• Listening to Žižek’s dreams

    By Senior Editor of SocialBusiness.org

    Image via Verso Books

    One of the great things about being back in school again (there are great things and also not-so-great things) is being exposed to talks on talks on talks on talks. There are more talks at Columbia than occupied cabs in New York City. But there are some taks that I would forfeit all of the unoccupied cabs in NYC for. And Slavoj Žižek was one of them. I don’t agree with everything he says—who does?! Even the moderator, a Columbia professor, at the talk I went to on October 23rd, admitted he didn’t. And it was obvious that the two longtime friends had more than a mountain of disagreements. But it’s exactly this culture of agreement (of comfort, if you will) that Žižek disdains. And well, I couldn’t agree more.

    Here’s the blurb of Žižek’s latest book, The Year of Dreaming Dangerously, from Verso Books, a self-proclaimed radical publishing company (by the way, Žižek admitted to hating the cover):

    Call it the year of dreaming dangerously: 2011 caught the world off guard with a series of shattering events. While protesters in New York, Cairo, London, and Athens took to the streets in pursuit of emancipation, obscure destructive fantasies inspired the world’s racist populists in places as far apart as Hungary and Arizona, achieving a horrific consummation in the actions of mass murderer Anders Breivik.

    The subterranean work of dissatisfaction continues. Rage is building, and a new wave of revolts and disturbances will follow. Why? Because the events of 2011 augur a new political reality. These are limited, distorted—sometimes even perverted—fragments of a utopian future lying dormant in the present.

    Did the year of 2011 change anything in your life? Personally? With your social enterprise? How did these politics—these politics of rage—affect you? During the talk, Žižek talked a bit about his book, but mostly not, mostly points he’d chosen to discuss perhaps the night before. The other panelists had no idea what he was talking about. With that being said, the night was all over the place but I came away with tidbits and pockets of ideas that could spark. I struggle with the structural incompatibility of capitalism and democracy and the way in which liberalism attempts to create an adherence… But in talks like these, someone always asks a similar question. How do we get down to on-the-ground action? We’re all here (and by we, I meant the majority of people there that night, a white, probably middle class audience) and we’re all sort of far removed from, for example, lost jobs and all of the pressures that helped to make 2011 as such a year full of rage. The Left, the panel said, has a fear of governance. We need to get messy, Žižek said. Because what a mess we’re in.

  • Framing the conversation differently

    By Editor of SocialBusiness.org

    Image via BBC’s coverage of the US presidential debate, published October 4, 2012

    If your Twitter feed is anything like my Twitter feed, United States debate nights can sometimes feel like the busiest (and buzziest) time of all. Of course, the great thing about Twitter is that you can edit who or what news source you want to garner information from. Everyone from Lindsay Lohan to Chris Rock parodies to Guardian journalists and my local Toronto weekly weighed in on tonight’s election. I’m sure, if you follow writers and journalists and, well, perhaps anyone with an opinion and an affinity for live-Tweeting, you got your dose of the 2012 U.S. elections, that is, unless you steered way clear of the Internet in general. (Smart cookie.) What is the role of and for social entrepreneurship in the realm of politics? In June, in the wake of the Greek election, Jon Henley of The Guardian wrote about how “social enterprise is one answer to economic strife” when it comes to the so-called Greek crisis. “[I]t is simplistic – not to say untrue – that there is ‘no sense of community’ in Greece,” Henley illuminated. “It is just that it rather got forgotten. Projects like these fit Greece’s current needs, and its mood.” What fits the global mood? Or perhaps more importantly, the global need? Certainly, the way in which global politics are shaped by U.S. imperialism means that the debates, even though they may not mention social entrepreneurship and its impact, matter. Of course. Entrepreneurship and small business has, for decades, been an important source of rhetoric in U.S. politics because of is alignment with self-help, work ethic and, of course, the American Dream at large. JJ Ramberg, the host of msnbc’s Your Business, said this in Forbes earlier in October:

    Small businesses (especially new small businesses) are a strong driver of job growth in this country and right now there is a tremendous amount of attention paid to entrepreneurs. In the first presidential debate, the candidates said the words “small business” more than 25 times. Many of the big issues such as taxes and healthcare have also been framed around how they affect small businesses.

    The question is: how do we get social entrepreneurship to be part of the conversation? And how should it be framed differently than the tune of small business?

  • Shutting up and giving

    By Editor of SocialBusiness.org Charity, especially when it comes to monetary donations, is often a one-way act. We give and therefore we can sleep at night. But not everyone puts in the work to see where their money goes? Who does it reach? Who does it exclude? Who is it hurting, if anyone? And how does it get there? The Founder and Chief Consultant of Cornerstone International, LLC, Chad Jordan, recently wrote a piece for Business Fights Poverty called “Shut Up & Give, In search of sustainable solutions to global poverty.” The article explores his hesitancy to see that business and development initiatives could not only work together, but work together well. More interestingly, however, Jordan questions the international development field in which he comes from. Here’s an excerpt from the article, which stems from a Cornerstone book called Shut Up and Give? Eradicating Global Poverty by Breaking the Cycle of Dependency We Created:

    My work has always focused on increasing local capacity in the underserved world, but learning what I did about business as a development tool changed my perspective.  I started asking a lot of questions about the approach I had long ago subscribed to, questions about the way the majority of the West relates to the underserved.  Will I simply shut up & give to the same projects, the same programs, and the same goals?  Or will I examine the results, question the outcomes, and shift my thinking?

    This was a pretty easy decision learning what I did from those who “got it.”  We need to question the way we’ve always done things in regard to poverty eradication.  Tradition doesn’t always translate into meaning the best way.  We don’t need to start over – we need to build on what has been done by adding some new elements.  We need to bring in business principles, financial leaders, and corporate accountability to our development programming.

    The truth is – although I was hesitant to jump aboard – business terminology does belong in our development conversations.  As long as profit doesn’t trump local empowerment and capacity building, there’s nothing wrong with making money while helping people.

    The traditional business focus on evaluating, as Jordan puts it, outcomes is crucial. Both fields need to focus more, I think, on affect — on how people feel and how people feel involved. Affect theory has a recent push in being infected with politics and I think the same could go for business and development, even though development (and social entrepreneurship) is typically seen as a people-focused realm. Jordan’s point, overall, is to be critical, no matter what profession you come from. Be critical of others and be critical of your own and the hybrids in between.

  • Three postcolonial concepts for social entrepreneurs

     

    By Editor of SocialBusiness.org

    Prayer on the Housetops, Jean-Leon Gerome, 1865

    Orientalism Orientalism is one of those books that changed the world. And in my undergraduate education, probably around my third year in university in Montreal, I was exploring beyond my traditional International Development Studies courses, and found myself in both a Gender and Postcolonial Lit class and a Theories of Difference English course. It was then that Orientalism changed me, too. Orientalism is a concept developed by postcolonial theorist Edward Said and is also a book published in 1978 under the same name. For Said, orientalism is “a manner of regularized (or Orientalized) writing, vision, and study, dominated by imperatives, perspectives, and ideological biases ostensibly suited to the Orient.” It’s essential to think about when entrepreneurs talk for or even about marginalized subjects. Orientalism creates objects, especially, as we see in Gerome’s piece, in art. It’s the way we (read: The West) talk about, present, re-represent and imagine the Other. Hybridity Hybridity is a term typically attributed to being developed to the postcolonial intellectual Homi Bhabha in his 1996 book The Location of Culture. It can be, and it is to me, a little more optimistic than orientalism. Hybridity, as you can imagine, is an in-between state. Or rather, an in between process. “The borderline engagements of cultural difference may as often be consensual as conflictual; they may confound our definitions of tradition and modernity; realign the customary boundaries between the private and the public, high and low; and challenge normative expectations of development and progress,”  writes Bhabha. Hybridity can be creative, it can also be a site of resistance so think about productivity and creativity when you’re straddling two worlds, whatever those worlds are. Maybe it’s business and social good or maybe it’s the United States and Kenya. Subaltern Antonio Gramsci’s idea of cultural hegemony laid the grounds for the postcolonial concept of the subaltern as it is viewed today. Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak is maybe the poster woman for “subaltern” as a concept and she insists that

    subaltern is not just a classy word for “oppressed”, for [the] Other, for somebody who’s not getting a piece of the pie. . . . In post-colonial terms, everything that has limited or no access to the cultural imperialism is subaltern — a space of difference. Now, who would say that’s just the oppressed? The working class is oppressed. It’s not subaltern. . . . Many people want to claim subalternity. They are the least interesting and the most dangerous. I mean, just by being a discriminated-against minority on the university campus; they don’t need the word ‘subaltern’ . . . They should see what the mechanics of the discrimination are. They’re within the hegemonic discourse, wanting a piece of the pie, and not being allowed, so let them speak, use the hegemonic discourse. They should not call themselves subaltern.

  • Don’t look to your social good job for fulfillment

     

     

    By Tiana Reid, Senior Editor of SocialBusiness.org

    Image of Tiffany Persons via Mindvalley

    Last week week iOnPoverty featured Tiffany Persons of the NGO Shine On Sierra Leone. Here’s a bit of what the email shared with its readers:

    When someone asks you why you’re interested in changing the world, is your answer something like: “Because it feels good to do good”? If so, Pathfinder Tiffany Persons, says be careful. “It’s an addiction and no one talks about this.” Her bottom line: filling an internal void with doing good is not okay – it will leave you unhappy in the end and it will negatively impact the people you seek to help. So examine your motives carefully.

    Pathfinder Wanjiru Kamau-Rutenberg said something similar when she noted: “The most useless people in the world are driven by guilt.”

    Jonathan Lewis continued on Huffington Post:

    If you think “doing good” is a recovery program for a deadend career, or a panacea for personal happiness, or a path towards building a personal brand, forget it. As Tiffany notes, “If you don’t find happiness where you are right now, you are going to be unhappy in the social sector.”

    As Levitt and Dubner summed up in SuperFreakonomics, “Most giving is… impure altruism or warm-glow altruism. You give not only because you want to help, but because it makes you look good, or feel good, or perhaps feel less bad.” The same can hold true for casual volunteerism and, all-too-often, for switching from a soulless industry to a mission-driven career.

    At first glance, perhaps, this kind of thinking could seem controversial. But I think that the social enterprise community becomes sanitized into this idea that good is good is good is good. In a lot of ways, it’s not about what you do necessarily but how you do it. Being in the social business or non-profit industry doesn’t necessarily make you a better person.

    I’ve encountered this in the flesh while I was completing my undergraduate degree in Montreal in International Development Studies. The very name of the program, i.e. the “development” part, suggests a sort of ownership about what development means and to whom. The main lens through which development is traditionally looked at is economic, even though many of my brilliant professors do make an effort to remind the students that there simply aren’t enough resources for every country to industrialize like the West has (which feeds into the “West versus the Rest” idea). The field also subscribes to a sense of nationalism that is problematic in many cases and ignores marginalized populations.

    But it was really the students, no, I can’t place blame on the students. Rather, it was (and is) the industry that really rubbed me the wrong way especially after a few years knee-deep in the program. It’s about the language, too, that “go volunteer in an Indian orphanage for four weeks and change lives” type of mentality. While I don’t find anything necessarily wrong with voluntourism, there’s a sense that it’s good no matter what. But like everything, including social good careers, it’ necessary to question the why.

    As always, this is something to think about. My posts on this blog are about being critical, living consciously and challenging the norm. And we all know that we can create micro-norms within our own fields, workplaces and minds.

  • Where’s the focus on collaboration and early education?

    By Tiana Reid, Senior Editor of SocialBusiness.org

    It’s September and so, like every year, there’s a breadth of blog posts and articles on improving academic success. And this is something that’s personal to me since I’ve been a student for, well, pretty much 22 years — give or take a few relatively short professional and non-professional breaks in between.

    Image via Stanford Social Innovation Review

    On September 4, writer Arshad Merchant (who is also a partner with Wellspring Consulting) outlined, on the Stanford Social Innovation Review (SSIR) blog, the most important areas in which they thought students needed help to complete their degree, and thus, improve graduate rates all around, which included:

    1. Staying on track to graduate—which meant selecting a suitable major, understanding what requirements they must fulfill to graduate, and using strategies and support to improve their academic performance
    2. Building their employability—through securing part-time jobs, writing a resume, and defining a desired career path
    3. Maintaining sufficient financial aid—by renewing their scholarships, staying current on scholarship payments, and making smart financial decisions
    4. Managing life—by staying connected with people who cared, maintaining a positive attitude, and resolving problems that might challenge their ability to graduate

    The title of the piece was called “A Simple Method to Improve College Graduation Rates” and it was looking specifically at a Boston-based organization called Bottom Line that helps low-income students get into college and, of course, graduate.  The problem was that not a successful amount of them were.

    So from the four areas of need outlined above, they created DEAL: “Degree (academic performance, on track to graduate); Employability; (access to financial) Aid; and Life (emotional support).” Not super innovative, huh? Which I guess is where the “simple” comes from in the title. One commenter named Yvonne C. Hunnicutt said: “Isn’t this common sense for ANY college student?!” While I don’t fully agree that this is the case, since a lot of DEAL is easier said than done, I do think most college students do recognize the necessity to keep those four areas in mind even if they don’t fully articulate it that way.

    As a grad student myself, my main concern is this: why doesn’t DEAL mention the collaboration with the college itself? Most colleges and universities offer this kind of support whether it’s mentoring, career workshops, financial advising, etc. However, it is true that a lot of students (including myself as an undergrad) don’t take full advantage of these resources but they’re there.

    And what about pre-college? Pre-high school even? The 2011 PBS special with Tavis Smiley Too Important to Fail shows many young black males don’t even make it to college; they don’t even graduate from high school. This, for the most part, is because of things that happen way before an organization like Bottom Line intervenes. This includes but is not limited to: poverty, institutional racism, disproportionate suspension, crime in the community and unprepared educators.

    DEAL did in fact increase the graduation rate at Bottom Line, which is great, but it’s important also to go beyond that and consider who gets into Bottom Line’s program to begin with. Who is already excluded from that? As a child of a grade one teacher (so I’ve had too many dinners to count where the topic revolved around pedagogy), I’m a firm believer that educational success (employability, knowledge, literacy, etc.) must be considered holistically from the early days.

  • Empathy: it’s all good, right?

    By Tiana Reid, Senior Editor of SocialBusiness.org

    Empathy has been studied seriously since the 1960s as something more than an emotion. It’s an affect, yes, but it has implications for things outside of the personal realm. Social activist and cultural critic bell hooks cultivated an idea of “engaged pedagogy” which centers on the idea of mutual recognization.  “Engaged pedagogy rests on a compassionate premise: to be effective, teachers need to be engaged with students, to nurture not only their classroom performance but their whole well-being: mental, physical, and spiritual,” writes Janet M Lucas in her 2011 dissertation “Not just a feeling anymore: Empathy and the teaching of writing.”

    How empathy works in social businesses may be difficult to assess. After all, it goes back to whether or not intentions matter. But empathy has been and continues to be a hot topic online in the social entrepreneurship world. I’d say it’s pretty much a buzz word by now. Intentionally or not, affect and emotion have always held a premier role in social business. Especially when it comes to companies selling products, it takes emotional marketing and/or a “virtuous” feeling on the part of the consumer, to sell a fair trade, environmental, ethical (etc.) product, considering that it’s usually at a higher price.

    Empathy: it’s all good, right? Well, maybe not. In “The risks of empathy: Interrogating multiculturalism’s gaze,” which was published in Cultural Studies, Megan Boler argues that “passive empathy… falls far short of assuring any basis for social change, and reinscribes a ‘consumptive’ mode of identification with the other.” Consuming the other (or “eating the other” if we look at this again through a bell hooks lens) is already a huge issue in social business. The so-called exotic is sold, bought and traded through goods manufactured (but sometimes not) in the Majority World.

    Last year, Ashoka launched their empathy initiative in which they outlined the following: “Empathy. We don’t hear the term every day, but Ashoka Fellows over the past thirty years have shown time and again that there is no practice more fundamental to the human experience and no skill closer to the heart of what it means to be a changemaker. Its presence–and as profoundly, its absence–can be seen amongst the myriad challenges that populate our daily headlines, whether school bullying, ethnic conflict, crime, or the global preparedness of tomorrow’s workforce.”

    But is it really possible to “identify with another person’s feelings” as Mary Gordon’s Cultivating Empathy describes empathy? How could a straight able-bodied white middle-class North American male identify with the feelings of a poor black lesbian from Zimbabwe? But this isn’t about the Oppression Olympics. Rather, if I go back to Boler, it’s about being active in not consuming identities because claiming to empathize is far different than acknowledging someone’s right for self-determination and ownership.

    To problematize empathy isn’t to disregard it, but rather, it’s to take a look at how promoting empathy can blind being critical, which is crucial, especially in an industry that purports to care.

  • Africa is ‘On the Up’

    By Rob and Nikki Wilson, Co-Founders of On the Up and READ International

    Image

    How often do you read a good news story about Africa? Not often enough in our opinion. That’s why we made it our personal mission to uncover Africa’s most exceptional changemakers. In late 2010 we got married and throughout 2011, we took an extended honeymoon and traveled over land from Cape Town to Cairo to find these stories. This year we’ve released a book about our adventure, On the Up.

    From a Zen Buddhist who is training rats to sniff out landmines, to an ex-playboy millionaire who is using his fortune to tackle multinational mining firms, the people we profiled are not your archetypal charity workers. We were specifically seeking out ‘social entrepreneurs,’ people who are shedding fresh light on social and environmental issues. Ranging from social businesses, to registered charities to mass movements – the means that social entrepreneurs use to achieve their goals can be multifaceted and diverse. What makes them unique, however, is that they have created innovative solutions at a grassroots level. From the bottom up, they are driving real, lasting change that larger players, like governments or international charities, often fail to achieve.

    Thanks to networks like Ashoka, we managed to identify an incredible suite of social entrepreneurs across the continent.  And to our delight, getting them to share their stories has been a total pleasure. With open arms we have been welcomed in to spend a day or two with each individual, giving us plenty of time to unpick what makes them tick and their projects fly. Reliably thought-provoking and always deeply inspiring, we are yet to visit anyone whose work did not leave us moved. And in reading our book, we hope our followers will be left feeling the same.

    No matter what flicks your switch when it comes to a good news story, On the Up has something for everyone. Here’s a taster of the kinds of people and projects featured:

    South Africa – Charles Maisel. As controversial as he is kindhearted, this is one man whose view point shakes up charity thinking. Founder of many social start-ups including the award winning employment agency Men on the Side of the Road, Charles takes a founders fee from his portfolio of projects and earns himself a tidy wage in the process!

    Zimbabwe – Betty Makoni. Betty’s incredible organization, Girl Child Network, has empowered hundreds of thousands of girls across Zimbabwe to stand up for their rights and speak out against the injustice of abuse. But Betty has given up more than most to achieve her vision, and has been forced to live in exile by the Mugabe regime.

    Zambia – Simon & Jane Berry. After years of development, Simon and Jane have developed an aid container which fits neatly into the excess space in Coca Cola crates. In a world first, they are about to kick off a trial to deliver essential medical aid to remote areas of Zambia using the Coca Cola distribution network.

    Tanzania – Bart Weetjens. At the bottom of the Uluguru mountains in Tanzania, Bart Weetjens’ organisation, APOPO, is training African Giant Pouched Rats how to sniff out landmines. This story is guaranteed to make you think differently about the powers of our furry friends!

    Rwanda –Mary Kayitesi Blewitt. Without Mary, organizations set up to support the survivors of the Rwandan genocide would not be where they are today. Her efforts to build the capacity of numerous Rwandan NGO’s has helped thousands of widows and orphans to move on from the past and build a brighter future.

    Uganda – Alexander Maclean. African prisons are not pretty places. But at age 18, Alexander set about bringing hope and dignity to the inmates at Ugandan Prisons. His organization,  the African Prisons Project, is dedicated to providing healthcare, education and justice to society’s most condemned.

    Kenya – Nick Moon & Martin Fisher. A new spin on micro-finance, Nick Moon and Martin Fisher founded KickStart to develop and promote technologies that can be used by dynamic entrepreneurs to establish and run profitable small scale enterprises.

    Sudan – Emmanuel Jal. A former child soldier, Emmanuel has transformed his life and is now a world renowned rap star. Using music as his medium, he is inspiring the Sudanese youth to overcome destructive divides and unite for a better future.

    On the Up became a reality thanks to generous support from the Vodafone Foundation and the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust. If you’re looking for funds for an inspirational journey, this might just be the place to start! You can buy the book on our website. Please ‘Like’ our page on Facebook.

  • On momtrepreneurs and “having it all”

    By Tiana Reid, Senior Editor of SocialBusiness.org

    “Momtrepreneur” is a term I  loathe. What does it mean exactly? Simply put and obviously enough, it’s a portmanteau that melds mom and entrepreneur. It’s a term I’ve come across through Twitter headlines but never really clicked the link because I didn’t have a personal interest to learn more—for the most part. But as I was doing research for the Social Business ebook that we’re working on, I came across a “momtrepreneur” in the flesh (well, over Skype). When I interviewed her, I asked what she thought of the term and if she thought that it applied to her. She was, after all, a mother and an entrepreneur. But even more than that, however, her social enterprise was specifically child-focused. Is “momtrepreneur” a word that is given to you, imposed on you or chosen by you? Or all of the above? Or perhaps, none of the above?

    There are social, economic and cultural implications toward what it means and allows for women who are both mothers and entrepreneurs. It’s more than simply similar to “fashionista,” but rather, it’s akin to, say, “journalista” or “editrix” because it’s career-oriented, meaning that it can diminish the professional aspect that women have been fighting for even before the women’s rights movement.

    But others embrace the term and their dual status. They straddle both worlds: motherhood and entrepreneurship. It gives a sense of a community and a sense of belonging. There are meet-up groups and support groups and cocktail hours and business advisors and the like.

    For me, a non-mom, it can’t help but make me think of the dreaded “having it all” debate. It began with The Atlantic’s controversial cover story noxiously dubbed “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All” by Anne-Marie Slaughter where “all,” I guess, refers to both a successful career and a fulfilling home life—the “women problem” that has emerged since women have been working professionally in North America.

    The piece went viral and many responded whether via Facebook and Twitter or through editorials and op-eds. One such opinion came from Veronica Percia, a 27-year-old lawyer, who was quoted in the Washington Post: “It scared me, but men should be scared, too, because work-life balance is a human problem, not just a woman problem.”  And indeed, work-life balance shouldn’t be relegated simply to one gender, even though it commonly is.

    In a way, “momtrepreneur” could be considered a form of othering. By making distinct, it threatens to diminish. It’s important, I think, that women entrepreneurs in the social enterprise and social business spaces consider their roles as it plays out within gender, business and social good. Feminism isn’t a hot topic in the social enterprise world (or a lot of worlds actually), but no one is exempt.

    And it’s an even larger question on whether “it all” exists. It is, of course, a personal question and one that at twenty-two years old, I’ve considered and, well, don’t believe in. But hey, maybe I’ll end up proving myself wrong and re-imagine what “all” means.

  • Ways to use social media for social business

    By Tiana Reid, Senior Editor of SocialBusiness.org

     This list is by no means exhaustive, but it can help the small social business owner start up and consider their social media options. The best thing about social media is a low-cost way to spread your message – and meaning – in the way that maximizes productivity. But, yes, it can be time consuming. And that’s time that’s precious for start-up social businesses and enterprises that already have their resources spread thin.

    Canadian entrepreneur Amber Mac was featured on the Lavin Agency’s YouTube channel and she discussed how, for some, social media can be overwhelming. It’s true that even though there’s an immense amount of stuff (What stuff?!) available on our smart phones, laptops and hey, even on our digital wristwatches. Mac notes that there are statistics to prove that many people are less productive in the workplace. “It’s about using the right tools and being smarter,” she said. “You don’t need to live inside Twitter all day long.”

    Remember: be effective and be productive. Don’t waste your time, because in the end, your time is your company’s resources.

    Frame content for distinct platforms

    “Social media” is a broad, broad term that encompasses everything from web-based technologies like blogs to mobile-based technologies like iPhone apps. The list goes on and on, of course. For businesses, it’s important not to lump all of it together. Here are a few tips for creating distinct content among those social media platforms that you do decide is best for you and your social business. For instance, I advise not to cross-post Twitter and Facebook (or any platform!). Twitter is a place where you can tweet 12, even 24 times a day and you won’t necessarily annoy your readership. It’s the norm. But Facebook is a slower paced friend, and its users gravitate toward image-friendly links and albums. So utilize that to the best of your ability.

    Say what you mean

    If you’re doing a mini study on LinkedIn about what you think your customers would like (or not like), ask them straight up! Or maybe even use a platform like Survey Monkey if you think your customer base is strong enough in terms of participation rate. Don’t beat around the bush or undermine the intelligence of your customers.

    Mix it up

    Pictures and links and questions, oh my! These are a few of the things that make social media users click, share and engage. It’s important not to get stuck in a rut of the same old, but rather, make a conscious effort to vary your content. If anything, ask yourself what you’d like to see from a company that you love.

    Use hashtags and participate in Tweet Chats to maximize your reach

    Moving World collected a resource of the top 13 hashtags for social entrepreneurs, enterprises and investors. No need to memorize them, but keep them in mind, especially when prioritizing your messaging.

    Innovate

    Keep an eye out for new social media platforms that are taking off. For instance, while many people jumped on the Pinterest bandwagon, it hasn’t yet completely taken off in the social business world. If you set yourself ahead of the curve, you could reap the benefits. In the case of Pinterest specifically: do you have awesome images of your product and/or service? Consider new platforms and if you think it would work for you but don’t just join and use your time if not.