and surrounding South Madison has hindered the new technology from being truly effective in lessening the social dilemma problems. South Madison is very diverse, which is and advantage and a disadvantage. It is a disadvantage in that the different ethnic groups rarely come together as one community. Organizations within the community do very little to encourage the groups to come together. But perhaps the new technology will be an outlet for people from all different backgrounds to come together without any judgments or pressures. They can break into a new group based on common interests instead of ethnicity. Savor South Madison can aid this grouping by providing the common ground of delish food that is present right in the South Madison community.


The South Madison Social Dilemma

My initial evaluation of the Southside of Madison has revealed one glaring social dilemma: homogenous ethnic groups. While different races have deep cultural belongingness and family ties within the neighborhoods, they are exclusively with those who are just like themselves. This was profoundly evident when we visited Mercado Marimar. The rich Latino culture was poignant, otherworldly and frankly a bit of culture shock in my own city. However, it was a social hub by and for Latinos only. It seems that this same phenomenon is taking place with the African American community at spaces like the Boys and Girls Club and the Urban League, and among the Hmong population in the Bayview neighborhood.

It may be human nature to gravitate towards those who are most similar to us. No one is at fault for creating this ethnic divide in South Madison. However, bringing the entire region together, regardless of race or background could ultimately solve some of the issues and misconceptions that currently plague the community. In fact, that blending of cultures could potentially make the Southside Madison’s most successful, marketable and thriving community in the future.

One of the underlying questions in this prompt is “why do folks in South Madison fall victim to this social dilemma even if they know that changing the status quo may be the best thing for the community?” However, I believe that this question is fundamentally flawed. I believe that the knowledge that cultural blending would help the entire community may not exist on the Southside. In other words, many citizens may believe that building a strong community at ethnically separated organizations like Centro Hispano and the Urban League is the only step necessary for change. When in fact, real change will only take place in a two-step process: bonding, then bridging.

Currently, it appears that leaders of different ethnic groups and organizations are singularly focused on bonding among those of their own kind. Therefore, the need for bridging among those who are different to build a more heterogeneous community is overlooked. As previously mentioned, I believe this is being underplayed and may even be facilitated by those who are attempting to create change in South Madison. So, do I believe that the average resident on the Southside thinks that building relationships with someone of another race will benefit the entire community? No, I don’t. But I still believe that this can be organically combated with the use of social technologies.

The most impactful reading I found regarding my opinion in this post came from Clay Shirky in “Here Comes Everybody”. Shirky notes, “whenever you improve a group’s ability to communicate internally, you change the things it is capable of.” Shirky continues to explain that social tools do not create collective action but they do, however, help remove obstacles. Internal communication is integral to developing collective action in South Madison and eliminating this social dilemma. With the use of our platform and accompanying social channels as well as increased support and involvement at the community level, I believe collective action in South Madison will happen.

I see this willingness to comingle with different groups happening with our help by promoting the inviting and delicious atmosphere that the South Madison food scene has to offer. Regardless of race, no one can deny that entering Melly Mel’s and speaking with it’s owner will put a smile on your face and make you feel at home. No one can deny that smelling fresh pressed tortillas at Mercado Marimar will make a hungry stomach growl and a patron, of any ethnic background, salivate. Food is an excellent way to bring those that are generally predisposed to shy away from one another together.

In the words of Clay Shirky, “revolution happens when society adopts new behaviors.” We can make a revolutionary change in South Madison but bridging different groups through delicious food and an all-inclusive atmosphere that folks may be overlooking right in their backyard.