Tweeting For a Cause

      We have all seen the @ sign followed by a simple statement or name, but what does this small phrase really mean? For your non profit organization, it could be a potential donor, volunteer, or a foundation or corporation interested in aiding you with your cause. Twitter or micro-blogging, is a form of social media that is rapidly growing in this field. In the past, micro-blogging was seen as a way to inform friends or family of the somewhat mundane tasks that occurred throughout their day, but now, non profit organizations are taking notice to how effective Twitter can be as a part of their social media strategy.

      This social networking site can prove to be quite useful for your NPO. In our society, it is necessary to build meaningful relationships and connect with one another, and Twitter makes this possible, even on a global level. Tweets, which are messages that are 140 characters or less, are short, yet impactful because they are great tools for educating the public about your cause and reinforcing your message.

      A survey from Nielsen says that Twitter is the fastest growing site in the Members Communities categories, with a larger percentage than Facebook which came in third. In “Twitters Tweet Smell of Success,” the study showed that the demographic that Twitter was most popular among is working adults, and the largest number of unique visitors to the site was between the ages of 35-49. This is valuable information because Twitter allows your message to be amplified through different networks because you have the capacity to communicate with such a large audience.

      According to “Twitter, Tweets, and Twitanthropy,” Twitter has also implemented Charity Tuesdays, which is a tag that was created to help non profits spread the word about their causes. This encourages other people to follow their charities’ tweets, and this is necessary for an NPO because the more people that care and are interested in your message, the more likely they are to pass it on, and that allows for free viral marketing. This idea of word-of-mouth marketing allows for people to build trust in your cause because people they know believe in it as well. This concept is proven with Twestival, a completely volunteered based project that allowed people who used Twitter, to come together with a common purpose, belief, and goal to create change in their communities.

      Another great example of Twitter as an application for social media is the American Red Cross, which is an established and well respected non profit organization. They have been effectively using social media for years, and their involvement shows their willingness to participate in these conversations and be transparent as an organization. An article titled, “Non Profits Find Useful Applications for Twitter,” discusses how the Red Cross used it effectively after a plane crash. The tweet accomplished two things. First, it informed the public with the necessary information that it needed, and it also created awareness of their presence with the situation and what they were doing about it.

      The American Red Cross says that it uses Twitter to get real time information and news out to the public which is necessary because it shows that they are aware of what is going in the environment, and it helps to create trust in what they are doing. Their Twitter page is filled with continuous and regular updates which show the public that they are responsive and actively engaged. Their page also has links to other helpful resources for information, which is an example of how Twitter can drive people to learn more, and visit your website along with other social media sites like Facebook or your blog.

      In the end, it is not about ensuring that every individual on Twitter is following your tweets, you just need enough influential people to believe in your mission and share that belief with their network of followers. This will then allow you to keep connected with your supporters, gain new ones, and continue spreading awareness for your cause. It is about the connection, and even though tweets may not translate immediately into revenue for your organization, you are beginning to build a base of supporters who will be vital to promoting your cause in the future.

So, use your tweets wisely because you never know who may be following you.

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Profiting in a Non Profit World

It is clear that the proper utilization of social media can be beneficial to a non profit organization, but now comes the question of how to use it and what technologies may be the most useful. To improve the functionality and effectiveness of a non profit’s communication efforts, there are a few things I would like to examine and offer helpful tips on how to make social media work for you.

            It is important to note that with so many opportunities present for citizen engagement, it might be difficult to decipher through all of the uses of social media. Regardless of what method you to choose to use, it is important to have clear and attainable goals and objectives. It is not a good practice to just set up a Facebook or Twitter page with no knowledge or purpose behind it. Social media is most effective when implemented with specific goals and an outcome in mind. This is necessary because as an organization you will want to examine the effectiveness of the content that is being put online and gauge whether social media is right for your organization.

            In an article on Mashable: The Social Media Guide titled 5 Essential Tips for Promoting Your Charity Using Social Media, Josh Catone offers his advice on the best way to implement these new technologies. He says that regardless of the social media tools that you choose to use, there always needs to be an opportunity to engage in conversation. By encouraging this communication with your constituents, you are allowing them to give you feedback as well as gain insight on how best to reach them. This is proven by the March of Dimes, who realized that they needed to allow their publics to openly communicate about their experiences when dealing with premature babies, and they did this through Share Your Story, an online social network that promotes discussion and allows for community involvement and support. This online network is a great example of how to strengthen the relationships of your constituents, and foster positive, trusting, and authentic relationships with them.

            It is necessary to make sure that you as an organization are also listening to your audience, and maintaining current and updated content and information. Do not try to use all the different available social media tools, but just use what you know your organization can regularly maintain. It can be helpful to focus your efforts on one specific goal or segment of your organization’s mission. Even if your non profit is trying to accomplish multiple objectives, it may be easiest to gain support by not overwhelming your audience with a wealth of information, statistics, and pleas for donations in danger of saturating the market. Also, always be genuine in the conversations that are established because people want to communicate with real, yes I said it, real people. It is no longer okay to just settle for automated messages to the public, but remember to talk to people, not at them. The American Red Cross is another great example of a non profit staying connected with their constituents, maintaing transparency and authenticity, and using specific social media to spread their news and information.

            These tips are all beneficial because upfront they might not prove to be quite lucrative, but with enough effort and purpose, social media is a great mechanism to gain support and donations for your cause. All of these efforts to communicate will help create active participants who help spread the word to potential donors, become engaged in helping to achieve the mission and goals of your organization, and become some of the main organizers and proponents for your cause. What could possibly be better than that?

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Not For Profit, Not Anymore

Corporations are no longer the only entities that are taking notice to the rise of social media— non-profit organizations are also becoming quickly aware of its importance and recognizing the capabilities and impact these technologies can have on their communication efforts. Social media is allowing non profit organizations to connect and better organize their audiences in order to create positive change. NPOs are leveraging the web and its technologies to spread their message, and gain support for their cause because this new method of communication can be vital to the success of an organization’s initiatives to achieve their mission and goals.

            According to Adrienne Royer’s blog post entitled Why Every Nonprofit Should Embrace the Web 2.0 World, she says that there a number of reasons why NPOs should utilize these technologies. First, it allows them the ability to engage with their audience wherever they may be. These new technologies such as Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, and YouTube are allowing these organizations to interact more effectively and truly gain an understanding of how their publics want to be communicated with.

             Organizations are also connecting with influential individuals, who could help promote their message, but with these open lines of communication, there is a possibility of losing control of the conversation and message says Kathleen Driscoll.

            In her article, Non-profits find new friends in new media, she discusses more possibilities for the use of this technology. She states that social media is a way to get the message out in a cost-effective way. Seeing as how non profits do not have an excessive amount of funds to use for advertising and marketing, these mediums are allowing the opportunity for these two-way conversations to occur at little to no cost.

            Social media is changing the way we communicate because it allows for active participation from everyone on a global scale, and these new modes of communication are creating opportunities for non profits to enrich their relationships and gain support and belief in their mission. Throughout my blog, I plan to research the effectiveness of these communication strategies, the proper applications of these technologies, and examine cases where social media proved to be successful and useful for specific non profit organizations.

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