This class has taught me so much about digital writing and electronic communication in general. I was very misinformed about short form writing and blog writing before learning about both in depth, mostly from the few books that were assigned for this class: Content Strategy for the Web by Kristina Halvorson and Melissa Rach as well as Social Media for Social Good by Heather Mansfield and The Networked Nonprofit by Beth Kanther and Allison H. Fine. These books not only taught me how to better my own online presence and avatar, but taught me how a nonprofit would better their presence online.
A lot of Content Strategy for the Web (CSW) focuses on strategy for a business or organization looking to present themselves online more effectively. This book was a major tool for our project within this class where we helped a local nonprofit increase their presence online, mostly through social media. The idea of auditing as a starting point, and getting out there and making yourself heard was huge for nonprofits, but a portion of the book that we focused on was audience and knowing exactly who your audience is or focusing in on who you want it to be. This idea followed throughout my own networking as I focused on who I wanted to be online and what I wanted people to see and know. I was able to decided who I wanted to read my content, specifically through this blog, and better my own presence.
I think in most instances, it’s easy to fall into a trap of thinking that you want everyone to be your audience, and as cliche as it is, you cannot make everyone happy, and you cannot make everyone your audience. As Halvorson reminds us in CSW, “Your content will be much more effective and easy to manage if you set some parameters and priorities about who your content is for” (Halvorson 105). I believe this was one of the strongest points made by this particular book, and one that convinced me to reevaluate who I am looking to appeal to. I was able to focus both on my own audience and the audience that our nonprofit wanted by following Halvorson’s ‘rules’ of: Getting specific with the users/audience and ranking your audience by priority.
The Networked Nonprofit (TNN) focuses more on social media and I also found Social Media for Social Good effective in the same way. TNN contains many examples that are good for both nonprofits and people wishing to better their own network via social media. I thought that TNN was very specific on things like what a networked nonprofit is and what social media is. It’s a good book to focus on the specifics whereas CSW seems to be more of an overview and perhaps a starting point for most nonprofits. I also thought that the 3 categories that social media fall into was something of importance especially for nonprofits who may not know where they should be starting or where they should place their emphasis. These 3 categories as described by Kanter and Fine are: Conversation starters, collaboration tools, and network builders (Kanther). This is useful in understanding where your nonprofit wants to go with their social media in a similar way that deciding your audience can move you forward. I think TNN does a better job than CSW at helping anyone interested with their social media habits understand what they want, who they are appealing to, and building from there.
I also felt as if both books did a good job at explaining what social media does for a nonprofit and why it should never be feared, avoided, or thought less of. TNN talks a lot about social media myths and reasons why people might shy away from it and why they shouldn’t and CSW has an entire chapter on the ‘now’ and taking action and why feeling overwhelmed and uncomfortable is totally okay. It is all completely normal, but both books explain why it shouldn’t keep you from the web and putting you or your organization out there. Both books employ persuasive techniques in explaining why social media, the web, and networking are essential to any nonprofit, or person wishing to make themselves heard and have some sort of social media presence.
Both books are extremely helpful in explaining and showing nonprofits or people wishing to better network themselves how to do so via social media and the web in general. Both books bring their own expertise to the table, but I felt as if CSW was better equipped to help a blooming nonprofit, especially in their information about auditing and what that can bring to the social media plan. TNN has more examples, but could also be found rather overwhelming to someone starting out, or just looking to enhance their social media presence, not specifically looking for an entire overhaul. I took a lot from both books and they are both strong in their own ways, but I definitely think that together they make a major tool for nonprofits and those wishing to better network themselves. I was able to take a lot from both in regards to audience and social media habits. Even though this blog I believe I have honed in on my intended audience and gained a strong audience through that focus and advice. Nonprofits will find both books engaging and appealing, but I recommend from my end to read both books together as a unit for the biggest benefit. IF you are looking to better your social media presence, pick up both books. Read them cover to cover, skim them, take in any and all information that you can, whatever you have to do to better our social media tools. What have you got to lose?