Notes About Mobile, Digital Trends, and Social Media Leadership from Knight Digital Media Center Workshop | Beth's Blog

Notes About Mobile, Digital Trends, and Social Media Leadership from Knight Digital Media Center Workshop

Digital Strategy, Social Media Policy

Last week I was in Chicago to facilitate a session as part of Knight Digital Media Center’s Digital Strategy for Community Foundations and Nonprofits workshop.  The workshop topics included trends in digital media consumption, social media, engagement on mobile devices and a variety of community foundation projects funded by the Knight Community Information Challenge.   I was part of the first-day that featured mobile expert Amy Gahran and Lee Raine,  Director of the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project.  Participants were a mix of CEOs and senior staff.    This blog post is a summary of my notes from the day.

1. Digital Trends

Lee Rainie, Director, Internet & American Life Project, Pew Research Center took us through the impact that the use of online digital tools is having on us personally, professionally, and society.    His presentation was called “Personal, Portable, Participatory, and Pervasive.”    He started off with the story of Chelsea Welch and Alois Bell to illustrate how civic life has changed in the last 5 years.

Alois Bell was a diner at AppleBee’s in St. Louise and Chelsea Welch was on the wait staff.  There were 2o people in the dining party, and AppleBee’s policy is to add the 18% tip automatically to any parties over 6.    The bill was divided up and Alois Bell wrote on her receipt, “I give God 10% why do you get 18%?”    Chelsea took a photo with her Smartphone and posted it on the Reddit, a community aggregation site where content is ranked and rated. Lots of discussion threads that come out of Reddit such as “I can’t believe that someone who is a minister acted this way.” Lots of comments pros and cons. Lots of chatter beyond the Reddit community. Applebee’s fired Chelsea.   In response, there was a campaign to hire her back on Facebook, it garnered mainstream media attention, and was a public relations nightmare for AppleBee’s.   Ultimately, Ms. Bell was on networked TV apologizing.

Lee noted that if you read all the comments, there was tons of discussion about lots of issues around this – from corporate employee practices, privacy, religion, minimum wage policies, spiritual beliefs and practices, vigilantism, corporate social media policies and the list goes on.   Lee used this story to illustrate three digital revolutions that are taking place that are having and will continue to have an impact on personal, professional, and civic life.

#1:  Broadband Internet (Expansion of broadband)
#2:  Mobile Usage
#3:  Social Networking

He described two types of  online behaviors – content creators and curators.   He said that photo sharing is really social grooming.   It is expected if you are unders a certain age – you have to take a picture of every meal you eat, cloud you see, etc.

He reminded us that April 3rd was the 40th anniversary of the first mobile phone and today the mobile audience in the US is 89% of adults and 51% smartphones and 31% tablets.  Outside of the US, several countries have more mobile subscriptions than number of people.    He told the group, “You can’t put off mobile if  more than 20% of your traffic is coming from mobile sources.”  He went into details about how people consume or share content via mobile phones vs tablets.  Tablets are more like reading a book or watch TV. Mobile is carried around and dependent on having the information in the moment. tablets are a three course meal, vs mobile is snacking.  He also talked about consumption trends and changes, particularly a rise of mobile traffic at bedtime when people check tomorrow’s news at night.  Trying to get a head.

He went through some recent trends with social networking use.   One thing he pointed out that older generations absolutely love social networks because it allows them to connect with people from their past.  There has not been a way to do this easily before social networks.   He also mentioned that older people are connecting on sites related to health care issues, especially the caregiver communities.   They are making connections with “strangers” but sharing intimate details about their lives.

He gave numerous examples of how pervasive access to the Internet has changed families, the nature of work and society.  He mentioned that the next big piece of research that Pew will be studying is just this impact and to look for it in early 2014 – what comes from networked people, networked information, and networked society.  (If you want to get a preview, check out this presentation from Lee Raine that examines  being “hyperconnected” or “over connected” to the web, mobile technologies and social media.   It is the same title of Raine’s recent book.   More here.  Also, Randi Zuckerberg is working on a book on the impact of  “networked people” called “Dot Complicated“)

He talked about the trend of :”Networked Individualism” that while networks – having both loose and strong ties can give you what you need – information, financial resources, and support – in a networked world you have to work harder than in a “tight knit world.”      The world has changed in the midst of the digital revolution.  He went through the definitions of strong vs weak ties and that there is a new audience layer – people who follow you but may not have met you.   He called them “Consequential Strangers,” and they can help you out. More weak ties and distant ties you have the better off you are, but your strong ties are a lot like you. Weak ties bring in new thinking, ideas, and resources.  The more you diversify your network the better off you are. If you have a diverse network, you have a lot going on for you.

He said success is about building your network, and that is both on an institutional level as well as personal network building.    He also noted that the future belongs to people who are good searchers and can synthesize information quickly.

2. Mobile

Mobile expert Amy Gahran gave an amazing presentation on mobile strategies and tools for community engagement.     Her key points:

  • Get started now or your audience will not grow and it will just be “older folks.”
  • Survey your audience 5-6 months about mobile usage (yes it changes that fast!) Sample survey.
  • Adopt a mobile mindset and do everything on your mobile phone for a week, no matter how painful it is.
  • Shared some insights based on research on moble consumption of social networks and time/type of usage
  • Start with a mobile web site and mobile readable emails
  • Mobile should be able engagement, not just broadcasting
  • Think about how mobile can solve a community need, find an existing data set, and deliver that information in an app.
  • If you share links via social media, make sure the links are mobile friendly given the stats on how people are consuming social networks info on their mobiles

One exercise she had us do was to swamp our phones with the person next to us and asked us how we felt to demonstrate the emotional connection we have with our mobile phones.

I traded my phone with Roberta King from the Grand Rapids Foundation.  Who shared this “schwag” with the organization’s logo that is a micro fiber phone cleaner that you can attached to your phone case and how many people in the community were using it and raising awareness of the Foundation.

Amy shared an awesome list of mobile resources.

3.   Digital Leadership

My session was about leadership and digital strategies.  I covered these topics:

Instructional Design Notes

I’ve been paying attention to “Feng Shui” of training or the physical layout of the room.  I facilitated a session in the afternoon which was designed for peer interaction given the topic.  The morning session was informational and information packed – and the room was in a u-shape.    I noticed that the tables in the conference room at the Chicago Community Trust where we had the workshop has wheels on the bottom, so for the afternoon I rearranged the furniture during lunch into a circle to encourage more peer interaction and the ability to split into small groups more easily.


I did a second, informal session taking a deeper dive into the topics we covered as well as measurement since all participants received a copy of “Measuring the Networked Nonprofit.”   I love these interactive sessions because the questions always give me great ideas for blog posts – so stay tuned.  Also,  it gave me an opportunity to test a recipe for facilitating these types of sessions – more about that to come in a trainer’s note book post.

Well, there you have it – I always enjoy facilitating at training as part of workshop with other trainers and subject matter experts because I get to learn too!  And, if I get to learn, I share it here so you get to learn too!









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