Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Implementing a social networking strategy to drive effective green technology and sustainability – a practical guide, part 3

Posted in social networking and business by Timothy Platt on April 7, 2010

This is my fifth posting on developing effective social networking and goals oriented communities to promote effective green technology and sustainability. I set the stage with two foundation postings and then started to outline a practical guide to making this work with:

Implementing a Social Networking Strategy to Drive Effective Green Technology and Sustainability – a practical guide focusing on the basics and building a networking and goals oriented community by leveraging an understanding of the taxonomy, structure and dynamics of social networks, and
Implementing a Social Networking Strategy to Drive Effective Green Technology and Sustainability – a practical guide, part 2 continuing this to discuss on how to build an organized, goals directed social network and community.

This posting continues from there to look more deeply into issues and opportunities faced as you work to keep your groups, your networks and your community focused on addressing high priority issues, and with a coordinated approach.

When you start bringing people together to talk about and share information and insights about issues important to them, you find yourself empowering people who have felt themselves voiceless and unheard. This is very liberating and this sense of new freedom and involvement can be a powerful driving force. This is what you need to tap into, to both maintain and to build, and to get things done. This same new sense of being heard and valued with coming after being isolated and unheard can also release a lot of pressures and in a lot of directions. If you don’t account for this as you build and lead your growing community and the network that connects it together, you might see this desire to be heard in effect tear your collective efforts apart as issue after issue bubbles to the top.

• All of these issues may be valid and important, but if you want to address any single specific issue or priority effectively as your overall organizing objective, you have to do so with a clear organizing focus.
• At the same time it is vital that no one seeking to lead this movement take an authoritarian approach. People, and by this I mean all people you would draw into this effort needs to be heard and to know they are valued and appreciated.

There is a fine line here and I want to focus on online discussion groups as a working example, though much of what I will say applies to face to face meetings and other gatherings too.

• You need to find group moderators who can listen and be polite and respectful, and still know when to tell someone that their ideas and concerns are important but that it would be better to focus on them separately and as a distinct discussion, and to keep this discussion more focused to the immediate issue at hand.
• This requires a carefully planned and clearly developed set of moderating policies – you do not want to come across as being arbitrary and capricious, or of playing favorites by allowing some to have their say while others are denied that right.
• Any such guidelines will always be a work in progress to at least a certain degree, but you want to start out with the basic issues covered so you are simply adjusting and updating from there, on what is already a set of established ground rules.
• You have to clear to everyone that the focus of this group is a very specific X (e.g. blocking the development of hydrofracking shale oil and gas recovery in Upstate New York and in our farming communities and where if would degrade and destroy our aquifers. Highway repair may be important too, but discussion of that does not belong in a discussion focusing on the problems and issues of possible hydrofracking in our backyards.)

If there are side issues that do connect into your overall objectives, but that not everyone would want to delve into in detail – specialized but connected aspects important to developing and implementing solutions to the problems your community seeks to address, set up side groups to handle them. These groups can be open to anyone who decides they want to see the details and get involved in the discussion on them. These groups can then report the key details and their findings as appropriate to the larger community. These side groups can be formed, run their course and then close down when and as appropriate, and as side issues arise, are clarified and resolved.

One or a few individuals may do significant amounts of the work of organizing and leading these social networks and goals oriented communities, but everyone involved should feel they have a say and a voice in sharing that. This has to be an openly collaborative effort too. There are delicate balances here.

And this brings me to the final point I will touch upon in this posting: identifying and dealing with the truly disruptive.

Moderate membership of your online and other groups and look for people who try to spam or scam your members in your group discussion boards and emails. Look for people who take a derogatory tone or approach towards others or who otherwise behave in an unacceptable manner. Look for those who insist in trying to push unrelated or inappropriate issues into the discussion and without regard to anything but their own personal agendas. Give disruptive members fair warning if they are not involved in activities for which you should have zero tolerance. And remember that sometimes individuals have to be removed from the group to protect it and its members.

The goal of all of this organizing and all of this collaborative effort is to share ideas and energy and to organize a response that can accomplish goals of common, shared value that no individual or smaller, less organized group could accomplish. Keeping an effective focus is a key to making that happen.

My next posting in this series is going to touch on marketing and celebrity endorsements and support.

3 Responses

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  1. […] Implementing a social networking strategy to drive effective green … […]

  2. […] practical guide, part 2 – building an organized, goals directed social network and community. • Implementing a Social Networking Strategy to Drive Effective Green Technology and Sustainability –… – keeping your groups, your networks and your community focused on addressing high priority […]

  3. […] movement that is social network and community-based. I have touched on a number of issues involving building and maintaining group focus on mission and vision, and I have looked into functional issues such as fundraising (and Part 2) and marketing for Green. […]

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