The Internet is awesome and a big deal. It has opened worlds and connected worlds. But social media networking has changed everything about the way we use the Internet. In fact, it would not be a stretch to say that today, the reason the Internet is awesome is that it supports social media networking.
It took just a few years for Facebook to become the huge phenomenon it is today. And yet, marketers don’t seem to have a handle on the wider implications of Facebook and Twitter. It’s not just about sponsoring posts or purchasing likes; it’s oh so much bigger than that.
Going way back in marketing history (the equivalent of the Pleistocene Age), marketers talked at people in an attempt to persuade them they needed to buy such and such a product. It was all about the quickness of the patter and not leaving out a single word that could be uttered in praise of the product. This type of suasion marketing became part of our social landscape until we barely noticed it.
We also didn’t notice the effect of cultural influences in directing our purchases. The neighbor next door bought a color TV and all of a sudden, we had to have one, too. That, in a nutshell, is the hidden power of social influence.
Now keep that idea in mind as you examine marketing strategies on social networking venues. It really doesn’t matter how many followers your nonprofit has, but how well you manage to activate trends. Posting the same content until your followers are blind to it is not serving your nonprofit well because it’s boring. What people really want is something new, something they can share, something that helps them to interact with others.
Take Pinterest for instance. The nonprofit car donation program, Kars For Kids, opened a Pinterest account and created several boards where users can find new and interesting media to pin to their own boards. It’s interactive, it’s new, and it’s fresh. And that’s how it becomes a trend and reaches more than the sum total of its followers.
Take Facebook: you don’t need to run fancy promotions offering expensive digital toys. What people really want is engagement. So if you, as social media director for a nonprofit, post a message such as, “What’s the weather like where you are?” people can’t help themselves. They just have to respond with their location and a weather description. And by doing so, you not only inch your way a little bit further into their hearts, but into their friends’ hearts as well. It catches on, spreads.
The thing to remember in plugging your nonprofit is not to plug your nonprofit, but to widen your circles by being utterly human and appealing. It’s not about getting 5,000 followers—it’s about their level of engagement with you. If you have 500 actively engaged followers, it’s better than 5,000 disinterested followers because you’re making a real impact that will spin off to create even wider circles of active engagement and influence.
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