Archive for May 14th, 2010
As Catherine pointed out yesterday, many in the homelessness field have been slow to embrace using social media tools. As the New Media Intern at the Alliance, this hesitance has sometimes created challenges, but it has also made for some happy surprises.
As I’ve explored the social media landscape, I’ve been impressed and inspired over and over again by the homelessness blogosphere. Advocates, policy organizations, service providers and concerned citizens are using this new medium to share stories and information, to engage supporters and investigate new ideas.
So straight from my Google Reader, here’s homelessness in headlines this week – from the blogopshere:
2) for those who can’t afford free speech, the blog of Portland’s street newspaper Street Roots, consistently shares a wide variety of great content. This past week, they published an interview with Liesl Wendt, CEO of 211info in the Portland area. It serves as a handy introduction to 211 services, as well as the recession’s impact on the people of Portland.
4) Unity of Greater New Orleans’ Signs of Life. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: read it!
5) Inforumusa is updated daily with news and analysis about homelessness in LA and across the U.S. This week, they covered the Our Faith Matters Conference, which featured an appearance by HUD Deputy Director Anthony Love. He’s talking about the federal strategic plan on homelessness – due out next week!
6) Change.org’s End Homelessness blog represents a wide range of perspectives: service providers, advocates, formerly homeless people – and us! Plus, it’s updated 2-3 times every day, so you can stay up to date.
7) Open House, the blog of the National Housing Conference, keeps us informed about affordable housing and housing issues.
It’s brand-new and not specifically focused on homelessness, but Off the Charts makes the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities’ complex analyses easily readable and with great infographics, easy on the eyes.
10) And then there’s the Homelessness section on the Huffington Post, which just this week included a post from Maria Foscarinis of NLCHP connecting Arizona’s new immigration law SB-1070 and homelessness. If you stay tuned, you’ll also catch posts from Invisible People, which lets people experiencing homelessness share their own stories.
This is by no means an exhaustive list! What blogs about homelessness do you read? What did am I missing?
One of my responsibilities at the Alliance is to manage our social networks, and in the era of furious blogging and even more frenetic tweeting, it can get chaotic. Often times, I find the need to stop, take a breath, and evaluate exactly how all this social media frenzy contributes to the Alliance’s goals and mission.
Which isn’t to say I don’t see the value in the mediums. I’m the lucky product of a world full of information technology and social media tools. I grew up with high-speed internet at my fingertips and an iPod on my hip; I was an early adopter of Facebook and yes, I have my very own Twitter account. And while I would hardly call myself a pusher or an expert, I do truly believe in the potential of social media tools to cultivate change, progress, and conversation.
It’s is why I’m so excited to be doing it in this field. While nonprofits are often slightly behind the curve to pick up new technologies, it’s been my personal experience that my own field has been particularly slow to adopt new media platforms. At this years Nonprofit Technology Conference (NTC), I found a small cohort of colleagues in the homeless assistance and housing field to swap stories with – and a major theme of those stories is our missing presence among nonprofits utilizing these new tools.
And many of us are.
At NTC, I took a workshop analyzing the way nonprofit organizations use social media. The numbers are staggering – more and more nonprofit organizations are stepping into the world of social media. A few highlights of the 2010 Nonprofit Social Media Benchmarks Report:
- Facebook dominates the field with a staggering 86 percent of nonprofit organizations reporting some kind of Facebook presence, up from 74 percent last year
- 60 percent report a Twitter presence, nearly doubling last year’s number.
- A few nonprofit sectors have stronger social media presences, those sectors including international, environment, animal welfare, and education nonprofits.
- Marketing, fundraising, and advocacy are among the intended goals/uses of nonprofit social networks.
I’d like to do a similar study, surveying only my colleagues in this industry, to gauge how active a strong a presence we have on social networks. I’m sure the data would suggest another picture entirely.
Which strikes me as curious. If the intent of social media networks is to build communities, share information, and open another portal of communications (which I posit are some goals of social media networks), then I can’t think of a industry better suited for those networks than human and social services. Our industry requires as much communication as possible – we’re working to directly better the lives of some of the most vulnerable of our friends and neighbors.
Or am I entirely wrong?
Don’t hesitate to comment and let me know – I’d love to hear your thoughts.