Conference Roundup: Understand Social Networks and Make Them Work for You
Not all social networks are created equal. And nonprofit organizations need to know the differences between them before they can get one to work for them.
A social network can be a useful tool for a nonprofit, providing an arena for meeting potential supporters and contacts. Also, it provides individuals or organizations an outlet for spreading their messages to broader audiences.
But before nonprofits can use social networks effectively, they have to understand the options, said Steve MacLaughlin, director of Internet solutions at Blackbaud, during the session “What Social Networks Should Be Doing for You” at The Blackbaud Interactive Internet Symposium held on May 22 in New York.
He focused on the three major players: MySpace, Facebook and LinkedIn. MySpace, he said, is the Wild Wild West because it’s just as untamed and free. A person can “make it look how they want it to look, it has different demographics, and anything goes,” he said. The uber popular MySpace allows a person to create or join groups and post videos.
“If MySpace was a country, it would be the eighth largest country in the world,” MacLaughlin said.
LinkedIn, on the other hand, is what he calls “Button Down East” due to its more conservative environment. This site focuses on creating and maintaining professional contacts.
And, then there’s Facebook, which he calls Middle Earth because, well, it’s somewhere between MySpace and LinkedIn.
“You can’t control the look and feel, and it attracts a different person than MySpace (attracts),” MacLaughlin said.
Knowing the differences allows nonprofits to determine where they’re likely to be the most effective in terms of friendraising and fundraising.
“Your constituents may be on MySpace and not LinkedIn, or they may be using Facebook,” MacLaughlin said. “You need to be where your constituents are.”