Difficult to say that social networks have already grown to be mature means of communication. Moreover, some platforms shoot wide and far (vis Facebook for everyone), while others target a specific subset of the social-media community (vis Epernicus for the scientific community). Figuring out how to negotiate those platforms can seem daunting. But we have some advice that might help ease the stress of trying to reach everyone. Don’t try to reach everyone. Well, it’s not quite that simple.
Of course, ‘Liking’ your favorite nonprofit and (re)tweeting its activities can be a real help to advertise its good works. And of course, nonprofits and charities should be encouraging that kind of assistance from its followers, so be sure to develop materials and information that will grasp people’s attention. Sree Sreenivasan, professor of digital media at Columbia Journalism School, tells a story about how he wanted to mark his own 6000th tweet by calling attention to some nonprofits that his followers nominated. He also wanted to show how to draw on the strengths of different platforms to achieve similar goals:
I used a Facebook.com/sreetips post to lay out the idea: People would nominate their favorite charities and I’d tweet about five that caught my eye. Why Facebook to mark something on Twitter? Because Facebook gives you more space to explain yourself and to collect items in one place. Nominations came into that Facebook post, but also via people tweeting with the #sree6K hashtag. I expected a handful of nominations, but got many more than that.
That kind of cross-pollination can work wonders for an organization that has a compelling idea and wants to share it in compelling ways. Work up distinct chapters on the two or three platforms that really suit your nonprofit’s needs, and encourage your audience to participate in the story. By so doing, their relationships with your organization will grow stronger, and they will be more likely to commit time and/or money when asked. Moreover, and perhaps sooner than they make an online contribution, they will spread the cross-pollination via their own outreach. Indeed, catch the attention of a person or peer group with some real social-media clout, and you could see a sudden amplification of interest. Your job then will be to turn some of that faddish following into some serious volunteers and donors.
Sree planned to garner about 30 nominations, but he ended up with many hundreds and they are still coming in.