SocialMedia.biz Founder J.D. Lasica Discusses Social Media Strategy

Written by Bonnie Boglioli...March 29, 2011

When it comes to the topic of social media, few people leverage more experience and knowledge than J.D. Lasica. A veteran journalist and entrepreneur, Lasica turned his attention to the social sector as a strategist, blogger and author before it became a buzzword.  He is a frequent guest speaker and lecturer on social media, marketing and technology and has written several books on the subject.

He is the founder of SocialMedia.biz, a global enterprise that offers social media consulting services to a host of brands and Fortune 1000 companies. Devoted to the potential impact of social media on nonprofits and philanthropic organizations, he founded SocialBrite.org which offers specialized consulting services, information and community insight for their specific needs.

We had the great opportunity to speak with J.D. Lasica whose social media acumen offers organizations large and small, for profit and nonprofit, much to think about. The interview has been edited for length and clarity.

STR:  As one of the first social media strategists and evangelists, you have seen it grow from unconventional to ubiquitous in just a few short years. What have you learned about its potential?

JL:  Social media transforms all aspects of our society and shifts the balance of power from big organizations and businesses to people who use networks to collectively reach out and effect social change. We’re living in the very early stages of this revolution. It’s disruptive and it’s exciting. A lot of organizations, nonprofits and social enterprises are becoming aware of its depth but there are certainly mixed results because some of them aren’t using it effectively.

STR:  Speaking of effectiveness, what are the biggest challenges when determining the right social media strategy for an organization?

JL:  Social media isn’t just a marketing tool. It’s a philosophy and a way of engaging with stakeholders. It’s more than setting up a Facebook page. It’s about redefining how you do your work. The old model of doing business is disappearing and it’s no longer top-down. It’s not enough to delegate social media to an intern or even a consultant like myself. You need a game plan to incorporate it into all aspects of the organizational mission. When I talk to executives, they have their own set of priorities and social media can be jarring for them because it fundamentally shakes up how they do things. Change doesn’t come easy but when they see the lessons learned from successful organizations, they get excited about the possibilities.

STR:  You founded SocialBrite.org, an online hub that offers consulting and social media advice for non-profits. What are the key differentiators when it comes to social media engagement for fundraising and advocacy versus sales?

JL:  Social media can be more difficult for nonprofits because of their very limited resources, time and staffing. The (nonprofit) apparatus is based on fundraising and they all want to use social media for that purpose but they shouldn’t start with it. Before asking for something, they need to form a relationship with their supporters. Like all organizations, they need to be more transparent, create communities, engage and listen. At SocialBrite, we focus on storytelling by using videos, photos and dialog with the people that are being touched by the organization to tell the story. Social media is a fast moving train and nonprofits can jump on it by telling their story and then create a campaign to fundraise afterward.

STR:  There are so many social media tools that serve very unique needs but can convolute the space. Are having so many choices good or bad in your estimation?

JL:  You don’t want to freeze because of the overwhelming number of social media tools and platforms coming at you. There are more than a thousand Twitter apps alone. First, I recommend an organization find someone who knows the space to identify a handful of tools that make sense and ignore the rest of the noise. Don’t try to keep up with the latest, shiny social ‘toy’. Avoid those and focus on your core mission and the tools that enable you to reach your goals.

STR:  What are some areas of social media that you feel will dominate the next few years or things that are presently missing?

JL:  I suggest thinking strongly about geo-location, particularly for social enterprise. More and more people are using their mobile devices to get online. When they are out and doing things in their community they want to share with their networks. We see the popularity of Foursquare and Gowalla but why isn’t there a place for sharing geo-location for social enterprises?

STR:  One of your recent books, Identity in the Age of Cloud Computing, explores the Internet’s impact on social interaction. Where does social media fall into the larger picture?

JL:  Identity is the mega trend of what’s happening. We’re all moving to the cloud and towards tools and services that are accessible anytime and anywhere. It goes hand in hand with what’s happening in the social media world where we connect with people who we have very different relationships with on different platforms. You dip in and out of these networks just like you do in the cloud, grabbing a Google doc to share with a group of colleagues or going to Facebook for advice from a group of friends. It’s about universal access, information, knowledge and support… finding like-minded communities for your needs. You can’t build a closed community anymore nor would you really want to. The future is Interoperability and ease.

STR:  J.D., it’s been a pleasure speaking with you. Thanks for your time.

JL:  Thanks for the opportunity! 

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