How to Succeed in Social Media
Social networkers want a platform for personal expression (think a MySpace page), and they want to connect with others (think online “friends”). So do people (including your kids) who love instant messaging.
Being seen and heard, and connecting, are the needs that drive social media, and they should drive your online outreach strategy, as well.
This should be a relief to all of us who think we lack the technological chops to successfully participate in the online world. You don’t need to be under the age of 20 or an IT director — you just need to grasp what makes it work.
Here’s a six-step way to make that happen. And you need to make it happen. Why? Because online outreach is a cost-effective and efficient way to reach people at a time when we’re all low on resources. Because it’s a way to find new constituencies and reach a new, younger generation of donors. Because giving up control of the message and having a conversation can strengthen your relationship with the people who support you. And if none of that moves you, remember that people tend to donate more money online.
1. Stop! If your executive director is commanding you to start a blog or get a Facebook presence today, stop right there. Spend a bit of time thinking more strategically. You want to figure out who you’re trying to reach online, where they are and how to best communicate with them. If you’re starting a new blog (and there already are tens of millions of them), you want to be sure there’s a case for it.
2. Look and listen! The beauty of the Internet is you can quickly find the people online that are predisposed to your cause. In a world where there are active online communities of people fascinated by medieval pottery or support groups for people struck by lightning (really), there surely is a constituency that loves your cause somewhere out there. Find those people, watch where they are congregating and listen to what they’re saying. This is very easy to do by setting up simple alerts so you’ll be notified any time someone mentions your organization or anything related to your cause online. Check out www.google.com/alerts, and watch lists on www.technorati.com.