Time to read this post: 4 minutes


By Paul Nazareth, VP of Community Engagement at Canada Helps

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When it hit me, I broke out into a cold sweat.

That was a few days ago and I’ve spent a considerable amount of time digitally slashing and burning online profiles, PowerPoint decks and several planned talks.

Why am I panicking? I realized I’m part of the problem.

Let’s take a step back – Joseph Gordon-Levitt here came into our consciousness in the 1990’s about the same time as the Internet. And like the internet he was young, fun and funny. Take a look at his style evolution here in the hallowed pages of GQ Magazine. You’ll see that like the internet he scruffily came along in the early 2000’s and has emerged as a witty, winsome, well-dressed artist to be reckoned with.

He’s not a kid anymore. Social Media isn’t either.

But over a decade later and we’re still talking about “dipping your toe in” and “creating a profile” and ” don’t worry it’s free” and “won’t take up much time”. That’s been my message since 2011.

But it’s not 2011 any more is it?

I’ve been polite. Quietly evangelizing and whispering to my philanthropic and business network that when big charities and corporations figure it all out they are going to invest big money and leapfrog us all.

It’s 2014 and they’re well on their way. We’re getting left behind.

Case in point, the head of Twitter Canada (formerly head of the mothership CBC ) Kirstine Stewart was recently promoted to VP of Media Partnerships for North America. This is not a game, it’s not a hobby, something you do outside of work as I used to do.

This is capital “B” business and it’s time we all grew up and stopped joking around.

I’ve recently had a career evolution myself that has allowed me to join an organization that is deeply entrenched in the digital ecosystem of Canadian philanthropic social-profit. And yet even I was still treating all my social media skills and assets as a separate part of the resources I use to do my job.

I realized my mistake quickly when all the ‘congratulations’ on my new job turned quickly to referral Tweets that resulted in meeting requests through LinkedIn, arranged via text and held on Facetime. This is 2014, business is digital and anyone who doesn’t learn these skills and resources isn’t just falling behind, they risk getting left out. Soon.

So I have to stop being polite; my presentations have to stop making people feel better, my articles and resources have to stop perpetuating the fallacy that you can do this for free via volunteer or 20 year old with a smartphone. I’m going to stop smiling/blushing at insecure micro-aggressive comments made to me at conferences about how nice it is that I’m “our resident tweety-bird”.

I bristle when peers refer to me as a “social media guru” (partly because I don’t like the word ‘guru’) because I’m the specialist but I’ll keep pointing locally to experts you can engage like Clare (that’s us here at Socially Good) , CherAndrew and Kim. I’ll push you harder to read the work of MitchScottDaniel and even the explicit but always on point Gary. And I’ll remind you, you need to make this part of your world and someone’s job. Soon.

The Economist knows LinkedIn is inextricable from job search and networking.Twitter is something CEO’s need to have a strategy on. A mobile optimized website is table-stakes for any business or charity worth it’s digital salt.

So I’ve just rebuilt all my profiles to be part of my service strategy like a phone or email. I’m aggressively training myself on hardware and productivity software. I’m taking my Google alerts and Hootsuite tracking to the next level. This is not “easy” for me, I don’t “enjoy” it, it’s not a hobby, it’s work.

I know you can’t bring digital devices to work, your organization doesn’t have a social media policy and you’ll have to clear it with compliance and “Paul, face to face is still how things are done” blah blah blah.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt cut his hair and suited up.

Your digital and technology strategy should too.

I’m as freaked out as I am, my fear has turned now to excitement, anticipation. Hope for the possibility of what we can do. JGL didn’t stop having fun, neither should we.

I’ll keep growing this list of social media for business resources for both of us, why don’t you join me in learning and training.

Let’s not focus on making it out of this digital revolution alive, let’s thrive.

Are you excited now too? You should be.