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Chapter 1 Why Social Media?

This is an amazing time to be alive! We have more access to people than ever before. Not the access of the mid-20th century that was controlled by network radio or TV. And not access limited by geography. We have the opportunity for direct access to hundreds of millions of people around the globe without spending a lot of money or even leaving our desks!

We can talk to our donors, building relationships with them. We can thank them for their gifts by showing them video clips of the results of their investments. We can “like” their status on Facebook. We can tweet them an article that made us think of them. All these let them know that we are connecting with them as people, not just as ATM machines.

And we can reach new people. We can listen in on conversations happening all over the world and find prospects in pretty unexpected places. We can hear what they’re saying and how they’re talking about our organization. We try so hard to get people to us—to visit us, to come to our events, to visit our website. Now, for the first time in human history, we have the opportunity to go where they are, without even being invited! Platforms like Twitter and Google+ are open to the public. If the prospect is there, you have every reason to start getting to know them. As we get to know them—their interests, their hot buttons, their passions—we can discover new fans for our cause.

Maintaining Relationships…From Your Desk!

One of the hardest parts of the fundraising process is maintaining relationships. We so often get stuck to our desk or focused on acquiring new leads, that we forget to get out to where our supporters are. Social media allows you to do that relationship work…right in the midst of your normal every day routine.

  • You get to meet people all over the world who might be interested in your cause.
  • You get to hear that people are really thinking about a wide variety of issues.
  • You can follow other colleagues and competitors and get great real-time advice.
  • You can drive traffic to your website or the sites of your friends.

More importantly, social media tools allow our fans and donors to introduce us to their friends! If we craft our social media outreach well, they can become our advance PR team, creating buzz about the great things we’re doing. Word of mouth now becomes “word of mouse” as people click on links in their friends’ communications that bring them to our site.

These social media tools are largely free and are waiting for us to use them well.

Using Social Media Well

But let’s face it, social media seems like a wildly chaotic space filled with made up words and badly spelled names: Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn, tweeple, tweetups, pinging, Razoo. The list goes on, becoming more and more like alphabet soup.

It’s far too easy to let your head be turned by tools. Have your board members ever said something like this:

“Did you see CNN is quoting from Twitter? Why aren’t we on the Twitter?”

“Hey, XYZ nonprofit has a Facebook page, we need one too!”

“My grandson says we have to have a Google+ page. What do you mean we don’t have one? We’re going to miss out.”

Saying we need a Facebook page or a Twitter account is just as crazy as a contractor saying, “I need to build a house because I have a hammer.”

Hold on! We’d want the contractor to have a plan first! Then, and only then, would she be able to choose the appropriate tools. A hammer might be right at certain stages but in some places you’ll need a wrench. So, too, in social media: sometimes you need Facebook, other times you need a blog or a Flickr account. It all depends on your strategy.

To create a strategy, we’ll help you define:

  • Ÿ What you want to accomplish
  • Ÿ Why that is the right thing to accomplish
  • Ÿ Who you need to reach to accomplish it
  • Ÿ Where those people mostly likely hang out
  • Ÿ Which tools you need to reach them
  • Ÿ How to use those tools without losing your mind

The old saying is true “If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll likely end up somewhere else.”

So, before we work on your strategy and target audience, let’s take a look at what social media is.

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