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by Ryan Hutchinson

Okay, look.  There’s no denying that we’re witnessing a seismic [seismic written pre-Virginia earthquake!], evolutionary step in how people and organizations communicate, thanks to social media.

And here’s what I (re)learned at the DMAW August Monthly Luncheon: unless we want to find ourselves on the bottom of evolution’s shoe, we must (re)discover where our audiences live – on the web – and (re)familiarize ourselves with the tools and information they use to connect.  The good news is that the  Aug. 18th DMAW luncheon attendees had Dr. Jo Golden and Tracey Holinka, MS, from Chaos To Clarity, to guide us through the social media maze.

The session’s title of “Excite, Connect & Succeed: Making the Most of the Social Web” should have included a post-script of “Don’t forget the fundamentals of direct marketing,” which Golden and Holinka both provided as a framework for their presentation.  We were reminded that people respond and connect through stories, we enjoy the opportunity to autonomously scratch our advocacy itch, and we will not refuse the chance to connect ourselves to a greater cause.

So, how does one apply the fundamentals to social media?  The session effectively laid out the advantages of using each of the main online outreach tools (website, blog, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter); the audiences we should expect to reach with each tool (active supporters, passive enthusiasts, job seekers, donors, collaborators); and the goals that could be realistically applied to each outlet (education and awareness, promotion of services, community building, in-demand resources).

We were also provided with online resources that will help keep us abreast of social media advancements, and excellent pointers on how to scale our social media efforts based on the need and scope of our individual organizations.  All in all, a well-rounded educational session that had me scribbling ideas in my notebook well before its 2pm wrap time.

And speaking of evolving social media … the capabilities of Google+ weren’t much discussed, as the platform is still in beta.  So here’s my question to you, and one I’m still trying to answer: does Google+ have the potential to be one of your organization’s new “go-to” social media outreach tools?

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Ryan Hutchinson is a DMAW member and is Senior Copy Editor at Nexus Direct, a nationally recognized marketing and communications firm that specializes in direct response. He is currently becoming acquainted with the brave new world of social media.

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