By now you are probably so used to hearing about social media that it has moved from being a novelty concept to downright annoying. I mean seriously, can someone really have over 500 “friends,” most of whom they have never met? They can and they do.
The virtual factor of social media and the internet in general can be easily dismissed as “not real” and therefore a waste of time.
However, behind those wacky email addresses, profile pictures and videos are very real people, with very real influence and very real resources.
To further simplify, in sociology there is a term called the “third place,” which is the concept of community building separate from home and the workplace.
Examples of the third place have been religious institutions (churches, synagogues, temples, etc.), civic organizations (Elks, Boys Scouts) and local coffee shops and bars. Social media is just the latest third place.
However social media is much more than just the latest gathering place. Instead of a few dozen or even a couple hundred people belonging, there are over one billion people worldwide using social media sites.
The growth of social media or social networking over the years is unprecedented as the percentage of internet users who use online social networks rose from below 10 percent in 2005 to over 35 percent in December 2008 (Pew and American Life Internet Project, Adults and Social Networking Use).
Now you may still be wondering what this has to do with your nonprofit organization and its mission. I say everything.
Do not let the technical nature of the internet and social media confuse you. This all about people power.
Each of those one billion people social networking are connected to hundreds and thousands of people creating a worldwide network of information and awareness, creating real influence, and creating a once unfathomable pool of resources…including money.
While these numbers may be so large they seem literally unreal, just keep in mind, we are still talking about real people, the same people you serve, the same people that donate the same people that are your coworkers. They have the same basic needs of belonging, knowing and being known.
Where email decreased the use of written letters and even phone calls, social networking is quickly replacing email whether you realize it or not. Most of your clients, donors and staff know this.
Now that we have hopefully reshaped and simplified your understanding of social media, I leave with several websites and blogs that specialize in nonprofit technology with instructions and articles that range from the very basic to the very in-depth.
This information will help you further understand the importance of incorporating social media into your organization’s mission and hopefully increasing awareness and support.
Beth’s Blog: How Nonprofits Can Use Social Media – A place to capture and share ideas, experiment with and exchange links and resources about the adoption challenges, strategy, and return on investment of nonprofits and social media.
Nonprofit Technology Network – NTEN is the membership organization of nonprofit professionals who put technology to use for their causes. NTEN collaborates with partners worldwide to bring you research, articles, surveys and other original documents about important issues in nonprofit technology.
WeAreMedia – Created by NTEN, the We Are Media Project is a community of people from nonprofits who are interested in learning and teaching about how social-media strategies and tools can enable nonprofit organizations to create, compile, and distribute their stories and change the world.
WeAreMedia worked on building the Nonprofit Social Media Tool Box, nonprofit social media techies filled the pages with links to tools, tips, and tutorials for these types of social media tools:
- RSS Readers
- Social Bookmarking
- Blogging Tools
- Photo Sharing
- Video Sharing
- Crowd Sourcing
- Micro Media
- Social Networks
- Fundraising Widgets
Doug Weinbrenner is a nonprofit marketing consultant based in Kansas City and a Shoestring Creative Group Network Affiliate. Doug can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-888-835-6236. You can also find Doug on Twitter and Facebook.