Mixed Feelings for Nonprofits Using Social Media – Survey Says…

in Marketing for Nonprofits,Social Media

Another survey on nonprofits using social media was released today.  The results are mixed because of how the survey respondents (nonprofit and foundation executives) view social media.

On the one hand the overwhelming majority believe social media helps them reach new external audiences and they like the low cost.  On the other hand they don’t believe it works as well as traditional media at reaching primary target audiences: Donors, the media and policy makers.  And they’re also nervous about the lack of control – particularly that advocates can organize easily without the help of the nonprofits.

Here are the survey numbers.  Social media is helping because it:

  • Raises awareness (92%)
  • Keeps external people engaged (86%)
  • Is less costly compared to traditional media (77%)
  • Helps them reach broader external audiences (67%)

Those reasons lead the nonprofits surveyed to say that 85% of them intend “to make greater use of social media in the next two years.”  And 78% will “require additional and deeper social media expertise” on their staff to make the most of the opportunities it offers.

Conversely, respondents aren’t keen about social media because:

  • Traditional media is more effective at supporting fundraising efforts (67%)
  • Skeptical how well social media helps them connect with hard-to-reach audiences.  Specifically with donors (45%), the media (39%), and policy makers (31%).

However 58% do believe it works better than traditional media at mobilizing supporters and advocates.  Yet the executives (83%) are concerned that it also makes it much easier for advocates to organize on their own without the help of the nonprofits.

Clearly the nonprofit executives surveyed have mixed perceptions about social media.  Control seems to be a concern for themOther concerns are how they will find the resources to effectively manage their social media efforts; and the need for social media policies and guidelines.

If you’re in the trenches what can you do now?

1) Keep sharing with your executives and board members the success stories everyone is having with social media – not only your organization.  Remember, if a tactic works well for another organization it is probably worth TESTING within your nonprofit. 

2) Seek out the influencers in the social communities and build especially strong relationships with them.  Approach them with a different perspective.  Don’t tell them what to do.  Find out what’s most important to them and share information about it.  Let them do the rest.

3) Make it easy for donors and prospects to share your story.  Have strong videos within the social communities that they can use for sharing with their networks.  Make it easy to get news feeds of emerging stories.

4) Don’t reinvent the wheel.  Ask your friends at other nonprofits if they have any social media policies and guidelines.  Would they be willing to share them with you?  Become a hero with upper management as you expedite progress in maximizing the benefits of social media.

NOTE: The survey was conducted by Weber Shandwick and the details can be found at http://bit.ly/48yZ6o