I was lucky enough to attend the much mentioned NFPtweetup (a meeting for members of the online not for profit group on twitter) last week. I won’t repeat what’s already been posted but I did contribute to a really interesting discussion on how social media tools like twitter could be integrated into the broader fundraising and communications mix.
These are some of the points we discussed and solutions suggested. I hope you find them as useful as I do.
Planning and Execution Considerations
- A mainstay of effective communications between any organisation and its intended target audience is the trust or rapport which must be built between the audience and the communicating audience. This is equally true of social media and arguably more important due to the volume of information being shared via web 2.0. If a valuable relationship is not built, the audience will simply filter out any communication, damaging the chances of them supporting, donating etc.
- Social media should be used to invite interaction around messages delivered through other media. For example, the government’s ‘talk to Frank’ drugs advice campaign uses traditional media to pique interest and then invites interaction through a range of digital media to both offer a more tailored service as well as to engage the audience in a more personal way.
- It’s important to let some of the organisation’s personality show through social media. It is a very personalised channel (even with character limits) so perhaps a place to start is to ensure your organisation has a personality. This can be as simple as using the mission or values as a yardstick for all your communications – if you can sense the values coming through the words, you’ve got it right. Use this yardstick consistently across all communications and all media and you will build an effective brand personality. Perhaps you could develop this further online with a brand avatar too?
NB – That’s not to say that your organisational personality is the right one for your target audiences, however!!! If in doubt, you may have to do some more thinking.
- The jump into social media can be perceived as being too risky by leadership teams as it very much exposes the organisation to an unfiltered 2-way relationship with audiences that perhaps has not been experienced previously. If this is the case, social media ideas can be introduced gradually via existing, accepted channels. For example, introduce a twitter update via the website. This has the benefit of providing a more comfortable segway for both external audiences as well as the internal decision-makers.
- Many websites contain pages of static or unread content – fact. Monitoring of and maintaining valuable interaction with social media can be resource-intensive – fact. So, why not re-allocate resources away from ‘standard’ web management and copy creation / updating to ‘community management’. The rapport built with target audiences should ensure a much deeper and valuable relationship is developed in support of your cause.
- Tools which support many social media applications like twitter require software to be downloaded which can be a real problem for organisational firewalls. Some people simply aren’t given access to add such programmes. We recommended a sensible conversation with the IT people which should include what you are trying to achieve for the organisation using web 2.0 (they tend to worry if they think you will just be watching Stephen Fry’s updates all day!)
- If an organisation is investing in social media, you need to find and agree some acceptable metrics to track the effectiveness of your activities. Web tracking and standard analytics can help here as many social media referrals can be tracked using existing tools. However, we will need to think creatively to find other ways of measuring impact. For example, if you wanted to understand how effective twitter is as a tool to raise awareness of an issue, you could design a quick online poll and only offer the URL via twitter. Repeat the exercise (perhaps with follow-up questions) after a month or so and track the improvement. This activity be aligned with Google alerts which look for mentions of your survey. Other options include using tools like tweet alert or tweet later.
- Do you want a personal or professional profile? Are you representing you or your organisation? There don’t appear to be any hard and fast rules here but a little common sense should suffice:
- If you have both a personal and organisational profile, try to remember which is which and post appropriately. Your organisational stakeholders may not care what you watched on TV yesterday!
- Your organisation’s personality should be at the centre of the posts, not yours, so it is a good idea to practice ‘ghost writing’ as if you actually were the organisation
- Remember that you don’t have to say everything in a social media post (in fact you shouldn’t) and use links to other communications channels to give your audience the kind of interaction they want
- If professional, remember that social media is just that! Don’t overtly sell, preach, or pressurise anyone and above all, make sure you give people the opportunity to interact with you as well as talk to them.
- Uniquely, social media provides more opportunity for 2-way communication than ever before so encourage it for your organisation and acknowledge it when received.
- Social media is available to all within an organisation and it is probably pointless to try and control specific ‘spokespeople’ as all employees, volunteers etc are generally able to post opinion. Why not suggest a few basic ground rules around consistency of opinions and tone of voice and let the team go forth and tweet! (The need for consistency is key here, not for control).
- That said, a few key spokespeople tweeting on behalf of your organisation, building a personal/professional profile and linking to other communications channels might be a good way to build interest. Particularly if you are blessed with a ‘guru’ in-house.
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