Book: ‘Social Media Tactics for Nonprofits’
Melanie Mathos and Chad Norman list 101 tips for making it work.April 2012 By Margaret Battistelli Gardner
Nonprofit tech maven Beth Kanter has said that "101 Social Media Tactics for Nonprofits," a new book by Melanie Mathos and Chad Norman, "is like having two very tolerant and technologically savvy friends sit down with you and share their wisdom and experience about social media tactics."
"Melanie and Chad have patiently and generously shared their best secrets and time-saving tips to help nonprofits quickly implement social media," she wrote in a recent blog post at Beth's Blog. "Aside from the great step-by-step 'cheat sheets,' the book also profiles stories from 113 nonprofit organizations to illustrate the techniques."
Here, FundRaising Success e-chats with Mathos, senior public relations manager at Blackbaud, and Norman, Internet marketing manager at Blackbaud, about the book and social media.
FS: With all of the buzz out there around nonprofits and social media, what makes your book stand out?
The authors: It isn't about why you should do it. It is instead a field guide that provides actionable tips on how to do it with proven, free tools. And, there is a continuation of the learning on the blog at 101smt.com.
FundRaising Success: How important is social media shaping up to be for fundraisers? Is anyone making money?
The authors: Social media is perhaps one of the most direct and best ways to interact with potential supporters on a regular basis. So from that perspective, it is invaluable! As far as real dollars go, there are many organizations raising money with the help of social media, including nonprofits in the book like Livestrong, charity: water and The Nature Conservancy.
According to the 2011 Nonprofit Social Network Benchmark Report, Facebook is the most popular commercial social network for fundraising, with half of nonprofits responding that they have used the platform to raise money from individuals. The key is, however, to not view social media as a silo, but as a component of an integrated marketing/fundraising plan. That is particularly important when it comes to peer-to-peer fundraising.
In a recent study, event fundraisers that incorporated social-media tools in their outreach increased their fundraising by as much as 40 percent compared to their peers who didn't. And, if you look at it from an engagement perspective, supporters who take an advocacy action on your behalf first are seven times more likely to give a donation when asked.
FS: Do you think it is a phase (albeit a long one) that will fizzle out in the next few years, or does it have real staying power (in regard to fundraising)?
The authors: It has real staying power for fundraising, but perhaps more so from the perspective of marketing of a fundraising campaign or a referral source vs. as an actual fundraising platform. Social media will become an increasingly important awareness channel as more people turn to it for their news.
As with any new channel, just like online fundraising, it will complement, not replace, traditional channels and will take a long time for fundraisers to get to that comfort level that they have with traditional channels. While there are examples of fundraising campaigns that are solely run on social media, they aren't as "sticky" for donors and will face the need to constantly be reinvented, and are, therefore, not as sustainable as a multichannel approach.
FS: Does social media further blur the line between friendraising and fundraising? Is that a good thing?
The authors: Yes! Because you should treat all supporters in a way that acknowledges the multiple ways they interact with your organization. It really isn't as cut-and-dry as it may seem in the offline world either. Supporters wear many hats and should be communicated with accordingly. A smart fundraiser will go above and beyond to use social media to further engage donors, not only to ask for more money in a new channel.
FS: What are nonprofits doing wrong in the social-media space as far as fundraising is concerned?
The authors: 1. Starting there! 2. Running social media in a vacuum. 3. Only focusing on fundraising to the detriment of engagement. (Making it their principal goal.)
FS: What is the most surprising thing fundraisers will read in your book?
The authors: Fundraising on its own isn't social — it's personal. Attacking this issue with a fundraising attitude may not work. It's wise to allow the marketing of a campaign to be social, rather than the fundraising itself.
Finally, Mathos and Norman shared with us the top five essential tips that can be drawn from their book.
- Get a strategy. Do not pass go until you have it documented and have buy-in for it.
- Invest the time up front to properly brand and set up your social-media accounts.
- Integrated communications is key — be sure to leverage all available channels to drive to social and vice versa.
- Create compelling content that people want to share, comment on, repost, etc. Think of it as social capital — what are you contributing to the community?
- Social-media platforms let you truly dig deep into demographic and behavioral data because users readily provide it. Respect the data, and use it! FS