How nonprofits can rock social media in 2009

It's not every day you're on the phone with a rock star. But that's what I accomplished this morning when I rang up Lindsay Maines, better known to the cool kids as Rock and Roll Mama.

Our topic today was sex drugs trashing hotel rooms nonprofits' use of social media. (Trust me, it's just as fun! Really!) Specifically, it was whether nonprofits were really understanding what social media was, what tools were available to them, and how those could help see the orgs through a promises-to-be-bumpy 2009.

Given my experiences at the foundation, as well as my interactions with other nonprofits, I can say ... they don't. But it's not for lack of desire OR lack of trying.

Nor is it for dearth of information on how to do it (just see cream of the crop Beth Kanter's top posts o' the year). Everybody and their nonprofit mother is thinking about toolkits, lists, packets, presentations, etc. that can send this sector's leaders to the social media moon within the space of a workshop.

The problem is, many of these methods aren't teaching mindsets. They're not teaching a global understanding of the landscape. And they're definitely not teaching how to make it all a part of a holistic communications strategy. To succeed, nonprofits have gotta stop thinking of the next flashy tool, and instead bang out a nice flashy vision for what they want to achieve.

As I see it, nonprofits need the following in 2009:

1. Clear goals for the year, based on the economic reality for their industry and their plans for growth.

2. A complete lesson on the FULL array of communications tools that can help make it happen, from email to conferences to speaking tours to Facebook to Twitter to smoke signals if need be. Yes, this will take longer than an afternoon.

3. An objective voice -- from within or outside the org -- to match the right tools to the right goals.

4. And then the commitment of everyone on staff to making those chosen channels the strongest, richest, most productive channels they can be. It's not doing more with less choices -- it's doing more with the right choices.

You know, if I really wanted to be shameless right now, I'd say HIRE ME and I can help you figure this all out and please don't let your communications staff go now you need them more than ever!

But that's just shameless. Besides, I'd rather have you wait and be wowed by the rad stuff Lindsay is cooking up in that ever-percing brain of hers. More to come, faithful readers ... more to come ...