Does Your Nonprofit Have A Social Media Work Flow? | Beth’s Blog

Does Your Nonprofit Have A Social Media Work Flow?

Organizational Culture

Image from Steve Heye

Jeremiah Owyang’s post,  ”Social Media Work Flow,” offers a good taxonomy for a social media work flow, triage, or process.     He defines this as “a sequence of connected steps that enables the entire organization to act efficiently with minimal overlapping tasks and resources in order to serve the market in social channels and beyond.”    It is the work flow documented and visualized that answers the question, “What if we get a negative comment? or on a larger scale,  ”What if our organization finds itself in the center of a social media backlash?”   Having a work flow in place before a social media disaster strikes saves time.

It requires more than having a social media policy in place, although that is the first step no doubt.   It  involves discussions and buy-in from stakeholders.  The product is a diagram or a series of diagrams like the one above for a large nonprofit  facilitated by Steve Heye that outlines the steps.

A social work flow is part of the indicators for “Institutional Support” in the Networked Nonprofit Maturity of Practice model I shared on the SSIR blog last week and in my forth coming book, “Measuring the Networked Nonprofit.”   It is definitely part of the step of getting from running to flying, especially for larger organizations.      Having a good social media work flow also depends on another practice area “Listening” and the specific indicator of brand monitoring.    You can see the relationship in the white paper “play book” from Radian 6, a monitoring platform.

So, how exactly do you craft one?   Well, first you need a strategy and have a practice of listening in place.  Then, you might ready for the nitty gritty of putting one together internally or with the help of an outside consultant.

It helps if you can see what the final product might look like.   Owyang’s post points to some terrific examples including a diagram from Socialfish helped facilitate for ASCE and the class diagram from the Airforce

Owyang’s post breaks down the elements in a work flow that should be useful in helping a team write one for an organization.    For example,  you could lead a brainstorming session based on a realistic scenario of potential crisis and then have the team brainstorm and white board each of these elements.

  • Flow control
  • Crisis situations
  • If then scenarios
  • Ascertain situation
  • Tag and flag
  • First response
  • Engage in public/private channel
  • When not to respond
  • Follow up
  • Record and measure

As Alison Fine and I said in my first book, The Networked Nonprofit,  social media is not a spectator sport  -it is a contact sport.   So, having a social media work flow allows your organization to identify, reflect, and be effective at participation.

Does your organization have a social media work flow?  How did you develop it?   What are your tips and best practices?

28 Responses

  1. [...] Jeremiah Owyang's post,  "Social Media Work Flow," offers a good taxonomy for a social media work flow, triage, or process.  [...]

  2. So much for NPOs being slow adopters. Most corporations don’t follow such organized communications protocol and planning.

    Always glad to see offensive social strategies!

  3. The Air Force response flow chart is brilliantly simple, yet comprehensive. What a wonderful addition to the arena of reputation management and social media commenting practice. Thanks for sharing that example, as well as the others.

  4. [...] In a post today on Beth’s Blog, a question is raised regarding the efficiency with which nonprofits address their social media workload. As we learned from last week’s reading, it has become increasingly important for organizations to engage in social media as “networked nonprofits.” Doing so means that organizations must relinquish some traditional control in order to capitalize on the full potential of social media. However, for a nonprofit’s online presence to effectively serve their mission and carry an intended focus, some structure needs to remain in place. The Maturity of Practice Model shows steps through which nonprofits should transition to effective use of social media. [...]

  5. Beth says:

    Hi Debra: I agree, I love the airforce visual flow for responding to comments. I used it a lot in workshops and presentations back in 2009 when I first discovered it – http://www.flickr.com/photos/cambodia4kidsorg/3226367547/ It is amazing to me as a look back over the years and see that good content is timeless content.

  6. Beth says:

    Andrew: Like in the corporate sector, there are early adopters and resisters – I think the Gartner Technology Hype Cycles is consistent in both for-profit and nonprofit secotr – do you?
    http://www.gartner.com/technology/research/methodologies/hype-cycle.jsp

    Also, Nora Barnes has been doing studies of fortune 500 corps – and nonprofits in their tech adoption – http://sncr.org/node/496 Thanks for commenting!

  7. @Beth, I agree with you about the Gartner Technology Hype Cycles: seems consistent in both for-profit and nonprofit sectors.

    @Andrew,one of the reasons I personally think of nonprofits as slow adopters is because they generally don’t have budget or staff to experiment with anything new, combined with overtaxed on time. I suppose small businesses are the same way, but their pressure is to make money and be inventive doing so, while there is no inherent pressure on nonprofits to be inventive or make money when funding is often grant-funded. On the other hand, those orgs “born digital” have invention as part of their DNA, and as more and more nonprofits are born digital, I suspect our overall perception of nonprofits and tech adoption will begin to change.

  8. Dan Michel says:

    Great post. Our social media response flow recently came in handy when our constituents highly disagreed with a recent campaign.

    Two things of advice for anyone adopting:

    - Once you have your first use of the response plan, revisit the plan with your team and use the recent happening as a case study.

    - Cant stress this enough: Post your general policy (particularly deleting comments) in your About Us section — particularly on Facebook.

  9. Beth Kanter says:

    Dan Michel: Is it possible for you to share your social media work flow? I would love to see if you have diagrammed this. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your experience.

    Debra: KD Paine and I had many conversations about whether corporations or nonprofits were slower adopting … on the flip side, having fewer resources makes some nonprofits more creative and agile – and perhaps more willing to adopt. However, this particular practice is geared for the larger, more mature institutions.

  10. @Beth: Agreed. The Gartner graph seems far more applicable than the standard Roger’s Innovation Curve, which feels too macro economics-like for most situations.

    @Debra: Spot on! The argument that non-profits don’t have the time or money is short sided. I agree that it’s something bigger: they don’t have to adapt (with early adapters) to survive. But that’s not a bad thing. If for-profits were as successful at relationship management, they would be able to slow down, too.

  11. [...] "Jeremiah Owyang's post,  "Social Media Work Flow," offers a good taxonomy for a social media work flow, triage, or process."  [...]

  12. [...] "Jeremiah Owyang's post,  "Social Media Work Flow," offers a good taxonomy for a social media work flow, triage, or process."  [...]

  13. [...] Jeremiah Owyang's post,  "Social Media Work Flow," offers a good taxonomy for a social media work flow, triage, or process.  [...]

  14. [...] Workflow” and how can be useful for organizations? Although focused on non-profits, this article of Beth Kanter can be interesting for Social Enterprises and Spin-Outs. You can also read a related [...]

  15. I agree with Debra–that Air Force chart is beautiful! I was struck, reading this, by the parallels to ‘traditional’ media plans (including crisis communications systems) and the need for clear levers for decision-making there, too. They are different media, on different scales, certainly, with some very different goals around engagement, but some of the practices carry over, which should remind us that some of the ‘rules’ about working with media (honesty, rapidity of response, transparency) aren’t really so novel.

  16. [...] Does Your Nonprofit Have A Social Media Work Flow? [Beth’s Blog] 0 Comments [...]

  17. [...] Jeremiah Owyang's post,  "Social Media Work Flow," offers a good taxonomy for a social media work flow, triage, or process.  [...]

  18. Jono Smith says:

    Here’s one wrinkle: what if you have a great workflow, but your leadership decides to override it during a PR crisis? It’s always wise to run live drills complete with a mob of nasty constituents/media to make sure it will work when the shift hits the fan.

  19. Beth says:

    Jono: Thanks for your thoughts here! Having a good work flow is a reflection of an organization’s leadership.

  20. [...] Jeremiah Owyang's post,  "Social Media Work Flow," offers a good taxonomy for a social media work flow, triage, or process.  [...]

  21. [...] Jeremiah Owyang's post,  "Social Media Work Flow," offers a good taxonomy for a social media work flow, triage, or process.  [...]

  22. [...] Jeremiah Owyang's post,  "Social Media Work Flow," offers a good taxonomy for a social media work flow, triage, or process.  [...]

  23. [...] Jeremiah Owyang's post,  "Social Media Work Flow," offers a good taxonomy for a social media work flow, triage, or process.  [...]

  24. [...] Jeremiah Owyang's post,  "Social Media Work Flow," offers a good taxonomy for a social media work flow, triage, or process.  [...]

  25. [...] Does Your Nonprofit Have A Social Media Work Flow? [...]

  26. [...] posts that provided interesting examples for nonprofits using social media. The first – Does Your Nonprofit Have a Social Media Strategy? is a wonderful reminder to approach social media with a plan. Also, your nonprofit might use [...]

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