I’m taking part in the virtual book tour that Maddie Grant and Lindy Dreyer are doing to explore concepts from Open Community: a little book of big ideas for associations navigating the social web. Maddie and Lindy were kind enough to answer a few questions on how the concepts in the book relate to nonprofit marketing.
Kivi: What the heck is an “Open Community?”
Lindy: Here’s the gist. Your Open Community is your people who are bonded by what your organization represents and who care enough to talk to each other (hopefully about you!) online. Connecting with and supporting your Open Community is really important, because if you don’t, someone else will.
Kivi: You have a great blog . . . why did you want to write a book on the topic?
Maddie: Lindy and I have talked to thousands of association executives who have voiced their frustrations about the social web–from the overabundance of tools and the disorderly experimentation of staff (and members!), to the lack of organizational support and the unwieldy processes for monitoring and managing social media, and that’s just the beginning. We decided to write Open Community as a way to address those frustrations and redirect the thinking about using social tools to build community online.
Kivi: How does Open Community tie into nonprofit marketing and communications?
Maddie: I think marketers are pretty savvy to the usefulness of tools like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn for raising awareness when the conditions are right. And folks seem to be doing a good job balancing community value with marketing messages.
Moving forward, the concept of Open Community challenges marketers to change the way they work, to be more collaborative across the organization and empower more people to share more valuable information more often.
Lindy: I see marketing and communications as two sides of a coin. While the comms side is challenged to substitute clarity over control, the marketing side is challenged to measure and optimize for business outcomes. You can’t accomplish any of that without a culture of collaboration.
Maddie: Right! I think the book works great as a companion piece to your book, Kivi, the fabulous Nonprofit Marketing Guide, too – if you understand how to nurture your community, then all of the marketing techniques you use to spread the word about your cause will be that much more effective, as your community will share the love for you . . .
Kivi: What’s next?
Maddie: Well, we see the book as a conversation starter–we hope lots and lots of people will get the chance to read it, and think about how the concepts affect their organization.
Lindy: And we hope to gather lots of great stories about Open Community in action, which we’ll continue to share in lots of ways throughout the year. So here’s a question for all of you to consider:
How is your nonprofit building community online? What’s your strategy for connecting with and supporting your Open Community? Is it working?
Leave your ideas, experiences, and questions in the comments and Maddie and Lindy will reply.