It’s not a surprise to any of us that social media is changing the way our organizations work, not just communicate. The lessons in social media are especially important for organizations working with the public, whether it’s public service or opinion. The Hatcher Group, a Maryland-based public affairs and communications firm, released a great report this past Fall called New Media & Social Change: How Nonprofits are Using Web-based Technologies to Reach Their Goals (PDF). Despite the generic title, this is a report chock full of examples, best practices and data about the effects of joining the conversation online.
The 30 participating organizations in the report are members of the State Fiscal Analysis Initiative, a group of independent, nonprofits with a shared commitment to responsible budget and tax policies. As such, it’s easy to identify some of the goals these organizations have for using social media, including: engaging with and even influencing the general [voting] public, influencing news, engaging with and influencing politicians and legislation, and sharing data, information or viewpoints. Social media is a prominent social gathering place where these goals can definitely be met. Joining the conversation is incredibly important if these organizations expect to change policy and change minds.