Let Your Rock Stars Sing Your Praises on Social Media
For example, let’s say you need a recommendation for a restaurant. If you go to Google or Yahoo and type in "great places to go to dinner in Chicago," sure you’ll get a list; but if you go to Facebook, MySpace or Twitter and say, "Need a recommendation for dinner with friend from out of town tonight, nothing too pricy and a nice atmosphere; good jukebox selection a plus," you’ll get recommendations from people who most likely have been to the places they recommend or know someone who has. And the best part is the people recommending these places are people you trust — almost like an interactive Google personalized just for you, by people who like you (or at least they claim to on Facebook).
Sure, there are sites like Yelp, Meetup and Chicago-Scene that all specialize in rating restaurants, theaters, bars and clubs, but nothing beats the recommendation of someone you know.
And the social-media search engine doesn't stop there. Let’s use Facebook status feeds as an example. For instance, John Smith, my long-lost pen pal from fifth grade, is now my friend on Facebook, and John also happens to be looking for a nice restaurant to impress a hot date he has next weekend. While John's scanning his messages, he sees my status update with a list of endorsements from friends and family recommending good restaurants in the area. So John scans the list, picks one out, and now is one step closer to a great first date, courtesy of me and my friends.
Word of mouth via status/Twitter updates is changing how people choose where they go and what they buy while offering a plethora of new information, opinions and endorsements influencing individuals and communities on a daily basis.
As it relates to nonprofits
So how can nonprofits use this info to help grow their communities online? Easy. All you need to do is find your rock stars. By rock stars, I mean the people in your Facebook causes and fan pages or Twitter followers who go above and beyond the norm. These are the supporters that retweet almost every post, the Causes member who has recruited 50+ people into your cause, or people who comment frequently on the links posted to your fan page.