Sunday, July 24, 2011

14 Ways Charities Can Use Facebook

 Facebook offers not for profits an easy to use and low cost opportunity to provide a digital meeting place for your supporters, staff and clients. Through your page they can swap information, ideas, images, vision and sound on almost any subject.  And Facebook’s feed-in feature automatically provides information updates to people following the page.

14 common ways to use Facebook to promote your issue are:
  • Allowing people to make on-line donations. 
  • Encouraging people to follow you by linking with your other social media platforms. 
  • Coaching visitors on lobbying business or politicians on your issue. 
  • Linking to media releases and news reports. 
  • Marketing your courses or products. 
  • Polling supporters about your issue. 
  • Posting general and area-specific status updates on your organisation. 
  • Profiling the work of inspirational staff or volunteers. 
  • Promoting an information session, rally or event. 
  • Reporting the progress you are making on a cause or what influential organizations or individuals think about your issue. 
  • Running a competition so users can create content for your cause. 
  • Sharing educational content through words, images, video or case studies. 
  • Thanking supporters and donors for their involvement. 
  • Using case studies that show your services helping others.
You need to actively market your Facebook page within and beyond you organization so people know about it.  Simple ways to do this include:
  • Ask users and potential users to spread your information. 
  • Add an icon to your webpage to connect people directly with your Facebook page. 
  • Askg users to link their websites to your page. 
  • Include your Facebook URL in emails, media releases, in advertising and in print. 
  • Use Facebook ads to draw particular demographics or communities of interest to your page.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Communicators Must Adapt Slowly or Perish Quickly

 I have just finished Adapt: Why Success Always Starts With Failure by British author Tim Harford.

A well written and highly engaging book, Adapt questions why organisations and individuals fail to change as their circumstances shift. It debunks conventional wisdom that leaders with big visions and authorities and experts armed with data can chart a successful way forward for the rest of us.  

Life it seems is too complicated and inter-connected to rely on giant leaps forward to bring lasting solutions. We just need to look at the range of current world issues to see the truth in this - the Afghanistan War, Climate Change, the Global Financial Crisis, #Hackgate in the UK etc. There are no simple strategies for any of these issues and if ever there were silver bullets, we fired them off long ago.

Adapt suggests we learn from how species of life have evolved over millions of years.  Change has been gradual with slow and steady adaptation and continuous experimentation. Obviously we have not got the luxury of waiting that long but what we should do is take baby steps rather giant strides and learn from the failures which will invariably confront us. 

Although not specifically written for PR and marketing professionals, Adapt holds valuable insights for communicators.  Perhaps we can earn success by following the advice of early Communist-era engineer, Peter Palchinsky.  After studying in Russia and abroad, Palchinsky determined the best way to innovate and change is to:
  • Continually seek out new ideas and try new things.
  • Introduce scaled change so when new ideas fail - as they often will - our organisations will survive.
  • Learn from mistakes and continually and consciously adjust and improve.
It is difficult to change the communications patterns of large or well entrenched organisations. Often they are entrapped within their status quo.  When they try big changes and fall short,  those who fear innovation and draw comfort from the familiar are exonerated.  But not to change as the world turns, puts us on a pathway to perish.

The value of this book is to offer up a framework to try new things, progressively learn and build from our mistakes and settle for gradual, sustained improvement over spectacular advances that too often end in costly failure.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

The Needle Has Barely Moved For Social Media

This Friday we finished the last of our pro bono, not for profit workshops for 2011. Again it has been a privilege working with local charities and community groups sharing ideas on improving their marketing efforts. 

Despite the fact well known and successful organisations attended, it became apparent that few have ventured in the social media space when it came to marketing.  In the seven years we have run these workshops it seems the needle has barely moved when it comes to local not for profits using social media. We know the financial costs of the new technologies are small, so perhaps the organisational barriers are just too big to scale. 

I am a social media advocate but that doesn't mean everyone is an enthusiast.  That's why I feel not for profits should consider the following issues before deciding if the world of Web2.0  should be part of their marketing futures:
  • Are your clients, staff, volunteers and others you wish to engage using these new platforms?  If not and now, should you? 
  • There are no gatekeepers in social media and people freely share information and opinions  without restraint.  In cyberspace they can comment on anything, including how your organization performs.  If you want to succeed in this freewheeling universe you must engage in, not try to control, the conversation with your on-line audience.  If your communications style is traditional and based on command and control it may be just too unsettling to embrace social media.  Can you handle the participation and democracy of the new communications as well as its technologies?
  • Social media is a space of informal conversation.  There is no room for insider talk, corporate speak or jargon.  Sure, never dumb down your information but the nature of social media means it must be uncomplicated to be effective. Are you ready to be simple?
  •  Measurement is easy with social media.  People leave behind digital footprints as they upload content or visit digital spaces.  Their conversations and level of engagement can be tracked and recorded.  Are you prepared to measure the quality of your social media relationships?  While people may follow you or become a fan or a connection, can you translate their on-line support into the real world where their involvement may be critical? 
  • New social media tools hit the market at a bewildering rate. Most not for profits would be better off choosing social networking platforms that have already gained community traction before experimenting with new applications.  What platforms should you invest in and what do you let pass by?
  • In new media, like traditional media, it takes time, effort and persistence to succeed. Do you have the time, effort and energy to try, operationalise and integrate new ways of communicating  into your marketing?   
Finally , is your organisation risk averse? If you feel uncomfortable or nervous about things beyond your control, then social media may not be a good marketing option at this point in your organizational journey.