by Michelle Regel, CFRE, Senior Associate
Scott Stratten, author of UnMarketing, makes Twitter and Facebook seem a little less daunting and a lot more user-friendly by providing this basic premise: Start using social media as the powerful, emotive tool that it is to engage your stakeholders in authentic conversations and STOP expecting it to function solely as a virtual ATM for gift deposits. That was the key message I took away from Scott’s AFP Calgary & Area Chapter presentation last week on social media.
I understand Scott’s perspective, and completely agree; however, the fundraiser in me can’t help but feel slightly nervous about all the back end planning and IT technical stuff that is so important and needs to be done. As fundraisers we know that planning is crucial and online giving is definitely a trend that won’t be going away anytime soon. I don’t have an IT degree, nor would the world benefit if I got one, so now what?
Start with the basics. Consider social media as a channel that amplifies and adds relevance to your conversations with your stakeholders. Once you have set up your Facebook or Twitter accounts and added the linking buttons onto your website, simply listen and respond in a professional, timely and consistent manner. Show that you care (because you do, don’t you?). Social media provides you with a way to engage in such an intimate, real-time way that people will begin to realize just how much you do care about your mission and why it’s so important to this world of ours. A lot of people you haven’t met yet care about your organization’s mission – so go out and “meet” them online. Take 20 or 30 minutes every day and focus on building online dialogue.
Alternatively, you can wait until you’ve read all the social media how-to books and build the best darn ephilanthropy strategy ever. The problem is, your audience will have already engaged with an organization that is online and building dialogue WHILE they were reading those books and INTEGRATING social media into their marketing and fundraising plans along the way.
Scott made some valid points about social media that are worthy of repeating:
- There are 3 ways to use social media: 1) listen to people 2) raise your online profile 3) leverage people’s passion for your organization to help spread your brand;
- All communication is marketing in action;
- Relationships are the cornerstone of business and philanthropy;
- Social media is an enhancement to face-to-face communications. It doesn’t replace it and it doesn’t change the fact that building those relationships takes time; and
- The NPO sector is driven by passion and social media provides a channel for that emotion to be expressed and nurtured – ignore passionate stakeholders at your peril.
Marshall McLuhan is still right and still relevant – the medium is the message and a medium is defined as anything that is an extension of ourselves (think Twitter and Facebook). Getting online, being involved and believing in the value of the conversation are important factors in donor acquisition and maintaining strong donor relations.
So, in 140 characters or less, here’s the Twitter-friendly scoop: Keep your Donate Now button, but don’t have an online presence without being “present”.