Social media— including pages like Facebook, Twitter, Linkedln, and Google+ — are playing an increasing role in people’s lives, both as a way of connecting with friends and as a way of increasing business activity. Nonprofit marketing in particular has benefited from social media marketing in a number of ways; a recent study has revealed that, since 2007, nonprofit organizations “have been setting the pace for the use of social media in marketing.” Of course, organizations of other types have been using them too; but for nonprofit organizations such marketing is especially beneficial for at least five reasons, which will be discussed below. It is good news, too,for people who run the organizations, for it is these which have been especially hard- hit by the recession.
No need for large amounts of funding
A nonprofit organization, by definition, does not pay dividends; rather, its surplus income goes into fulfilling its goals. It therefore cannot go by channels that require large amounts of funding, and social marketing is one of those paths.
Involvement of stakeholders
Stakeholders tend to hold a great interest in causes that are related to themselves. Social mediums generate an overall integrated experience with those exact stakeholders.
Just as social marketing websites give individuals the opportunity to carry on relationships with their relatives and friends, so too it enables charitable companies to establish and maintain relationships with their customers. This benefit goes even further: Those customers who are already linked with the company via social networking can use the same channels to tell those they know about it, thus increasing their clientele even further.
Videos as leverage
Charitable organizations can also use social media networking to get potential customers to view their promotional videos. YouTube has a nonprofit program, whereby such businesses receive special benefits; and these include extra uploading capability and branding capabilities of the highest quality. They may also be added to YouTube’s list of nonprofit channels and videos page, and the videos themselves may include a “call to action” overlay.
Surveys and polls
An organization can also use Facebook or Twitter to conduct surveys, which are especially useful because they can enable the people at the company to find out what things about them their customers approve and disapprove of, and use that information to improve what they offer and how they conduct their business. But surveys can do much more than that. They can generate interest in fundraisers and other events that are being held by the company. They can also learn why their donors are making their contributions, and find out what their consumers value and are interested in.
Zoomerang is a firm that enables nonprofits to set up accounts at a discount for the purpose of conducting surveys. They help set up templates for different kinds of surveys— program satisfaction, volunteer satisfaction, volunteer interests and skills, community satisfaction, chapter fundraising, donor, membership. program satisfaction, and environmental concerns and awareness. The basic account is free; pro and premium accounts may also be purchased for fees that range from $24 to $65. Such accounts give the company access to customizable charts and graphs, text analysis with Word clouds, question randomization and “piping,” free live phone support, complete brand control, concept rotation, “skip logic,” and much more.
In addition to the benefits discussed above, social media sites have numerous others for charitable organizations. One is provided by Facebook Causes, through which a company can conduct surveys, draw in new donors, and provide information regarding volunteer opportunities. Twitter, similarly, enables companies to launch online petitions which users can “sign” by “retweeting” messages sent to them and to connect with other nonprofit organizations. Google+ has a community of nonprofit organizations as well. And on Linkedln you can set up a company page!
Social media has proven and is continuing to prove to be the charitable company’s best friend.