Monday, October 3, 2011

BIG’s Blog: Social Media Facts Nonprofits Need to Know

Last month, Heidi Cohen served up several key insights about social media for marketers. Although her article was targeted to commercial marketers, I’ll net out some of the key insights that affect nonprofit fund raisers.

First, if you want to engage people online – especially younger people – try social media. Social media is not just Facebook but includes YouTube and blogs as well. According to Neilson data, the top three areas people are spending time online are: 1) social media (22.5%), 2) online games (9.8%), and 3) email (7.6%).

Second, don’t even bother unless you plan to integrate social into your strategies and commit to listen and participate, not just give lip service to social media.

Third, don’t assume online adults are just young folks. Usage among older segments has increased dramatically. A recent Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life project showed the following percentages engaged in social media online as of May 2011.

  • Ages 18 – 29:  83%
  • Ages 30 – 49:  70%
  • Ages 50 – 64:  51%
  • Ages   64+:    33%
This illustrates that social media is becoming mainstream for communication and interaction.

Fourth, social media’s growth is tied to mobile’s growth. Mobile is defined as primarily Web-enabled phones, but also includes mobile devices such as tablets like the iPad, e-readers, Internet-enabled television and handheld music players. As mobile devices become more powerful, social usage will only grow. People want to communicate with their social media circles wherever they are.

Finally, Core Inc. research shows that consumers are turning to social media for help in making purchasing decisions. Can making a decision to donate to a nonprofit be far behind? The biggest growth area for purchase decision information was blogs. To fund raisers, this is great news and makes perfect sense. Blogs are where you can tell stories, develop a following and continually engage your audience. Today, only 40% of commercial companies have blogs. How many nonprofits? How about yours?


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  1. I could agree more with every point you make. Social media is about to engage donors and others - is not fund-raising in itself. You have to engage people with your organization and bring in a case that is larger than themselves.

  2. Social media and especially the new mobile media is all about making connection with other using other to spread an idea or product information is one of the greatest innervations of the 20th century