Nonprofits: Yes to Facebook & Twitter, Blogging…Not so Much

The latest snapshot of nonprofit social media use and strategy comes from a recently released report from Sage, a company specializing in software solutions for business and nonprofits.  According to first quarter data from their Nonprofit Insights 2012 survey, the majority of nonprofit organizations used social media (84 percent) and reported that that it was important to their organization’s overall mission (75 percent), with 46 percent indicating satisfaction with their social media outcomes.

Other key findings include,

  • The top 3 social media sites among those surveyed were Facebook, Twitter and YouTube
  • Just over 1/3 (35 percent) of survey participants used a tool  to manage their multiple social media accounts
  • 71 percent of the nonprofits surveyed indicated that public relations or creating “buzz” was their primary reason for using social media
  • Determination  of social media “success” was often through the number of  social media clicks, friends or followers (reported by 61 percent of participating nonprofits), although 17 percent link it to the amount of  dollars raised
  • Less than 1/3 (29 percent) of nonprofits blog

Download the report Sage Nonprofit Insights, Q1 2012 Social Media Study for additional survey data as well as social media tips for nonprofits.

Most Tweets Judged Unreadable. Do You Care?

If you are attune to the social media blogs I am sure you have read the findings from the Carnegie Mellon study that state only about 36 percent of tweets are worthy of being read. According to data gathered via their website, researchers from the aforementioned Pittsburgh university as well as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Georgia Institute of Technology, suggest that use of this social media outlet for blanket statements, personal details or to reply to another user diminishes the tweet’s (and the tweeter’s?) worth in the eyes of other users. In fact, data show that one quarter of all tweets are outright unreadable.

I don’t mean to sound snarkish but in the end, all of those supposedly unreadable tweets were read, right?

The plainly meant-to-drain-the-blood-from-the-faces-of-communications-professionals-everywhere bottom line of the study is that most tweets are lacking, somehow. Well, I can only speak for my simple Twitter-using self but thank goodness for that! If the majority of tweets were highly rated my stream might read, “refinance Youtube hotel consolidation fares Facebook student loans kittens porn” because apparently that is what a good chunk of internet users are interested in of late (or perhaps for always, SEO is not my forte).

The authors of the report recommend that Tweeters improve their worth by never revisiting old information, keeping “pedestrian details” to themselves, adding facts to tweets and ending the whines while engaging in lots of teasing. I am hardly a social media guru but I find myself sighing heavily when reading this advice. Luckily, there has already been some decent push-back on the study from people who are social media experts, Kelvin (KC) Claveria and Miranda Miller, who state their cases (here and here) rather eloquently. Personally, I am interested in hearing from nonprofit communication and marketing folk — what are your thoughts on this study?

Will you take these suggested improvements to heart? Do you have specific criteria for what makes a tweet worthy or unworthy? What, in your view, makes a (legitimate, not spambot) tweet unreadable?

Nonprofits and Social Media – No End in Sight

Backlash and second-guessing aside, social media use among nonprofits shows no signs of trailing off. In fact, some organizations are taking it to the next level by building their own online communities.

In early 2011, over 11,000 nonprofits participated in a social network usage survey sponsored by NTEN, Common Knowledge and Blackbaud. The respondents were asked about their use of social networks such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Foursquare, etc, as well as their own “house” social networks.

Results of the 2011 Nonprofit Social Networking Benchmark Survey indicate that social media use by nonprofits continues to grow, with 92 percent using at least one public social network (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, YouTube). Nearly 90 percent of nonprofits reported having a presence on Facebook, with 57 percent of agencies on Twitter and 47 percent on YouTube. Over half (58 percent) of the nonprofits using social media are measuring their reach and engagement levels, while 9 percent calculate the financial impact.

Nonprofits without a presence on any social network claim a lack of strategy (60 percent), lack of budget (57 percent) and lack of expertise (36 percent) as the top three reasons why they have not yet adopted this marketing/fundraising approach.

The study has loads of interesting data, especially on the use of private social networks – communities hosted on a nonprofit’s own website – with 13 percent of respondents running these “house” networks. Are they the next step in nonprofit online engagement? Copies of the report are available for download at the survey website.

One Take on the Big Trends for Nonprofit Communications/Marketing in 2012

In the video above,  Vinay Bhagat, the founder of and chief strategy officer at Convio, discusses his 2012 predictions for nonprofits, specifically around marketing, communication and technology. He sees an increase in the overall influence of new (online) media and the rise of integrated marketing. In addition, peer to peer information sharing (you made it easy to share your message via various platforms in 2011, right?) will become a primary method of engaging supporters. It isn’t enough to merely have a good ask anymore, you have to affect, inspire and mobilize. Countering donor fatigue in a time of constant media messaging and management of the donor experience are also trends he sees as being key to nonprofits in the upcoming year.

His predictions are also posted at the Convio blog, The Connection Cafe.

What trend do you see playing a substantial role in nonprofit communications and marketing in 2012?