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Social Media is one of those really cool things that everybody thinks is an answer in itself to the challenges of non-profit communications. The reasoning is simple. Everyone is doing this stuff, so should we. And it does sound really cool to say that you Facebook and Tweet, just as it sounded really cool when your organization got its first web page or first email newsletter. But the reality is somewhat different.
Too many non-profits get into social media because it is a fad. They don’t understand the strategy required or the new opportunities to communicate it creates. Like a kid in a candy store, they just want it. Needless to say, many of these Facebook pages and Tweets aren’t very good. They’re boring. They lack vision. They don’t get updated very often. They have about as much in the way of social media power as a piece of furniture.
In my time, I have been guilty of all this and more. But I’ve grown up and so has social media. The way forward is clear to me. It starts with the real question, “What can we communicate through social media and what value will it give our organization?”
There’s a book I’d recommend called Meatball Sundae by Seth Godin. In it he argues that the what social media requires us to actually rethink the way our organizations do business.
“Most of the time, despite the hype, organizations fail when they try to use this scattered approach. Organizations don’t fail because the Web and the New Marketing don’t work. They fail because the Web and New Marketing work only when applied to the right organization. New Media makes a promise to the consumer. If that organization is unable to keep that promise, then it fails,” Godin writes.
You want to know about Facebook and Twitter? Start with the strategy. What do you want to say and how is social media going to say it. Then figure out whether you can truly make a commitment to it. If you are just jumping on a bandwagon because others are, wait. Do social media right or don’t do it at all.
By the way, I don't actually have a corproate Facebook page. I do have a Linkedin group called Canadian Non-Profit Marketing. Go there and join the discussion.!