Winning the Internet

Change is possible—with the support of your organization

After a great run, the Winning the Internet blog has been retired. However, you can still keep in touch with New Media Mentors here.

holding handsI’ve been relaying lessons from the first year of New Media Mentors all week. Monday’s post was about approaching new social media tools strategically. Yesterday’s was about hard work. Today’s lesson gets at the heart of what it takes to really change the culture of an organization.

Change is possible, but the support of the organization is key.

One of the things we look for when choosing mentees for the New Media Mentors program is a strong desire for change. The organizations that work with us are already using new media tools, but want to take their work to the next level and really integrate new media into their organizations. We quickly learned that this only works when there is support from the rest of the organization.

Even the most motivated online organizers struggle without the support of management. It’s up to management to make sure that organizers are empowered to make decisions about new media without running everything by a committee, and have the leeway to test new ideas.

If new media is truly a priority, it’s up to the organization’s leaders to make sure resources are allocated properly—this means investing in tools when appropriate and not overwhelming your online organizers with development or programmatic work. While you may be able to post something to Twitter in a matter of seconds, developing a successful Twitter program requires time.

Similarly, it’s critical that the new media staff is onboard with taking things up a notch. Staff members that begrudgingly sit through trainings don’t build stellar programs. I’ve worked with all types of personalities and the organizers that are the most successful tend to be enthusiastic and motivated. They are proactive go-getters that are willing to take the initiative to figure out how to do something when they have a bright idea.

Beyond leadership and the online communications team, it’s definitely helpful to get the rest of the staff onboard too, though it’s not an absolute requirement. Launching a large-scale campaign is much easier when your co-workers are excited and promoting it through their own social media channels, rather than grumbling behind your back about how new media’s sucking up too much time and resources.

If new media isn’t yet an integrated part of your organization, there’s hope! Spend some time thinking about the staff. Who isn’t onboard that needs to be? If folks have concerns, find out what they are. Then, develop a plan to change their minds. Your approach will need to vary depending on the individuals’ personalities and concerns, but think about leveraging statistics, benchmarks, case studies, and recommendations from experts.

Photo by Sanja Gjenero.


About Melissa Foley

Melissa is the Director of Training and Mentoring for Netroots Foundation and New Media Mentors. She aims to use her MBA + nonprofit background to teach organizations to use new media tools strategically.