PMA Consulting, LLC

2011 Nonprofit Social Media Trends

As 2011 comes to a close, we cannot deny the impact that social media has had on nonprofit organizations, especially with their supporters and their work. In fact, social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook are now eclipsing traditional websites as an influencer.

Because of the potential reach to an audience, advances are being made in social media that are outpacing traditional websites. Ideas like video technology, online fundraising, and new social media sites (Google +) are just a few examples of new ways nonprofits can start reaching the public.

Here are three more ways in which social media platforms have influenced (and continue to influence) the nonprofit world:

1. Audience engagement

Budget cuts are forcing nonprofit organizations to look at low-cost marketing tools. An excellent platform for nonprofits are social media sites that allow two-way conversations with donors, volunteers and followers while operating on a lean budget.

In an article on Mashable.com, Beth Kanter says social media can help nonprofit organizations “collaborate with supporters by crowdsourcing ideas, feedback, and content for programs.” Social media is an opportunity for nonprofits to build a loyal following and in turn empower its audience to advocate on behalf of the organization through post shares, retweets and mentions.

2. Innovation

Social media sites have empowered nonprofits to think outside the box. For example, we’ve seen a strong trend of social media fundraising. One such example was the Toys-R-Us campaign benefiting the Marine Toys for Tots program that utilized Twitter and Facebook to spread its message to the public. The addition of NBA star Shaquille O’Neal (who also has a strong social media presence) led to $3.6 million raised and 325,000 toys collected.

Nonprofits are also utilizing social media sites for crowdsourcing. An interesting example of this is the YouTube Symphony Orchestra (YSO). Through auditions held via YouTube videos, winners were crowdsourced through votes by YouTube viewers, resulting in the 100 plus-piece orchestra.

3. Brand awareness

Social media plays a huge role in brand awareness. With a simple conversation between two people on a Facebook page, various individuals can instantly see the conversation – generating interest in the nonprofit. Social media becomes one of the cheapest and most effectives forms of advertising.

Mashable.com cites Enchanted Makeovers as a succesful example. An organization dedicated to reinveting shelters for women and children. Enchanted Makeovers collaborated with the Martha Stewart label to increase brand awareness. By working with Martha Stewart’s Dreamers into Doers social networking site, Enchanted Makeovers was able to connect with women from around the US, as well make a difference in shelters as far Singapore and Australia.

As social media continues to explode,nonprofit organizations need to ponder several questions:

    • How am I performing on my social networks?
    • What measurement tools am I using?
    • Am I connecting to each market segment?
    • How is social media executing the org’s mission and vision?

If one is able to answer these questions throughly and have a clear understanding, an organization is on its way to a succesful fundraising campaign through social media. However, nonprofits need to remember that each day brings about new challenges on the social media front. What works right now, probably won’t work in the future as new social outlets are created.