facebook is like a picnic

In our work helping nonprofits and ministries with their fundraising, Social Media Marketing is often the most difficult strategy to figure out. The various social media platforms aren’t as easy to classify as direct mail or newsletters. So, analogies, metaphors and similes come in handy. As we’ve been blogging and thinking about Facebook, Hoots came up with a great analogy. picnic basketTry it on for size: “Facebook is like a picnic.”

When you’re thinking about why and how to use Facebook for your nonprofit, think of it like a picnic.

Here’s how it works.

First, think of who you might run into at a picnic: Friends. Church members. Your old high school buddies. People you work with. Neighbors. Donors to your ministry. Probably you wouldn’t find everyone at the same picnic, but it’s easy to imagine any of them sharing a hot dog and potato salad with you at the park.

Facebook works the same way. Depending on how your pages are set up, all of these people could be at your “Facebook Picnic.” Your old high school friends could see who they knew of your coworkers. Your neighbors could figure out what church you attend. Your church friends could be on the same metaphorical picnic table bench as your donors.

at a picnicNext, imagine what goes on at a picnic. You play games. You catch up on life. You find out about kids, marriages, parents. You take pictures. You give awards. You talk shop. You do business deals. You celebrate. You laugh at pets. You meet new people. You reminisce about the past. You talk about the future.

The Facebook picnic is similar. If you were our friend on Facebook, you would have known where we were Saturday, found out that we’d run another Street Scramble, discovered what book we’re reading, learned what business articles are inspiring to us, etc. We would be able to “catch up” with you in the same way. The great thing about the Facebook picnic is that you’re never stuck at the boring end of the table. You can always find out what everyone is doing…if you want to know.

Finally, think about what kinds of conversations happen at a picnic: you talk about what you’ve been up to. You talk about your job. You talk about your dreams. You talk about your faith. You talk about what your passions. You talk about your ministry and your work.

That’s what happens at the Facebook picnic as well. You let people into your life, they let you into theirs. You have control over what you say and what they see. You’re able to keep your professional and personal lives as distinct as you wish (or not). Are you going to raise tons of money for your organization on Facebook? Well, go back to the analogy. Are you going to raise tons of money at a picnic. Probably not. You might have a picnic for donors so they can get to know you. You could do a picnic where people did give but you won’t raise as much money at a picnic as you will at a banquet or a phone-a-thon; the park just isn’t conducive to efficient fundraising. Your donors can bring their friends to your picnic to meet you and get to know what your ministry is about. That works great at a picnic and works great on Facebook, too.

We don’t want to push this analogy too far, but you get the idea. A picnic is a social experience. It’s not as much fun to have one by yourself. And being alone on Facebook? Well that’s not so much fun either. After all, it’s all about relationships.

How about you? Does the Facebook as a picnic makes sense to you? Are there any ways Facebook is like a picnic that we didn’t think of? Do you have any favorite “Facebook is like a …” analogies that you’d like to share? We’d love to hear from you.


Hoots and Thomas

(photo credits: rkostin and Mykl Roventine)

Hoots and Thomas

Hoots and Thomas

3 thoughts on “facebook is like a picnic”

  1. Donna Mansfield

    I think your analogy here is great! I am just getting comfortable with Facebook – I know that it is has many many more features available which I am not using. But, soon I will be asking for donations for a cause (PAWS) and intend to do a major campaign on Facebook . . . not too much to bore anyone, though. Tactfully and diplomatically. I have already given to other organizations as put out there by my friends – mostly animal welfare and human rights orgs. Here again – it takes one of my specific friends to direct me to do this.

    So, raising money on Facebook or other social networks will work, I think, whereas not so much as at a picnic.

    On Facebook we have a dedicated audience – our friends and relatives. These people want to see us succeed – so will probably do anything they can to help us out.

    I’m just thinking out loud here – may not be very constructive to you, but I’m thinking that fundraising on Facebook WOULD be a good idea.

    I can’t come up with any other analogy for Facebook, though, other than a picnic. All I keep thinking about is Michael Jackson and “We Are the World”.

  2. @Donna Really appreciate your comments.

    You may be one of those rare donors who respond every time they’re asked. Or it may be that you’re being asked the right things at the right time by the right people and the venue is incidental.

    We do not disagree that Facebook can be used for fundraising. A few orgs have used it well. And more people are using their Facebook personal accounts to promote a cause they are passionate about. For example, @DeniseWakeman (of http://www.blogsquad.com) just promoted Kiva, a microlending org, for her birthday. She set a goal of $5,000 and asked her friends and followers to help her meet the goal in lieu of giving any gifts. Denise has thousands of followers, fans and friends. But if this cause isn’t near and dear to their heart or if Denise isn’t near and dear to their heart, they won’t likely give her this birthday gift. Just think about the circumstances in which you would “buy” a birthday gift for someone.

    So back to the picnic analogy: the current and primary goal of Facebook remains SOCIAL or what you might call “friendraising” and that’s a lot of what we do at a picnic. Yes?

    Cheers!
    ~Kris

  3. Donna Mansfield

    Yes, I do agree about the “friendraising”! For people who don’t understand about Facebook and other social networks, I believe the picnic is a terrific analogy! I am personally connecting with people all over the world . . . old friends and distant relatives . . . just through Facebook. It sure saves on airplane tickets and phone calls!!

    Donna

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