Boston and the freedom to tweet

Photograph: David L Ryan/AP

Photograph: David L Ryan/AP

I am going to be controversial in the wake of the tragic events at the Boston Marathon and talk about social network freedom. Whilst watching the events unfold on TV and social media, I was amazed at the sophistication of scammers trying to promote their cause or just gain followers by posting misleading information.

This was followed by lots of tweeters’ warning others of these scams and rightly shaming those trying to benefit from the immense suffering. It is only natural that when tragedy strikes many people will panic. In exactly the same way people can panic in dangerous real life situations.

Communicating through social media has for many people and I would probably include myself become a task as natural as talking to a friend in the pub. Social media enables real friendships and social bonds to form between people who have never met in real life. People really do have a sense of connection with people on the other side of the globe.

So, when something as awful as the Boston bombing happens, people will panic and the social media tools that provide for many people a sense of community and belonging can be taken advantage of by dishonest people. These fraudulent accounts will invariable be closed down and if fraud has been committed the police will get involved.

Fraudulent Tweet

Since the tragedy I have seen a few blogs telling people off for not showing common sense when tweeting. As anyone who has been a victim of fraud will tell you; they didn’t know what was happening to them at the time of the fraud. This is exactly the same with Twitter fraud; the people who retweeted the @_BostonMarathon account were innocent people trying to do good through social media in the belief their tweet would raise money for those tragically hurt.

Communications professionals often genuinely use mechanics like that one used by the @_BostonMarathon account to raise money for charity causes. I would hate to see people on social networks become so skeptical they were scared to click on a tweet because of fear of being berating by other community users.

I also believe charities have a role to play in offering sympathy to those effected by events such as those in Boston. Promoting your next fundraising event or asking for donations isn’t probably appropriate but genuine engagement and kindness always has a place in my eyes.  Even if a few people misused Twitter, overall it was used to inform people at the event and around the world of what was happening to people they were worried about and Google created this wonderful person finder for those worried about someone in Boston.

We live in crazy times, as a member of a non-violent, peaceful environmental action group we know the police monitor our social media communications. They email us often asking if we want to meet with them and discuss our protests that we organise on social media.

Teresa May, The Home Secretary speaking in parliament earlier this year made a Freudian slip saying; “ Police officer regularly use Twitter to access, sorry, I mean send messages”. The point being Twitter and other social media channels are already a heavily policed already by governments and law enforcing authorities.  Freedom to say what you want, click what you want, connect with who you want, is what I believe makes Twitter great.

Lets encourage more people use these tools to build connections, these relationships often lead to virtual and real life collaborations which benefit wider society.

Lets not make Twitter or other social networks elitist places ruled by strict rules where people are scared to join in.

The freedom to connect, create and click that button on whatever you want, is what makes it beautiful.

Further Reading:

For a full overview on social media at the Boston Marathon try reading @holmesdm blog: Boston marathon: Has social media coverage finally matured? 

For an alternative view to me on this issue read the very lovely @LondonKirsty blog: Why, when tragedy strikes, does common sense goes out the window?

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A Lefty Tweetup

Those of you who know me either offline or online will know that I am passionate about the power of social media to bring people together and change the world for good. Since the creation of Twitter the world has become a increasingly connected  and open place. From Iran to the Arab spring to the student protests all have benefited from Twitter giving a voice to involved to expose what really is happening on the ground.

I recently noticed a tweet by @nishmadoshi about whether there is a tweetup for politically left leaning people. This got me thinking that we totally should have one and after my experiences of participating in the amazing @nfptweetup’s organised founded by the lovely @rachelbeer. The benefits of @nfptweetup to voluntary sector has been huge it has helped nuture a open culture of sharing information to enable us all to do our jobs better.

I hope the @leftytweetup builds a similar community vibe helping us to share knowledge and build new friendships; with the ultimate aim of strengthening our opposition to the government both online and offline

So if you would like to be involved in organising the event, speaking, making cakes, providing a venue, funding 🙂 (worth trying) get in touch.

I am hoping to run the first event in October and everyone who considers themselves left politically leaning is welcome to join. What I can promise is a warm atmosphere, yummy cakes and people who want to use social media to make the world a better place.

Initial topics ideas include:

  • Social Media and governments moves to censor it/ net neutrality
  • Clean air campaign
  • The dangers of fracking
  • Post London riots- how can the left engage the communities involved?
  • Dangers of the current economic austerity programme and available alternatives.

If any of the above ideas tickle your fancy let me know.

I hope to hear from you lovely tweeters soon.

Damien

Contact me at either of these accounts:

Fun Twitter tools

Recently I have found myself increasingly spending time on twitter evaluation and mapping tools. I have decided to pull quickly pull together a couple of my personal favourites for you to explore.

Mention Map

Likely to inspire alot of oooh’s and ahh’s in the office, this visually dynamic application developed by asterisq allows you to map people or organisations you have recently influenced. The thicker the line the stronger the influence, it also pulls up hashtag’s that the twitter user has been using recently. By clicking on other people you influence “nodes” you can investigate their networks and look at how to extend your reach. I have included a screengrab of my recent influencer’s map.

If I then wanted to investigate my @YoungAchievers friend and colleague @jlowthrop network I would search her twitter handle and I would be able to view a graph of her current network of influencers.

The limitations to this tool is that it only gives you an indication of the people who you are currently influencing, so by no means is this a definitive tool  for mapping the Twitter eco system, but it is well worth regularly investigating who are the current influencers on the people you wish to reach. My personal tip would to be look at journalists and who they are influenced by as this could be a way to get on their radar “not that I would ever do a sneaky thing like that”

Trendistic

This tool allows you to research the popularity of different twitter trends. You are able to search individual topics or compare trends like I have done below with Arsenal and Birmingham City following the football league cup final.

Twittersheep

If you are developing a following on Twitter doing it to engage with interesting people either professional or personality or quite often both. Twittersheep enables you to view the most commonly mentioned words in the profile bios of your followers. The premise is simple the bigger the word in the cloud the more popular it is with the in the bio’s of your followers.

Tweetreach

This tool allows you to measure the reach of your last 50 tweets, This is a great for measuring the reach of campaigns over a short period of time, including @ replies and impressions of your tweets served up followers you have been influencing.

http://tweetreach.com/

This list of resources is by no means exhaustive and only skims the surface, they are just a few of my favourites. New analysis and planning tools crop up regularly so worth checking out resources such a Mashable, E-Consultancy and a new tech update blog from Beautiful World’s  @ashleynclarke and all tweets from @nfptweetup

Any questions drop me a tweet at @damienclarkson

You may also be interested in a list of some of my favourite Charity tweeters http://twitter.com/list/damienclarkson/awesomecharity

Free resources to help Charities with demonstrating impact

Free  resources for charities

It now seems clear the voluntary sector is entering a new age of austerity. The OCS recent announcement that only 15 of 42 current strategic partners will receive funding next year this is a clear early indication of cuts to come.
Funders more so than ever will be searching for the investments which will yield the greatest ROI.Therefore Charities need to ensure they are effectively demonstrating the impact their work is having on the communities.

This post compiles a couple of useful resources which are free for non-profit organisations. They are a mix of free resources and social media tools all great for shouting about the work your organisation undertakes and communicating with beneficiaries.
The Charities Technology Trust in association with US non profit technology providers Techsoup have teamed up to provide members of the CTX Exchange programme between 2 and 5 free Flickr pro accounts. Flickr is a web site for photo storage which allows you to chronologically tell the story of your organisation through the means of photography. Communication tools let users get comments, notes, and tags on their photos, post them to any blog.
This product is a great way to visually demonstrate the projects your charity is working and the positive impact from the frontline on the lives of beneficiaries.

If you are a registered charity you stand a great chance of being entitled to a Google grant which is a In-Kind advertising programme. Initially you can receive $10000 worth of free Google adwords advertising commonly known as per per click (PPC). This will allow your organisation to be found easier on the web through search engine searches. Planning adword campaigns is relatively simple it works on the premise of bidding for search terms for example children services, depending on how much you bid will dictate whereabouts you appear on the right hand side.
A website is often the first contact that a future funder will have with your charity, ensuring that this is a positive experience could mean a big difference for your charity. The Charity Technology Trust provide excellent free website with a fully functioning content management system. Setting up a website is easy and you can be on your way to having a great new website in under 10 minutes. There are a wide range of templates to choose from and editing your new website is simple using an editor similar to Word and PowerPoint.
2009 was branded the year of Twitter by the media and the “revolution” didn’t go unnoticed by Civil Society. Twitter has developed into a great way to communicate with other charities, potential funders and service beneficiaries. Twitter allows you to expand your network of like minded individuals it is a great way to discover new things happening in your community.
For those who haven’t explored the world of Twitter before here is a short summary about Twitter
Twitter is a micro-blogging tool with a social focus. You can post 140 character messages to people who are interested in you or your organisation – these are your ‘followers’ – and you can also ‘follow’ others whose updates you wish to read.
To get you started try following these organisations:
@_CDX_
@knowhownonprof
@NCVO
@ ThirdSectorLab
@ACEVO
@becauseitsgood
@brightonecomms
@sounddelivery
@navcanews
@Media_Trust

WordPress is an easy to use blog/website creation tool, it is simple to use but also has the functionality to be quite sophisticated dependent on the user skill level. Blogging is a great way to get your articles picked up by search engines and reach new audiences.
Foursquare is a mobile geo location application which allows you to check in to different areas of your city. This could be a train station, your charity or your favourite café. When you check in you get rewarded with points and badges, you can also see where you’re friends who use foursquare in last checked in. Organisations are already using this application to offer incentives to users. For example I was recently in a large shopping centre and a retailer was offering entry into a prize draw if checked in to their shop. I believe the potential for engagement with beneficiaries could be huge in the future, the buzz around it feels like Twitter did in 2008 before it really took off.

Online Communities

Online communities in the non-profit sector have cropped up in recent times, these are created to allow you as individuals to share ideas and best practice. A couple well worth checking out are www.knowhownonprofit.org which is a free online information resource and e-learning project. Another great network is www.navcaboodle.org.uk where infrastructure workers discuss issues affecting the voluntary sector. If you work in marketing and communications The Third Sector PR and Communications network is very popular and a great place to share cutting edge marketing ideas.

This is by no means a definitive guide to what is out there but hopefully it will be a useful starting point for someone. Follow me on http://twitter.com/damienclarkson