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How to Align Your Tech for Social Media Success

posted Mar 19, 2012, 11:59 PM by Unknown user

How to Align Your Tech for Social Media Success

By Amro Radwan on 8 December 2011 - 10:03am

I recently spoke at the Social Media for Nonprofits Conference (#SM4NP) in San Francisco on the topic of tech infrastructure as an overlooked element of social media success. During the session with Executive Directors, we asked for their burning questions but were unable to answer them all.

Here's one of those questions that I'd like to address...

How can we be most efficient with social media given everything else we need to do?

Based on our work with nonprofits of all sizes, I believe a lack of infrastructure efficiency will pose a very real challenge to your social media efforts. Let me give an illustration.

We recently assessed 5 leading social justice organizations in San Francisco, looking at their social media usage as well as their technology infrastructure. We designed the assessment to gauge their ability to perform 4 types of social media activities - Collaboration, Communication, Monitoring, MultiMedia - in ways that were “Effective, Efficient and Secure.” (see chart below)

In this instance, hardware issues - such as old computers - are an example of a technology infrastructure challenge that have negatively affected the organizations' social media efficiency. Most all of the challenges we identified can be addressed through some form of Technology Planning and Capacity Building.

1) First step: Get clarity about your current capacity and gaps via a technology assessment.

One of my favorite ways to do this is with the Tech Capability and Maturity Assessment by Steve Heye from the YMCA of Chicago. (click the "download" link at the top of the Slideshare tool bar)

Another great resource is the Technology Assessment Guide by the Progressive Technology Project. This guide focuses on the work you are doing today and how technology is being used. It takes stock of your organization's programmatic and technical status.

2) Next step: Create a viable technology plan that aligns your tech/IT with your mission.

Also from Progressive Technology Project, the Technology Planning Guide, builds on the assessment. This planning focuses on programmatic goals and answers training, cost, and technical assistance questions for your organization.

3) The holy grail: Getting funding for staffing and gear to make the most of all this planning!

Once nonprofits have done all this crucial prep work, there's often the need for additional resources to implement the tech plan and build tech capacity - resources for consultant support, additional staffing, and/or gear purchases. This is a tough nut to crack and the subject of a future blog post...

That said, we've seen lots of organizations succeed in securing exactly this type of support from their exisitng funders by presenting them with a detailed assessment and plan, as described above. They are already committed to your success and your programmatic goals, so they're the best leads for this type of support.

Look for "How to fund your tech" in 2012. In the meantime, what resources do you suggest for nonprofits in the areas of:

(a) Technology planning for social media and programmatic success

(b) Technology-related funding and donations

Tweet your ideas out: Please include link and tags #nptech, @zerodivideorg.


Amro Radwan is the Director of Technology at ZeroDivide. Find him on Twitter @amromradwan.

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