Posts Tagged ‘social media in non-profits’

Integrating Social Media in Non-Profits Panel: Tom Watson

September 19, 2009

Tom Watson is the Deputy Dean and Reader in Communications in The Media School at Bournemouth University in England. Before entering full-time academic life in 2003, Watson’s career covered journalism and public relations in Australia, the UK and internationally. He ran a successful public relations consultancy for 18 years and was chair of the UK’s Public Relations Consultants Association from 2000 to 2002. Tom presented at the conference via Skype.

Tom Watson presented information about the nature of nonprofits and how to use social media successfully. Watson views social media as playing a supportive role instead of a primary role in public relations. According to Watson, nonprofits have the potential to influence policy and maintain long-term goals, but the ability to win media coverage is extremely important.

Watson’s case studies found that donors were in support of using commercial activity for fundraising as long as the projects are aligned with an organization’s values. Acceptable items must represent the cause. Social media can be used for fundraising as long as it’s supplemental to traditional methods and not a replacement.

Watson presented information about three nonprofits Oxfam, World Vision and Trinity Center. Each of these organizations is integrating their Web site with their traditional media relations. World Vision has a Facebook fan page that has 24,000 fans, but there are 17 fan pages and 500 groups not affiliated with World Vision. World Vision can control the message on their own fan page.

The positive aspect of community pages and groups set up by fans is support from the community. The problem is the spread of incorrect information. Maintaining your own brand on social media is important for controlling that message and propelling it into the online communities.

The main point of social media in Watson’s eyes is the resulting word-of-mouth. Measurement should be based on mixing quantitative research with content analysis. It’s important about what’s being said, not just how many people are talking. Old metrics need to be applied to the new situation. Discover which blogs and Web sites are the creators of opinions and who are the followers. The positive word-of-mouth is the hopefully final outcome.

Sara Valkova on Integrating Social Media in Non-Profits: Engage, Don’t Promote

September 19, 2009

3934459406_b0d295e1e7When non-profit organizations step into the social media world, they must first know their audience and have a particular goal in mind for reaching that audience, according to Sara Valkova of Emory Healthcare’s Web Marketing Team.

“Some non-profits are in the social media world because they feel like they should and don’t know how to use social media effectively. They are not engaging and not having a dialogue,” Valkova said. “Social media should be about initiating two-way communication between a non-profit organization and their audience, and not all about brand reputation management.”

An example of using social media as a way to connect with publics can be found in Emory’s February Heart Month initiative.  Emory created an online calendar with heart-related tips for each day of the month and also provided a newsletter full of heart-healthy tips. Emory promoted this initiative with a Facebook ad that targeted the desired audience, those at risk for heart disease. Not only is this an example of using social media tools to engage with your publics, but it also shows how traditional and social media can go hand-in-hand.

Emory also uses social media for direct and timely customer service. For example, some patients are more comfortable going to a public forum like Facebook or Twitter to complain about a bad experience at the hospital than directly telling their nurse. When Valkova and her team sees complaints like this in the social media sphere, they contact the nurse in the unit responsible for the complaint and directly address the problem.

“Our target is very defined, so we target that group and we go where they are,” Valkova said.

When asked about the future of integrating social media in non-profit organizations, Valkova replied: “Non-profits have to see what’s important to their audience in order for social media to work for them.” Just like the old adage says, you have to know where you are in order to know where you are going.

Sara Valkova is a web development specialist for Emory Healthcare and co-chair of the Emory Social Media Advisory Board. She is the driving voice behind Emory Healthcare’s social media initiatives and responsible for developing and implementing Emory’s social media tactical plan. You can follow Emory on Twitter @emoryhealthcare.