Info You Can Use: Talk About Someone Else

One of the biggest dating no-nos is monopolizing the conversation and talking only about yourself. Most of us are probably pretty good at recognizing when we are personally committing this faux pas. How about organizationally? How about on social media?

In some respects, non-profit organizations are like awkward teenagers when it comes to social media. Lacking experience in talking to new people, they tend to stick to the topic of themselves. However, the same rules by and large apply. There ain’t nothing social about social media if you aren’t including other people in the conversation.

A tip of the hat to Technology in the Arts for calling attention to the post on Social Strand Media, 7 Things Nonprofits Can Talk About on Facebook Besides Themselves.

Author Tracy Sestili suggests the following topics that one might use (which I edited down a bit so read the original.)

1. Industry news on your topic – Don’t just regurgitate the news for them, they can set up a Google e-alert for that, but rather, aggregate the news in a way that is engaging by asking them what they think. Don’t just post a link to a news article, read it and ask a question about their opinion.

2. Newsletters – almost all e-newsletters have an option where you can view the newsletter online in a browser….

3. Share pictures – Facebook folks love pictures and it’s the perfect place to showcase the people who make the organization run or people that you impact…

4. Comment on current news – even if it’s not completely related to your organization, showing that there is a human behind the Facebook wall goes a long way with your constituents….

5. Re-purpose content (photos/videos – not text)…

6. Public opinion – ask your fans what they think about decisions you are struggling with internally…

7. Be shameless – Facebook fans of nonprofit organizations like to help out online. They like to be given calls-to-action where they can make immediate impact. So, ask them to help spread the word to 2 or 3 people in their network…

While I have been doing a number of these things for my theatre already, I don’t employ these techniques as frequently as I should. My problem is trying to decide on a voice for the organization on social media. I want to make people aware of challenges facing the arts, but not beat them over the head. Be whimsical, but not too silly. I want our audiences to become bigger consumers of arts experiences which may mean pointing them to events other people are sponsoring. Of course, in the process of becoming a credible source of this information, I don’t want my own performances to suffer.

About Joe Patti

I have been writing Butts in the Seats (BitS) on topics of arts and cultural administration since 2004 (yikes!). Given the ever evolving concerns facing the sector, I have yet to exhaust the available subject matter. In addition to BitS, I am a founding contributor to the ArtsHacker ( website where I focus on topics related to boards, law, governance, policy and practice.

I am also an evangelist for the effort to Build Public Will For Arts and Culture being helmed by Arts Midwest and the Metropolitan Group. (

My most recent role was as Executive Director of the Grand Opera House in Macon, GA.

Among the things I am most proud are having produced an opera in the Hawaiian language and a dance drama about Hawaii's snow goddess Poli'ahu while working as a Theater Manager in Hawaii. Though there are many more highlights than there is space here to list.


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