Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Why Nonprofits Need Social Media Strategy

When you think about it, nonprofits have been using social marketing for decades to get their message across. I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase “grass roots campaign”. What is that but a pre-social media era social marketing effort. It seems to me that the natural evolution of the social marketing strategy is the social media strategy. So why are so many nonprofits taking a “wait and see” attitude? Are they afraid of the new technology? Afraid it will get out-of-hand? Are just unaware of the opportunities?

Some of these are easy to overcome. A little education and you’re “good to go”. Some of them are a little more difficult. Without a proper strategy, for instance, it’s very easy for social media marketing to take on a life of its own. A little dabbling can be a dangerous thing if there is no direction and it can also be pointless if there’s no strategy in place to take advantage of the interlinking opportunities.

It’s Time to Get on the Band Wagon

Social media isn’t a trend. It’s a legitimate channel of marketing. If your nonprofit isn’t incorporating it into your marketing mix, you’re missing out. Do you have any idea how many Tweeters there are? 4 or 5 million….on a two-year-old platform. Facebook, which launched in 2004, has more than 150 million users, over half of whom check in every day. That’s a pretty big pool of potential to be missing out on. And I haven’t even mentioned the numbers for LinkedIn and YouTube, or the new technologies like QR Codes and mobile platforms.

Social media is a routine way to keep up with things you’re interested in. I follow several organizations on Facebook, including the author Laurell K. Hamilton, the ASPCA, Pinup Girl Clothing, the History Channel, and the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, to name just a few. I love knowing my favorite author finished 7 pages, or new stuff has gone up on a site, or if a new concert has been scheduled. I’m much more involved and up-to-date and I feel…connected to these companies. It’s definitely an emotional thing.

Role Models

Spurspectives gives us two nonprofit role models to look to: the American Red Cross and the National Wildlife Federation.
The American Red Cross has dedicated professionals who blog, tweet and produce videos, creating a presence across multiple social media channels. Can you imagine the uses to which an emergency responder organization can put Twitter? And they are taking advantage of it.

The National Wildlife Federation is another nonprofit that’s pushing its marketing strategy into the new frontier. They have four blogs, a YouTube channel, and more than nine staff members who tweet behind-the-scenes information on different initiatives.

These are just a few of the ways social media strategy can work for a nonprofit organization.

What’s In It For You

There are some easy ways for you to get started on your strategy.
  • Add a blog to your website.
  • Create a YouTube channel.
  • Set up a Twitter account.
  • Create a LinkedIn profile.
And for goodness’ sake don’t forget the metrics. All of these are quantifiable with regard to clickstreams, readers, comments, viewers, etc.

Social media opens the door between you and the community you serve. It starts a dialogue. It creates interest and loyalty. You can create awareness and interaction. It’s flexible and low-cost. That’s a big key for nonprofits – low cost. You know that.

And like any effective marketing effort, social media promotes your mission and increases understanding of who you are and what your purpose is. That’s the first step in gaining support – especially if the testimonials come from friends and neighbors with a high degree of credibility.

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