Winning the Internet

We’re Not Upworthy: Social Media for Organizations With No Money, Time or Resources

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

Hilary Woodward

Hilary Woodward

Beth Becker

Beth Becker

As we get ready for Netroots Nation 2015, we’re taking a closer look at some of the convention’s most exciting training sessions. We’re interviewing the trainers and taking you inside some of online activism’s most popular and elusive topics.

Today we’re interviewing Hilary Woodward of Jobs With Justice and Beth Becker, who’ll be leading We’re Not Upworthy: Social Media for Organizations With No Money, Time or Resources.

NN15 Training Session

We’re Not Upworthy: Social Media for Organizations With No Money, Time or Resources
Social media can be a fickle and frustrating beast, especially for organizations that don’t have a lot (or any) money, staff or time to put into mastering its constantly changing best practices. And yet, when it works, it can be one of the most cost-effective ways for small organizations to reach new audiences and expand their base. We’ll teach you how to optimize the time you spend on your organization’s Facebook page and Twitter account so your reach is growing and your content is designed to get in front of as many of your followers as possible.


Q: Tell us about yourselves and your social media experience.

Beth: I’ve been working in the digital political space for almost six years now where I focus on helping nonprofits, advocacy groups, unions, electoral campaigns and elected officials get the most out of their social media efforts while respecting their capacity and resources. My favorite part of what I do is training, and I’m lucky enough to do a lot of it including sessions at Netroots Nation, two-day intensive social media trainings for New Organizing Institute and for a variety of clients and conferences throughout the year.

Hilary: I work at Jobs With Justice, a nonprofit dedicated to fighting for workers’ rights and economic justice. I’ve also worked in print and digital communications in D.C. at organizations of every size over the last 13 years. While my current job covers a lot of ground, I manage our digital work, and social media in particular, where we’re trying to reach those who don’t understand the role bargaining plays in ending inequality. We’ve had a lot of success in building our Facebook page just through posting engaging content (instead of buying ads).


Q: In your opinion, what is the most common mistake folks make when using social media for a nonprofit or cause?

Beth: I think the most common mistake cause/nonprofits make in social media is not to step back first and create a strategic plan that integrates with the organization’s larger strategy as a whole. They don’t know or forget that social media doesn’t exist in a vacuum. All other mistakes I see can easily be traced back to this initial mistake.

Hilary: Beth’s definitely right! And in addition to not defining their goals, I see a lot of organizations assuming that just posting on Twitter or Facebook is enough to reach their target audiences, an “if you build it, they will come” mentality. But the space is too crowded for that to work. You have to optimize your content to both reach what your audience wants to read AND to meet your organizational goals. Happily, it’s not that hard to do that. But you can’t just throw up links and expect to get results.


Q: What are the two most important things to keep in mind when using Facebook and Twitter?

Beth: I think the most important thing to keep in mind when using Facebook and Twitter is to know why you are using them in the first place. If you don’t have a specific goal in mind, it shows in a chaotic approach to content that easily turn off your community. The second most important thing is to remember that the metrics are important, but they need to be the right metrics and it’s not enough to just look at the metrics, you have to learn from them.

Hilary: I think it’s important to know that while there are best practices for both platforms, they a) will keep changing and b) won’t work equally well for each organization, because we’re not all trying to do the same thing. If your goal is to find activists to join you at protests, then you need to post different content from a group trying to get the media to cover their issues. So it’s really helpful to keep your eyes open and stay connected to the platforms. That means keeping up with news about changes, looking at what’s performing well for other groups and most significantly what’s happening when you post to your organization’s Facebook and Twitter accounts. Just pay attention to what’s working and what’s not. It doesn’t take a ton of data or even a lot of time to suss out the “rules” that will work for your organization on social media.


Q: Why should folks attend your session at Netroots Nation, and how can they connect with you?

Beth: Folks should attend our session if they are struggling to manage a social media presence while also doing other job requirements like traditional comms or field, etc. We recognize that social media is probably only a percentage of people’s daily tasks and hope to offer tips and best practices to get the most out of social media while respecting the time and capacity you have to devote to it. Folks can reach me via Twitter @Spedwybabs or on my Facebook page, Becker Digital Strategies.

Hilary: People should come to our session because we get it. Social media can be really annoying, especially when it isn’t your only job. And I know how frustrating it is to be told you can win all of your campaigns online and build a big audience, but first you need to have a huge ad budget, two new staffers and all of the time in the world. Instead, we’ll make sure that you leave our training with resources for executing good social media work and a plan to make it happen. And totally reach out!  I’m on Twitter at @hcwoodward or email: hilary(at)jwj(dot)org.


To attend this training, or one of the 39 others at Netroots Nation 2015 in Phoenix, register now.

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.

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