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Cincinnati’s Social Media Nonprofit Symposium: What Would You Like to Use Social Media For?

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Spreading Awareness of Nonprofits Through Social Media

The Nonprofit Symposium, which was hosted by Boot Camp Digital at the Cincinnati Red Cross on May 17th, was an event that brought together leading pioneers of social media and influential members of the nonprofit community in the greater Cincinnati area. To keep tabs on the thoughts and opinions of the attendees, Krista had the idea of passing out post-it notes, asking 4 different questions about social media in relation to nonprofits, and having the attendees write their answers on the post-its. The four questions were:

  1. What would you like to use social media for?
  2. What is preventing you from using social media?
  3. What tools/technologies can most help you?
  4. What can you go back and do NOW?

These post-its were then placed on 4 different white boards. We’ll talk about the first one today, but be sure to check back for the other three questions and responses! For Question #2, click here!

Some of the answers to the first question “What would you like to use social media for?” included:

  • gaining neighborhood involvement
  • networking with people who could benefit from the organization
  • bringing new people into our agency
  • encouraging change
  • collaborative dialogue

While there were plenty of unique and interesting answers, there were two answers that showed up all over the whiteboard: spreading awareness and increasing funding. I’m sure this piece of information isn’t surprising, due to the fact that nonprofits have been working to attain these two goals for years. What is so exciting is that nonprofits are now realizing how beneficial social media can be to such goals – the attendees at the Nonprofit Symposium came for a reason: they know there is something special about social media, and it’s not going away.

With so many representatives attending this Symposium with the intent of increasing awareness and funding, it was perfect that all of the speakers knew exactly how to address such a goal. Although they all had excellent and unique advice, the general message was the same: be constantly and consistently present online, engage your followers, post relevant and interesting information about your organization, follow/friend/repin/retweet others, and use images and stories to show your personality.

As Andrea Deckard said in her Blogger Relations 101 presentation, “Social Media is a dialogue, not a monologue. Engage!” Many companies and organizations make the mistake of bombarding people with facts and information, but what you are supposed to focus on is talking with followers and potential volunteers, not talking at them.

Ehren Foss also made a great point in his presentation (Social Media Fundraising: What, Why, and How) when he said “people give to heartbeats and faces, not statistics!” In order for nonprofits to gain awareness, volunteers, and funding, they must have a personality, and an engaging online presence that encourages people to continue to follow/friend/support/pin/whatever-you-do-on-said-site. It’s important to reward participation, to thank donors, and to generally let people know that they’re interacting with a passionate nonprofit member, not a computer. After all, it takes two seconds to send a thank-you tweet!

I’m going to guess that spreading awareness and increasing funding are going to be the top goals of nonprofits for years to come. However, the nonprofits that invest their time in social media now will probably be less concerned in the future with gaining awareness and funding, and more focused on deciding what to do with all the support and funding they received! So keep this all in mind as you harness social media to improve your own nonprofit organization, and enjoy the success you have! Remember to continue to check back for the posts about the remaining questions!

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