Almost a year ago, I blogged about a social media taxonomy chart I created to sort through the cacophony of noise about social media.
I found it useful on a couple of fronts. First, it helped me to understand more clearly what were tools for using social media, and what were the actual channels where two-way (or every-which-way) communication was taking place. Secondly, it gave communicators and marketers a birds-eye view of the huge range of stuff in the social media bucket so that they could identify aspects they needed to check out and understand.
It proved to be useful during a conversation last week — or, it would have been if it had been up to date. Things have changed!
As I begin working on the updated taxonomy, I’m turning to one of my favorite (and most prolific) sources: Beth’s Blog. Beth Kanter’s material is always provocative and current. Search for tagged content, and you’re bound to find posts that will be informative and helpful. But she writes so much and so consistently that her blog is actually a great research source.
Besides thinking about specific tools or media that I might add to the taxonomy, it struck me that several forces are driving change in the evolution of social media:
Technology innovation: Geo-locational technology is starting to have an effect on communications, community-building and fundraising. The adoption of mobile devices such as iphones and ipads also opens up possibilities to connect, converse and fundraise.
Social changes: It would take a sociologist or anthropologist to tell us why, but, despite the recession, there is a group of people who have been activated to try to make a difference in a very personal way. Terms like “citizen philanthropy,” “peer-to-peer fundraising,” “individually-based fundraising,” “fundraising communities,” “charity chains,” are some of the labels that are being used for this phenomenon. Closely related is “crowd sourcing,” efforts that encourage people to find and share stories. And, in a tactic that may be rooted in the social appetite for celebrity as well as competitive spirit, “vote for me” or “vote for my cause” contests have provided the impetus for millions of people to reach out to their network of friends and ask them to get involved. Lastly, some people speculate that social expectations of charities is undergoing change. Beth Kanter, in a nod to Peter Dietz, founder of SocialActions, commented: donors in an age of social media, will come to your organization with the expectation of being full partners in your work, not just an ATM machine to be tapped when cash is needed.
Business model changes: We all know there’s no such thing as a free lunch, but many social media enterprises have lacked a means of raising adequate revenue to cover expenses. Ning, a tool for creating like-minded groups, ended its free lunch earlier this year, affecting many schools and non-profits who had relied upon it as a platform for community-building. Some new social media approaches involve a trade that solves the business model problem: you give me something valuable (like your shopping data), and I’ll do something you value (like give money to a charitable cause).
I’ll be revisiting my social media taxonomy to figure out where these specific tools or examples fit:
Foursquare – I like what Beth Kanter had to say about it: Think of it as a social network where your status up(date) is not what you’re doing, but where you are. Think about how dogs update their location. At the Self-Directed Learning Circle meeting last week, David Lowe of KVIE declared himself mayor of building where the Nonprofit Resource Center has its office. In the same vein as Foursquare, Gowalla.
Green Map marries crowd sourcing with mapping technology and lets eco-minded folks co-create a map of eco-friendly spots. (Sacramento Tree Foundation, be thinking about this!)
CauseWorld uses geo-location technology to arrange an exchange between merchants and cause-minded shoppers; karma points are earned by shoppers when they walk into stores, which the merchant converts into donations to a cause.
The Facebook “like button” that effectively turns any website – any registered URL – into a Facebook fan page. By “liking” a page that has been registered, the organization publishes right into Facebook update streams.
Zoetica is collecting tons of information about causes and making it available via an itunes app. If you’re familiar with mashable.com (which I love), it’s kind of like mashable on itunes. What’s social about it is how people share and comment on the content.
Twitcause says it helps nonprofits get discovered on Twitter. Beth published an interesting guest post in January that’s worth checking out.
Facebook is now the 800-lb. gorilla. Though it’s not a reality yet, here’s the backlash product I’ve been watching for, Diaspora, a Faceb00k-like tool that puts you in control of the privacy of your data. An article about it is the headline on mashable.com as I write this.