Non-profits can profit from social media

How can non-profit organizations use social media to further their cause? Writing in Great Britain’s The Guardian, David Lawrance, head of development at The Clare Foundation, says that charities and other non-commercial organizations can boost donations and energize volunteers . . . if they adopt the practices of the business world.

“A recent survey showed that UK charitable organisations have doubled their supporters on key social media channels in the past year,” he writes. “Yet, for many charities, the vastness of the social media landscape is too daunting to venture into.”

The solution, he says, is “to bring established commercial methods, business expertise and entrepreneurism to the voluntary sector.” As PR and social media strategist for a U.S-based marketing agency, I work with for-profit and non-profit organizations to plan and execute their entry into the world of social marketing. Lawrance’s strategy can work for both sectors. I’ve condensed his approach into three key points:

  • Choose your network based on its audience. LinkedIn attracts professionals. It’s a great place to establish your expertise with key opinion leaders, including the media, who can spread your message. Facebook attracts a sociable audience eager to share personal information. With its punchy headlines and live links, Twitter can serve as a hybrid between those two, as well as a news feed for your organization.
  • Make an emotional connection. Show the people you’re helping. Their stories will motivate volunteers and sway donors. “Donations will be more forthcoming if [services] could help somebody just like them/their mum/their child/their pet/their friend,” Lawrance says.
  • Use supporters as ambassadors to amplify the message. Encourage supporters to “like”, re-tweet, send links, write blogs and upload photos and video. They have greater credibility with their peers. Let them tell your story.

Non-profits can profit from social media. They just need to get down to business.

Jeff Widmer is a PR and social media strategist.


The business end of social media

What’s the hottest trend in social media and how can we jump on it? If your marketing team is investing in this brave new world, those are the wrong questions to ask. That according to Jay Baer, a social media speaker, author, consultant and co-author of The NOW Revolution.

During a webinar this week Baer listed the right and wrong questions agencies ask about social media. I’m not going to spoil an entrepreneur’s work by divulging all eight but three may convince you that Baer knows whereof he speaks.

  • What is the best way to get Facebook “likes” and Twitter follows? A better question is, How can we encourage existing fans to take action in social media?
  • How can we create a killer social media campaign that gets noticed? A better question is, How can we develop a sustained, ongoing social strategy that turns customers into advocates over the long run?
  • How can we make a viral video that gets thousands of views? A better question: How can we optimize a video so our customers can find it?

His bottom line when marketing via social media? The advice you live by in all of your business dealings: Strive to be helpful.

The check is in the post

Starting a business? Start it right on social networks.

With earned publicity increasingly hard to find and start-up ad budgets small, social media looks like a sure-fire way to promote a business on the cheap. Social networks can help new owners build their trade but the model is different from the top-down, broadcast marketing of traditional media. And while many sites are free to join, the time and effort you’ll need could run up your costs.

Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Sarah Needleman interviewed a few start-up owners for their take on using social media. Their conclusions?

  • Join social networking sites as a consumer first.
  • Get familiar with the tenor of the conversation on each site.
  • Secure your business name on the sites in which you’re interested.
  • Make sure your business is fully functioning before joining.
  • Talk with visitors, friends and followers rather than at them.
  • Engage your audience with contests, surveys and social offers.

One more tip that wasn’t in the article: don’t ignore traditional media and methods. While a press release isn’t the same as a conversation it could start one.

Roll over Facebook, here comes Pinterest

Facebook and its IPO might grab the headlines but image-sharing site Pinterest is grabbing viewers.

“According to comScore, Pinterest usage in the U.S. shot up from less than half a million unique visitors in May 2011 to nearly 12 million in January 2012,” eMarketer reported today. That’s a faster rate of adoption than the latest darling of the social media world, Tumblr. U.S. traffic at that blogging site traffic rose from less than 7 million unique visitors in late 2010 to more than twice as many a year later, comScore reported.

According to its website, “Pinterest is a virtual pinboard. Pinterest allows you to organize and share all the beautiful things you find on the web. You can browse pinboards created by other people to discover new things and get inspiration from people who share your interests.”

You just can’t get stock options at this point.



Crossing boundaries to build brands

Peter Krainik has a word for those who would separate marketing and PR functions: don’t.

The founder of an organization for chief marketing officers, the CMO Club, Krainik believes CMOs need to align marketing and PR/corporate communications if they want to defend and build their companies’ brands and reputations. The rise of social networks makes it mandatory.

The statistics aren’t encouraging. Only 23% of CMOs have lead responsibility for employee communications on products, services and messaging, according to a survey of 129 CMOs conducted by Hill & Knowlton. Some 66% have lead responsibility for media relations but only 55% have overall responsibility for blogger relations. Most (70%) do not have an active employee-engagement program (read brand ambassadors).

Bird formation 2Krainik thinks CMOs need to address that disconnect.

“Marketing and public relations have overlapped, thanks to the explosive growth of digital communication that created an unprecedented level of transparency between businesses and their audiences,” Krainik writes. “The result is that brand reputation and brand image have become intertwined; the synchronization of the two is more critical than ever.”

Consider us the lucky ones. Most of our clients understand the need for a strategy that encompasses both marketing and communications. So does the agency, which allows copywriters and PR pros to flow across departmental boundaries. Copywriters run projects that include public relations components while PR pros write copy for collateral and advocate for employee ambassador programs. The process is driven by the clients’ marketing and communications functions and supervised by the agency’s account executives.

It’s not a typical arrangement but it works. And that’s what counts.

Rethinking social media

MegaphoneThere’s a decent article over at PRSA on how companies can more effectively use social media to promote their business.

Yes, it says the usual things but author Anthony Rotolo makes a point worth repeating: social networks aren’t broadcast media. They’re about conversation. You don’t push a message, or a product. You create a dialog with clients and customers. You help them solve problems. You ask them for advice. And you use that feedback to make your products and services more useful.

Seems like something worth shouting about.