the google facebook war

I’m starting with a confession rather than the usual themes of fundraising for nonprofits, online video and social media. I’m going to trust you with my confession and you’ll have to trust me for a few lines that I can connect the dots for you. But, hey, we’re all about relationships around here, so I’ll trust you with my secret.

Ready for my confession? I’ve been involved in organized crime for the last few months. I’ve done my best to keep it a secret from everyone but those closest to me…and candidly, those I’ve corrupted. My life of crimeHoots has remained steadfastly uninvolved (she has a good moral compass). Friends have spotted my bad behavior. Some have tried to try to pull me out. Others, I’m sad to say, have joined me in my life of crime. Turns out, I’m not too bad at this mob thing, I do have roots in Sicily on my mom’s side. Maybe that explains it.

You may have figured out I’m talking about Mafia Wars on Facebook. Mafia Wars is a rather dumb but addictive game. If you don’t know about it, I’m not going to bore you with the details. If you’re on Facebook and want to play, join my mob, I’m pretty generous with the loot (hey, I’m a stand up guy).

So what in the world does this have to do with fundraising, social media and nonprofits (particularly ministries!)? Well here’s the deal. Facebook claims that its subscriber base over age 35 doubled in size between February and April of 2009–just sixty days. Yikes! That’s amazing. And notice the demographic–we’re not talking about teenagers.

The huge audience means traffic, lots of traffic. The analysts at Hitwise claim that celebrity gossip blogger Perez Hilton now gets more traffic from Facebook than from Google–more than 7 million pageviews from Facebook alone. That means that in the near future, Facebook could be as important as Google (if it’s not already).

So what does that mean for your nonprofit or your ministry?

First, it means that you cannot choose between the three big social media platforms (blog versus Facebook versus Twitter). You have to use all three. Period. Integrated. Period. Depending on your situation or your niche, your website maybe more important than Twitter. Or Twitter may be a more important than Facebook. For Oneicity, we still see far more traffic from search engines and other referring sites than we do Facebook. And we drive traffic with Twitter. For nonprofits, the reverse is likely true–you’ll receive more traffic from “friend-based” sites than search sites. So while you may be different in the specifics, but the strategies will be the same.

Second, you have to consider both kinds of platforms–search engines and social media tools (like Facebook–MySpace is out there but it’s not viable for most nonprofits in our niche). Your donors will find out about your official programs from Google and your website. To know what your Major Donor reps do on the weekends, they’ll find that out on Facebook. If your donors want to know what you think or what you’re reading, they’ll might find it on Twitter. Hmmm…. good or bad? Could be either. I personally know of two really good stories about how Facebook can cause interesting situations for organizations, but the statute of limitations hasn’t run out on them yet, so I’ll have to save them for my book.

Third, develop your social media strategy now. Figure out your Twitter strategy (are you driving people to your website or building awareness?). On Facebook, do you have an organization fan page and a personal profile? Decide corporately how you’ll handle Facebook and Twitter. Do you have a policy for employees? What does Google say about you? Either way, the friend-sites like Facebook are growing like crazy and you want a strong strategy. There are some clever Facebook strategies out there–everyone is learning and experimenting. You need to also. We’ll talk more about specific social media strategies in later posts. For now begin making friends.

Back to Mafia Wars. I didn’t join Facebook to play Mafia Wars. I never would have played Mafia Wars if a friend hadn’t invited me. You’ll need to find your organization’s version of Mafia Wars. You’ll need to find ways for your friends to connect their friends with you. Probably a request to give money won’t be the most successful introduction. You can harness the same tools and impulses that spread these dopey games to spread the word of your incredible work.

What do you think? What are you doing on Facebook to further your cause? (Are you playing Mafia Wars? I’m always looking for some good help.) How about your strategy for Twitter? And what are you doing to make yourself more googleable? Do you think Facebook will win the search “war” or will Google continue to reign?

Steve Thomas
Partner, Oneicity

(unedited photo credit: Marxchivist)

Steve Thomas

Steve Thomas

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