We nonprofit geeks over at Aspiration, the mama organization for Social Source Commons have recently begun working in Social Media for our organization. While this new world can be big, scary, haphazard, constantly changing and full of scary critters, there is a lot of potential value that nonprofits can gain by engaging the different audiences that frequent the newly emerged social media avenues. But the big problem is, not only are there a ton of them, but they sprout up every day like Steve Gutenberg movies in the ’80s. How is anyone supposed to keep track? Well, we like to use what we call Aspiration’s Online Communications Matrix. (But for those who are morally opposed to excessive syllables, “Publishing Matrix” works for short.)
The idea behind a Publishing Matrix is that your organization has many different channels in which to communicate with its constituency. Each of these channels has a slightly (or dramatically) different audience, tone and purpose. But very few organizations have an intentional model for when to use specific online tools for specific purposes, or how to coordinate their use of different online channels to greater effect. A “publishing matrix” offers an integrated way for deciding which messages go to which online channels: what’s tweet-worthy, what is “just” web content.
Creating one involves the following steps using a spreadsheet tool:
- Each online channel (web site, email list, blog, Facebook, Twitter, etc) is labeled as a column in a spreadsheet.
- Each type of online content an organization publishes (eNewsletters, press releases, event announcements, blog posts, etc) are allocated a row in the spreadsheet.
- For each content type, an “X” is placed in each cell in that row corresponding to a channel where that type of content is publicized. For instance, an org might tweet about a blog post, but not tell their mailing list. eNewsletters may be mentioned on the web site, but perhaps not on the blog. And it’s certainly the case that most tweets won’t ever find their way into the more traditional web and email channels.
Organizations can then use their matrix to drive publishing process. Whenever any online content is published, the matrix provides a simple deterministic guide on where to cross-reference it to maximize distribution and drive traffic. Having a document and process that dictates these patterns removes pressure to “figure it out” every time, and creates consistent messaging patterns and process. In other words, bringing the organization together on the same page.
To the right, I’ve embedded a toolbox that I’ve made containing tools that we use for online communications. That is, my Publishing Matrix Tools. You can also read the ways in which we take advantage of each in my custom descriptions. (Don’t you just LOVE internal linking…?)
What techniques do you use for communicating content to a wide variety of channels? What channels do you use that aren’t in our matrix?
Because every organization is different, every organization will have different messages they want to communicate as well as different ways in which to do it. Some nonprofits we work with take advantage of mass SMS for contacting people without email. Some use Craigslist as their primary place to post new positions. It all depends on your audience assessment and the messages that you are trying to get across.
So check it out and let me know what you think!