8 Lies and 2 Truths Of How Small Organizations Are Succeeding With Social Media (SXSW 2012)

(See all of Ramon’s SXSW Interactive 2012 coverage here)

At SXSW 2012, Aimee Roundtree – University of Houston-Downtown shared her insight in how small organizations can BEST succeed in using social media.

Bottom line – stop trying to have some big strategy or to do everything right.

Simply focus on promoting the content of your constituents and provide engaging content to your audience. The rest will come.

What are some things organizations have been doing who are successfully leveraging social media:

  1. know your mission and purpose
  2. identify your audience before hand
  3. align social media campaign around the purpose
  4. then construct social media policies around this
  5. have a training program (ongoing) so all your staff knows the benefits of social media; knows the best  practices
  6. invite your audience and volunteers to what you are doing
  7. know your metrics – are you setting concrete outcomes (likes, friends, corresponding emails)
  8. measure  positive or negative sentiment towards your organization

Most small organizations follow these rules as best they can. They also publish polls, studies and more great content.

Based on research alone, it appears these organizations are indeed following these best practices, however, the reality shows they are NOT doing this.

However those who are succeeding are focused on:

  1. promoting the content of their constituents and
  2. providing engaging content to their audience.

The average organization has 347 fans in Facebok, average comments in a month is 11 and average likes are 27.

Typical problems of small organizations:

  • short staffed
  • no funding
  • volunteers
  • no time
  • most people who are working at an organization did not even use social media

Organizations have had more luck using their personal social profiles than the organizations official profiles.

Success in social media for small organizations:

Decentralized administration works , as in the case of #riotcleanup . Where local volunteers cleaned up the businesses after London rioters rioted. Where no top level administration controlled things but a company facilitated communication.

Bottom up messaging – small organizations do this very well as in the case of GirlTrek.

Small organizations can also make “trivial content” very unique. Meaning taking something that is normally not so significant but getting behind it and leveraging it for a greater cause.

Reconsider your social media model t:  distribute, centralize, coordinate


3 thoughts on “8 Lies and 2 Truths Of How Small Organizations Are Succeeding With Social Media (SXSW 2012)

  1. Karl W. Palachuk

    Very nice. SO many people are doing “something” just because they think they need to. But they’re spinning their wheels because they don’t have focus and clarity of purpose. Thank you for the post.

  2. Anthony Colant

    Enjoyed the article! I think the one advantage that small organizations have over large organizations is just that, they are small. They need to focus their media efforts much more on connecting with their customers and creating a sense of community around their business, rather then just trying to push their product or promote their content.

     Gary Vaynerchuk does an awesome job of talking about how small businesses can leverage social media to make people life long fans of their company and brand. It is much easier for a small organization to keep track of what their customers or even potential customers are doing in the social media space. They also have the advantage of being able to quickly make decisions and reach out to these customers and offer a personalized promotion or even just a thank you. 

    I feel small businesses are just barely beginning to realize the power of social media and as more and more of them start realizing it, more and more customers will shift their business to the businesses that are really committed to their customers. I’m excited to see how the use of social media will continue to change the business landscape over the next five to ten years.


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