Nobody starts out an expert. Learn one man's journey getting started using social media for social good.
I met Ryan Crowe a few months ago when he contacted me about some community-building plans he was creating at the Aplastic Anemia & MDS International Foundation. He was unsure of his path and needed some help from someone who had been through it before. We've all been there.
Ryan and I agreed to share his story with the NetSquared Community so that others can learn from his experiences of getting started in a new field. With a bit of sheer will and determination, Ryan is moving from novice to expert and is sharing his learnings along the way!
Learn more about David Ryan Crowe in the interview below!
Q. What drives your passion for using social media for social good?
This question I think would be best answered in two parts – “why a passion for social good?” and “why social media?” I think the passion to act in the name of social good appeared when I was younger. I have no explanation for this. If I were to try and pinpoint my first acknowledgement of someone else doing social good, and therefore my awareness of that capability – I would have to say Superman comic books. We have this… alien, this Kryptonian that has fallen into an environment that endows him with god-like powers and instead of enslaving humanity, he protected humanity. That had a profound effect on me as a child, and the idea still resonates deeply within me today. Is that the real reason for my passion? I’m not sure. It could be some psychological disposition or some altruistic gene that I inherited – possibly, but then I don’t get to talk about Superman.
So, then the question becomes “why social media”? I think the social media aspect just happens to be what I’m best at in terms of being able to help people. If I were a talented carpenter: I’m sure I’d help build houses with some organization that builds houses for people in need. If I were a skilled physician, I might do Doctors Without Borders. Social media is like a Swiss army knife, useful in so many aspects for social good: fundraising, awareness raising, a public forum for the discussion of ideas etc. The passion to continue using social media comes from the desire to innovate in the name of social good.
Q. How did you get interested in using social media in a professional sense?
Having grown up prior to the first manifestations of social media I was able to take part in the beginnings. Around the age of 22 (2-3 years ago) I started teaching myself the business aspect of social media, I saw it as a sort of game. I have no strategic marketing or business related background (I’m a Russian and Slavonic Studies graduate student at Missouri) so I was able to form my own thoughts and philosophies about how to use social media for business. I decided in December that I was ready to become a Social Media Manager and started figuring out the best way to get that job. In March, I was hired as a Social Media Manager with KimberMedia in Columbia, Missouri.
Q. How did you get started and how are you currently involved with the social media for good community?
Despite my seemingly effortless ascension into the ranks of Social Media Management – I started out by sending out letters to different Digital Marketing firms and begging for them to let me do an externship. I wasn’t getting the best responses from people – “Why should we waste time and resources on an out of state intern when there are plenty of people in state who would kill to work here?” I started searching out NPOs and got a request to develop a social media strategy for a bone marrow fundraising and awareness organization called AAMDS.org. They not only wanted me to develop a social media strategy, but also wanted me to develop a nationwide campaign that would spur their network’s college-age demographic to volunteer. I wrote up the social media strategy and the outline for the volunteer campaign and sent it to them. While I was doing this, I got the job with KimberMedia (using this same strategy as the entirety of my portfolio) and ended up sending AAMDS my final strategy for them to implement as they see fit.
I currently have started to develop and implement a concept for a blog series highlighting charitable causes in the Columbia community. We were recently able to help raise awareness for The Purple Dress Project run by Ashley Hasty – a group that supports those afflicted with Crohn’s disease.
Q. What were your biggest challenges when getting started? And how did you manage them?
It was hard to know where to start – there is so much information about social media out there – and there are no standard set of best practices to follow yet… the industry is so new. It took me two years before I thought I was ready to start doing it professionally… that’s probably not advisable for anyone – I was also doing school and two other jobs.
I was not afraid to reach out to people and I started following those people who I thought were successful with their online presence – so I followed you, Claire, Beth Kanter (@kanter), and Danielle Brigida (@starfocus) and contacted you guys and asked for advice.
Convincing someone to trust someone with no experience and no degree in a related field wasn’t easy either.
Q. What is your advice for others that are interested in getting started using social media for social good?
You just can’t let yourself become overwhelmed.
Find something you’re passionate about, a main focal point and start learning about it… that will provide you with a reference point and will also lead you to learn about other resources.
Talk to people in the industry; ask their advice!
Find a blog to follow, engage with a community!
Ask how you can help.
There is no social action that is too small.
Don’t take on too much at once.
Don’t pick up a hammer for the first time and try to build a house, learn how to drive a nail.