As social networks and social marketing have matured over the last two or three years, a debate continues as to how effective social media is to inspire action (be it making a purchase, donating to a cause, or risking one’s life in a revolution). But it seems to me that the argument is both older than modern social media (read any Marshall McLuhan lately?) and more complicated than trying to argue cause-and-effect. Social networks offer wonderfully inexpensive means to expand and magnify conversations, but they also create stunning amounts of ‘noise’ that readers have to learn to tune out without getting distracted (no easy task). But how can a nonprofit leverage the powers of social media to inspire action while also striving not to distort the outreach with too much talk?
Ever feel like your nonprofit or small business is doing some pretty interesting stuff online to share the really interesting stuff you are doing in the real world − but no one seems to be hearing you? You are not alone in having those feelings, especially on a Monday − on a week that sees back-to- school for many kids and the start of the political convention season. We all could use a little pep talk.
Plenty of research shows that activity on social networks for businesses and charities pays dividends in many different ways, but what must be remembered is that some of those ways are not quantifiable. Which is not to say they do not have value. Consider this:
We talked about Pinterest last week when we discussed the fact that the social-media platform has been opened to the public, who no longer need to wait for an invitation. The incredible growth of the platform, already the fastest growing social network in the brief history of such networks, is likely only to continue over the next few years. The questions for nonprofits and small businesses should focus on how to think about Pinterest as a tool to reach more donors, volunteers, and customers. In order to answer some of those questions − even to ask the right questions − one must appreciate what Pinterest ‘is’ and get a sense of what current users expect of each other and of the sharing that goes on. We’re here to help with just those questions.
The big but unheralded news in social networks this past week was the fact that Pinterest went public − not an IPO, but the hitherto ‘by invitation only’ site is now available to anyone who wants to establish an account. Facebook started that way lo those six or seven years ago. How has Pinterest fared? Pretty darn well: the site reached 10 million unique viewers in a month faster than any standalone website or service ever has. And that was before the doors were opened to the general public!
Which is not not to say all is good for the platform, which offers fabulously easy sharing of images on pin boards meant to be organized by topics.
We continue our video series on setting up your nonprofit’s Tumblr blog account with a look at the two Dashboards within your account. We also explore the blog’s settings and what distinguishes them from your account’s preferences. Tumblr is a free platform and one that can give you an up-and-running blog in about 10 minutes − as well as powerful customization and design tools that can make your blog uniquely branded and connected. We’ll be introducing those more advanced features in future episodes.
What the Blog Settings offer that is worth emphasizing is the opportunity to connect your organization’s Twitter and Facebook accounts to your Tumblr blog. Once done, you can post something on Tumblr and have it announced on the other social-networking sites: three for the price of almost $0.
We’ve sung the praises of Tumblr a number of times on this blog, and today we want to present a few examples and ideas of just how nonprofits are using this free platform as a means to spread the word of their great work. One of the many great things about Tumblr is its simplicity of setup. That said, you don’t want to treat your organization’s efforts simplistically.
First off, you might want to consider Tumblr as your calling card to a larger audience, rather than as a venue for in-depth reports to your committed constituents. Tumblr loves images, quotes, and videos, but few go to their accounts to read long analyses. Your nonprofit definitely should have a place for such detail, but Tumblr might not be that place. How have nonprofits used it?
Why don’t you all fade away, and don’t try to dig what we all say
I’m not trying to cause a big sensation, I’m just talkin’ ’bout my generation
The Who, “My Generation,” My Generation (1965)
Well, I’ve already dated myself. But I’m going to press on with this post anyway. Catherine Sloan, a recent graduate from the University of Iowa who already has byline credit with USAToday, posted an opinion blog at NextGenJournal.com with the title “Why Every Social Media Manager Should Be Under 25“. It has caused something of a ruckus − a sensation, if you will − and commentators and flamers have been debating her post for the last 10 days. Now that some of the heat has dissipated, we wanted to see if she cast any light on the generational and communications experiences of Millennials.
The Opening Ceremonies went off without a hitch. Security concerns have been allayed thus far. The weather hasn’t been too bad. For Americans, we’ve had a few sub-par performances in the pool and on the gymnastics apparatuses, but so far, so good.
Unless the issue is how this so-called “First Social Games” is going. The social media events have not gone quite like fans, competitors, or International Olympic Committee members had thought it would − all for different reasons. Indeed, the biggest security dust-up has to do not with fears of terrorists, but fears of unwanted mention of sponsors by athletes and/or their supporters. Is the IOC fairly trying to protect the Olympic ‘brand’ or are its members greedily limiting expression through social media? And does anybody else really care?
Of course those who are engaged in the pressing issues of environmental degradation and global warming want to reach out to audiences as wide as possible. The heavy hitters of social networking (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram…) can serve that purpose. But did you know that other social networks focus on particular issues and offer opportunities to talk with others focused on your organization’s concerns? If those concerns include those of the environment (from global industrial waste to local concerns of residue from asphalt runoff), sign up on the social network . Why join yet another social-networking platform? .net
A picture, they say, is worth a thousand words. And with digital social media, images are becoming both more common and more powerful as platforms such as Facebook and Google+ emphasize the photo and graphic qualities of their social-media networks. A kind of ‘visual economy’ is developing, within which social networks are competing and users are finding ever more refined ways to share their most interesting/compelling/entertaining work. With the ubiquity of smartphones with at-least decent cameras, nonprofits should be encouraging their staffs and volunteers to use those cameras to help tell the story of your organizations good work. One of the best ways to share that story is through Flickr. Let us show you how.
The saga that is the Facebook IPO continues. Wall Street took a break from claiming to be the US Economy yesterday, but as of lunchtime this Tuesday, stock in the uber-social network fell below $30 for the first time. The brouhaha surrounding the IPO has largely concerned possible fraud or withholding of information from public investors, but some are wondering if the real issue is simply the product itself. If it is, what should nonprofits and charities be doing with their Facebook accounts as the company deals with this shakeout?
Sometimes a nonprofit’s campaign can include a fine idea that, alas, doesn’t quite get it right. Like a long fly ball to the 385-foot alley of a ball park that falls in to be caught at 382 feet, the charity can be excited at what seems to be about to happen, only to trudge back to the dugout (or in our cases today ‘back to the glitzy communications agencies’) lamenting about what could have been.
Let’s return this Monday to a theme we led off with last Monday on high-concept advocacy plans that did not quite live up to expectations. The good folks at the Showcase of Fundraising Innovation and Inspiration (SOFII) provide us all with food-for-thought when it comes to campaigns that might have looked good in the pristine world of the conference room, but came up just short in the real world. And ‘just short’ can mean real human tragedy where the fight against hunger is concerned.
Though weather in the mid-Atlantic continues to flirt with spring while staying surprisingly loyal to winter, it is the season to be planning summer festivals, fundraisers, and rallies. And if you really want to stay on top of your nonprofit’s schedule, start planning your end-of-year banquet as well (and use Tungle). But in this day and age, a nonprofit’s fundraising festival should be but one component of a multi-media plan to engage constituents, volunteers, and supporters both at the event and in the social networks of those attending.
We have recommended ‘Tweet Tables’ in previous posts, and today we draw on a really useful compendium of ideas from Trevor Jonas at Mashable.com.