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.
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 MartinKelley.com Facebook fan page.