There’s a fair amount of discussion on LinkedIn groups, blogs, and other places about what types of social media nonprofits should focus on. What should you use? Blogs? Facebook? Twitter? Pinterest? Viddy?
Actually, I think it’s a silly question. For me, it’s like asking whether you should use a brochure or poster to publicize and event. Of course the answer is: it depends. It doesn’t take an internet marketing and advertising guru to tell you that.
So why the questions about social media? I think it’s because the opportunities to connect with people and share your mission are growing and changing very rapidly. Everyday I seem to hear about another app, utility, or website that is going to dramatically change our world. Just last week I learned about half a dozen new apps (iOS and web-based) to use as a dashboard for delivering your social media content. How are you supposed to choose?
For nonprofits, the bottom line is that you should be choosing the methods and tactics that make sense for the type of engagement you want with suspects, prospects, and donors. I know I keep harping on the engagement theme, but that’s really what it’s all about. Social media has a place in your plan just like email, brochures, posters, and other public relations and marketing materials.
What works to get people connected to your cause? For most of us it’s personalized attention from someone who is excited about the cause. That can take many forms, of course, with a logical hierarchy of what works best. I learned that 20 years ago at The Fund Raising School. The things we call social media (a.k.a. the internet) are just new and different vehicles to use in the pursuit of committed donors and volunteers.
One caution: what I see happening in lots of nonprofit blogs, tweets, and FB posts, is a continuation of the tired old PR and marketing strategies of pushing information to your customers/donors/supporters and hoping that they’ll 1) see it, 2) like it, and 3) do something (donate, volunteer, sign up). In the old days we’d send a postcard, place an ad, or tape a radio spot and “push” it out there and wait to see if anyone would respond.
The strength and power of the tools available to us today (online and offline) is the ability to engage people in dialog about the issues and causes they care about. And it’s scalable. Meaning we can have personal and meaningful relationships with more people than ever.
Continuing to use your blog, FB page or Twitter as a bulletin board or poster is missing the boat and the opportunity. IMHO.
What do you think?