Pioneers in a Brave New Media World

Posted by Aaron Fiedler, Apr 04, 2012 3 comments

Aaron Fiedler

A couple of summers ago, I heard sports marketing executive Kathleen Hessert speak on the topic of social media.

She pointed out people in the room, young and not so young, likely fell into one of two categories: (1) technology natives, those born in the 1980s who have grown up around technology; and (2) technology immigrants, those born before 1980 who have had to come to technology. The point is that younger people naturally adapt to technology more comfortably and easily than their older co-workers and superiors.t

For social media, being a technology native eases the fear of the unknown. While this has its advantages, we are all pioneers in this brave new media world.

I regularly meet with nonprofit marketing, development, and communication professionals to talk about trends and issues in social media. The meetings, occasionally informative and sometimes collaborative, are often filled with anxiety.

To be fair, if you work for a nonprofit arts organization and have a role managing social media accounts you have probably had this same anxious feeling at one point or another—efficient budgets, limited time, a feeling of a lack of expertise, and uncertainty over how to engage with people.

We all want to do this as well as we can, but are often impeded by things beyond our control. How do we overcome this?

I think it goes without saying the number of opportunities social media provides arts organizations. Though costly in the sense of time and energy, social media is a free platform to engage and connect with donors, enthusiasts, and other constituents in a relaxed, friendly environment. As an emerging leader in this field, I think it is an exciting time to experiment and find a voice with those channels.

If you are like me, you spend countless hours studying white papers, thumbing through books and reading sites like Mashable and TechCrunch all in an effort to be forward thinking and forward looking. All this information and the changing landscape can be daunting though. Especially given the limits I have already mentioned.

Though I make no claim to expert status—and am weary of anyone who does—whenever speaking to groups about social media, I always provide one big piece of advice: find what works for you and your organization and do it well. If you really understand and like Facebook, do it. If you want to have three Twitter accounts, a Pinterest account, ten blogs, and a Facebook page, do it.

Embrace what works for you and your organization and be unapologetic about it; after all, who knows your organization better than you?

Do not be afraid to experiment and try innovative things knowing failure is a possibility. Be the expert for your organization and enjoy finding new ways to show people all the great work you are doing.

As an emerging leader and technology native, seize the opportunity to stand out and help guide your organization’s strategy into this brave new media world.

3 responses for Pioneers in a Brave New Media World


April 04, 2012 at 3:26 pm

Shelby, I completely agree with Aaron. It's been my experience that you do what works best for you, but don't be afraid to give things a try and then stop using them if it doesn't work for you.

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April 04, 2012 at 2:51 pm

THANK you! I'm so sick of seeing every workshop or e-blast from "experts" in non-profit social media prescribing Twitter as the fix to all of our problems in cultivating donors and donor relations. Twitter doesn't work for us at all. We love Facebook. It works for us, and we always feel like we need to defend our lack of us use (well, misuse)of Twitter.

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April 04, 2012 at 3:44 pm

I've seen several non-profits try to get into the latest thing without doing one thing well. Too many try to jump on the social media band wagon without understanding what it is good for and how it can be used in the organization.

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