A rising tide…

The past two days, I spent my time in Our Nation’s Capitol, between the annual Share Our Strength Conference of Leaders  (the tenth one I’ve attended), and the PRSA International Conference (where I was privilged to present on Cause Branding and Community Building with Social Networking Tools).  The Share Our Strength Conference (always inspiring!)  featured a very good panel on Social Media for Social Good, moderated by Clay Dunn, the organization’s Online Community Director, and featuring a great group of Share Our Strength advocates* who have successfully used social channels.
Lots of great best practices.  Lots of very important discussion about engagement. 
During the Q&A period, Clay asked a compelling question:  How do you determine what information to share on your social channels?
Again, great responses from the panelists.  In fact, as often happens, just not enough time to finish the very robust discussion. 
So let me weigh in here:
It’s important to talk about the what and the how of our activities.  It’s important to uplift the Share Our Strength (Taste of the Nation/Cooking Matters/DineOut) community.  But it’s also very important that we help educate our audiences on the why of what we’re doing.  This is about hunger.  Let’s talk about it.  It’s a widely-misunderstood issue. Many people–sometimes our own friends and families–don’t understand the scope and severity of  hunger in our own communities.  There’s a very large and passionate community–many already online–involved in the hunger discussion.  They’re tweeting and posting news and information on the issue every day.  Share it with your network. Remember, you’re a subject matter expert on hunger.  A connector.  A promotor.  An evangelist.  And no, you probably won’t overshare, even when it feels like you’re doing it. 
I loved Johnny Auer’s suggestion that Taste of the Nation Twitter accounts be active year ’round.  Great advice. You can use the “off season” to be a connector and informer.  Spread some good karma.  Then when it’s time for your event, you’ll have some new friends to help you promote it.
Also take the initiative to connect with those involved in hunger outside your own network; outside your own community (geographic or online).  If you’re a Share Our Strength advocate, connect with Meals on Wheels and Feeding America advocates  (and vice versa!!!).   And even though it might seem counterintuitive, promote what they’re doing.
A rising tide lifts all boats.  We have a long way to go before the issue of hunger is given the gravity and urgency it deserves. 

We have a couple of lists of Hunger Twitterers, one here,  and an official Twitter list.  Here’s a list of hunger fighters on Facebook.    If you don’t know them, go introduce yourself.

* Panelists:
Johnny Auer, Founder and President, jamco new media, inc
Michele Gorham, Owner, Cookie Central
Ty Sullivan, Director of Marketing,
Stephanie K. Childs, Director of Communication & External Relations, ConAgra Foods & ConAgra Foods Foundation
Liza Ruzer, Fresh Approach

Photo by William Klos–Creative Commons

10 Replies to “A rising tide…”

  1. Clay

    Regarding the question I posed at the end of the panel — ‘How do you determine what information to share on your social channels?’ — I’m of the opinion that we’re not sharing enough at the moment, and that includes the social media channels that I’m managing here at Share Our Strength.

    We’re good at announcing the milestones, but I hope we can also help people feel more engaged by following along as the larger story unfolds. And I include in that larger story the need to talk more frequently and openly about the issue of hunger. We need to be relentless educators around the issue.

    Many thanks, Ed, for highlighting the Conference!

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  3. Tim Cipriano

    Ed,
    It’s always a pleasure seeing you! Thanks for all you do for the kids!
    I like the comment about keeping the TON twitter accounts active. I keep @TON_NewHaven active all year long to talk about like minded issues and to keep the Taste fresh on the minds of my followers!

    • Ed Nicholson Post author

      Thanks, Tim. The pleasure’s mutual. You’re one of the social media rockstars in the Share Our Strength network. Thanks for the work you do online and (especially!) offline.
      I know there are a several TON (and other SOS program) accounts that stay consistently active. I think that’s a compliment to the community building the organization is very adept at, and the relationships that are forged in real life at events like the conference.

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  5. Stacy Roth

    Thanks for the great good thoughts as usual, Ed. It was great to see you at Conference. I can’t believe it was your 10th! We need to start giving out special stickers or badges for these types of anniversaries.

    Thank you also to Michelle, Ty, Steff, Johnny, and Liza for your time, great good thoughts and for being such wonderful supporters and activists and connectors.

    We look forward to seeing and hearing (and tweeting)from you all soon!

    -Stacy Roth (Share Our Strength staff)

    • Ed Nicholson Post author

      Thanks, Stacy. Kudos to you, too for being a great online ambassador and connector for the Share Our Strength network. You and Clay and several others in the network “get it.” You’re engaging and building community, not just using the channels to broadcast organizational key messages.

  6. johnny auer

    Ed,

    So glad you put some of the highlights from the weekend’s thoughts on social media in blog form. The words were said often that over the past few days that this is a critical time for Share Our Strength—a time when the organization has the opportunity to grow from a good organization to a great one. I’m convinced that the push to the next level comes from the ground up, on the local scale, and that the right pieces are in place to begin this push. Through cross-collaboration and an expanded knowledge of what is going on in other cities other than our own, we’ll continue bridging gaps and finding new olive branches to grab a hold of.

    And the best part is? Social media will only continue to become a more valuable and precise means of which to get there as it evolves. It only gets better from here!

    When taking the No Kid Hungry pledge, it’s an obligation on all of us equipped with these tools to make the most of them. That’s what the pledge is all about. To not increase our efforts would be to not fully commit to our word.

    Thanks again for the mention.

    –johnny

  7. Michele Gorham

    Ed, What a wonderful post.

    When speaking about child hunger and social media the conversation, given the opportunity, could be endless(as it should). We share, and we do so because we want to enlighten people to not only the problem that affects so many children in our country, but because of the knowledge that we can also make a difference as individuals. To share the mission of Share Our Strength and their campaign No Kid Hungry, or any organization fighting to end child hunger(as our missions are all the same), often and to the point of absurdity should be welcomed. There will always be someone listening. And even if you only touch but one person in all that sharing, that is one more person who will take this message and also make a difference.

    To reference you Johnny Auer’s suggestion that Taste of the Nation Twitter accounts be active year ’round. I wholeheartedly agree. Your campaign may end, but child hunger will not unless you can stay motivated and continue to motivate others.

  8. Ty Sullivan

    Ed,
    As the Director of Marketing and Social Media for http://www.cafemetrony.com and http://www.freshandconyc.com I can tell you that what you said above is so true and YES I wish had just a hair more time to articulate some of what was discussed.
    Regarding the “why” we do what we do is a point we really didn’t get to and glad to be able to share that now.
    I did touch on it a bit by addressing the need to open a conversation, a conduit to the needs of an organization like Share.Org. But the “why” is simple. We “get it”. We don’t like the idea of thinking there are children out there who aren’t afforded the same luxuries (a gross word to use here but none the less) as others who can afford a meal. And we as an organization/business that is food related has the responsibility to do what it can for groups that deal with hunger. So many places are busy making a profit off food for those that have the finances to eat right but neglect to share “the wealth” or culinary gifts they have to better the world around them. The REAL world around them.
    We believe in giving back. We believe in helping a child who will be the voice of the next generation of those who give back because they themselves have been there.
    It’s about the future.
    It’s about doing what is right.

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