Leveraging Social Media For Social Change
In this interview, I talk with David Wells (Founder – SocializeYourCause.org) about how he uses social media to expand his own personal network and how his company helps non-profit agencies leverage the power of social media to influence social change. David discusses the keys to success when engaging with social media and why it is critical to produce quality content that will engage your viewers to share your content.
Meet David Wells
David is currently the Founder of SocializeYourCause.org which is a website that is focused on helping non-profits navigate their way through the social media world. He also promotes a Social Media Marketing Platform called Converse that allows users to easily manage their social media activity through scheduling and social account management.
Social Media Interview
1. How do you manage all of your social media accounts, both from a personal perspective and a business perspective?
I don’t believe the should be completely separate. If you have social accounts for your business, but there is no personality there, people are not going to want to follow you. Social media is not for businesses to advertise. Some of the most successful companies on social media encourage their employees to put their own personal flair into their business accounts which drives engagement.
2. Which social accounts do you use the most for both your personal and business brands?
The main focus for SocializeYourCause.org is Facebook and Twitter. Linkedin is something we are moving more towards, but it takes more time to scan through all the information and engage in the relevant groups.
One of the great things about Facebook is that you can add multimedia into your account. For example, we include pictures from the “Cause of the Week“, we post tutorial videos and pull in our blog RSS. One thing that has really worked for us is posting everything on our Facebook Fan Page as a question. That way, we encourage feedback and participation.
With Twitter, we use it to spread the word about all the great organizations we are helping. We have found it to be a great tool to connect with influencers in our space. It has been very powerful to spread our content and engage with these influencers. I tend to use my personal account to engage on behalf of SocialYourCause.org because it puts a face behind the brand.
3. Are there any tools that you use to help manage your social media accounts?
For RSS I use Google Reader to put all of my blog RSS feeds into organized folders. This way, I can quickly scan through and grab content that is relevant to my audience and give me ideas for posts.
For managing all of my social media accounts, I use our tool: Converse. All my Twitter accounts, Facebook Fan Pages, Linkedin accounts and Google Buzz. There is a long list of platforms that we support. You can easily send out messages through our system and schedule them out for later so you don’t have to be everywhere at all times. It is important to post your content on different platforms at peak times. Otherwise, it’s kind of like shouting out into the darkness.
4. Are there any traditional or non-traditional resources that you use to keep up with social media trends?
When I’m on the go, I like to listen to podcasts. There are a couple in particular that I want to highlight. One of them is Six Pixels of Separation by Mitch Joel. Every time I listen to his podcast, I learn something new and I have something to do! He does a series of weekly guest interviews which is a great way to generate content. he also does a series called Media Hacks where he has Chris Brogan, Chris Penn, Julien Smith and other top marketing people. It is somewhat unedited and raw that is funny and I learn a lot from that. Another podcast that I like is Marketing Over Coffee. They do a weekly podcast where they talk about new emerging marketing trends and social media.
For blogs, the Six Pixels of Separation blog is really good. He takes a Seth Godin approach where he writes a new post every day that is short and sweet, but really conceptual. Copyblogger is another resources I really like that talks about how to write better by getting people more engaged with different headlines, etc.
TED.com is another great resource for videos that has presentations from industry leaders on a wide variety of topics including social media. It is very inspiring. Another one that is similar is called Fora.tv
To keep up with web trends, I go to MakeUseOf.com, they cover a lot of new web applications that you may be able to use for your business or organization to make your life easier. And, finally, DemoGirl.com. She does video demonstrations of new Web 2.0 apps. One of my biggest things is that I like to find ways to do things the smartest, most efficient way and there are plenty of tools out there that allow you to do this. So, I like to keep up on new trends.
Trevor: Speaking of which, that is how I came across you and your website is through an interview you did with David Siteman Garland (TheRiseToTheTop.com) which I would say is another recommended blog for anyone looking to do things Smarter, Faster, Cheaper. David: Absolutely, I love his tagline “If you want fluff, you know what to do….go pet a bunny”
5. Most people that I interview have some type of story that they can say is their “Social Media WOW moment”. Do you have a story like this?
Yes, probably my first wow moment…..I joined Twitter back in late 2007 before it was the biggest thing ever and everyone needs to be on it. I didn’t understand it at first, as most people don’t as there is a learning curve to it to use it effectively. My WOW moment was when I made the realization that Twitter is not about “What you had for lunch”.
I read a book that was published back in 2007 (which might be somewhat outdated now). It is called DigiMarketing by Kent Wertime. He spoke to a bunch of us over at Ogilvy and gave us his book. It was a great book, I enjoyed reading it….and after I finished it I sent him a tweet that said “I really liked your book, great job”. And, he almost immediately responded to me. I was shocked to find that he was actually listening and responded to me. It was a moment when I realized that I can connect with people that I originally thought were out of reach before, but now they are 140 characters away.
6. What kind of advice would you give to other individuals, business owners or, in your case, non-profits on how they should approach starting out in social media?
First things first, I always recommend listening first. You have to feel around to understand where your prospective audience is. So, go to search.twitter.com and start searching for keywords that relate to your organization, business or products. Go to Linkedin and search for groups that are related to your industry. Go to Facebook and do the same thing.
Google Blog Search is a great tool to use as well. Find the top ranking blogs in your industry as these are the influential blogs and they are doing something right so you can learn from what they are doing. You might also want to reach out to those blogs and start guest blogging for them because starting a blog from scratch is sometimes a really daunting challenge especially if there is already an established leader in your industry. One of the best things you can do is guest blog because it will instantly give you credibility because starting from scratch and marketing on your own can be frustrating.
After you listen, start engaging and connecting with people. One of the great things for us at SocializeYourCause.org was connecting with @NonProfitOrgs on Twitter. They only follow non-profit organizations which gave us a huge list of 20,000 Twitter users that are non-profit accounts that we could reach out to, follow and keep tabs on.
Another thing that I would say is “Figure out the why before the how”. For example, why are you going to use Twitter? Why are you going to be on Linkedin? Why are you starting a Facebook Fan Page? A lot of people when they talk about social media they only talk about Linkedin, Twitter and Facebook. I am here to tell you that there are many micro communities that are really focused around your niche.
Forums where the first form of social media and everyone forgets about forums. People don’t think about these because it’s not as sexy as Linkedin, Twitter and Facebook but it’s still a pretty vibrant community and you can get a lot of traction if you engage in a meaningful way by adding to the conversation.
Connect with David
Current Occupation: Founder - SocializeYourCause.org
Skype Name: DavidGregoryWells
Personal Website/Blog: http://davidgregorywells.com
Business Website/Blog: http://socializeyourcause.org
Facebook (Personal): http://facebook.com/DavidGWells
Facebook (Fan Page): http://facebook.com/SocializeYourCause
Twitter (Personal): http://twitter.com/DavidWells
Twitter (Business): http://twitter.com/YouCanHelp
YouTube (Personal): http://youtube.com/user/DavidGWells