Strapped for time, money and manpower, more and more nonprofits are turning to social media marketing to generate mass interest at minimal cost. The social media space provides the non-profit sector with the opportunity to connect and collaborate quickly and inexpensively, and without the help of big company sponsorships. Many non-profits are leveraging social networks, such as Facebook and Twitter, to connect with their supporters online by crowdsourcing ideas, providing feedback and monitoring conversations regarding their organization.
An excellent example of a non-profit organization that leveraged social media to enhance their marketing efforts is Epic Change. Have you heard of TweetsGiving? It was one of the first charity initiatives on Twitter. In November 2008, during the week of the Thanksgiving holiday, Epic Change leveraged Twitter to raise money ($10,000 goal) to help build a classroom in Tanzania. In 48 hours, that goal was met from 336 unique donors. Not only was money raised, Epic Change found a slew of new volunteers who were interested in the causes the organization seeks to support. Why did it work? It was more than just a sheer charity initiative. Using the holiday where most Americans express their thanks, a part of the TweetsGiving initiative was to act as a creativity catalyst, asking people to tweet what they were thankful for with the #tweetsgiving hashtag. All in all, there were over 3,500 tweets expressing gratitude for something in their lives.
Stacey Monk, Founder and CEO of Epic Change says, “Social media is making change possible. With social media, we’re able to hear totally new voices, who might not have had access to mainstream channels, which represents a real shift in power, and where change can originate.”
From dipping their toes into the water with a low-investment campaign to diving off the cliff, today many nonprofits are actively exploring social media. But a common problem many non-profits face is that they blindly leap into social media without implementing a strategy. Without a well created Internet marketing strategy, there is no way to measure your online efforts. This leaves the non-profits at a loss to justify their investment of time, money and resources, or reap valuable insights to improve their efforts. Whether you measure social media success based on how many new volunteers you recruit, the number of sponsorships or donations, the dialogue shared among your online community, or the influx in web traffic, fans and followers, it is vital to measure your results against clear marketing objectives, just as you would with any marketing campaign.
When starting a social media campaign for you non-profit, remember: a simple, yet powerful mission and message can take a campaign far. Non-profits on social networking sites should set goals, update consistently, become a part of the conversation, build community and create value. Without a clear vision and well thought out strategy, it is difficult to encourage an audience to participate. If the time and energy are strategically spent to create a social community, others will help spread your message and your desired results will come.
Recently The Net impact teamed with St. Louis based non-profit, the Karla Smith Foundation to help build online aware for their campaign event with BringChange2Mind, a non-profit superheaded by award-winning actress Glenn Close that works to combat the stigma of mental illness. KSF and BringChange2Mind combined forces to host an unprecedented mental health awareness and anti-stigma event, “Change a Mind, Change a Life”, in St. Louis, Missouri.
The Karla Smith Foundation was in need of a strategy to build online buzz around the event and direct traffic to the event website. To quickly and effectively generate awareness around the campaign, The Net Impact worked closely with the Karla Smith Foundation to create the website, www.changeamind.org, for the highly anticipated event. In order to direct traffic to the website and create online awareness, The Net Impact implemented a social media marketing strategy for the campaign, which included a strong presence on Twitter and Facebook. The KSF social networking sites were updated daily with exciting news regarding the event, such as notices of upcoming media appearances, videos and pictures, and sponsorship information. The KSF Facebook and Twitter continued to see steady growth in fans and followers as well an increase in the level of fan engagement in the weeks leading up to the event.
As a result of the social media marketing campaign, KSF was provided with the opportunity to share valuable information with their existing community, increase interest around their event, catch the attention of local media, build their brand awareness and attract new fans and followers to get involved with their organization. Most importantly, the KSF Facebook page now serves as a platform for their online community to share personal experiences and give valuable feedback in real time.
In conclusion, while many non-profits still have a long way to go, the integration of social media in their marketing efforts can help these organizations meet and exceed many different goals. Social media is a platform that allows people to participate in a conversation about what they think, feel and care about, making social media and excellent space for the non-profit sector to continue to explore.