Posted by & filed under Evolving Office, Nonprofit Social Media, Nonprofit Technology, Reluctant Tech Adopter.

We’ve been concentrating lately on the many avenues available to us to reach our audience and we know we need to stay abreast of the latest social media technology because our nonprofit partners are becoming increasingly tech-savvy.

Are you having device-free conversations with your audience?

There’s been a rash of discussion around the web this week on whether or not our increasing reliance on social media is making us lonely or whether or not our constant texting and emailing has made us less capable of conversation. As a millennial myself, I admit to sometimes thinking “I should text so-and-so this” or “I should tweet about this” instead of picking up the phone. I’ve been known to hit “ignore” on a phone call because I know that I don’t want to spend an hour having a phone conversation, only to go back and forth for two hours via text message.  I have been out with people who fill silences at lunch or coffee by reaching for their cell phone to check the latest news on Twitter rather than focusing on socializing with the person in front of them.

The focus of these articles was largely on individuals-we’re more and less connected to the world now that we can pick up our smart phone and check our email or share our every though with our Facebook friends, Twitter or Google+ followers, but there are some practical lessons you can apply in your organization.

Even when I don’t talk to my friends from high school or college, I can say with authority that I know exactly what’s going on in their lives because I can see their Twitter or Facebook updates. The same is true of your organization’s followers, even if they are not stopping by the office every day, they can stay up to date with the latest developments at your organization by scanning your newsfeed. Using social media is a great way to reach a large number of people quickly. And as Allison Fine points out, connecting with people through social media expands your network because you are suddenly connected to your follower’s network, every time they mention you.  Tapping into this is a great way to recruit more volunteers, raise more money, invite people to your next event or get them to apply for your award (Have you applied yet?). Making social media a part of your communications strategy is critical and in this day and age, necessary if you want to keep your organization relevant.

But there’s another part of your communications strategy that is equally important-actually talking to your audience. This could be at a networking event, conference, class, lunch, coffee or a quick chat on the phone. It’s important in these instances to turn off your phone and focus on what’s in front of you. Having a lot of Facebook fans or Twitter followers is great, but it’s important to remember that we can’t forget how to have a distraction-free conversation with them, should the situation arise.

What do you think; do you think social media is making it more difficult to converse with your audience? Do you remember to take technology breaks in order to focus on what’s in front of you?


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