Nonprofits and Social Media

I’d like to talk today about social media and non­prof­its. I’ve had a cou­ple of inter­est­ing projects late­ly help­ing non­prof­its put togeth­er Face­book Pages, LinkedIn Groups and Twit­ter sites. I think this is an excit­ing way to reach out to audi­ence members. 

Today: Email Lists

Over the last few years we’ve focused on email lists. We all have big email lists – tens of thou­sands of users, seg­ment­ed all sorts of dif­fer­ent ways. We send out dozens of emails a week and they end up seem­ing not spam.

Face­book Pages

A new era is com­ing with social media. A big change is Face­book Pages. These are geared toward adver­tis­ers although you don’t need to have a Face­book adver­tis­ing cam­paign to use them. In March 2009, Face­book redesigned Pages to act much more like typ­i­cal user pro­files: there’s a wall, there’s an activ­i­ty stream, and you can asso­ciate dif­fer­ent appli­ca­tions with them. 

Two things about Pages are excit­ing. One is the activ­i­ty stream. Peo­ple who sign up as “fans” of your Page see what you’re putting out in their indi­vid­ual stream. They’ll log into Face­book and see that mes­sages like “Jen just got engaged!” or “Joe is hav­ing a bad hair day” and that your orga­ni­za­tion is hav­ing some great event com­ing up this week­end. You’re seen in the asso­ci­a­tion of hap­py news from their friends. It’s dif­fer­ent from a spam­mish email because it’s com­ing in with the con­text of their friends, which is very pow­er­ful for publicity.

The oth­er nice thing about Face­book Pages is that they’re pub­lic. A lot of por­tions of Face­book aren’t but mak­ing Pages pub­lic means you can point to them from your web­site or oth­er social media campaigns.

I think Face­book fan groups are going to be the new email list. They are the way we’ll be able to reach out to peo­ple. I’m very excit­ed about this because there’s all sorts of easy mul­ti­me­dia pos­si­bil­i­ties. You can inte­grate with Youtube, with Twit­ter, with pod­casts, etc., embed­ded for fans of your Face­book page to see as it’s hap­pen­ing. This is much more excit­ing than some of the emails that we send out. They are also more inter­ac­tive because fans can post things on your fan walls so you can have con­ver­sa­tions on your sites.

Inti­mate, imme­di­ate, engaging

What the smart non­prof­its are going to be doing is a lot of post­ing in a style that’s authen­tic and inti­mate and less wor­ried about being slick than we’ve typ­i­cal­ly been.

What I would love to see non­prof­its doing is to get seri­ous about video. I’m not talk­ing about fan­cy video, haul­ing in video­g­ra­phers for six months shoot­ing a three minute slick com­mer­cial. Get an inex­pen­sitve video recorder and start doing five minute inter­views with the peo­ple your orga­ni­za­tion serves. This will dif­fer depend­ing on your organization’s focus. One advan­tage to sim­ple videos is that you can con­vince even the busiest of your inter­vie­wees to take out a few min­utes. You make these videos and post them to Youtube, Vimeo or direct­ly to Face­book video. It doesn’t mat­ter where they host­ed but you’ll have to make sure they’re embed­ded on your Face­book fan page. 

Build­ing our Face­book Fan Page

How to direct? You can direct in the emails you’re send­ing out or through oth­er sources. Twit­ter is a great way of direct­ing peo­ple to what’s hap­pen­ing: you send out a 140-character “tweet” with an inter­est­ing tease about the video you’ve pro­duced and a link to the Face­book fan page.

The whole goal is to get Face­book fans. Once you’re in as a fan, you show up in their activ­i­ty streams. All the fans get to see the events you’re orga­niz­ing, the videos. If you have extra tick­ets to an upcom­ing event, post about it because peo­ple will see it imme­di­ate­ly. It’s a won­der­ful way to reach peo­ple quick­ly in a way that’s not as intru­sive as email (I sus­pect a lot of younger users are actu­al­ly check­ing their Face­book home­page more often than their emails!).

The New Non­prof­it Outreach

I’d love to see a lot more of these inti­mate, almost home-made videos going up on Face­book fan pages and using fan pages as a way of con­nect­ing with peo­ple. We can think of these as the new email list.

I would strong­ly encour­age non­prof­its to use all of these these media to rein­force their mes­sage and to find new ways to reach their audi­ences in a much more engag­ing, inti­mate way. 

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Mar­tin Kel­ley is a web devel­op­er and social media con­sul­tant spe­cial­iz­ing in non­prof­its. This post is a loose tran­scrip­tion of his video, Non­prof­its and Social Media. This essay is also avail­able on the Mar​tinKel​ley​.com Face­book fan page.

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