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Social media suicide?

Social media suicide?

If you are not on , you are missing a huge opportunity! You can make money from , you can get hundreds of donations, thousands of followers, millions of signatures, build brand awareness…

Well, that’s the message we are being fed it seems. If we are not digitally engaged, it’s organisational suicide! True, routes to market are important, as evidenced by the Christmas trading results where ‘click and brick’ are now working in harmony, but just what will social media achieve for the charity sector?

Well the first way I’ve discovered that Twitter makes money is simple. You offer a training programme on how to make money from social media. You can learn a lot from these events, but you should start by looking at your own habits. The organisation may not understand social media, but I bet it’s individuals do.

I am not saying that social media is not an important part of the channel mix for marketing and brand awareness – it most certainly is. But what do you expect people to do? To actually do?

Facebook pages are rampant with stories such as ‘Post and share this if you believe it’s wrong to beat kittens with a chain’*. The person who ‘likes’ will agree it is wrong, and sometimes share graphic photographs, but will they take any further action? You may also risk disenfranchising potential donors as well. Here’s an excerpt from a friend’s Facebook wall:

1) I don’t post things just because I’m told, and

2) I have a friend who’s a man who will soon be having surgery after being told he may have breast cancer, so the whole ‘women only, don’t tell the men’ part doesn’t sit well with me.

People’s attitudes are changing as social media itself develops. I personally don’t repost such messages (I may ‘like’ them if I support the cause), but I will share information that I think is interesting and relevant. I do not fill up my personal profile with cut and paste ‘slacktivism’ when I could be talking about important things like what I had for tea.

Retweeting (RT) in Twitter is seen as a great way to extend your network, but do people click on the links and read the articles in a Tweet, or do they just RT because it’s something they are becoming conditioned to do? I learned very quickly to check some of the links that I RT on environmental and conservation issues. I don’t think I’ve forwarded any pornography yet.

Social media just needs common sense. Look at how it matches your organisational profile and audience, and at your own social media interactions. If you fit the criteria of your target market, are you behaving the way you want your potential and existing supporters to?

Go in with both eyes wide open, no preconceived ideas. Look carefully at the brand building and engagement opportunities and set realistic goals for what you want to achieve. One highly successful tactic is the petition – social media is a good way to get lots of signatures and for the slactivists to take a simple action. Financial targets should be set not according to performance in other channels, but in context with what you can realistically achieve in social media.

In a past commercial post I built a business using social media and it was responsible for 60-80% of my site visits (e-commerce). I know it works – if you have the right audience, the right offer and the right outcome. Ignoring social media isn’t suicidal, but it could be extremely costly in the long run. Just make sure you do take a good long run, and don’t leap without having a fairly good idea of where you are
going to land.

* In case you were worried, this is a fictitious example.

Carolyn Causton is an experienced fundraiser who has worked in higher education, conservation and medical research. She also has a wealth of marketing experience in B2B and ecommerce, learning & development, technology and health care. She is also a musician and creative writer in her spare time.

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