TechSoup has just published the second article on a three-part series on Social Networks and Nonprofits. The first article, Should Your Organization Use Social Networking Sites? Signs that a social networking site might work — or not work — for you comes to you from the good folks at Idealware and was written by Brett Bonfield. It lays out some the benefits, but also suggests situations where a social networking strategy is probably not right for your organization. This thinking approach keeps us from fondling the hammer.
I wrote the second article called, "Determining Your Social Networking Needs." It is written for nonprofits newbies. I cover the benefits, options for getting started, and describe what the work flow entails. The third article, soon to be published, and also written by me, covers tips for using Social Networking sites and is based on research I did in November with nonprofit folks on Facebook.
Having a good editor is always a blessing because the back and forth and shaping process always help you think a bit more deeply about the topic. The editor I worked with asked me a question, "Can you benefit from social networks if you don't have a presence?" She was referring to sites like YouTube and Flickr, perhaps just the act of browsing content or what we might call "lurking" in online communities.
My initial reaction was no you can't benefit and that "no presence" should not be an option. I put the question out on Twitter, and Chris Brogan responded, "Yes, you can benefit, but you don't give back." Adam Nicoleson said, "Yes, I can benefit but I can't give anything back." Amy Sample Ward, also pointed to the reciprocity.
Meanwhile, there was an article in the Chronicle of Philanthropy called "Giving Face Time to Charity" that talks about nonprofits, fundraising, and Facebook.
Colleagues Jonathan Coleman from the Nature Conservancy and Carie Lewis from the Humane Society are also mentioned and quoted extensively. Jonathan shares a story about how he discovered a Facebook group for his organization started by someone outside the organization and how he helps and supports that person. A new role here to facilitate these Wired fundraisers. Jonathan also describes how Causes can be like a collection area - that helps nonprofits reach new (younger) people - and they work at bringing them over to the web site where they can become fully engaged.
Some takeaways ...
- Measuring the ROI by dollar amounts as the key metric needs to be balanced with using metrics like increased conversions (email list sign ups), measurable word-of-mouth, or improvements in online buzz.
- There are intangible benefits that need to be considered and may not be quantified.
- Need to look at results over a longer-period horizon which why it makes sense to start with smaller successes from experiments versus those that need a longer time period to pay off.
One point the article touches one very lightly is how the marketing person in an organization might convince their executive director or at least begin that discussion about why and how to invest in social media/networking strategies.
Meanwhile, I came across the for-profit take on this -- a post by Jeremiah Owyang titled "Getting Your Digital Immigrant Executives To Understand the World of Digital Natives." Owyang suggests:
A conversation starter with executives about the changes in communication, and if they have pictures of kids of their desk, that’s a good way to start the conversation. Ask you senior leaders how their kids communicate, if they don’t (perhaps they’re too busy running the company) ask them to take a closer look, and get back to you. My former CEO analyzed that his kids were using IM on PC, surfing the web, Text messaging on phone, school work on the couch next to them and the TV on in the background…and that was considered studying!
In the Chronicle article, Alison Fine warns that charities should not make the mistake of thinking that the only reason to be active on Facebook is to raise money. The article mentions a paper that Alison wrote for the Case Foundation about how 15-to-25-year-olds are using social-networking sites to press for societal changes. Alison is quoted, "They think a better world comes from befriending people and talking about causes," using the same online tools they employ for entertainment and socializing." (Tried tracking down the paper, but can't find it.)
Jeremiah Owyang's post was a summary from a free social media measurement seminar with Glenn Fannick of Dow Jones last week. (I missed it live last week, but you can still go isten to the recording and see the slides). Interesting to note that a question about nonprofits and social media was raised ..