Charities are beginning to sit up and take note that social networking sites are useful tools on a variety of levels. A charity can make a message felt, reach a wide number of people from varied target groups, learn more about what does and doesn’t work, and mobilize support, just by working social media.
For older, more established charities, it may be difficult to contemplate breaking into this new, unknown world. There may not be an inclination to change methods. After all, as the truism says: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
It would be a pity, however, not to make use of something that can have a huge and positive impact on the success of an organization. In the current economy, anything that can improve a charity’s performance and standing is something to explore and exploit to the fullest. Here are ten ways that charities can benefit from making use of social media:
One – Gather Intel. Social networking sites such as Twitter, Facebook, and Google+ are interactive communities where you can really get to know people. As people comment, you learn about them: what speaks to them, and what doesn’t. You learn what irks them and how to improve what you have on offer. It’s insider information you gather yourself!
Two – Drive traffic to your web presence. If you post intriguing items and comments, people will want to learn more about your charity and will go to your organization’s website to do just that. Getting people to come visit your website should be your primary goal, since this is the clearinghouse where people can learn about the purpose of your organization, get involved, and make donations.
Three – Optimize your Google stats. The more visible you are on the web, the higher your page rankings on the Google search engine. For instance, an organization focused on car donation, such as Kars for Kids will want to be the first result on the page when a potential donor types in “car donation charity” on the Google search engine. A charity moves up the Google hits list in direct relation to its online presence. Someone who wants to donate a car to a charity will likely click on the first result generated during a Google search. You want to be that first result.
Four – Increase donations. Visitors to your social media networks not only respond to requests for donations but will share your requests with their friends, yielding even more donations. If you send your friend donating to a charity, it’s likely to persuade you to donate as well. That’s the power of social networking in action.
Five – Tell about your work.The informal atmosphere of social media allows you to let people know about the work you do in a friendly and interactive environment. Social networking allows you a more personal touch than what you can achieve at your organization’s website or through printed promotional materials. This can serve to make your message more palatable to a wider number of people.
Six – Offers sharing potential. Having an online social media presence allows your supporters to share about your work with their own circles. They do the work for you at the click of a button and are happy to do so. Social media offers you a wider circle of influence.
Seven – Generate support at the grassroots level.The power of social networking to generate grassroots support for your charity cannot be underestimated. When Haiti experienced a devastating earthquake in 2010, there were 1,500 plus Facebook status updates including the word “Haiti” within the first few days. The morning after the 2011 London riots thousands of volunteers came to assist in cleaning things up, after learning about the cleanup effort on Twitter and Facebook.
Eight – Engage your supporters. Not only can you learn about your donors from their comments, but you can have a conversation with them. It’s one thing to present people with static information and see their responses, but quite another thing to be able to have a two-way conversation with potential supporters. Here’s your chance to really get to know people you meet in the virtual world at random—people you would not have met or reached otherwise.
Nine – Enlarge your donor base. Send requests to follow, friend, and connect people, as the case may be, as you meet them online. Friends send connections to other friends and this can grow you new supporters quite quickly.
Ten – Inspire trust and loyalty. By conversing directly with those you meet in social networking circles, you develop a relationship of trust and loyalty for your charity. Keep things open, honest, and real, and you will surely build a base of people committed to you and your message.