Friday, January 25, 2008

Social Networking With a Mission

The January 17th issue of the Non Profit Times Instant Fundraising Newsletter includes an article on successful social marketing techniques for non-profits.

Using social marketing for non-profit organizations is all the rage these days of course, but this particular list actually brings something new to the discussion in my opinion because it asks a key question that many others miss: "What's it got to do with mission?"

To summarize the article's 4 suggestions - the article recommends that non-profits:
  1. Build Web 2.0 toolkits for donors to use, such as toolbars and donation links to post on blogs and personal pages.
  2. Keep an eye on search engines such as Google and Technorati, to see what people are saying about your organization.
  3. Work toward new ways to measure the audience, such as a Web survey to see how many more members or supporters have you on their blogs, etc., and flag them. Go back in six months to a year and determine the value of that segment.
  4. Develop and implement a conversion strategy that would drive Web 2.0 traffic to become registered users on your site and then on to donors. Remember to measure it all the time.
Those are, of course, all excellent suggestions, but the central point of the article - that non-profits focus on Web 2.0 components that can be worked in to measurable things they are already doing - is the most interesting one.

Social networking is most likely to succeed when it's not seen as yet another task for an already overworked staff member to accomplish. The new social networking tools available on the web are just one more way to feed your organization's mission, spread it's vision and support its values - and any tasks that don't do that simply aren't worth doing.

What tasks do you already do every day that translate well into an online discussion? If your organization distributes a quarterly newsletter or monthly email - could that information be repurposed for use on a MySpace or Facebook page? If you maintain an event calendar, could you just as easily use a google calendar so that volunteers and supporters can subscribe to it and allow your events to appear automatically on their personal schedules? If you regularly generate press releases for the media to highlight your organization's accomplishments, could you just as easily use those to create an official blog for your organization?

Seamlessly integrating social networking into your everyday routine will ensure that it serves as an extension of your organization's existing mission - rather than an unwieldy addition to it.

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