Our job at the Health Media Initiative within the Open Society Public Health Program is to assist the program’s grantees to communicate strategically in order to be effective agents of change. This means we have to keep up with ongoing developments in the field, including the rapidly changing social media scene. And while we don’t have to be experts in everything ourselves, we need to know where the expertise is, and point our grantees to useful resources.
The amount of information available can of course be overwhelming but there are a few resources I’ve come to rely on more than others. Here are four that I often point grantees to:
Katya’s Nonprofit Marketing Blog is a great first stop. Katya Andresen is the Chief Strategy Officer at Network for Good and a former foreign correspondent for Reuters. I subscribe to receive Katya’s blog by email, and every day I receive a short post containing at least one useful tip. This is often about online media, but much of the advice is relevant for communication in any context. One day’s post might contain four tips for ensuring a great website. Another will outline five ways to use social media for donor engagement. It’s a quick and easy way to get good advice in digestible chunks.
Beth Kanter is probably THE social media guru for nonprofits, and her blog is aptly titled Beth Kanter’s Blog. Recently her posts have been focusing on data and measurement—how nonprofits can keep track of and measure the impact of their social media and online presence. Beth has also developed a great framework for assessing the level of an organization’s social media use. It has four stages—crawl, walk, run, and fly—and is really useful to help nonprofits assess just where they are, and work out how to progress.
For anyone interested in the use of mobile phones and mobile technology for advocacy or development, Mobile Active is an essential resource. They call themselves a “global network of people using mobile technology for social impact,” and their site and mailing list contain a wealth of resources. They recently launched a Mobile Media Toolkit—a wonderful resource for organizations and individuals who want to learn how to create and share media using mobile phones, as well as how to engage their audience. They also provide guidelines for mobile security, which is very important for members of vulnerable groups.
Former Greenpeace campaigner Chris Rose has become something of a guru to many of us within the Public Health Program and his Campaign Strategy newsletter is invaluable. Each one provides insights on results-driven campaigning, through the example of real-life case studies. The most recent looks at a campaign to reform the European Union’s byzantine fishing regulations. He shows how activists are trying to get people to care about this seemingly dry, impenetrable subject, by constructing a fishing hut that will travel around Germany. The hut was inspired by an iconic photo that helped launch German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s political career. It’s a must-read for anyone grappling with how to get people to connect emotionally with an issue that appears technical and remote.