Discovering new new media and more

Book Reviews

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.

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Before Engl 457 (Electronic Communication) social media was a tool I used every once in a while.  I saw it as a selfish way to get your name and face on the internet.  Every time I logged on to Facebook I saw “Woe is me” status updates.

However, I’ve learned social media has many more intentions.  As I discovered blogging, twitter, wikis, Second Life, Google +, and many others I became more social media savvy.  I saw great ways to connect to others.  particularly my work with Wellspring for the World has been eye-opening.  All nonprofits are a great example of how social media can be utilized for good.  As a consequence, I had the opportunity to use my Facebook page for something meaningful.  Through that inspiration I opened up to other great causes worth promoting and following.

In the future, I will still use social media frequently.  I’d like to extend my Facebook promoting and become more a part of the social media community.  On the other hand, I’ll probably never return to Second Life.  It’s still confusing but mostly I just don’t get it…

My group and I have been working ferociously to finish up our work with Wellspring for the World.  As part of this last stage, we put together a google doc compiling our work.  What we have done was the simple part, but now we have to work in our advice for the future.

As I’ve mentioned before, Wellspring for the World has a very nice and expensive kiosk, as well as artwork, for display in the downtown Fargo library.  When my group first went to see the display we easily passed by it without even knowing.  One of our goals when revamping Wellspring’s social media was to help them use social media as a more effective communication tool.  Our theory was if more people knew about the great display, it would be utilized more.  This, hopefully, would lead to a willing effort to maintain the kiosk and make sures it’s functioning.  

So I took out my camera and snapped some photos:

 

 

 

 

 

It’s a beautiful artpiece as well as useful kiosk.  It should be present on their website as well as Facebook page to let people know there are multiple ways they can help a great organization.

 

Facebook Central

The one social media site I visit daily is Facebook.  It is the one place I know I will be fully updated on everyone’s lives in a matter of minutes.  So it was no-brainer to begin my nonprofit social media overload on that site.  It is through Facebook that I feel I can reach the most people quickly and efficiently. 

I rarely post status updates on Facebook, but this week I have increased my activity quite a bit.  Since it is Earth Week, I tried to post intriguing and relevant blurbs to get people interesting.  Also, I emphasized that Wellspring for the World is a local nonprofit that could use everyone’s help.  After a while I felt like I was more of a pest that actually getting people’s attention.  However, the “like” on Wellspring slowing are starting to climb.  Maybe someone is paying attention.

Also our nonprofit has a great display in the downtown Fargo library.  I wanted to increase interest (if not just awareness) of the valuable information this kiosk has for people.  My main goal is to be omnipresent on social media for a while.  I hope if my updates are variable and educational they will attract more interest.  Has anyone found good attention grabbers?  

I will continue my Facebook overload into the next few weeks hoping to bring more people to the great nonprofit.  While I’m at it, everyone go to Wellspring for the World Facebook and check it out!

Working with a nonprofit (as well as reading extensively about them) has propelled my mind into thinking of ways to get people to donate their money.  Nonprofits survive on donations, so that should be my number one priority.  First, I started thinking that the most important thing is getting people involved in the project.  I should throw some statistics at them, make them feel sympathetic, maybe even make the project relatable to them.  In this way, people would want to give more.  Then, I wanted to make the presentation more elaborate.  There should be videos and pictures showing the need for their money.  I should even emphasize that donations are tax-deductible.  These extra incentives would surely get more donations.  Lastly, I thought the omnipresent approach would be beneficial.  Information, updates, news will be constantly accessible for people to read.  Their Facebook pages will have updates at least three times a day.  In this way, everyone and anyone will know about the nonprofit and want to donate. 

This was before I read chapter 10 in The Networked Nonprofit.  I think this chapter was very beneficial for my plan towards fundraising for nonprofits.  The book suggests creating an atmosphere where people can engage themselves in conversation about the daily challenges of the nonprofit.  The example in the book is a blog.  However, this could easily be a message board or Facebook page.  Getting people to become part of the cause will create a deeper relationship, thus, more donations. 

In addition, the book suggest storytelling and thankfulness as key components to fundraising.  Although a little more difficult, I think storytelling for organizations such as Wellspring for the World would be great.  It would allow donors to put a face and story behind their money.  Also, thankfulness can go a long way.  I admit sometimes just sending thanks can get lost in all the fundraising activities that go along with nonprofits.  It something so simple, yet can mean so much.

I hope to take this tips into fundraising for the Wellspring for the World.

Learning to Manage

Social media is a tool to simplify work and engage in strong networking relationships.  Yet, The Networked Nonprofit included a whole chapter on how we can simplify our social media use.  I found the chapter the most beneficial so far.  Personally, I spend too much time on social media sites already.  I go from Facebook to Twitter to blogging then back to Facebook.  I find myself caught in an endless cycle or updating and replying. 

One of the major problems facing the nonprofit I’ve been working with(Wellspring for the World) is time.  They need the simplest form of social media to manage because they just don’t have the time or people to upkeep the many sites.  A great suggestion from the chapter was to leverage the network.  Social media was created to build relationships, and it would be wrong to not take advantage of them.  “All these organizations and people are right there, in the network, on LinkedIn and Facebook and Twitter, waiting to connect with and support an organization’s efforts.”(94) 

Before reading the chapter, I felt reluctant to suggest more social media sites, such as Twitter, for Wellspring to manage.  Also, they were hesitant about taking on more responsibilities that had the chance of being neglected.  However, after reading this chapter I know we are trying to place them in a better situation.  Twitter and Facebook are valuable because they are widely used and simple to connect to people willing to help.  If people aren’t informed about the organization, they don’t have the opportunity to help.

Lastly, The Networked Nonprofit makes it clear that social media should have its own place in the day.  It shouldn’t be something you log on to and sit at the screen carefully reading every update that appears.  Instead, an hour or so should be set aside in the morning and afternoon to update and check.  In this way, I hope Wellspring will see that managing social media sites doesn’t have to be scary.