Lucy Bernholtz: Why would a foundation tweet?
A few days ago I checked my Twitter stream and saw several items tagged #JIFLAB. I could tell that these tweets were coming from staff of The James Irvine Foundation. I pinged the people I knew and asked “What’s #JIFLAB? What’s going on?”
I’ve been asked the question “Why should my foundation tweet?” at least 1,000 times. My usual answer has to do with listening. Chances are some of the people you want to learn from are using Twitter. Chances are they are using it to be part of interesting/important/relevant/useful/ thought-provoking conversations. If your job requires you to know what the key people in a certain field are talking about, then listening to and being part of the conversations on Twitter is part of that.
One of the people in the#JIFLAB conversation was the Foundation’s CEO, Jim Canales. I asked Jim (on Twitter, of course) if I could interview him for this blog on why the Foundation was tweeting and what they hoped to learn.
We tried the interview by Twitter but switched to email. Here’s the quick-and-dirty back and forth. Here is why one Foundation is trying out Twitter.
LB) Why is JIF staff tweeting? Is it part of an emergent strategy (on social media? listening? transparency? something else?) and, if so, what other practices are part of that strategy?
JC) In setting out the Foundation’s goals for 2011 (I do this annually for both board and staff to align our work and set key institutional priorities), I described that we should actively explore the ways in which social media might serve to advance our Foundation’s programmatic goals. More specifically, we are interested in exploring ways to use social media to: (1) share what we are learning more rapidly and broadly; (2) listen more actively to our partners and key stakeholders, building greater two-way exchange instead of one-way transmission of information; (3) build alliances and broader networks of support to advance our program goals; and (4) demonstrate Irvine’s continued commitment to transparency and openness.