Aug 13 2009
@DCTwestival is right around the corner (September 10, register today), and the beneficiary is Miriam’s Kitchen. Miriam’s Kitchen was chosen for a variety of reasons. Miriam’s Kitchen provides healthy, homemade meals and comprehensive case management services to the homeless (image from Miriam Kitchen’s Flickr feed). It has a healthy Twitter and general social media presence, but could benefit from some additional social media training and support.
As a member of the DC Twestival planning committee, it seemed appropriate to interview Miriam’s Kitchen Head of Social Media Jennifer Roccanti about the event, and social media. And yeah, I asked some hardball questions for my marketing friends.
Q: How does it feel to be the DC Twestival beneficiary?
A: As an organization, we are so grateful to the Twestival committee for selecting us to benefit from this awesome event. It gives us the chance to meet new people and connect in person with those we’ve meet through twitter. Most importantly though, it allows us to make connections and raise money to continue providing high quality services to our guests.
A: Everything we do is for our guests, the homeless men and women of Washington, DC. Twestival gives us another opportunity for us to share their stories with our community and to make connections with people who truly care. We are excited to build those connections at Twestival and bring even more people into the Miriam’s Kitchen community.
Q: Your social media effort has been lauded by traditional media, but how have the online masses received you?
A: The friends we’ve made through twitter are some of the most generous people I’ve ever met. @barleyandbirch, @kristymyers, @richdevans, @soapbuddy…those are just a few of the dozens of people on twitter who have made a difference in our guests ‘ lives. I can’t say enough about the community that has welcomed us on twitter. They are truly amazing.
Q: I noticed you shoot a lot of links out on Twitter, but you don’t seem to engage in conversation. Is there a reason for that?
A: We definitely do talk to our twitter community, we just do it through DM and email and in person. The reason we don’t do many @ replies is because it feeds onto the homepage of our website and while we have tried to filter out the @ replies from the feed, we haven’t had any luck yet. (if you know of anyone who can help us, let me know!).
So…because people who aren’t familiar with twitter are seeing that feed on our website we felt it would be best to keep those conversations private. Also, since this is an organizational twitter page, we wanted to keep it as clean as possible and not have a jumble of @replies on our page that might not be interesting to anyone else.
However, if someone on twitter deserves kudos for something they’ve done for our guests, we don’t hesitate to give them a shout out (hi @barleyandbirch!). Long story short, we do have conversations with our twitter community, we just choose to keep them mostly private.
Q: So if social media is conversational, what do you think of the conversations you see online?
A: We are fortunate to have been invited into those conversations, both positive and not so positive. For those not so positive conversations, we’ve been given the chance to tell our side of the story. To defend our way of doing things (which is always in the best interests of our guests). Conversely, those positive conversations give us an opportunity to give people a glimpse into the lives and struggles of our guests. It has become a powerful vehicle for telling their stories and we are so grateful for that.
Q: What’s your favorite social media tool?
A: Twitter. Hands down.
Q: What’s next for Miriam’s Kitchen online?
A: Continuing to build relationships online and bringing even more of those supporters into the Miriam’s Kitchen community off line. Integrating more video into the stories we tell. We are also working with some of our guests to help them get more acclimated with social media. So many of them are already online and a few are on Twitter, Facebook, etc… Social media gives them a way to tell their stories and to record their lives.
They are so often ignored in public but social media allows them to even the playing field and be treated the way they should always be treated…with dignity and respect. I’d like to see what we can do with our guests and social media. I think they could really benefit. So stay tuned…