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3 social media facts you can’t ignore

August 17, 2009 |

Social media is all the rage but many nonprofits haven’t made this new and important tool part of their communications toolbox. There are tons of good reasons why organizations haven’t jumped into social media. I understand. The reasons we hear regularly are:

social media landscapeIt takes too much time.
I’m waiting until our new website is finished.
I don’t know what do to so I’m not doing anything.
Someone created a page for us on MySpace and it doesn’t seem to be working.
I really don’t understand how this works.
If it doesn’t raise money, we’re not going to do it.
We don’t have the resources to do social media.

Sound familiar? I understand.

But here are some facts:

Fact #1: 3 out of 4 Americans use Social Media (Forrester, The Growth Of Social Technology Adoption, 2008). 75% gang. Do you really want to miss out on an opportunity to connect with that many people? Certainly, social media isn’t the only way to communicate with them, but if people who could be your donors and supporters are using a communications tool, you really need use it, too. You wouldn’t ignore email or phone contacts just because you didn’t “need” it would you? Of course not.

Fact #2: Visiting social media sites is the 4th most popular online activity…and get this, that’s ahead of personal email (Nielsen, Global Faces & Networked Places, 2009). So statistically, you should do social media before you do email. Again, not saying that is good strategy, but I am saying that social media is HUGE. One mistake a lot of us make is not recognizing all of the different kinds of social media channels. There’s social media sites like Facebook and MySpace but also sites you many not have thought of as social media: YouTube and Flickr are huge social media portals. Check out Wikipedia’s social media page for a bewildering list of social media sites. You have to find what makes sense for you and where you can go to find your supporters.

Fact #3: The time spent on social media sites and networks is growing 3 times faster than the overall internet (Nielsen, Global Faces & Networked Places, 2009). Internet use is growing like crazy and social media use is growing even faster! Using social media correctly doesn’t usually take a lot of technical skill but it does require learning how each site operates. Don’t think technical skills think social skills. You have to learn what to say and what to do. Every day that you way, the longer it will take you to get up to speed.

Bottomline… you can’t sit on the sidelines. If you do, you could end up too far behind to catch up. Just because you don’t use social media, don’t make the mistake of thinking that your supporters aren’t. Odds are…they are. Social media has become mainstream not just cutting edge. Don’t get fooled into thinking that it is youth centric–it’s not. People of all ages are on these sites. And if you don’t get into social medai, you will really wish you did.

So how do you get started?
Pick out a channel like YouTube or Facebook and just watch. Ask people you know what they are using. Maybe don’t ask them if they use social media, but ask if they’ve seen Facebook or YouTube or Flickr or Twitter. Don’t just ask a few people, ask around. I bet you’ll be surprised at the number of people who are using the technology. “Watch and listen” first is the advice Hoots always gives when people are getting started. It saves you from embarrassment later and will help you learn what works. You don’t have to commit a bunch of money or go out and hire a staff person to do social media. That probably is as big a mistake as ignoring it. But you do need to start…now.

Take the plunge. Check out this video. This kid is building a following lipsyncing in Apple stores. He had 34,000 views of this video to date (he has several videos). Ummm… 34,000 viewings!?! So don’t talk to me about not having the resources. This kid doesn’t even own the computer he’s using. Talk about resourceful! (Even more, I was nervous doing our first video in our office…can you imagine doing this in the middle of an Apple store? I’m thinking the white sun glasses are the key.) Do you have videos on your website? How many views are you getting? Wouldn’t you enjoy having this kind of attention for your organization?

hoots and mari smithToday is good job Monday! And we’d like to give a shout out to the pied piper of Facebook herself, Mari Smith. Hoots spent the last few days working and training with her down in San Diego as part of a social media certification program. In this class, Mari has brought together professionals from as far away as South Africa, Rome, Montreal and (of course) Bainbridge Island to learn cutting-edge social media strategies. I was privileged to attend one of the sessions virtually, and I couldn’t believe how Mari combined practicality, brilliant strategy and insider secrets. That Mari knows her stuff! If you want to stay on the inside track regarding Facebook and all that’s going on in the social universe, just become a fan of Mari’s Facebook fan page.

We’d love to hear what you’re doing with this social media thing. What’s working for you? Why haven’t you taken the plunge? As always, we’d love to hear what you’re thinking.


Steve Thomas
Partner, Oneicity


(photo credit: Ivan Walsh)

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9 Responses to “3 social media facts you can’t ignore”

  1. Jen Harp says:

    Is it called lip-syncing when you don’t even know the words? Wow, you are right Steve if this kid can get 34,000 views for something that simple we have no excuse.

  2. Steve Thomas says:

    @Jen–I think it is somewhere between lipsyncing and Karaoke! One think this kid has that most npos don’t is he is bold and not worried about all the things people might say about it. Afterall, some will not like his glasses (which are cool) and some will have a problem with him doing what he did in public… classic critics. So, it is easier when you don’t have to sweat public opinion too much, but you are right. My takeaway is that npos have to go more for “bold” slightly less toward “safe.” And npos being npos, “bold” will still be very safe.
    Loved your thoughts. So what bold World Wide Rave thing are you thinking about??
    st

  3. Mari Smith says:

    Woweeeeee – thank you so much dear Steve & Kris for your lovely props. I’m truly honored to contribute to you two shining stars — and what a delight to get to meet Kris in person recently in San Diego. I’m excited to share this fabulous journey with you!! :)

    Hugs
    @marismith

  4. Lyn Kiernan says:

    Agree with all that you said Steve, just came from a conference where all 5 speakers in different lines of work brought it back to social media. It’s the way we communicate now, the way of the world and if you want to reach new younger supporters you’d better get on board and start learning it. PS. It still kind of scares me though at 55, but so did computers 30 some years ago!

  5. Steve Thomas says:

    @Marismith–Woweee back atcha! You have been a joy and a blessing. Thanks for your energy and expertise–what a combo. We love our connection with you. Next time, I’ll get to meet you in person, can’t wait.
    st

  6. Steve Thomas says:

    @Lyn–Thanks so much for your comments. It does keep coming around to social media. Hoots had me convinced but as I watch what we’re able to do with Oneicity’s social media efforts, I’m even more certain it is the way to go. And scary, you betcha, but the way I’ve worked through my fears and insecurities about “getting out there” is by…. getting out there. Jump! the water’s fine.
    st

  7. Karmen Reed says:

    You guys are amazing! Love the way your smiles are so present everywhere! Your “Good Job Monday” shout outs are another testimonial to best practices and communication you implement with your community. Kudos to you!
    Karmen
    @kickofftopic

  8. Steve Thomas says:

    @Karmen, thank you so much, your kudos mean the world to us since you’re such a class act. We appreciate you!
    st

  9. […] about the future of social media. What an energizing and challenging morning. So even though we shouted her out in August, just because I can, I’m doing a second Good Job Monday shoutout to Mari. Good Job Mari. […]

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