Alison Fine just wrote a report on the use of social media tools among Overbrook Foundation human rights grantees, for, um, the Overbrook Foundation. Her top-line finding: “a perpetual state of anxiety” among nonprofits about “Web 2.0″ tools:
- Overall, the grantees are firmly entrenched in the Web 1.0 world, meaning that grantees use the web largely as a source of information rather than interactivity.
- A small handful of grantees, for instance Witness, the ACLU, Breakthrough, WYNC Public Radio, are using social media in spectacular ways to engage their constituents in conversations.
- Most grantees are not taking advantage of easy-to-use social media tools effectively. The first is the fact that only half have blogs, and that only half of these groups allow comments on their blogs.
- Survey respondents and group discussion participants often felt a â€œcommon struggleâ€ in understanding which tools are critically important to their work and were at a loss as to where and how to get help for selecting and using new social media tools.
Alison asks for comments. Here’s mine, which is admittedly not based on having read the report yet:
I wonder how much of this anxiety is the product of nonprofit sector consultants and pundits hyping Web 2.0 tool after Web 2.0 tool.
How short was the hype cycle of MySpace? Of Flickr? Of YouTube? Of Facebook? Of Second Life? Are all of these important? Equally? Should all nonprofits be doing all of these things, plus blogging, social bookmarking, IM, screencasting, user-generated content, etc. etc. etc.?
I think the message that nonprofits are getting from us “yes, and wait until you see what we’re excited about next!” I’ve seen a lot more enthusiasm for these tools than reflective analysis of their real-world value in organizations with scarce resources. And I think that’s what’s creating a lot of anxiety.
Or maybe I’m just having a curmudgeonly day.
I’m looking forward to digging into Alison’s report in depth.
(Hat tip to Beth.)