Beth Kanter, of the Beth’s Blog, who I featured last month as the second member of SocialButterfly’s Blogger Neighborhood, interviewed me for BlogHer. My first official ‘professional’ interview as the interview-ee!

1. Tell me a little about you.

I am a social marketing believer, blogger, researcher, practitioner and enthusiast. Social marketing for good – not to be confused with social media marketing. Currently, my day job is a graduate student at the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism where I will graduate this month. In June, I will start full-time at the social marketing firm I’ve been completing a fellowship at in Washington D.C., working on the client team representing the National Institute on Drug Abuse. As of this moment, I am defending my thesis, graduating and taking a moment to breath, =).

Academics and work aside, my passion is working with and on behalf of nonprofits. My family, myself and a small group of dedicated and committed individuals started a non-profit in Arkansas that benefits multiple sclerosis and works in partnership with the MS Society. In one year, with about eight people, no budget and two main events, we’ve raised over $275k.

2. Tell me about your thesis.

Just the word ‘thesis’ seems to make eyes glaze over, so I’ll try to keep this interesting. What influences you in the actions you take? the opinions or attitudes you hold? What shapes how you feel? Is it CNN broadcasting live, yahoo news feeds, a blog, your next door neighbor, or a guest lecturer? I’m supposing that it’s all the above and more. My research looks at the media landscape and the concept of influence and how this affects the public agenda….and within this mess and shades of gray, how and where the practice of social marketing fits in. I suggest social marketing offers us an opportunity to work collaboratively, erase divisions and provides a platform for those with similar motivations – doing good – to unite across industry fields, and thus, be more effective and successful.
I’m looking forward to hearing feedback and insights when I present the paper at the World Social Marketing Conference in Brighton, England this upcoming September 2008.
3. You’re a digital native (I am guessing ..:-) Millennial or whatever .. so, from your perspective in seeing various campaigns launched by nonprofits that use social media strategies, what are they doing right? What do they need to improve to appeal to folks like you?

Understandably, there are many questions about branching into social media and concerns about it being unregulated. But, I suggest, to just jump in. If not your organization, then you as the marketing/communications/outreach person. You, yourself, need to be familiar with new communication channels. I appreciate the digital native label….but I am constantly finding new applications and new strategies that online technology offers. So new or accustomed, there’s always more to learn.

When you’re open to learning, you’re open to opportunity.

4. Why do you think it is important for nonprofits to embrace social media?

For the same reasons why it is important for you to get to know your neighbors. Or, to teach your child how to change a tire. It just makes sense to know what’s out there and how it can be used.
5. What practical advice would you offer a nonprofit just dipping their toes in the social media waters?

Best practical tip, create a relatively simple, but not hackable password and keep it the same for all the accounts you are going to create. This stays true for the ID/name you create for your accounts. You’re identity still needs to be consistent, and practically, it helps you keep track and manage your online relationships.

Next, do a social media scan of your non-profit and/or cause using Technorati or a Google blog search. There are also social media apps that help you track keywords in the blogosphere. How can you know how to help further a cause, meet needs, etc., if you do not know what people are saying or how people currently perceive your organization/message?

6. Your 5 favorite social media or nonprofit blogs are:

There’s so many good ones out there, that it’s hard to choose. Narrowing it down to best blogs by women helps though…some I love include:
  1. Spare Change by Nedra Weinreich (social marketing)
  2. Have Fun * Do Good by Britt Bravo (nonprofit)
  3. Trendspotting by Dr. Taly Weiss (social media/marketing trends/research)
  4. NonProfit Communications/Carnival for Nonprofit Consultants by Kivi Leroux Miller (nonprofit)
  5. Lorelle on WordPress by Lorelle VanFossen (social media/wordpress help) She gets back to you very quickly with questions/comments too!
…and this one isn’t necessarily nonprofit or social media, but it’s a great break from the routine, work and provides good insight and entertainment: My Cool Job, by Carrie Lowery, where she interviews someone with a cool job multiple times a week and posts the interviews.

Thanks for the interview Beth!