Malcolm Gladwell has been critical of social media for social change because it creates weak social ties, this relates largely to the fact that it was created to serve egotism, marketing and advertising in my opinion. But it can still be used by us.
I’ve used social media as a tool for people and businesses to go through BOB rather than to BOB. But to do it I have had to create much content in house. The Blog has helped to create an intellectual identity that resonates and has received attention that has seen it incorporated into mainstream media and garnered attention from supporting ministries or organizations.
Brownen has directed content through her social media apps to similarly build identity and to keep the buzz going. Has not relied too heavily on in-house content but has aggregated external content and disseminated it through her tools.
Many other non-profits exist to change perceptions or challenge values.
So make friends, add good links and ask for links in return. Post links to university research or profs and cite credible news sources in your blog. Chances are good they’ll see you linked to them and they might refer back to you. It’s happened to me several times and it spikes traffic for sure.
Put your communications plan in their hands, ask them to help you craft your plan for social media engagement, a blogging guide and some rules for posting content but don’t leave them as your only point of social contact or only source of creative content for your org. Chances are you have numerous creative and smart staff who can write and may in fact enjoy writing, and that is the great strength of your organization when it comes to social media. Capitalize on it. Or think of it this way. If you want thousands of people, or millions, to be engaged in a dialogue with your organization does it make sense to have ONE person trying to engage them?
A great example is from a friend and colleague who works for the united nations and International Institute for Child Rights and Development, Centre for Global Studies, University of Victoria (--We are an NGO & an Academic Institute)
Social Media for Non Profits
Social Media for Non-Profits Wesley Regan, Communications Liaison
What is social media ? - Web-based multimedia and communications tools and the content created through and for them predominantly by the users i.e. the audience themselves - The democratization of knowledge and information that transforms people from content consumers to content producers. It is Chaotic Self satisfying Very fast-acting Largely uncensored difficult to control Used mostly by younger demographics Can be a kingmaker or a cancer to brands and causes
<ul><li>Social Networking : Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn </li></ul><ul><li>Blogging : Blogger, WordPress </li></ul><ul><li>Micro-blogging : Twitter, Tumblr, Hootsuite </li></ul><ul><li>Bookmarking : Delicious, StumbleUpon </li></ul><ul><li>Collaborations : Wikipedia </li></ul><ul><li>Social News : Now Public, Reddit, Digg, Podcasts </li></ul><ul><li>Photo, Video and Music sharing : Youtube, Vimeo, LastFM,Flickr, Photobucket </li></ul><ul><li>Virtual Communities (Virtual Worlds): Second Life,The Sims </li></ul>Platforms and apps we associate with it and use most often
<ul><li>Who do you want to engage and for what reason? </li></ul><ul><li>Political pressure </li></ul><ul><li>Consumer behavior </li></ul><ul><li>Raising awareness </li></ul><ul><li>Raising funds </li></ul><ul><li>Integration with partner agencies </li></ul><ul><li>Because you think you’re supposed to </li></ul>How do we as organizations use it?
The greatest challenge for non-profits In my opinion the greatest challenge for non-profits in using Social Media is that it is a playground created for and dominated by egotism, marketing and advertising- NOT social and environmental advocacy or political activism. It’s also a playground dominated by the youth demographic.
<ul><li>Wes’ use of social media for BOB </li></ul><ul><li>To raise and maintain the profile of BOB in the community, to engage local businesses and people and “stay on the radar” </li></ul><ul><li>To better integrate with partner agencies and related organizations </li></ul><ul><li>To bridge businesses and members of the community, support local initiatives, promote events, support social enterprises and spread word about opportunities in the inner-city </li></ul><ul><li>Create an intellectual identity that resonates with the community </li></ul><ul><li>Attract mainstream media attention and post content (i.e. rejected pitches) that we feel are relevant but not sexy enough for these publications </li></ul>Different organizations = different approaches
<ul><li>Bronwen’s use of Social Media for CAAR </li></ul><ul><li>Track and aggregate media activities and build a profile of publications and writers through delicious and other bookmarking methods </li></ul><ul><li>Uses twitter to support all media relating to their cause and negative press for salmon farms, gets constant info from people in related orgs, calls to action (protests) </li></ul><ul><li>Social media has been used more for tracking compiling and disseminating related intellectual materials than creating them and also for calls to action </li></ul>Different organizations = different approaches
Influencing political behavior or influencing consumer behavior Bronwen -Encourage political activism -Don’t buy farmed, buy wild -Not politically aligned, but politically engaged -Potentially critical of any government (private funding) -Highly critical of a particular industry yet working with it to affect change Wes -Encourage civic engagement -Buy local (social purchasing directory and local business blogs/tweets) -Not critical of government or business instead, support positive initiatives from either -Remain A-political and pragmatic (gov funding)
Changing perceptions and challenging values Other non-profits focus on causes that are more rooted in values and perceptions that are at work on a personal, community or family level such as domestic violence or a disease or cause of suffering. A campaign to change perceptions or challenge values can be neither political or consumer based so what is our use for social media here? Emotion -------- Impact -------- Internalization ------- Action A venue for impactful content to reach a wide audience and produce positive actions as a consequence? To change perceptions and challenge values takes time and emotional appeal more than cerebral intake. See George Lakoff ‘s Political Mind
<ul><li>STRENGTHS: Social Media is cost effective and can reach a large audience very fast (your PR and marketing campaign overall may not however) </li></ul><ul><li>WEAKNESSES : populated largely by a politically disengaged demographic </li></ul><ul><li>OPPORTUNITIES : Huge depth of social capital to tap into. We can keep ourselves on the radar even if mainstream media is not giving us a lot of attention. We can better integrate our efforts and share information with partner organizations. We can stay engaged with our base, our movement, and our partners Provided they uses the same social media tools as us. </li></ul><ul><li>THREATS : Can blow up in your face like a PR atom bomb </li></ul>So how do we as organizations use it? Depends what kind of an organization or company you are
<ul><li>If we’re political how do we use social media to enable supporters to pressure my their MLA or the opposition party, the PM, a ministry etc. into changing policy? find the soft spot and apply group pressure </li></ul><ul><li>If we’re challenging values and changing perceptions how do we create content that will engage the public, resonate emotionally and translate to action ? </li></ul><ul><li>If we’re raising awareness how do we go viral ? Is it through our own content or UGC? </li></ul><ul><li>If I’m targeting an industry do I use social media to pressure policy makers or to engage consumers ? Who are industry most afraid of? </li></ul>Organization Q & A
Once you have all these issues sorted out then you can dissect how each social tool can benefit your PR, marketing or communications plan. How I like to think of it , my communications plan is like a symphony where different instruments do different things. Each tool or instrument has a different temporal value and should be used to support the others. Long term: website, blog, Facebook, LinkedIn (the bulk of your content, engagement, networking, and drivers of your identity and cause) Medium term: Facebook Events/Groups (a gathering place for calls to action) Short term: Twitter and other microblogging apps (call to action, direct traffic) Random hits: Flickr, Twitter, (micro-bursts of info and reminders) Consider the tools in the toolbox
Is your social media campaign predominantly text visual or audio? Some causes or topics are more powerfully represented through different sensory mediums . Podcasts Flickr Music Video If you have a charismatic spokesperson who is a good speaker USE that voice. If you have impactful images use them. Sometimes people can get the point quicker from an image with one sentence below than from a descriptive paragraph. The explore the MEDIA part of Social Media CONTENT IS KING
Website : If you intend to create a comprehensive plan for engagement through social media including viral ads, contests, user generated content, multimedia aimed at directing traffic to your site, petition, event etc. you have to be ready for a home run. The only thing worse than having a successful viral ad or contest or UGC push is having a website that can’t turn that attention into ACTION . Specifically the actions you need to achieve your mandate. The two words you need to remember most with your website are CONTENT and ACTION . What kind of content will keep people coming back here and how can we translate that attention into action? Is your site set up to create opportunities for action ? Donation? Petition? Contact info for MLAs or MPs? Useful links? Get ALL your ducks in a row before you start engaging
<ul><li>Website and Blog: </li></ul><ul><li>Choose your site’s meta-tags, anchor-words and your blog’s tags and categories strategically </li></ul><ul><li>Inbound and outbound links from GOVERNMENTS, UNIVERSITIES, and NEWS (CNN, CBC, NBC, REUTERS ETC) increase your search rank and often traffic. </li></ul><ul><li>Inbound links from other high traffic sites also increase your search rank and your chances of getting traffic. </li></ul>Get ALL your ducks in a row before you start engaging
If you have more than one person in your office then you should have more than one person blogging . The same goes for updating Facebook and Tweeting. Don’t put your social media responsibilities solely in the hands of your communications person. Are they the only sociable person you employ? Your blog
Translating the Geography of the Internet to the Geography of your cause <ul><li>If your desired real-world actions rely on geographic and political specifics then distill your activities appropriately. Focus on NETWORKS and on translating your online engagement to real-world actions where they matter most. Translate the Geography of the Internet to the Geography of your cause. Examples: </li></ul><ul><li>If an environmental cause is entirely or largely within a riding for an MP how can you apply real-world pressure through online engagement? </li></ul><ul><li>If it’s an issue confined to a part of your city how can you use social media to connect your organization with ANY other organization that may be able to help? Sometimes following on Twitter, or seeng a Facebook update can create an opportunity that you might never have seen otherwise. </li></ul>
<ul><li>Sometimes social media is useless. Always consider these things before you spend time orchestrating your social media activities in support of your overall PR and communications outreach. </li></ul><ul><li>Income </li></ul><ul><li>Age </li></ul><ul><li>Cultural nuances </li></ul>An important thing to remember…