Winning the Internet

Strategic thinking for beginners

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

Why?Think about the last time you posted something on Facebook for your organization or cause. Did that post get you any closer to achieving your organization’s goals?

If you’re having trouble answering that question, this post is for you!

Most of us find ourselves struggling to “feed the beast” that is Facebook (or Twitter or a blog, or any other social media tool for that matter). We know we’re supposed to post regularly, so when a teammate sends something our way, or our cause is mentioned in the news, we diligently head to Facebook and share the tidbit with our followers, even if we’re not completely sure why we’re doing it.

It turns out the why is really important! When you take a moment and think about why you’re doing something before acting, you’re able to evaluate the action and make a conscious decision about whether or not to take it. This is significant because actions that aren’t backed up by a solid why at best waste your time, and at worst can actually do some damage.

For example, you could actually damage your relationship with your supporters by posting something super boring to your organization’s Facebook page.

This is a great opportunity to switch off autopilot and to start working more strategically. Here’s an exercise that I’ve had success with:

Asking why: An exercise

Grab a piece of paper and keep it by your desk for the next week or two. Every time you post something to social media (for your organization or cause), jot down what you posted and why you posted it. When you’re writing down the why, be sure to consider who your followers are, why you think they’ll care about what you shared, and how it relates to your organization’s goals.

This simple exercise can be very powerful. After a week or two, reflect on what you’ve done. Did you post every thing that came to you, or did you start to be more discerning about what was acceptable? Did other questions arise? Did you find that you wanted more clarity around goals, etc.?

This exercise works well with social media, but can really be adapted to just about anything. I’ve also done this with new projects (mandating that everyone stop and think about why they’re doing it before starting something new). It helps you focus on what’s important and is a great first step towards working more strategically.

Image by Sigurd Decroos.


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.