The way organizations conduct business has changed drastically over the past 30 years. From typing memos on typewriters to using multifunctional PC’s or from hand writing “While You Were Out” notes to texting executives messages on their smartphones, technology has influenced not only how organizations conduct business but also how they disseminate information to their members. The most recent incarnation of the technology crossover from personal adoption to business necessity is the use of social media.
The Gap between Associations’ and Nonprofits’ Goals with Social Media
Social media has become a “go to” source of information for people around the world. It’s a way for old friends to stay in touch, for individuals to learn about current events, and can even be used as a vehicle to engage people in political activism. According to Statmetrix, people are sharing more than ever before:
- 2.5B pieces of content shared each day
- 100 hours of video uploaded to YouTube per minute
- 5,700 tweets per second
Therefore, most nonprofits/associations feel that it’s important to have a social media presence and will typically have at least a Facebook page and/or Twitter account. When recently questioned by Altai Partner Mike Frye about whether or not their organizations feel they are getting new members, retaining current members or generating more revenue through their social media postings, all of the associations answered, “No.” But why?
Every nonprofit/association has a mission and cause for which they advocate, and much of the basis for their success can be traced to their communication efforts. A well run organization strives to reach its current members, members of the communities they try to serve, and attract future members. According to Social Media Consultant, April Ennis, “Social media humanizes the purpose” of a nonprofit/association’s cause. As a result, most nonprofits/associations tend to post to social media as an outlet for sharing information that raises awareness and educates outside of the context of fundraising.
They tend to follow a fairly linear strategy in terms of their approach to social media by posting when issues, events, etc. arise. When formulating a strategic plan for the organization, most will neglect to include goals pertaining specifically to social media; in fact, the Institute for Public Relations states that only 34% of companies felt their social strategy was connected to business. Social media is typically viewed by nonprofits/associations simply as a vehicle to help push information out that they want the public to view and not as an opportunity for revenue generation.
All revenue streams (i.e. events, membership, certifications, donations, etc.) leave a trail of social media data in their conversations, posts, and tweets. It is important to capture that data and treat it the same as data that is captured through registrations, renewals, etc. The future of nonprofit/ association reporting will soon require submitting information such as event revenue numbers along with sentiment statistics to organization leaders.
The Reality of How Much Social “Chatter” Exists in the Public Sphere
According to the Pew Research Center, 74% of all adults online use social networking sites. While most nonprofits/associations will post to their own social media outlets, the reality is that there are many more social media outlets (LinkedIn, Tumblr, Instagram, YouTube, Reddit, etc.) that they may not be utilizing themselves but whose members do use. The organization, its conference, speakers, or related topics may be mentioned in one or more these outlets regardless of whether or not the association posted the content themselves. Because social media typically operates by having a feed whereby the most recent content or most mentioned content (aka “trending” content) is seen at the top of the page, it’s difficult for associations to know whether or not their message is being accurately received by their target audience.
What many nonprofits/associations don’t realize is that there is an affordable way that they can actually “listen” to all the social media chatter being perpetuated in the public domain. There are tools available to help organizations centralize all the information and be able to gather discernible metrics that can be presented to boards or when applying for grants. The first step is to develop a specific social media strategy that can encompass all facets of the information gathering surrounding social media’s presence.
To learn more about this topic and the most robust social listening tools that are available to nonprofits and associations, contact Altai at firstname.lastname@example.org today.