why you shouldn’t use social media

Seems a bit odd that such a big advocate of social media and integrated marketing would tell you NOT to push your ministry into the “age of engage.” Seems foolish since that’s how I make my living.

But these things keep me up at night, so here you have it; the three times you should NOT jump into the new frontier.

Do not jump, if:

1. The Board Chairperson orders you to do it because it’s “cheap” and easy. First of all “cheap” is never a reason to develop a strategy. “Cheap” means looking only at the cost, not developing a plan that works and delivers revenue. And “ cheap” means getting what you pay for (sadly). Social media is a great value when done properly. But the value comes with investing the time, energy and analytics to make it happen. Cheap and easy usually means doing it poorly. And with social media, not doing it at all is better than doing it poorly. “Bad” social media means death to donors and prospects, and once lost they will not be back. Resist doing it unless leadership understands the true cost – and value—of engaging in social media. But help them understand first. And then jump in with all gusto!

Do not jump, if:
2. You’re not willing to turn over control. I keep seeing ministries and nonprofits using social media to bombard people with their message . . . after all it’s FREE! Let’s post all the time asking for help and talking about US, US, Us. That’s a quick way to lose your audience.

Ummm . . . Social Media is not broadcast media, it is a social media. I’m thinking “duh” as I write this but really, how much “social” do you see on your Facebook page from organizations? I’ve been watching my Facebook page closely the last few weeks. It’s been depressingly difficult to find any PEOPLE having conversations. And maybe it’s just me, but I’ve had trouble getting conversations from many who are “broadcasting” on Social Media. They’re talking at their communities. Acting like Texaco or Ivory Soap circa 1964 isn’t going to work today.

Social Media is conversation with people. Social Media is about listening. Think about this, you’ve been at a party and gotten stuck standing next to the bean dip with the guy who’s looking for a sale or a job . . . and all he’s doing is talking about himself. And when he does stop to ask a question, it’s still all about what he wants or wants you to do. What you’re going to do for him . . . that’s when I’m looking for an exit.

As I’ve been watching, I’m cringing how many good organizations are doing the same thing. Nothing but blah, blah, blah . . . Hoots always says that a good Social Media plan begins with listening. That has never been more true. And it’s true in any Social Media platform or channel. I’d add that a good Social Media plan is really being interested in learning about the people who are your friends (or fans or followers or whatever) — then they’ll be ready to support you financially.

Effective social media means turning over control, engaging in conversations, developing relationships, and listening to others (in public) who might not say what you want them to say. That’s the deal. If your ministry isn’t prepared to do so, then hold off. But only for a day or two! Do everything possible to change that philosophy, and then jump.

Don’t jump in, if:
3. You don’t want new relationships. Or you already have more volunteers, donors, dollars and prospects than you need for the next 15 years.

Ok, sorry about the last one. My first two reasons are actually cautions, not prohibitions. (But I had to get you to read this somehow!) Now here’s the real point. Fundraising is changing forever; social media is here to stay, and you have to be a part of it. And you have to be a part of it now.

And here’s the good news: your organization already has people who love you. And you, if you read any of the crazy things we say around here, already “get” how this works. So, you have one of the greatest tools of all time in your hands: Social Media.

Start a conversation. Ask a question. Respond to a post. Jump in. You’ll do great.

What do you think? Have you started using Social Media? What do you see that is working for you – or not? I love hearing how you’re thinking.


Steve Thomas
Partner, Oneicity

(photo credit: pedrosimoes7)

Steve Thomas

Steve Thomas

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