Do you tweet, post, and blog?
The results of the 2012 “Nonprofit Social Networking Benchmark Report” are in and it’s no surprise that the use of social media, including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Foursquare, by nonprofit organizations is up significantly over 2011. This study of 3,522 nonprofit professionals throughout the U.S. revealed that their organizations experienced a 30 percent increase in Facebook members and an 81 percent increase in Twitter followers over the previous year. A whopping 98 percent of all respondents reported having a Facebook presence, a 10.1 percent increase over 2011. When asked to identify the purpose of their social networking (respondents could select multiple answers), 93 percent of the survey respondents stated that they used social media for marketing, 55 percent for fundraising, 37 percent for program delivery, and 24 percent for market research.
Most Sonoma Valley nonprofits are following national trends and using social networking for a variety of purposes. “We enjoy social media and like the instantaneous interactions that social media generates,” commented Laura Zimmerman, executive director of the Sonoma Valley Education Foundation.
According to Kathy Witkowicki, executive director of the Sonoma Valley Mentoring Alliance, “We use many different social media channels, including Facebook, Twitter, and blogging. We believe that social media has already helped us to tap into a younger generation of volunteers, as more and more young people are now signing up to become mentors.”
In the “Nonprofit Social Networking Benchmark Report,” organizations with a significant presence on social networks reported that they attributed their success to the following 3 factors: 41 percent said they developed a vision and strategy for their use of social networking; 37 percent said that their executive management team made social networking a priority; and 28 percent said that they had created a new position specifically focused on their social networking program.
Kevin McNeely, executive director of the Sonoma International Film Festival, said his organization uses a local firm to regularly update their social media information. He added, “During our annual film festival, there is a team of six to seven people who are constantly tweeting, blogging, and updating our Facebook account with updates on films, schedule changes, to-be-announced films, and sharing info on where the filmmakers and celebs are hanging out. We also use Foursquare and Pinterest, which allow us to share and organize photos and videos as well as note (event) locations.”
Facebook seems to be the most popularly used social networking platform among local nonprofits, with fewer organizations using Twitter. Annie Bacon, executive director of Seeds of Learning, mentioned, “We post pictures and stories about all of our programs on Facebook. While we have a Twitter account, our tweets are few and far between.”
Cristin Lawrence, administrative director of Sonoma Valley Teen Services, said, “We use Facebook and we maintain a blog on our website. I don’t know many teens who tweet. When working with teens, it’s an absolute must to stay up-to-date with the latest in social media. Facebook is the absolutely most effective way to let teens know about upcoming events and activities. I sometimes find I can reach teens on Facebook faster than I can on their cell phones!” She added, “The blog on our website works well for keeping adults informed about our programs and events.” In this era of tweeting, posting, and blogging, local nonprofit leaders realize that to maintain strong connections to their volunteers, program participants, and donors, they have to stay in touch with them through the latest on-line social networking methods.
Dr. B.J. Bischoff is the owner of Bischoff Performance Improvement Consulting, a Sonoma firm specializing in building the capacity of nonprofit organizations and public sector agencies to better serve their stakeholders. She assists her clients with strategic planning, training resulting in performance improvement, fund development, and community relations. She is President of Impact100 Sonoma and leads the Sonoma Valley Presidents Council. She serves on the Sonoma Upstream Investments Portfolio Review Committee as an appointee of the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors. Contact her at email@example.com.