New New Media by Paul Levinson and The Networked Nonprofit by Beth Kanter and Allison H. Fine are the two books I read this semester for English 457 or Electronic Communication. The two readings focused on social media in a variety of ways. New New Media presented a more overview of different social media sites. Whereas The Networked Nonprofit was a “how to” guide on using social media to promote and advance an organization. I found both of the books beneficial in their own ways. However, I would have to say The Networked Nonprofit offered the best information for my success in English 457 and beyond the course.
New New Media by: Paul Levinson (2009)
New New Media is a thorough introduction to an abundance of social media networks. Published in 2009, New New Media was written at a time of growth and expansion in social media. This is exemplified by the variety that is included in the readings. The book is set up into organized chapters that discuss sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Wikipedia, YouTube, and even Second Life. Levinson closes the book with two important chapters on “The Dark Side of New New Media” and “New New Media and the Election of 2008”. By incorporating these two chapters into New New Media, Levinson has expanded his work into not only a simple overview on new media but a discussion on the impact it is having on our everyday lives.
What I learned:
The first impact the book had on me was the introduction of the term “new new media”. Before Levinson’s book, I had never heard the term before and didn’t think much of it when I read it for the first time. Levinson describes new new media as “the advent and impact of media newer than ‘new’ media”(1). Particularly, it is the media available on the internet that is newer than email and web sites. Although a little awkward to say, new new media fits perfectly with the content discussed in the book. In addition, sites that are termed new new media seem to feed off of forms of new media. For example, blogging, a popular form of new new media, often incorporates reviews and discussions on TV shows and movies, forms of new media. YouTube sensations or viral videos often cross over from the internet to bigger gigs on TV and movies. New new media is directly connected to new media in many ways. Before even closing the first chapter of Levinson’s book, I was already contemplating how social media was perceived and used. I thought it was very appropriate to name the book New New Media.
English 457 introduced me to blogging, and New New Media provided great insight on getting started. Never before have I managed a blog. However, it became more comfortable after each week. To aid me, Levinson provided some good tips. The readings state, “images and videos also can be placed on blogs just to make the blogs more interesting, colorful, and spiffy”(35). This was one advice I really tired to experiment with on my personal blog. I was pleasantly surprised when my first attempt on my post “The Internet for Dummies” was successful. After that, I was in constant search for good eye-catching pictures of videos. One week I even tried to entice the class with a music video on our class blog. Along with good blogging tips, Levinson’s book gave me a chance to think about the impact of blogging and how it has progressed. New New Media notes that people have different motives for managing blogs. Some of those motives may be to influence “something real in the world, in politics or science or whatever area”(46). This information really made me aware of the impact words have on the internet, and the fact that anyone can read them. While participating in English 457, I was in the mindset that only my classmates and Dr. Brooks would be reading my post (which mostly was true). However, since it is on the internet anyone can read and comment. It changed the way I went about blogging.
Before reading New New Media I wasn’t familiar with Digg or Second Life. After experimenting with the sites during the semester, I know I probably won’t be back. Digg was a little to “busy” for me, and I never felt comfortable with Second Life. But Levinson did provide good introductions to the websites. He provided history as well as what makes the two sites appealing to users. I think New New Media was very good at describing each social media site and the benefits to each. Levinson even offered his own personal history with Second Life which was interesting and helpful for me to understand the workings and allure of the site.
Finally, Levinson’s book introduced me to the dark side of social media. Cyberstalking, cyberbullying, trolling, and terrosim on Twitter: These were all new concepts to me and the social media world a few years ago. Levinson starts his “The Dark Side of New New Media” chapter with “the question of whether some technologies are inherently good and bad in their use and impact on people”(168). I never thought of social media as a bad thing. For the most part, it was a way to connect with others through the internet. However, I learned many issues come from social media use as well. Trolling, which “is intended to evoke an angry reaction, not to promote dialogue”(171) seems to be the very opposite of my definition of social media. All in all, the chapter was very thought provoking and essential in tying the book together.
Recommendation for New New Media
Although New New Media was very helpful for an introduction to social media, I did find it slightly outdated. I barely skimmed the chapter on Myspace. Also, through our own chapters we wrote for class, I realized there are numerous other forms of social media all around the internet. It would be inconceivable for Levinson to mention everyone in New New Media, but I think a New New Media 2.0 is due to be written. Other than that small criticism, I found the book easy to read and gained countless information from its pages.
The Networked Nonprofit by Beth Kanter & Allison H. Fine (2010)
Published in 2010, The Networked Nonprofit provides helpful tips and strategies for nonprofit organizations launching social media fundraising campaigns. Authors Beth Kanter and Allison H. Fine begin by acknowledging that “the foundation (of social media) is devoted to building meaningful relationships with supporters that go far beyond asking for donations”(1). They spend the rest of the book building around this foundation. The Networked Nonprofit provides new concepts such as building trust through transparency and creating a social culture. Along with the relatable and engaging writing, the book provides an easy to use glossary. With new terms arising from the internet every day, the authors made it simple to break the communication gap. Kanter and Fine has written a valuable and simple book that would benefit any nonprofit.
What I learned:
Success with social media comes from interacting and using multiple tools. The Networked Nonprofit states, “Networked Nonprofits do not use just one tool. They use many tools to engage in different kinds of conversations with different groups of people”(6). Realizing the importance of utilizing many types of social media was essential in organizing a workable plan for any nonprofit. When my group began work with Wellspring for the World, I constantly was reminded of the time commitment some social media sites required. The Networked Nonprofit not only emphasizes using multiple tools but using them within a practical schedule. The book suggests an hour a day set aside to work with social media. I thought this was very reasonable and passed it along to Wellspring for the World when we met with them for our last meeting.
“The Ladder of Engagement” was also a new concept that I learned from The Networked Nonprofit. Supporters were categorized into five groups: Happy bystanders, Spreaders, Donors, Evangelists, and Instigators. The readings state, “organizations must be intentional about building strong relationships with their supporters and helping them step up the ladder of engagement”(68). Recruiting was only part of social media for nonprofits. They must be committed to recruiting people who will work up the ladder and become instigators instead of happy bystanders.
Transparency was a concept I used the most from The Networked Nonprofit. It simply is the idea of sharing and being open with everyone who contributes to a nonprofit. In the book, it reiterates that “people are proud of their donations and would happily see them acknowledged”(82). This could be as simple as letting donors know 100% of their donations go to the charity. I already say this happening when I visited charity:water’s website. They proudly declared 100% of contributions went to building water projects. I really found the transparency concept helpful when creating a plan for Wellspring for the World.
Lastly, “free agents” and leveraging the network were helpful notes I took from The Networked Nonprofit. It is unconceivable to accomplish all the work social media requires without some help. Leveraging the network or organizing “what constitutes the core of an organization’s efforts”(93) and splitting up the rest of the tasks, was beneficial in our ultimate strategic plan with Wellspring for the World. Leveraging the network was the ultimate managing of the nonprofit and then pinpointing what was the most vital. In the end, this concept allowed us to put out a more effective plan for the nonprofit.
Recommendation for The Networked Nonprofit
The Networked Nonprofit held countless valuable information. I found myself consulting the book many times when working with our nonprofit organization. In addition, the concepts were easy to understand and apply to our strategic plan. I believe the book would benefit anyone launching a social media plan for a nonprofit organization. Furthermore, I think it’s a good read for anyone working on promoting fundraisers through social media.