Social South

Lessons from Mardi Gras? Yes, Mardi Gras

By David Hylton,
Public Relations Specialist

It would be easy to jump to the conclusion based on the headline that Mardi Gras and ChildFund International have nothing in common. That’s pretty much true, but taking the lessons learned from a Twitter experiment from Tom Martin, a 15-year veteran of the marketing industry, I hope we can let you know more about ChildFund International.

Tom was a speaker this past weekend at Social South, a social media conference I attended in Birmingham, Ala. Earlier this year Tom was on a mission to change people’s perceptions of Mardi Gras. Many people think of Mardi Gras as a place to drink, throw beads and do a lot of other non-family friendly things. There’s a whole other side to Mardi Gras though, and in a five-day span Tom posted 185 tweets on Twitter to help spread the message that the event can be for families, too. In the end, his experiment was successful. For the full details on his experience, click here to read how the experiment started and here for the results. I was amazed.

So how does this tie in to ChildFund? In October we’re planning to bring you a series of blogs that highlight our programs in each of the 31 countries where we work. Right now we’re calling it “31 in 31” – 31 countries in 31 days. While listening to Tom speak over the weekend I realized that our plan needs your input before we start.

We know what we want to say about many of the countries we work in, but what will you get out of it? We know about ChildFund and you know about ChildFund, but do the perceptions match? We want “31 in 31” to be an experience – a virtual tour of sorts of the ChildFund International world. But what do you want to see? Blogs from youth? Lots of photos? In the next few days, we’d love to hear from you to give you what you want to see. And if you have a better name than “31 in 31” we’d like to hear that, too.

Click here to visit the “Places” section of our Web site that has information about each of our countries. Visit that page to shape your questions, comments and suggestions and then come back to this blog and leave your thoughts. Then in October check back for “31 in 31” to learn more!

Living (and Working) in a Social Media World

By David Hylton,
Public Relations Specialist

Are we living in a flat world? Do we no longer have any concept of time or geography because of social media? Author Andrew Keen asked these types of questions this morning at Social South, a social media conference in Birmingham, Ala.

For ChildFund International, these are great questions as we think about our work. While we are headquartered in Richmond, Va., our work spreads around the globe helping more than 15 million children and their family members in 31 countries. Due to the expansion of social media – Facebook, Twitter, this blog – we’re able to deliver information about these countries in a timely manner. You – our readers, our donors, our followers, our fans – are not just in the United States. Maybe you’re reading this in Africa or Australia or Mexico. It may be 10 a.m. or 8 p.m. or midnight or noon. This blog does not care what time it is – we want you to know what is happening at ChildFund International at all hours of the day.

This blog and our pages on Facebook and Twitter are tools for us to use to connect with you no matter where you are or what time of the day it is. We want to have a conversation with you on any and all of these sites. We’re here to give you what you want – you just have to tell us. Without your questions or comments, some of these blog posts would not be possible.

So to answer Andrew’s questions, the answers can be both yes and no. While social media connects us to many people around the world, Internet access is still very limited in many areas we work. While I can send an e-mail to a colleague in Africa today, it may take a few days before they’re able to respond to me. Also, while anyone can access our sites at any time, time zones still exist. This post will go up in the middle of the afternoon on the East Coast in the U.S., but for some of you it is already Saturday. A colleague I correspond with several times a month works in Asia and is 13 hours ahead of me. When I send him an e-mail at 9 a.m., I often do not get a response until some time in the middle of the night for me.

While we’re living in a social media world, communication still is not always instant despite the fact that we think it is.

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