#4Change Chat Wrap-Up: Community Building

Amy Sample Ward's picture

Last week, I had a fun time moderating the June #4Change Twitter Chat on Online Community Building. Thanks to all those who participated or followed along, and to those who will join the conversation now! This wrap up will highlight some of the insights and resources shared during the chat, but, if you’d rather, you can review the full transcript.

Note on platform: During last week’s Twitter chat, not unlike previous chats, we dealt with some major issues around lag and load time.  What makes a Twitter chat different than a blog post, for example, is that the conversation is 1. real time, and 2. co-created.  A blog post has, like this, one person writing it and sharing it at the end for comments.  That’s not to say that conversation can’t be incredible – but even then it is probably still not real time. I’m a huge proponent of blogs (obviously) but didn’t want to give up on the chat when Twitter was misbehaving. So, I turned to CoverItLive as it was a tool I’d used before and knew I could launch quickly. I hope that in the future we don’t have to turn to a back up/alternative, but I’d love to hear your thoughts about the use of CoverItLive this time!

What’s the point in using “global” tools (social media) for local organizing?

From @amoration: I find we’re always both global & local, so many of us travel frequently that virtual organizing tools are essential even for “local” endeavors

From @cosechajusta: I think part of it is just getting a message out there in as many formats as possible, so you reach as broad an audience as possible. Plus, sending emails, mass texts, etc is much quicker than doorknocking or cold calling folks.

From @rootwork: Well, I think it’s about going where people/supporters/potential supporters are. And in each local place, people are on different types of social media, some of which are global in scope. But that doesn’t mean you appeal to everyone on the planet every time you post on Facebook — you target your use of social media.

From @winwinapps: The fact that social media is forming networks and connections allows local to have more global influence.  But for now local is still something I use a map and a tank of gas to determine the limits of.

Best Practices:

From @davidahood: Still strongly believe that there has to be an element of face to face/on the ground connection to any successful engagement and mobilisation of any community. At the very least the key central organisers need to have close ties to local organisers so that there is a robust and well understood vision and objectives.

From @neddotcom: one strategy: ease of participation, make it easy.

From @davidahood: agree with @neddotcom. People want to take action on things that they care about – whether it impacts them directly or not. Our “job” is to facilitate that action and make it easier for them to participate. Inspire, empower and facilitate to take action. Social media makes that much easier.

From @rootwork: Social media is inclined toward leadership development — it’s built around people posting, blogging, photographing, videoing, etc. — so it’s good to play to that advantage. Figure out how to bring enthusiastic social media participants into the “inner circle” of planning & organizing.

From @winwinapps: Make it fun. Make the goal easily quantifiable.

From @pelleaardema: I do believe you could draw an ‘engagement pyramid’ for social media too. Not everybody needs to stick with the easy actions, some volunteers may be interested to set up ‘their own’ soc med campaign for your cause

From @neddotom: recap 1. easy 2. fun 3. overall goal 4. action oriented 5. decentralized/open


From @rootwork: Facebook has been pretty effective at creating a place for discussion/strategy between events or meetings. Like I mentioned earlier, we use Twitter for live updates from events, and that’s been very successful — lots of positive feedback that people can follow along even if they’re not there. It works really well for a) hearings (legislative or municipal) and b) rallies or direct action. We haven’t used it as much at social events because it’s less clear what to “report” on.

From @pelleaardema: we use twitter, facebook to share what’s happening in the online forums, post announcements, invitations, etc.


From @rootwork: We’re a pretty small organization, with a small staff and budget, so I admit to not doing as much measurement as we should because of lack of time and staff resources. Mostly we measure it in whether we get positive feedback from our supporters and whether they seem engaged (commenting on stuff on Facebook, Retweeting, etc.). However I just found this great how-to on integrating Google Analytics on a Facebook Page, and hope to do that soon. http://www.webdigi.co.uk/blog/2010/google-analytics-for-facebook-fan-pages/

From @pelleaardema: # followers, # retweets, # clickthroughs (bit.ly). also measuring the number of clickthroughs from these sources to the main site (via Google Analytics).

From @neddotcom: WRT measurement, developed term CPA (with friend Andy Bourland (RIP) at first Interactive Advertising conference Monterey 1997. Cost per action. Action = money, sale, clickthrough, unique visitor, download, lead generation, email address, form fill out, questionnaire, etc. Working with Seth Godin at Yoyodyne, we defined measurement as 1) email participants then 2) continued/ongoing engagement

From @davidahood: We tend to track email opening and click through rates, what percentage of people take action from click through and growth in numbers of fans/followers/members. Personally still have a lot to learn about analytics and starting to use more – mostly google. But not everything is measureable…. ;)   mostly talking about level/quality of engagement via social media and feedback. will tend to summarise and record most common responses and also a few key ones that might be unexpected for assessment at end of a campaign or activity. if you couldn’t tell already, I’m big on conversation. ;) So I value the interaction I have with people which isn’t always measureable but is undoubtedly invaluable in terms of engagement – expected or otherwise. The most engaged people will sometimes come up with the most amazing and creative ways to take action or influence. A great campaign is one in which people are so engaged it just takes a life of its own. That’s why its important to be clear on vision, objectives and values.


From @amyrsward: think in organizing and community building there are always some roles, even if they vary from group to group in how they operate: guides/navigators, campaigners, day-to-day folks, content creators, share-ers etc

From @jonasthanatos: Can communicate effectively.. is persuasive, convincing, has charisma. I think all roles in community organizing have a bit of “willing to try to change the world” in them. :)

From @pelleaardema: thinking out loud: content creators/organizers, a positive spirit (definitely needed), guide/leader…. and i guess some positive criticism can help as well. Usually generates a lot of energy

From @davidahood: I’d say you need someone who knows the issue inside and out (campaigner), someone who is a media and communications specialist, someone great with web, social media and other technology and someone to organise events and coordinate volunteers and engage directly with members of the community one on one (community organiser?). also helps to have someone who can focus on fundraising. of course, in smaller organisations, this may have to be only two or three people

Successful and Unsuccessful Examples:

From @davidahood: Greenpeace internationally had great success recently with the Nestle campaign getting Nestle to end deforestation in Indonesia for palm oil. The campaign was active online and on the ground in over 22 countries – all with a focus on Nestle’s head office in Switzerland. Social media used to engage local supporters to act globally.

From @pelleaardema: Looking at the local communities I know: a lot of NABUUR communities use twitter to reach out, keep their supporters updated. HAve a look at @arrowwebhosp for example: a slum hospital in Nairobi

From @pelleaardema: we’ve tried to set up a twitter chat to answer concrete questions from local communities in a short timespan. That was not particularly successful. A lot of effort to get pple into the chat, then a lot of confusion, hard to manage the discussion and no concrete outcomes

From @rootwork: We tried to do some end-of-year fundraising through Facebook and Twitter. I think we got $20 :) But we didn’t plan it out very well, so I think it was more a failure of thinking through an effective strategy than an inability for those tools to enable such a thing.

From @pelleaardema: some NABUUR volunteers recently tried to fundraise for 400 malaria nets, via Twitter and betterplace.org. I think the lack of background on blog etc lead to them raising about 1/3 of the budget. Support info is very important. and good timing indeed

From @rootwork: The Media Mobilizing Project has done a lot here in Philly connecting community organizing to social media and especially video — community media trainings, organizing people to interview each other, etc. http://mediamobilizing.org/ VozMob is another great example of this, organizing immigrant communities in Los Angeles, using mobile phones, photos and video http://vozmob.net/en/about

From @neddotcom: Thomas Kriese as community manager of the now closed Omidyar.net was a great example of quite, decentralized leadership style helping guide a community to make real things happen in the world. Dozens and dozens of community lead projects happened around the world during the networks 3 years.

From @davidahood: San Francisco Zoo has done a wonderful job and engaging and supporting their community. http://www.sfzoo.org/openrosters/view_homepage.asp?orgkey=1859 It all started with one guy at the zoo (his name escapes me) who wanted to connect more meaningfully to all the people coming to see the animals. People now share videos and pics and are great ambassadors/advocates for the zoo and it’s program.

From @pelleaardema: A very small, local initiative: 3 community projects in Uganda, trying to conquer malaria http://twitter.com/TweetANet

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