Social Media

We’re excited to welcome our newest guest blogger, Joe Waters. Joe blogs on cause marketing and how social media, location-based services and mobile technology are revolutionizing the field at He’s also the co-author of Cause Marketing for Dummies (July 2011).

One of the most frequent questions I get from nonprofits is on how they can use location-based services (LBS) like Foursquare for marketing and fundraising. It’s a good question, because while I’m convinced that LBS will play a major role in cause and company partnerships in the years ahead, location-based services are in their infancy.

Foursquare, the dominate location based service currently has eight million users. Impressive, for sure, but tiny compared to the 600 million users Facebook has. In short, LBS has a long way to go before it’s mainstream.

But that doesn’t mean you should ignore LBS or wait until it’s more popular.

Disregarding LBS is not a smart strategy for causes. A driving feature behind LBS will be offers and discounts from retailers to smartphone-toting consumers. It won’t be long before two key demographics, moms and Millennials, embrace this new technology. As these two audiences are the two major audiences for nonprofits, it makes sense for causes to get busy with LBS now.

Waiting for LBS to become the next Facebook isn’t a good move either. Smaller nonprofits in particular have a history of ignoring important trends and then playing catch up after larger, savvier nonprofits have pulled far ahead. This is one movement that nonprofits of all sizes shouldn’t sit out.

Getting started with location-based services is similar to starting any other type of cause partnership. First, you need a willing business partner. This is probably the most difficult thing to accomplish, but once you have one you’re more than halfway there.

The second step is pick your location-based service. There are many to choose from. My two favorites are Foursquare and Facebook. How do you choose which one is right for you? Always keep your audience in mind. Choose the platform on which you think your partner’s customers and your supporters are most active.

Third, choose a promotion that focuses on awareness or fundraising, or both. A promotion centered on awareness might have you using Foursquare to add tips about your nonprofit to venues in your community. For example, if you’re a nonprofit that provides wigs to women in cancer treatment you might leave tips at local hair salons, with whom you could partner for additional exposure. When Foursquare users check into these locations they’ll learn about your nonprofit’s efforts and what they can do to help.

A promotion focused on fundraising might have you working with Facebook Places. When users check-in to a location–like a Barnes & Noble, Borders or even your favorite independent bookstore–the business donates five dollars to a nonprofit that is working to improve childhood literacy.

Whether you use location-based services for awareness or fundraising, remember these tips.

Use LBS as an Enhancer. Most fundraising is still offline. Look for ways to add LBS to these programs. Using LBS for a standalone program is a wonderful way to better understand how specific services like Foursquare and Facebook Places work. But the small return-on-investment that will follow the program won’t offset the time and effort you gave the promotion. By itself, LBS seems small and maybe not worth the effort. But combined with more traditional fundraising, like cause marketing and special events, it will make a good program look even better.

Use LBS as Is. We have to work with location-based services as is and not get distracted with the things they don’t offer, or aren’t easily accessed, like badges on Foursquare. Stick with built-in features like check-ins, tips, offers and mayorships, which you can control. Check out my Drive Thru Guide to Fundraising on Foursquare.

Use LBS with the Right Demo. Not every location is right for LBS. For example, if you live in a rural area and/or serve an older audience it may not be the right tool for you. But if you’re focused on urban areas and young hipsters, LBS may be the right tool. You have to do your homework. And while it’s alright to lead your supporters with a new idea, you should confirm there’s a good chance they will follow.

Use LBS to Build Credibility. This may be one of the most undervalued benefits of LBS. Businesses get pitched all the time on marketing ideas. A lot fewer of those pitches include any talk of social media. Even fewer discussions include LBS.
Distinguish yourself from your competition by knowing all about the thing everyone is buzzing but few can talk about.

Guest Blogger in Social Media | 3 comments
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Planned Parenthood faced a communications crisis last week when a clinic manager was videotaped covertly by actors working for an anti-abortion group, while she giving advice on getting medical care for under-age prostitutes. The stunt was designed to power the group’s campaign to cut off public financing for Planned Parenthood.

But Planned Parenthood responded to this crisis swiftly and comprehensively, emphasizing its commitment to “stay focused on giving women the health care they need and deserve.” Most importantly, Planned Parenthood didn’t leave it at traditional crisis communications. It acted swiftly to articulate the strategy behind the video stunt and to terminate the manager in question, as the organization does not provide health services to minors. And it leveraged the strong relationship it has with its community online…

I was pleased to hear from Planned Parenthood almost immediately after the news hit, via Facebook. I’m one of the organization’s 97,000 likes which means I saw this update before I heard the story elsewhere:

That was followed by several updates over the next few days, dripping out the organization’s response as the sequence of events became clear. Planned Parenthood’s use of Facebook for immediate and ongoing outreach — positioning the action as part of a de-funding attach, reinforcing its own values and focus, asking for support, pledging to do the right thing — motivated strong and vocal support for the organization.

Ironically, Planned Parenthood’s outreach to its Facebook community on its Facebook presence (a.k.a. audience research) had caught my eye earlier last week:

What better way to hone your social media presence than asking your community? Planned Parenthood has received 194 comments to date in just one week. The staff has taken an active role in the discussion, asking for clarification and thanking commenters. And the feedback they’ve received is really useful. Here’s a sampling:

  • It would be great to have info about volunteering/interning opportunities for young people with plenty of free time to give to good causes.
  • Seems like a lot; I see several posts per day, and I glaze over at least half of them.
  • Great idea to poll your supporters! Have you developed a formal strategy for utilizing social media? You can include more posts, links, and information without clogging the newsfeed by using customized tabs. If you want tips/strategies, I’d be happy to share! Keep up the good work.
  • I don’t know if I’d separate the info– I like the posts; hard to separate health info from the political since a lot of yourr health services are constrained by politics.

P.S. Learn how to strengthen your nonprofit’s marketing impact with the new 2011 Guide to Nonprofit Marketing Wisdom.

Nancy Schwartz in Social Media | 0 comments
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2011 Guide to Nonprofit Marketing WisdomThank you for all of the questions, stories and feedback you share with me. It’s your input that makes it possible for me to cover what you need to know to increase your nonprofit’s marketing impact!

You were particularly generous last December, when I asked you to share your most important nonprofit marketing lesson or key principle learned — either from hard knocks or new found success — in 2010.

Now, drawing from your submissions, I’ve compiled the first-ever Guide to Nonprofit Marketing Wisdom featuring 127 lessons learned from your colleagues in the field. Get this free guide now to be inspired and guided!

Here’s just a hint of the practical, tested direction you’ll get from your peers in the field:

  • Make professional development and continuing learning a priority – and protect the time.
  • When pricing out an item or service, call at least three vendors. This may take a few more minutes of your time, but you will save hundreds, even thousands of dollars. We’ve been able to save so much money on production costs for printing, photography and web design, by taking the time to incorporate this.
  • Test, test, and test… before any campaign gets launched. Given the complexity of the tools today, and the speed with which we invariably put things together, errors do get made and you want to be the one to find them, not the people you’re hoping to engage!

This is your opportunity to learn from the experts to achieve stronger results in 2011:  Dive into your 2011 Guide to Nonprofit Marketing Wisdom now.

Nancy Schwartz in Strategy | 1 comment
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2010 delivered cause-marketing shockers, highly-effective disaster relief communications, a tougher-than-ever fundraising environment and the continued emergence of Facebook, even as the basics remained the cornerstone of nonprofit marketing impact.

Here are the tools, case studies and recommendations that nonprofit marketers like you found most valuable in guiding them through this tough year:

7 Easy Ways to Boost Your Nonprofit Marketing Impact with Google Analytics

10 Ways to Make Your Online Press Room Perform for Your Nonprofit

Busted Nonprofit Brand: Anatomy of a Corporate Sponsorship Meltdown (Case Study)

How to Write a Letter to the Editor that Gets Published and Read

Messaging Crisis for Nonprofits

My Top 6 Guides to Effective Fundraising—What Are Yours?

New Nonprofit Tagline Database and 2011 Report: Free and Open for Use
“These are great tools for crafting effective messages, and so easy to use,” says Peggy Kebel, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation – Local Funding Partnerships.

Nonprofit Marketing Plan Template—Ready-to-Use

Red Cross’ Communications Innovation in Haiti Disaster Relief Effort — Smart Stuff

There’s More to Marketing than Social Media

Unleash the Power of Your Email Signature

P.S. Get in-depth case studies, templates and tools, and guidance for nonprofit marketing  success — all featured in the twice-monthly Getting Attention e-update. Subscribe today.

Nancy Schwartz in Strategy | 0 comments
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Flickr:Leo-ReynoldsA few months ago I was invited by the folks at the Frogloop blog to guest author on a social media issue.

For those of you who don’t know it, Frogloop is a high-value resource focused mostly on social media. As you would expect, I was asked to write on social media.

But I found that a tough assignment.

There’s so much written on social media, and so much useful content already published on Frogloop, that I didn’t feel I had much to add. Then I realized I did have that something—to reinforce the framework that’s a prerequisite for social media (and overall marketing) success—marketing fundamentals.

You see, I’m concerned to see nonprofit marketers forsake the well-tested cornerstones of effective nonprofit marketing to do all social media, all the time. Or even 40% of the time.

I invite you to read my take here and add your perspective to the compelling conversation underway. Looking forward to hearing your point of view!

P.S. Get more in-depth articles, case studies and guides to nonprofit marketing  success — all featured in the twice-monthly Getting Attention e-update. Subscribe today.

Nancy Schwartz in planning, Social Media | 1 comment
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nonprofit social mediaLet me introduce you to guest blogger Celeste Wroblewski, vice president of external relations at Donors Forum in Illinois.  Celeste is a longtime friend and colleague, and one of the smartest minds in the field…

As I review advice on social media for nonprofits, I often come across rules like these:

  • It’s about conversing and listening: It’s not about sharing your own news.
  • Post X times a week on your blog and X times a day on Facebook.
  • For every tweet about your organization, tweet four times about others.

While this advice works well for some, I think it overwhelms beginners and those working in small organizations.  Moreover, this approach generates a flood of content for those who read these posts, updates and Tweets.

At Donors Forum in Illinois, we believe that there are no rules or,  at least, that it’s time to reexamine them.  Our strategy is to:

This streamlined approach is shaped by the limited size of our communications team (1.5 people) and by the knowledge that our constituents are already overloaded.

As social media proliferates, the messages have become overwhelming and the conversations  recursive. And we know that, consistent with our mission,  our constituents want us to filter and curate information.

Our social media strategy follows suit.  We do not converse simply to converse—we don’t do #FollowFriday, we don’t retweet a lot, we don’t provide accounts of mundane activities.

What we do is to concentrate on what is most important to grantmakers and nonprofits in Illinois.

So, what do you think:  Can less be more in social media? Please share your comments here.

Guest Blogger in Blogging for Nonprofits, Social Media | 10 comments
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How to Generate Buzz via Social Media Real Life Dos and Don'tsHas this happened to your organization: You experimented with social media tools and found that nothing happened at all?

If so, you’re not alone. One of the most frequent complaints from organizations trying social media out is that after taking the plunge–whether tweeting, blogging or launching a Facebook fan page–nothing happens.

Now there’s help: I partnered with NTEN ED Holly Ross to share guidelines and case studies on using social media tools to build buzz (and reach) via this webinar for the Communications Network. And now the video recording and slide deck are available to you, at no cost.

Our presentation covers the nuts and bolts of social media success, the readiness required to put them to work and a laundry list of dos and don’ts. Although the case studies are about grantmakers, the examples and findings are equally relevant to nonprofit organizations.

I recommend you take an hour out to make sure your social media buzz building is all it can be. Here’s what one participant had to say (and another, just in).

P.S. More effective messaging is a priority for all organizations. Learn how to craft the most essential message — your tagline. Download the free 2009 Nonprofit Tagline Report, filled with must-dos, don’t dos, case studies and 2,500+ nonprofit tagline examples!

Nancy Schwartz in Nonprofit Communications, Professional Development, Recommended Resources, Social Media | 1 comment
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Birthday Wishes -- and Thanks a Million -- to Beth KanterDo you know Beth Kanter, dedicated teacher, experimenter, provocateur, mentor to organizations weaving their way through social media? If not, I suggest you dive into her blog a.s.a.p., because to know her is to learn from her.

Here’s what’s different about Beth – she’s relentless in her pursuit of understanding why and how social media build conversation and connection, and why not. And she shares everything she knows. More than any other single person, she’s leading nonprofits into smart and useful use of social media tools.

Beth even makes her 53rd birthday (today) into an opportunity to learn and to give back — by “friendraising” $530 to send 53 Cambodian children to school. You can give here to make that happen.

Happy birthday, Beth. I love your passion, admire your focus, am inspired by your creativity and benefit constantly from the insights and questions you share. Thank you.

P.S. To learn more about social media and other key communications strategies, get the in-depth articles and case studies featured in the twice-monthly Getting Attention e-update. Subscribe today.

Nancy Schwartz in Nonprofit Communications, Social Media, Web 2.0 | 0 comments
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Q&A Last month's Chronicle of Philanthropy-sponsored online chat (transcript here) on using social media to promote good causes was such an overwhelming success that we've scheduled a Part 2 for Tuesday, June 23rd at noon, eastern. Join in here.

This is your chance to have all your social media questions answered by me or my co-chatters, social media masterminds Danielle Brigida of the National Wildlife Federation and Wendy Harman of The American Red Cross.

But ASK RIGHT NOW, RIGHT HERE, if  you want your question answered. Because we plow through questions as they are submitted and last round didn't get anywhere near through the list. So you're invited to submit your social media question now to ensure it's at the top of the list. We'll do our best to answer it on Tuesday.

Don't forget to review the focused, useful answers already available from Part 1 right here!

See you Tuesday, noon eastern!

P.S.  Before your turn your attention to social media, make sure your communications basics are strong. A high-impact organizational tagline is a vital marketing strategy. Download the free Nonprofit Tagline Report for must-dos, don't dos, case studies and 1,000+ nonprofit tagline examples!

Nancy Schwartz in Nonprofit Communications, Professional Development, Social Media | 1 comment
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Join Me & Two Branding Experts Tues 62 -- Free Online Chat on Promoting Causes on Social NetworksHere’s the deal…In today’s economy, nonprofit leaders need to understand how to effectively promote their organizations, programs, and fund-raising campaigns.

Many groups want to use online social networks to get their messages out, but don’t know how to build their brands and get attention on these networks.

Learn more by participating in tomorrow’s (Tuesday, June 2nd, noon eastern) free online discussion. I’ll be joined by two online branding brains — Danielle Brigida of the National
Wildlife Federation and Felicia Carr of the National Parks Conservation
Association — to discuss how to ensure your organization stands out on online networks such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, and explore how those tools can complement traditional marketing efforts. You ask the questions so you guide the focus!

You’ll also learn how to teach your organization’s leaders, staff members, and volunteers to speak with a unified voice when they talk to others about your organization’s mission and seek contributions.

If you can’t make it, download the cliff notes version for must dos, don’t dos and what we dids from Danielle and Felicia and Red Cross social media maven Wendy Harman. They’re some of the smartest branding brains in the biz!

P.S. Don’t miss out on the in-depth articles, case studies and guides on branding, messages and more of what you need to know in the twice- monthly Getting Attention e-update. Subscribe today.

Flickr photo: itripp42

Nancy Schwartz in Branding and Messages, Case Studies, Nonprofit Communications, Social Media, Social Networking | 0 comments
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