ROI, I Love You, But…

July 9, 2010

Broken Heart of Social Media

This could have been my love letter to ROI.  But it’s not. I’m frustrated. ROI, you can do better and I want to lay out a basic outline of how.

Social Media Bonanza

If you’re not familiar with ROI, this organization is focused around an annual global summit of young Jewish innovators. It is supported by a PR company that does advance media, a blog, a Facebook page, a YouTube channel, a Flickr account, and a Twitter feed as well as hashtag– all linked here.

So what could I possibly be complaining about? They have all their bases covered, right?

Well, no. I don’t think they fully practice what they preach– and I’m saying this as a 2009 ROI fellow as well as someone who has been in contact with ROI offering them my support on numerous occasions with regard to social media and web content. I’m saying this out of love: ROI, you can do better.

What’s the Problem, Exactly?

The two primary problems I identify are as follows:

  • There’s a disconnect between the Summit and the rest of the year, and
  • A disconnect between those actively participating in the Summit and those on the outside

With all the excitement generated for the Summit, there’s no carry through for those who aren’t participating. The ROI blog is updated minimally and there don’t seem to be many blog posts coming from participants– which makes sense because they’re really, really busy.

The primary way to follow the Summit is via ROI’s hashtag, which is #roicom. But how much can you really say in 152 characters? Well, I believe that you can get your point across quite effectively, but it has to be a concerted effort: not just comments but actual commentary.

— Now you have an idea of the problem. Keep reading to hear the solution. —

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Nonprofits and Social Media: 5 Twitter Highlights for Those in the Know

June 19, 2009


In my few moments of spare time a day, I’ve been experimenting with the effect of Twitter’s microblogging. What have I learned? The primary thing that you need to know is that the world of Twitter is wide open to new participants, whether individuals or foundations. It’s a great way to catch the eyes and ears of people who matter and to drive traffic to your blog.

In the last few days I came across a number of stories that I had to share with you– they are that exciting.

  1. “10 Twitter Tips for Nonprofits” by Heather Mansfield of (@changedotorg). The only point I disagree with is Mansfield’s advice that you should provide value to your followers instead of ‘chit-chatting.’ As with any social media platform, I believe it is key to imbue your tweets with a sense of  personality so that you readers feel a personal connection and investment with you as an individual. This is also why I advocate that foundation accounts are headed by a single person whose name is cited. People want to talk to people.
  2. “Nonprofit Groups Outpace Businesses in Adopting Social Networking Tools” by Peter Panepento of The Chronicle of Philanthropy (@philanthropy). Among the findings of the UMass-Dartmouth study are that 89% of nonprofits are using some form of social media and that 57% have blogs. These numbers, which may strike some as surprisingly high, are a logical result of the low barriers to entry of social media in this cut to the bone economy.
  3. Jared Cohen (Sourced from

    Jared Cohen

    “State Department Atwitter Over Young, Jewish Tech Tutor” by Allison Gaudet Yarrow of The Forward (@jdforward). The best part of this article is the Stephen Colbert interview with our subject, Jared Cohen, who points out that 60% of the Middle East’s population is under 30, and that they are the most accessible, impressionable, and those with whom we have the greatest opportunity to connect. Interestingly, Cohen’s own Twitter page is fairly average (@Jared_Cohen). I guess when you are the youngest member of the State Department’s Policy Planning Team, self promotion isn’t the first thing on your mind.

    — Keep Reading for Highlights on Young Jews Connecting Through Twitter and Israeli Billionaires, As Well as Quick Hits & Hot Links —
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JTA in Crisis Mode After E-mail Dissing Bloggers

April 4, 2009

JTA Logo

Remember my post on How We Market Ourselves in Times of Crisis? You’re about to get an up front and personal look at one Jewish organization’s back pedaling after a major political gaffe.

On Friday, the Jewish Telegraph Agency (JTA) sent out an e-mail to its constituents asking for $50 donations to support its service. No problem, right? We all get plenty of those these days. But this one was different. In an apparent need to separate themselves from others sources of news delivery, JTA President Elisa Spungen Bildner wrote:

“JTA tells the story, so that our community stays informed. At this moment, JTA’s ability to tell these stories is threatened by the realities of the economic downturn. And, in the chaos of the information age in which we live, it is even harder to find the trusted voices on which we rely for independence and accuracy.

Without a strong JTA, the storytelling will be left to bloggers, twitterers, and non-professionals.  Is this the best way for our future Jewish stories to be told and recorded?

The emphasis is their own.

The Lion, the Scarecrow, and the Tin Man– Or, Bloggers, Twitterers, and Non-Professionals

Come again? Bloggers, Twitterers, and non-professionals? First of all, to equate Twitterers and bloggers is an insult. Without belaboring what should be an obvious point, users of Twitter communicate in 140 character missives, while blogs are intended to be well-researched, interesting conduits for conveying information and opinions. This is especially true in the Israeli and Jewish blogospheres, where the quality is particularly high.

And non-professionals? If we are defining a professional as someone who works for money, then yes, the JBlogosphere is filled with non-professionals, but this doesn’t make them any less committed. I see plenty of my blogging colleagues churning out up-to-the-minute content of the highest caliber on a daily basis.

—– Read More About Jews, Blogging, and the JTA’s Social Media Connections —–

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Link Love: Beginning Blogging, Social Media, Nonprofit Exchanges

November 12, 2007


There has been some really excellent aggregate blogging recently. Check out the following best practice models for promoting conversations in the blogosphere.

Why Aggregate Posts Matter

Blogging is a conversation. Being active in the blogosphere means connecting with your fellow bloggers on topics you have in common and starting a conversation.

Aggregate posts like these are one way to do so. They allow bloggers to promote their own work and to add their opinions to the discussion.

Please check out the links below on beginning blogging, social media networks, and a nonprofit idea exchange.

November’s Carnival of Giving

While we are talking about blogging as conversation, don’t forget about November’s Giving Carnival where bloggers will form an online think tank to answer the question: “What best practices in business should nonprofits adopt to maximize their resources?”

Entries are due to me by Monday, November 26th and can be in the form of a blog post, comment, or article sent by e-mail.

Please add your expertise to the conversation.

Advice on Beginning Blogging


These articles feature my post “Words of Advice for Beginnging Bloggers.”

Social Media Networking

Steven Snell of Vandelay Website Design has compiled a superior article on “Everything You Could Possibly Want to Know About Social Media.”

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Social Media Networks: Entering the Third Dimension of Connectivity with Web 2.0

October 31, 2007


The Golden Age of Social Media Networks

We are entering a golden age of social media networks enabled by Web 2.0.

In thinking extensively about it, I have come up with a paradigm to describe our current place in history: the Third Dimension of Connectivity.

Explaining the Three Dimensions

The first dimension is personal. The second dimension is public. The internet extends the second dimension by putting the public persona online, and the social media networks of Web 2.0 mark the third dimension.

I also posit that the fourth dimension will be a combined public/private domain in which users create identities for interaction in an artificial world. (This sounds more confusing then it is, keep reading.)

Allow me to explain.

The First Dimension: Personal


The first dimension is that of home. It is our personal, private lives, symbolized by what goes on “behind closed doors.” Think: family, friends, relationships, religion, gender, sexuality. This is where our personal identity is created.

The Second Dimension: Professional


The second dimension is that of profession. It is what we do in public, symbolized by the marketplace. Think: school, job, race, ethnicity, and everything we do outside the home that adds to our public persona. This is the image that we portray to the outside world.
Extending the Second Dimension: The Internet


Then there were two and a half dimensions: personal, public, and web.

The internet in its foundational stages became an extension of the second dimension. People and businesses in the know came to use webpages to establish themselves in the public eye. Homepages became a second office, another way of promoting a brand.

The internet made it possible for us to take our public identity and put it online to connect with a far greater network of people than had ever before been possible.

The Third Dimension: Social Media Networks Enabled by Web 2.0


The third dimension is Web 2.0. Its greatest achievement has been putting your home online, adding the potential of having a unified web identity with the personal and professional combined.

Social media networks create personal relationships among people, transforming the “closed doors” of your personal space and your “market” identity through online networks. The result is something completely new.

What Is To Come?


If the internet put our public lives online and Web 2.0 puts our private lives online, then what is left?

My answer: whole new identities associated with the creator, but whose characteristics the creator can pick and choose as the final arbiter of what image goes into the newly combined public/private domain.

In real life, like it or not, we judge and are judged on the basis of race, ethnicity, gender, and sexuality, along with a host of other traits. It affects all aspects of our daily interactions.

I believe that the fourth dimension will take this idea to a higher level where an entire new identity is created in an artificial world. (Think Second Life.)

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