Listening and Failing Fast

Last week was a fantastic week at Lake Cumberland. Wake up, go fishing, eat breakfast, do absolutely nothing, watch Dig ski, hang in the water, drink a Miller, and fall asleep at 10pm.  Absolutely fantastic.  A vacation was much needed. I would suggest this for anyone, and my suggestion extends to… TAKE AN ACTUAL VACATION. Don’t just extend a weekend.  Leave work… FOR A WEEK.

It’s very re-energizing. And you know you need it.

What about ‘Listening and Failing Fast’?

Well after getting back from vacation, it’s been a bit easier to key back into reading up on the latest trends of social media and how that can affect your nonprofit. Yesterday, I saw that the Case Foundation is swinging back into their #BeFearless Campaign.  Today, I read a post on Smart Blog on Social Media about how Listening is our most important skill.


Listening online can be hard to do, but if you are fearless about the questions you ask, then you can make very big strides. One of the hardest things about asking questions of your online community is the willingness to let someone give you suggestions that you may not enjoy hearing. But let’s do it! Transparency is one thing that is valued by many in today’s world.

Here is a question for you now…

How do you formulate questions to get feedback online?
Do you do a question of the day or the week?
Have you been willing to let people give feedback on specific programs?


Do you have a personal mission statement?

Well, do ya punk?

I’m fairly certain that Clint Eastwood has one.  And, I’ve seen a few others online talking about their personal statements.  The other day while skimming the Twitterverse, I saw Sara Croft post about this. Naturally it turned to tweets back and forths and then into emails back and forth.

The one thing we were both trying to work through is narrowing it down.  When you are passionate about many things and enjoy helping others’ endeavors, it is hard to narrow down a personal mission statement.

I’m actually still working on mine, but here is what I have so far…

Fostering open, collaborative conversations on how to make a sustainable impact on your community.

But I am always working on it.  What about you?  Do you have a personal statement?  Are you looking for one?  Comment below! Or tweet me.  I would love to continue this conversation!

The End of Q1 – What has been accomplished?

It’s the last day of March, and this means that we are heading into the 2nd quarter of the year.  Unreal how fast time flies.

One of the biggest things that I’ve learned from Quarter 1 is the importance of not having too many things on your plate.  Toward the end of last year, I made it a point to start saying ‘No’ to a few volunteer positions and groups that I had been a part of.

The reason being – I was stressed.

Having an overloaded plate is natural for people our age, and especially for people who are just out of college.  It is understandable if you are wanting make a splash, move forward quickly, and gain the ever so coveted “EXPERIENCE” that so many job positions ask for.  However, once you start progressing in ALL of those tasks, then more is asked of you.

WARNING: Know when to start taking things off of your plate.

photo credit to
photo credit to

Experience can be more valuable when you are accomplishing ‘less’ things at GREATER quality.  Your plate will naturally get more and more full as you show your worth in your full time job, as you go from an at-large board member to a VP, and as you show that you get things done.  But, if you start taking on more responsibility at ALL of the things you are doing, then you start letting people (or yourself) down.

As part of the generation that wants instant gratification, this is a hard concept to grasp, but it is one that is necessary.  HECK YES you always need to push forward as quick as you can, but remember not to get too frustrated at things that take longer than you hoped.

What have you gotten accomplished during Quarter 1 of 2014?  Would love to hear from you!

Your Virtual First Impression

Getting ready to head up to the alma mater tonight and tomorrow for the Wabash Entrepreneur Summit.

In gearing up for this, I have learned at least one thing… typing out E-N-T-R-E-P-R-E-N-E-U-R takes me longer than typing out any other word. (So many E’s)

But, I have also learned that I do have a firm stance on the questions you should ask yourself in order to find your virtual “tone of voice.”  

However, I can not share them until after the summit or else I’d be staring out at an empty room tomorrow because hopefully all Summit attendees have already found my blog. #wishfulthinking

The reason for this post, though, is to get some conversation going around YOUR THOUGHTS about “tone of voice” and “first impressions” ONLINE. What do you think needs to be asked and what needs to be done in order to have a good TONE and a good FIRST IMPRESSION in the online space?

photo credited to
photo credited to

Share your thoughts in the comments section below, or tweet me.


Finding a Voice online – and then keeping it?

The most powerful thing about social media is that you are able to portray yourself in exactly the light that you would like to.

For pessimists – you are thinking of the Catfish out there. People pretending to be someone that they are NOT at all.

For optimists – you are thinking of the celebrities and companies showing transparency so that we can get a hint at MORE than what mainstream media tells us.

And for those of us early in our careers – this is our chance to present ourselves in a professional manner and build a personal brand.  What many experts say is that you need to find a voice. When I started my nonprofit career almost 4 years ago, I think I stated that my voice will be “expert on social media for nonprofits.”

My understanding from reading article after article was that your voice needs to remain consistent throughout all platforms so that people aren’t mixed up when they see your presence.  And this is true…

picture credit to
picture credit to

However, just like anything, it should be taken with a grain of salt.  Four years ago, I had what I thought was my “brand” or my “voice”.  Things change, though, and it is tough to KEEP that voice throughout everything.

How do you keep it?

1. Have a good mix
My difficulty was keeping my voice was the “always having to be an expert” in the back of my head.  When I decided that I would disperse personality and NON-social media messaging, I gained some response.

2. Be Yourself
Your goal may be to show your expertise or to only speak on subject matter, but those blogs and brands are a dime a dozen on the interwebs now.  You must BE YOURSELF in order to get true engagement.

3. Have Your Voice as the Foundation, not the entirety of your presence.
Your “brand” or “voice” should always be in the back of your mind, but it shouldn’t LEAD the charge with your messaging.  Your messaging should pertain to current events and trends with an echo of your voice to it.

Has anyone else experienced these growing pains when keeping up with their online presence?  I’d love to hear from others because I may WANT to be an expert, but I’m not just yet.

Does blogging help anything?

While heading to the Russ Reid conference and as I was sitting on my first flight to California, I had a thought.

First of all, the family sitting in front of us on the plane is great.  They are making me flashback to the times when my 4 brothers and I could not sit still no matter where you took us.  I think that is still the cause, though, even if the twins are 16.  Mother, father, daughter, son, daughter, and son all sitting in front of us – it is amazing the process and teamwork between mom and dad to keep the kids calm.

SO… After reading a portion of the Wall Street Journal and gaining a personal best in Flappy Bird, I’ve realized that I need to start blogging again.  I have not blogged in a long while, and I attribute it to my being “busy” but that is a terrible excuse.  Everyone is busy.

How does blogging help?

1. It keeps me organized.

Not that I ever get UN-organized, but my experience blogging has made it apparent that I prioritize better when I am thinking about blog themes and monthly themes for this writing place.

2. It keeps me inspired.

Some people are doodlers.  Some people are musicians. Some people are gamers.  I need to write in order to let my mind run its course.  Almost like a bad temper, if you keep your creativity in, then you run the risk of it pouring out like a jumbled mess (which this post may look like).

3. It keeps me educated.

Blogging leads to engaging conversation.  Education comes through all avenues, but KNOWLEDGE comes through conversation and experience.

So yeah, it may be in the middle of the month.  It may not be January 1st.  But hey, not all resolutions have to start at the beginning of a year or the beginning of a month.

photo courtesy to
photo courtesy to

Here is to challenging myself to blog each and everyday.  That way it won’t be a jumbled and long post like this one.  If you have read this all the way to the end, then I hope you are in the same predicament I was by not blogging because this post may be more for myself personally than for any of you readers out there.

Who wants to hold each other accountable?  Unofficially sign up for the UNOFFICIAL DAILY BLOG CHALLENGE by submitting your name in the unofficial sign up sheet that is the comments section below.

Passion will bring Success

Not always. Sorry for starting with a negative here, but what I mean is that JUST because younhave passion doesn’t mean you will see fantastic success in every little thing you do. Failure happens.

But this is when passion is even more crucial.

When you have passion, you will find success within each failure. Passion means that you want something to be successful so bad that you are willing to take chances and to fail as many times as it takes to eventually succeed!

photo credit to
photo credit to

Coworker keeps blocking a social media project you bring to the table? Find out what they see as valuable and show them how social media enhances it. Give them a recent case study.

Know you need video to enhance you social media program but itnis difficult to get good stories? Start sharing great videos from like organizations with programs staff. They will start wanting YOUR organization to make videos like that.

Frustrated with day in and day out of no mentions, no likes or comments on Facebook, and no blog comments? Keep pushing. People are reading. People just want to get used to your organization’s presence. Think outside the box on how you can get people to engage. Maybe it’ll take some offline encouragement.

Passion for a successful social media program.  Passion for talking with people who care about your cause. And, passion for tsking that engaged person to the n3xt level of involvement with your organization will get you through.

Never lose passion.

Once you lose that passion, people notice. But, if you get knocked down and then pop right back up, people notice that even more.

What does a Firm Defense mean in Social Media?

I am really stretching my Colts and Social Media analogy. My sincerest apologies to… wait… I am not going to apologize to any of you who don’t like the Colts! #COLTSTRONG


Having a firm defense when it comes to social media programs and campaigns is important. If you don’t recognize what things you should be saying no to, then you will be spending a lot of time pushing quick contests to hopefully raise $500 (or something of the sort). Don’t get me wrong, all money is good money to help the cause. But, think it through…

Your salary per hour × Hours spent for successful campaign > Amount Received

What you see above is one defensive strategy. Another…

“I don’t have the time to create everything to make this campaign successful.”

Most likely, if you are a nonprofit employee, you are not JUST handling the social media program. Make sure the project is worth your time, and you can’t forget that you will NEED time to make it successful.

photo credit to
photo credit to

Once, you adopt a firm defense, your online world will blossom. You will see yourself become more engaging with your audience. You will become a better question asker. And, YOU will be engaging with others, not just waiting for them to engage with you.

Why will I see this change? You ask.

You will see a change because having a firm defense will give you more time to pursuit the strategies that you have in mind. Trust yourself. You are the one doing research on how to become engaging online as a nonprofit. You know your audience better than others in the office. You know more than anyone that people simply do NOT, do NOT, like constantly seeing pleas for votes on Facebook. And, you will be the first one to see what other types of messages are annoying the online world.

Have a firm defense, you’re online community will thank you for it. BUT REMEMBER, keep a flexible strategy and stay open minded. Someone may suggest an idea that sparks a great fundraiser.

How have you stood firm when others make suggestions on whst to post online? Share your stories in the comments section.

Flexible Strategy for Nonprofit Social Media Programs

Yesterday, I compared a nonprofit’s Social Media program to the Indianapolis Colts. I did that (1) because I was still really excited about the comeback win and (2) it is really important to see how flexibly strategy can and should be.

In talking with a few executive directors at the AFP Leadership Academy last month, many spoke about how strategic plans have gotten shorter. Organizations would come up with great 10 year plans, but that is not the case anymore. We are seeing 1, 3, and maybe 5 year plans.

Willie – I don’t care about the metaphor anymore just tell me about flexible strategy.
Okay, okay. You got it.

Whether you are starting an SM Program or ramping it up here are a few things you may come across on why to stay flexible:

– Your grant writers put social media recognition into a proposal
– Volunteer groups need to be shouted out for a job well done
– There are 3 small third party fundraising events happening
And this is all happening on a Tuesday when you had planned to write a blog on how the Colts inspired your organization.

This will be inevitable for the foreseeable future of social media. No getting around it because it is a real time platform, everyone knows it as that, and you will get suggestions like this every so often.

keep the gears

Action Steps to help stay Strategic:

  1. Write out your Editorial Calendar and send it to all parties that may bring you content suggestions.
  2. Share outlook/gmail calendars with coworkers and constantly check what is going to pop up.
  3. Have an idea for what actions require different levels of recognition.

This will give your coworkers an idea of what you want to put out in the online realm and make suggestions EARLY rather than the day of.  Be vigilant in seeing what things may pop up ou nof the blue and be prepared. If something can just be Instagrammed instead of blogged about, then make that clear. You can handle all that is going on as long as you make the time to work ahead NOW.

How have you juggled the constant requests to put things on social media?
Does anyone have a recognition level process? I don’t,  and I would love to talk further about that.  Hit me up at @Willie_Matis or comment below.

How the Colts can teach your Nonprofit about Social Media

It is crazy how much a sports game can affect a city’s mood.  You just feel as if everyone is in a much better mood on Mondays after a Colts win. I’m sure other cities can say the same for their sports teams.

Last night’s comeback win against the divisional rival, Texans, not only put me in a better mood, but it reflected how a social media program can be built.

1. Flexible Strategy

The Colts came into the game with a strategy. Just like when we start any program at an organization, you start with a strategy to succeed right? Well, we saw how that first half turned out with a rookie quarterback putting the Colts behind the 8 ball from the very start. Social Media strategy can be AND SHOULD BE tweaked regularly.  Your audience reacts in different ways, at different times, and it deoends on platform. Stay versatile (like the Colts offense)

2. Firm Defense

It looked as though our defense in the first half was very excited to disrupt a young quarterback. Similar to how excited you get about starting a social media program, you get very excited to have INSTANT success because it should be easy, right?  Wrong. In the second half, our defense was consistent. They stood firm. Stand firm when others come at you with their “instant success” campaigns, defend your audience from oversaturation of fundraising contests, and pick and choose your spots on when to blitz. Your audience will thank you for it.

3. Passion will bring Success

A passionate team has showed up every Sunday since Coach Pagano took over as head coach. Andrew Luck had played 24 regular season games, won 17, and 10 of those have consisted of 4th quarter/Overtime comebacks. Passion in social media means willingness to engage with your audience, empower your coworkers to supply you with content, and report with statistics that show results relative to where you arr in the process of building an online community.


A lot can be learned from Andrew and the boys. It was another great win for the Colts who always seem find a way to do a lot with just a little. Which sounds a lot like what Social Media managers at nonprofits have to do.

What do you think about the Colts win last night?
How do you stay flexible with strategy yet firm with direction with your online campaign strategies?