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Internal Vs. External Tools: Determining the Best Approach to Social-Media Marketing

January 12, 2010 By Robin Fisk
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A June 2009 study from the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth’s Center for Marketing Research found that 89 percent of nonprofits are using some form of social media, and these organizations now are outpacing businesses and even academic institutions in their adoption of social-networking tools. With more than 400 Web sites and tools out there, according to research conducted by David Nour, managing partner of consulting firm The Nour Group Inc., how do nonprofits and associations know where to start? How do they to determine what components fit into their social-media marketing strategy? This article will offer some information on internal versus external social media tools and how organizations can take advantage of them, to maximize their marketing efforts.

Launching an internal social-media tool set
Technology is constantly evolving, and what was difficult and expensive yesterday is much easier and affordable to execute today. Many nonprofits and associations are building their own internal, online communities to collaborate and communicate with their contained audience.  

By offering social-networking capabilities on their own Web sites, organizations can maintain their branding while deepening their interactions with donors and members. Allow supporters to log in, organize their own events and communicate in forums; it can increase their sense of connection to the organization. Develop a personal blog from the CEO through which the target audience, as well as staff, can relate. Open up parts of the Web site so that content, such as videos and photos of events, can be uploaded and shared.
 
Nonprofits and associations can quickly and easily garner participant feedback, discuss relevant issues and develop interest groups, with the help of an internal social-media tool set. The features also can help to increase Web traffic and search engine optimization, and be tied to an organization’s CRM system so that it can be easily administered and kept fresh.

Using external social-media tools to their advantage
Although first hesitant to use external social-media tools, nonprofits and associations have been adapting to this newer communications channel.  Organizations can use Web sites, like Twitter, to raise awareness by providing not only dedicated followers and staff — but also a global audience — with real-time organization updates.

Nonprofits and associations should use Facebook and LinkedIn, for example, as a place for potential donor and member research, and bear in mind that these sites are not a magic bullet for fundraising, in particular.  Don’t just set up a group and get a few friends to join — the sites won’t achieve much on their own. Instead, use these social-media outlets to build relationships and connect those with similar interests.
 
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Most Recent Comments:
Freddine Crabtree - Posted on January 13, 2010
This seems like a viable option going forward to enhance our visibility but my concerns are with getting the social networking engine up and running. With our staff duties being stretched to the max now, i'm wondering how much dedicated time is necessary to 1) get the links in place and 2) maintain the site? If you can enlighten here this would be most helpful.
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Archived Comments:
Freddine Crabtree - Posted on January 13, 2010
This seems like a viable option going forward to enhance our visibility but my concerns are with getting the social networking engine up and running. With our staff duties being stretched to the max now, i'm wondering how much dedicated time is necessary to 1) get the links in place and 2) maintain the site? If you can enlighten here this would be most helpful.