Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Social Media – Two views from the other world

Two recent blog posts from outside the not for profit world provide some great perspective on social media.

If you're looking for reasons to jump (or maybe just dip your toe) into the world of social media, John Jantsch in his Duct Tape Marketing blog offers five very practical ways that small businesses can make use of social media. They can all be perfectly applied to the fundraising arena. Some of them are obvious like following up with prospects or staying top of mind with customers (read donors). Others may require a bit more creativity in applying to the fundraising enterprise but are no less valid. His last point on staying in touch with potential partners will (or should) be increasingly important to fundraisers as financial pressures and the proliferation of causes create the need for finding synergies with other organizations.

To manage the expectations of some within your organization regarding social media and for some strategic thought, read Seth Godin's blog on "the endless search for wow." Although it was written more as social commentary, its practical implications are hard to miss. With online fundraising success stories abounding and endless reports of videos gone viral, there is increasing pressure to appeal to and attract the widest possible audience to your social media efforts. But Seth makes the point that the quest for the "wow factor" may be unrealistic and impractical. Your social media (or web) efforts are better focused on your current donors and stakeholders and what you know to be your target market.

Other than the specific benefit that comes from each of these posts, I see two overriding principles:

  • Strategy is the key to marketing success. You have to first determine desired objectives before launching a social media effort. What specifically do you want to accomplish and how is that integrated with other marketing efforts? Perhaps most importantly, how will you measure the success of your social media campaign?
  • Learn from outside your world. You can't afford to not pay attention to the best thought and practice emerging from the business world. Expand the list of articles, blogs, magazines that you read. If nothing else they will open your horizon of thought and likely lead to inspiration.