Social Media: There Could Be Gold? (Part 1)

Sep 26, 2013

Could Your Organization Benefit from Social Networking?

Business-Social-MediaTraditional media outlets such as newspapers, radio, and television, have long served the purpose of delivering one-way messages, like not-for-profit advertising. Social media, by contrast, uses Web-based platforms to not only deliver your message, but to allow recipients to participate.

You’ll find a number of technologies under the umbrella of social media, including e-mail, instant messaging, blogs and social networking Web sites. In fact, sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn have now surpassed traditional search engines when it comes to reaching some segments of the public.

The end result? Social media is not only changing the way your supporters access news and information, but how they make donation decisions. If your organization has not yet embraced the power of social media, it might be time to take another look.

Social Networking Web Sites

Separate from our professional lives, many of us have a profile on at least one social networking Web site. That’s why many organizations, commercial and tax-exempt, are employing this innovative new marketing tool. Not-for-profit agencies are no exception.

Adopting these technologies, however, involves more than creating a profile or fan page for your organization. To really be effective, it requires a shift to a culture of transparency. And, it is this window into your agency that makes it more important than ever for your message to be consistent at every point of contact with current and prospective supporters.

How Social Media Puts Your Group Out Front

Establishing a presence on social networking sites can give your agency a competitive edge in several ways, including:

1. Image Enhancement. Profiles, fan pages and participation in groups all serve to build awareness about your organization’s image. They also provide an opportunity to interact with current supporters as well as begin the relationship-building process with prospects.

2. Open Communication. Social media, including social networking, is based on the principle of two-way communication. Your agency can benefit from both the positive experiences and negative feedback that customers voluntarily share. Not only can you address these customer concerns publicly, but you then have the chance to make any necessary improvements. You have the unique opportunity to make lemonade out of lemons.

3. Target Marketing. Establishing a presence on social networking sites can help you identify, and subsequently target, potential supporters. While the need for advertising through traditional media outlets may not be eliminated, the ability to target marketing communications reduces overall costs and provides a greater return on your marketing investment.

Tapping into social networking analysis tools may also assist with targeted marketing efforts. You may learn, for example, through online discussions that one service your agency provides is more likely to draw volunteers and supporters than other services you have been promoting. For example, if your agency deals with rescue animals, perhaps your community is more responsive to advertising that features dogs rather than cats. You can get real mileage out of that information that will help to develop your marketing message. Just go easy on overt advertising on social networking sites, or your efforts could backfire.

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