At an event at the National Press Club last night, the UN Foundation’s VP of Communications and Public Relations Aaron Sherinian touted social media’s international reach and described how digital tools have disrupted communication norms in the world of nonprofits, international development and global health. *

Sherinian said social media has given organizations direct access to their stakeholders — a major change for executives who have traditionally relied on pollsters and other third party interventions to understand how to reach their constituents.

The “old model” of pushing out a message, just does not work anymore, he said. “The new rule is that you have to listen to them.”

Sherinian also highlighted several examples of effective social media campaigns, including the UN Foundation’s Girl Up campaign and USAID’s FWD, which he described as a “genius use of social media.” Benevolent Media has a full roundup of Sherinian’s examples.

At the end of the interview, Sherinian shared four pieces of advice about using social media to promote social good:

1) You must use social media to listen. Sherinian admitted, “It took me a while to figure this out,” but emphasized that it is essential to acknowledge your followers’ perspective and engage based on that.

2) You should be experimenting. Your use of social media will only be effective if you’re open to trying new things.

3) You must see your community as co-creators.

4) Social media shouldn’t be seen as separate, siloed in its own department. It should play an appropriate role in all efforts. “Its not about being hip, it’s about being relevant,” he said. “Hip helps, but relevant matters.”

The event kicked off the “Social Media 4 Social Good” series, which aims to explore “big picture” ideas rather than technical approaches, organizers said. Monica Gray, a marketing professional who creates films, conducted the interview with Sherinian.

*As, of course, regular readers know. Disclosure.

Here’s a summary of tweets from the event

 

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