The times, they are a-changin’. The days of one way information flows are over, and consumers have regained control over the communication medium. Brands – including NGOs – are expected to engage in a conversation with their supporters and adapt their message to specifically add value to their target audiences. Some may question the tangible benefits of this two way dialogue, which is why we here at Fission are launching a series of blog posts that focus on the benefits of social media just for nonprofits. This introductory post will explain the series and the importance of specific social media actions and tools that we will investigate in more detail in future posts.
Why should you grow and expand your presence on social media?
Deepening relationships and engagement: The leading (and somewhat obvious) reason to grow your social media presence is that it is a great PR tool that also allows you to connect with your target audience. The main goal of nearly all nonprofits is to raise awareness to their cause and mobilize people behind them with a somewhat limited budget. Social Media can be a low-cost, high potential tool that can help you spread your message across the world. Today, 4 out of 5 people using the Internet visit social media and blogs. Moreover, while raising awareness about your organization through social media interaction, studies have shown you will also see an increase of traffic to your website and create a more favorable perception of the brand. Through social media people can identify with your nonprofit through the trusted voice of a real person rather than through the cold, sometimes distant or formal traditional communication process. Positioning your organization as an expert that engages in constant interaction with your audience should help to build trust and keep supporters committed to your cause.
Social media is here to stay: Social media in some capacity is an inevitable part of our and future generations’ daily lives. A lot of people use social media because they want to hear and share stories about topics that touch them, and it is important to build a strong online presence as soon as possible in feature_order to make sure you benefit in the long run. According to Amy Southerland, social media “is good news for nonprofits because the ethos and etiquette of the social media sphere is a perfect fit for nonprofits. But you have to be in the sphere to reap the benefits!”
Empowering your supporters: Through the power of the Internet, it now takes organizations less time to grow communities and focus on a cause. Social media empowers supporters to take action on their own, which should expand your reach and spread your message. Simple actions like reposting a blog post, giving supporters a voice online, or allowing them to self-organize can help your engagement and fundraising process. For example, Fission Strategy capitalized on this aspect of social media when we created the Story Tool for Define American. The tool empowered the target audience to share their stories, spread Define American’s message, and increase the conversation around the American immigration system.
Facilitating collaboration and crowdsourcing: More than just empowering your supporters, social media can also empower your own members by breaking institutional barriers. Social media helps create a sense of community within the organization by helping to facilitate communication between your staff members. This quick and informal communication method across the various nonprofit organization boundaries allows for improved collaboration, enhanced decision making, and an overall more efficient use of resources. The National Wildlife Federation is great example of a non-profit organization that understood this early on. Using the tool Yammer enabled the staff to cross-promote ideas and programs across the organization. Fission Strategy also uses Yammer internally, and it has helped us create a highly cohesive and connected team despite having team members around the country.
Better understanding of customers perceptions: Social media tools allow you get insights about your audience in feature_order to better understand who they are and what drives them to your organization. It is not uncommon for nonprofit organizations to create monthly, quarterly, or yearly insight reports about their social media. Depending on what the organization is looking for, it will be able to improve its insights about target markets, develop more targeted marketing campaigns, measure the frequency of the discussion about the brand, and much more. Monitoring conversations around your brand will be crucial for your non-profit organization. Not only will it assist in counteracting false accusations and negative comments, but it will help to focus efforts that maximize audience engagement.
Great for fundraising: Once you understand all of the benefits above, you will understand why it could help your fundraising process. There are a lot of tools available to directly facilitate the fundraising process online, but the increase in awareness, trust, and engagement toward your organization will make people that much more likely to financially support the mission. This is not something that happens overnight, but with a good and complete online strategy, you will get there.
Social media use by nonprofits is nothing new, but it is still new enough that many do not know how to fully utilize the power at their fingertips. There is a lot of room for innovation and creativity, and the sooner your organization fully commits, the more effective the outreach will be. Stay tuned for next few blog posts, where we will look at simple things that you can do to make sure you fully optimize your social media potential!