Social Network Sites and Nonprofit Marketing

Social networking has grown up very quickly. It was just a couple of years ago that Facebook, YouTube, and MySpace were mainly used by high school and college kids. But as more and more people discover the ease and convenience of the Internet—whether it’s to connect with family and friends, stay up to date on news and information, or donate to their favorite nonprofit organization—social network sites are now firmly in the mainstream. So if you haven’t already incorporated this area of Internet marketing into your nonprofit outreach ideas or small business marketing strategies, you should give it serious consideration.

You might be thinking, “Well, most of our organization’s supporters are older. They prefer traditional direct mail, and probably don’t know what a tweet or blog post are.” Think again: According to the Inside Facebook website, the fastest-growing population of Facebook users is women over age 55. Over a six-month period, from fall 2008 to spring 2009, the number of users in this category rose by 550%, to 1.5 million.  

Many older people are joining social network sites to keep up with their children and grandchildren. Others are finding fellowship and community that they might not otherwise have. In a recent New York Times article, a housebound 73-year-old named Paula Rice, who spends up to 14 hours a day chatting online at Eons.com, says that the site for older baby boomers “gave me a reason to keep on going.”  

Furthermore, if your supporters are older, what better way to introduce your organization to young people—whole new generations of potential supporters—than by utilizing these sites?

“Okay,” you’re saying. “But we already have a web site. Why do we need to create pages on another site?” One big reason is for the new marketing channel.  If people—whether older or younger—are already spending hours a day interacting on Facebook or receiving Twitter updates, you can easily reach out to them right there. No need for them to make a special visit over to your site to see what’s going on. Non profit organizations are creating pages on Facebook and Twitter that allow followers to instantly see their latest news, ask questions, and interact with each other. Twitter is a site that’s quickly gaining popularity as a new channel for posting brief updates for your followers and supporters and allow them to respond.

Still not convinced that social networking sites are a must-have online marketing tool? There’s a Web site and an e-book (available for $5) titled The Reason Your Church Must Twitter. Perhaps its author, “technology evangelist” Anthony Coppedge, can convince you. (Disclaimer: I haven’t read the book myself yet, just came across it while Web surfing.) Aside from that, here are a few immediate examples of how not for profit organizations and ministries are harnessing the power of Facebook, YouTube, and other social networking sites:

Compassion International has a Facebook and a Twitter page. The Facebook page features profiles of staff workers, sponsored children, and children still in need of sponsors. The Twitter page includes updates, prayer requests, and posts that link to longer articles.

Compassion Facebook
Compassion Twitter

World Vision posted a short video that graphically illustrates what it would be like to only have dirty water available—the situation facing millions around the world. The video went viral and helped increase traffic to World Vision’s main site by 11%.

World Vision Facebook

Here’s the Facebook page of the Forefront Church in New York City:

Forefront Church Facebook 

    If you have any questions about how to get started using social networking sites to spread your message, contact Pathmaker Marketing at 623-322-3334. As specialists in effective Internet marketing, Pathmaker can get you going in the right direction in no time.
Or for further information visit our Twitter accounts:

PathmakerServes Twitter account on church outreach ideas
_pathmaker Twitter account on general business marketing promotion online
RandallMains Twitter account on internet marketing ideas

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