MilBlog Conference 2010 (MBC) - 1

The fifth anniversary - wow. Time flies when you're having fun, right? I made it in on time yesterday, grabbed a quick shower and hit the festivities. It's good to see old friends! Some aren't here which keeps this one from being as good as years past but it is truly good to see old friends.

Unlike years past, Friday night included a panel - the kick-off panel titled "A Marathon, Not a Sprint". All the old farts were up there - Matt from BlackFive, Greyhawk from Mudville Gazette, Taco Bell from Sandgram, etc. It was a great way to open up the evening.

For anyone interested, you can check out the live stream of the events at YouServed.com's live stream. This is the first year that there has been a livestream from the MBC so this should be good for those that aren't able to be here in person.

SPECIAL GUEST (via recorded message): David Petraeus!

Two years ago, we were addressed via recorded message by then-President Bush and what an honor THAT was. Now we have GEN Petraeus doing the same thing. Very cool! He's talking about how his own wife has dealt with his deployments (5 years since 9/11) and I don't know that I've ever stopped to think about the fact that even a 4 star General's wife has to put up with many of the same issues and challenges that lower ranking families. What a wonderful surprise!

FIRST PANEL: The Charitable Landscape moderated by Greta Perry
1.) Shelle Michaels (Soldiers' Angels)
2.) Vivian Greentree (Blue Star Families)
3.) Keith Hensley (Wounded Warrior Project)
4.) Taylor Kiland (NavyMemorial)

Currently, the discussion is centered on how these organizations successfully use social media (Facebook, blogging, etc.). Many organizations use social media for fundraising efforts. Others use it for making connections with people who need their services or can provided services for those in need. Additionally, (for example), Wounded Warrior Project uses social media avenues to empower caregivers with a "voice" at the national level and provide a "call to action".

Blue Star Families uses social media to engage their membership. With so many difference sources coming in and members spread out all over the nation and the world, social media allow families to feel connected and engaged. Vivian gives the example of the MyCAA debacle - most people found out via Facebook.

From here, we go to money. Non-profits' mainstay is money and social media area key to raising funds. Is it appropriate to use social media to raise funds? And, if so, HOW do you monetize social media?

Taylor Kiland (Navy Memorial) states that she still relies on face-to-face connections moreso than social media connections to raise the majority of the funds for her organization.

Shelle Michaels (Soldiers' Angels) - "Ask for what you want or take what you get." A friend of mine tells me "The answer is always 'no' until you ask." So true.

Keith Hensley (WWP) states that the more members you have, the more likely that organization is to be viewed as credible. It's a great way to get the word out about different events/activities/services/etc.

Greta asks the question: "How do you recruit members and volunteers through social media?"

Shelle encourages people to choose one organization that they are passionate about and talk about it - Facebook, Twitter (not "Twittah" as Maggie would say), etc. Tell everyone why THAT organization is great. One a week, once a month...whatever. But get the word out. People outside the military are always looking for a way to help those in the military - give them options! You'd be amazed at who "retweets" or passes that information along!

Questions from the audience:

* @NavyNews: If you were the Chairman of the JCoS, what would you tell them to help them help you?
- Shelle: Share the stories. Tell us what's going on out there. It's amazing what Americans DON'T know. Help us inform them.
- Keith: Encourage servicemembers to be cognizant of other servicemembers and the help that they need. Situational awareness. Point those in need in the right direction - to events and organizations that can help.
- Vivian: Incorporate the family into the servicemember's experience. "Happy wife, happy life" is true. Focus on the things that support and empower the families.

* @USO Social Media: What advice would you give to corporations/CEOs/etc. to help?
- Shelle: sometimes less is more. Have a plan.

Back after the break!

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