Social media advocacy by groups like the AARP shaped the debate over national healthcare reform last year, and will hold tremendous sway over the outcomes of the current budget stalemate, the 2012 presidential election and next year’s budget debate (Republicans have already proposed $4 trillion in cuts in the 2012 federal budget).  Web 2.0 advocacy is now a decisive lever in national policy debates, and has been put to good use recently by organizations not immediately associated with blogs, Facebook and Twitter, according to communications leaders at nationwide advocacy groups.Social media activism helps organizations of every political stripe to efficiently mobilize  members around policy debates, and the power of such tactics has been skyrocketing alongside social media adoption.  The value of new media advocacy lies it is ability to drive engagement as part of a call to action.With budget matters so hotly debated that the federal government is approaching a shutdown, communications pros for organizations on both sides of the debate need to make the very most of two-way social media conversations to win the day. If you were tasked with finding, and inspiring, constituents in a group to call Congressmen, vote for a candidate or join a protest, how would you use social media to get your people moving?

Keynoting the Dell B2B Social Media Huddle last week, Brian Solis shared with laser precision the reason you're reading this blog post, why I wrote it and what social means for the future business.And here's a little hint.It's not about PR.  And it's not about marketing.  It's about something much, much bigger.  If you read this excerpt from his talk, which I've listened to several times already, you're taking the first step toward reinventing your future and your role as an agent of change at your organization.Here it is..."It's up to you to figure out the value you're going to produce and then just do it.  Invest in your community through intelligence, help, insight and guidance.  It's about becoming that expert that you once relied upon to get your story out there. You're job moving forward is to find the social consumer, engage with the social consumer. Build authority for yourself and he organization you work with and then design the entire ecosystem around experiences that can be shared and should be shared."

Haiti emergency communications -- as is the case with nearly all natural disasters of scale -- relied on processes and procedures put in place before the disaster, underscoring the need for earthquake, tsunami and hurricane preparedness.  When every cell tower in a nation is down, channels soon become overloaded and communicators must depend on disaster communications systems.At a time when Japan is responding to a devastating tsunami and a man made nuclear disaster, this crisis communications post mortem features 3 critical lessons learned during the Haiti Earthquake by Barbara Burfeind and Lt. Commander Heidi Lenzini, who shared responsibility for informing the world about the devastating earthquake that killed 300,000 people last January.When disaster strikes, you can never be too prepared.  So take a moment and ask yourself, if you were tasked with communicating on behalf of your organization during a major crisis, are you ready?  Consider these insights straight from the trenches

I was the voice of dissent on a panel yesterday at SXSW titled Outsourcing Social Media without Outsourcing Your Soul with Nicole Simon, Kate Buck and Elizabeth Bellanti.  In room packed with agency people, my opinion on outsourcing social media marketing was more than just a little controversial.We stirred up a heated back channel debate that's still going on a day later.  So be warned that if you read this blog post, you might wind up feeling angry, upset or possibly even threatened.  If you’re an agency person, you might feel the need to speak up and defend yourself, or your clients. And you might think that I'm your enemy.But if you take the time to read this ENTIRE post carefully, and genuinely consider the argument I am about to make, you'll probably wind reassessing your approach to social media marketing altogether, and realize that I'm not writing this post to deprive you of agency billings.  I'm writing it to help you by telling what no one else will. I'm going to show you how and why the way you’re trying to win new business for your clients is distasteful at best, unethical at worst.  And also why, ultimately, it's a dead end strategy.But before I ruffle your feathers, let me first say that if you’re a client, I DO think it IS possible to outsource much of your social media marketing workload, and if you’re an agency, there ARE plenty of ways you CAN help your clients with social media marketing.  There's no shortage of billable social media hours to be outsourced.  The mistake, as I see it, is that a lot of clients are taking an unsustainable approach which is likely to result in a rude awakening, kind of like the wake-up call Chrysler's agency sent to the automaker's management last week.  Had there not been such a severe case of social media illiteracy in the boardroom, Chrysler never would have outsourced their voice in the first in place.

I am excited to be headed to SXSW for a Social Marketing to the Business Customer Book Signing, a panel discussion on Outsourcing Social Media without Selling Your Soul and the opportunity to see and meet up with the largest concentration of forward-thinking social media...