Social Media for Nonprofits


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A presentation for the Central Florida Nonprofit Expo, offering 5 steps to help nonprofits understand and incorporate social media; answer FAQs; and share case studies.

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  • Thanks for having me – and thanks to RJ and the Orlando Event Series for throwing this great event! Director of public relations for Costa DeVault – a local public relations and marketing company We work with businesses and non-profits – helping them understand how “Web 2.0” influences communication The company has been around a long time – almost 25 years – and one of the things that we’re most proud of is our commitment to nonprofits. We have the privilege of working with some of Central Florida’s most recognizable nonprofits -- helping them get the right message to the right audience to increase donations, volunteers, etc In the past year or so, we’ve seen a huge increase in nonprofits wanting to strengthen their online presence.
  • And, that makes sense – just look at the huge increases in people online … and how much information, links, event invites are being passed around through social networks The stat that continues to amaze me: SN more popular than email. Just think about how much more productive we all became thanks to email … and we’re just starting to understand how social media will improve how we do business, stay connected with stakeholders, educate large groups of people we might not otherwise have reached
  • That’s actually one of the key reasons why social media is a perfect fit for nonprofits, You all are in the relationship business, right? Recruiting and showing appreciation for volunteers Developing relationships with advocates Keeping board members in the loop Cultivating and recognizing donors Well, that’s one of the best parts of social media -- it helps you establish stronger relationships that go deeper than just an email or a newsletter A study was recently released that showed how businesses that engaged in social media performed better financially than those that don’t. The same premise is true for nonprofits: Engaging people in conversations will help meet your goals
  • Before we get too far, let’s define social media: Information and content online that people can interact with and share Tools like Twitter, blogs facilitate 2-way conversations Content includes mixed media – video, podcasts, blogs, photos … all at the same time But, it’s not as easy as setting up a Facebook page or a Twitter account. It’s not just taking your traditional stuff and throwing it online You can’t just post press releases to Twitter or put a link to your e-newsletter on Facebook There’s sub-culture developing on these networks and for your social media to be successful, you have to understand how to be part of these networks. There’s a sociological and psychological piece of this that companies and nonprofits sometimes forget: It’s all about people.
  • Twitter = cocktail party. Wouldn’t walk into a cocktail party and start screaming about how great you are, right? You’d talk to people … discover what you have in common … try to make connections with people. Maybe at the end of the party -- or a follow-up email the next week -- you’d exchange business cards and make the “ask.” You don’t want to be “that guy” at a party. The same concept applies online. You don’t want to be *that nonprofit* who’s always asking for money or totally ignoring community culture. I recently read this interesting article about nonprofits and social media -- and this quote stood out. There’s a new challenge facing nonprofits: cutting through the clutter. Thanks to all the noise, it’s becoming harder and harder to get your point across without seeming spammy and while respecting the community norms.
  • But, that’s a hurdle that can be overcome. I’m going to walk you through 5 steps that will help your nonprofit get started and then share 2 case studies with you.
  • First step is relatively easy, but often overlooked. What are you doing here? Why are you using social media? You have to know your purpose -- and stay focused on it. It’s like other PR and marketing approaches -- you have to have a strategy and make sure your tactics align with the overall goal. There are lots of positive outcomes that can be achieve via SM. You just need to identify your organization’s goal.
  • The, you have to create measurable objectives. These can be a pain -- right, you just want to jump into the conversation -- but, it’s time well spent figuring out how to measure your efforts. You all have to answer to boards and they’re going to want to know if the resources being dedicated to social media are being put to good use, or if that time could be allocated elsewhere. Think about SMART objectives: Recruit 100 new volunteers by the end of the year. Or, sign-up 15 people to go door-to-door to get petitions signed in the next 6 months.
  • Once you understand your purpose, then you need to figure out how to make that happen. Who do you need to reach -- and how are they using social media? Start with your existing communication channels. Can you include a poll in an e-newsletter? Or, can you interview a cross-section of your members by phone to understand how they’d like to interact with you online? We’re doing this right now for a client -- and you’ll be amazed at the responses you get! And, the insight.
  • The next step is to start developing your network. Which tools are you going to begin with? For a lot of groups, they start with a blog and a Facebook page and maybe a Twitter account. But, don’t get distracted by “shiny objects” of social media. If you’re an organization that provides support to families of children with disabilities, can you create a Ning community -- a safe, secure social network -- where parents can share ideas or ask questions to people going through the same thing? Or, is your cause visual? What about creating groups on Flickr or a video-blog? Whatever tools you select, remember to keep creating interesting content. Give people a reason to want to interact with you. And, remember your overall strategy -- make sure whatever you’re doing supports the big-picture goals. The best way to develop your network is to interact -- won’t always be about your organization … and that’s ok. Remember to keep listening and be sure you’re answering questions, promoting other people in your network, sharing interesting bits of news, etc. It shouldn’t all about you, all the time. I’ve heard the saying “give more to get more” used a lot. If you provide value, people will pay more attention to you. Keep in mind that you’re not Ashton Kutcher or Oprah -- you’re not in the race to a million followers. Heck, you may not ever reach 10,000 followers -- and that’s ok. It’s more important to have the right people connecting with you than just a bunch of random people who aren’t interested in you at all. Quality vs. quantity.
  • The 4th step will help you save time. Most nonprofits that I know of have limited resources. So, be smart with your social media. Don’t try to reinvent the wheel all the time. Post photos on Flickr -- share on blog -- post to Twitter and Facebook. With each network, you’re going to hit a different audience, so it’s ok to duplicate content within reason. Integrating online and offline is important for another reason: You may not know it listening to the media, but not everyone belongs to a social network. Don’t abandon those “offline” relationships you’ve spent so much time nurturing. If you get good results with your print newsletter, keep doing it. Maybe you can cut back to twice a year instead of quarterly, but don’t kill it just because you have a blog! That said, use the newsletter to promote what you’re doing online -- that way, readers know they can connect with you in multiple ways if they want to. Media relations is another area that can benefit from your organization engaging in social media. Talk to reporters online. How many of you are signed up for HARO? Anyone using social media releases? Not applicable everytime, but they do have a purpose. Think about different ways that you can make other functions in your organization social. If you’re throwing a fundraiser, can you offer something special to your online network? Maybe give away a prize to the person who can best describe your organization in 140 characters on Twitter. The Coalition for the Homeless has been able to use their blog as another way to recognize donors. One of the most read posts is actually a guest post from a donor explaining why they support the Coalition. That’s great exposure for the business and helps provide an added level of credibility to the organization -- a win/win for everyone.
  • I said earlier that it’s not all about the number of followers on Twitter or the number of Facebook fans. So, what exactly are we measuring then? Social media gives us ROI and ROE. ROI: Understand what people think about your cause, your organization. Spingpad --> online focus group. Nordstrom--> 15-question survey ROE: How are people interacting with your content? Are they just following, or are they participating?
  • As nonprofits think about taking the plunge, we always hear the same three questions. Responsibility: Can be a marketing/PR person -- but doesn’t have to be. Who in the organization can represent you? Interact with people? Maybe it’s a volunteer coordinator, or a department manager. Time: Depends on exactly what you do. But, about an hour a day at minimum is a safe rule of thumb. Certainly can take more, especailly at the beginning. But, as you get more comfortable with it, you’ll see how it can be worked into your existing responsibilities and ways to interact without having to spend hours and hours at your computer. Negative: If you don’t want feedback, SM may not be for you. Not everyone is going to like you all the time. Wouldn’t you rather know what they’re saying and have the opportunity to react? If someone makes a threat or says something really egregious, that’s one thing. But, if they disagree with a position you’ve taken, or with a program you’re funding -- this gives you the perfect opportunity to justify your actions. Coalition example.
  • So, this all sounds great -- but does it really work?? It does. I’m going to show you two examples. One of a crisis center in a Chicago suburb facing closure; and the other of our own Coalition for the Homeless. In both cases, they tool a very strategic approach to social media and have been very successful.
  • First up: The Crisis Community Center in Elgin, IL.
  • Last year, the Coalition had been hearing all this buzz about social media and knew it was something they wanted to try. They took their time, came up with a good approach, spent time listening and then decided instead of trying to be everywhere, they would focus on a few networks -- but really engage those people. Educate people about homelessness -- and the fact that it’s not just the guy panhandling on the corner downtonw. Increase donations, event attedence One person internally spearheading the effort -- Shari Orr. She has done an amazing job. Has conversations, comes up with creative, timely blog posts. Gets other people in the organization involved. Everything was moving along well -- building a strong, responsive network.
  • And then they needed help. So, they turned to their online network, who hadn’t really been tapped at all yet for major donations. These people who had just become introduced to the Coalition only months ago, came through.
  • Because they spent time cultivating their network, educating people about the organization and the issue -- and didn’t focus on asking for money -- they received overwhelming support when the time came.
  • So, the bottom line is this: We’re living in a different world. People want to interact with brands, companies and non-profits. For you all, this is good news! You want people to take on your cause -- to be your online army. Social media levels the playing field. You don’t have to have a huge budget or technical resources to get in the game. These two examples case studies are perfect illustrations of how small- to medium-sized nonprofits can take a smart approach to social media -- and get strong results.
  • Presentation is available online Also, I use a social bookmarking service to share articles. I have a whole section of articles about PR and social media relevant to nonprofits -- which is that second link on the screen. Thank you so much for your time! Please feel free to connect after this -- would love to help your organization better understand and incorporate social media.
  • Social Media for Nonprofits

    1. 1. Social Media for Nonprofits Heather Whaling Costa DeVault [email_address]
    2. 2. Getting Social <ul><li>77% of active Internet users read blogs </li></ul><ul><li>Facebook – 250m users </li></ul><ul><li>10 million Twitter accounts </li></ul><ul><li>Social networking is more popular than e-mail </li></ul><ul><li>Information sharing via Facebook surpasses e-mail </li></ul>
    3. 3. A Perfect Match <ul><li>Nonprofits are in the relationship business </li></ul>Conversations drive conversions Social media strengthens relationships
    4. 4. Don’t Be Fooled <ul><li>Social media isn’t: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Traditional marketing “digitized” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Easy donations </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Free </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Stand alone </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Social media is: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Insightful </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Conversational </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Strategic </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Valuable … when done correctly </li></ul></ul>
    5. 5. <ul><li>“ The influx of charities and nonprofits to platforms like Facebook and Twitter could result in noise, congestion, and outright apathy. Spreading awareness of a good cause grows difficult when that good cause starts to seem like spam. If one tweet after another is seeking donations, people might just get fed up.” </li></ul><ul><li>-- Caroline McCarthy, CNET </li></ul>
    6. 6. Getting Started: 5 Easy Steps
    7. 7. Step 1: Measurable Goals <ul><li>Why social media? </li></ul><ul><li>Support overall communication goals: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Increase volunteers </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Strengthen relationships with donors </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Influence the conversation/debate </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Education </li></ul></ul>
    8. 8. Step 1: Measurable Goals <ul><li>Create S.M.A.R.T. objectives: </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>S pecific </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>M easurable </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>A ttainable </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>R ealistic </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>T ime-Bound </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>(credit: Beth Kanter) </li></ul>
    9. 9. Step 2: Research & Listen <ul><li>Who are you trying to reach? How are they using social media? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Surveys, polls, focus groups </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>What are people saying? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Where are they saying it? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Listen, listen, listen </li></ul>“ If you’re always talking, you’re not listening” – Chris Brogan
    10. 10. Step 3: Develop a Network <ul><li>Choose the right tools </li></ul><ul><li>Start interacting </li></ul><ul><li>Create interesting content </li></ul><ul><li>Stay focused on overall strategy </li></ul><ul><li>Cultivate influencers </li></ul><ul><li>Promote others </li></ul><ul><li>Share, share, share </li></ul>“ It’s not how many, it’s how good.” – Peter Shankman
    11. 11. Step 4: Integrate Online & Offline <ul><li>Cross-promote content </li></ul><ul><li>Balance traditional communication with social media </li></ul><ul><li>Enhance media relations </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Talk to reporters on social networks </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>HARO </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Distribute social media releases </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Strengthen volunteer/donor appreciation </li></ul>
    12. 12. Step 5: Measure ROI & ROE <ul><li>Return on Insight = The New ROI </li></ul><ul><li>Return on Engagement </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Twitter followers, retweets and link open-rates </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Blog comments and inbound links </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Web site and blog traffic </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Facebook fans, wall posts and discussion comments </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>YouTube ratings or videos embedded on other sites </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Measuring influence requires research </li></ul>
    13. 13. 3 FAQs <ul><li>Whose responsibility? </li></ul><ul><li>How much time? </li></ul><ul><li>Will people be negative? </li></ul>
    14. 14. Does it really work? Does it really work??
    15. 15. Community Crisis Center <ul><li>Situation: Raise $150,000 or close </li></ul><ul><li>Sarah Evans “donated” her massive online presence to the cause </li></ul><ul><li>Integrated approach: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>E-mail & letter to donors and friends of the Crisis Center </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Online appeal via Twitter, Facebook, Seesmic,, YouTube and </li></ul></ul>
    16. 16. #CrisisOvernight <ul><li>Result: Raised $160,000+ in 3 weeks </li></ul>
    17. 17. Coalition for the Homeless <ul><li>Overall Goals: </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Change perspectives on homelessness </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Secure additional donations </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Drive attendance to events </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Blog, Twitter, Facebook </li></ul><ul><li>Identified a staff person to connect with local residents and businesses </li></ul>
    18. 18. <ul><li>Social media matters to the Coalition because when they needed extra help, their online network – people who were strangers just months ago – stepped up to the plate. </li></ul>
    19. 19. Orlando “Can” Care Challenge <ul><li>Situation: Drastic decrease in food donations </li></ul><ul><li>Idea: Food drive powered by social media </li></ul><ul><li>Goal: Collect 400 pounds of food </li></ul><ul><li>Implementation: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Announced to their online networks </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Updated blog, Twitter, Facebook, Flickr </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Result: Raised 1,000+ pounds of food </li></ul>
    20. 20. 5 Steps <ul><li>Measurable Goals </li></ul><ul><li>Research & Listen </li></ul><ul><li>Develop a Network </li></ul><ul><li>Integrate Online & Offline </li></ul><ul><li>Measure ROI & ROE </li></ul>
    21. 21. Questions?
    22. 22. Heather Whaling Costa DeVault [email_address]