Social Citizens: Non-Profits Must Have Effective Presence in the Social Networking Space
by Alan Lewis on Monday, March 8th, 2010
Wondering if and how your non-profit organization ought to have a presence on the myriad social networking Sites on the Web? Still not sure if it will pay off? Well, here’s a number for you to consider: 400,000,000. That’s the number of Facebook users — right now, according to Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s dynamic Chief Operating Officer. Of course, Facebook is growing, literally by the minute, and so are the numerous other terrific Sites out there in the social networking space: LinkedIn, Twitter, and Ning, to name just a few. I had the opportunity recently to attend a breakfast meeting where Sheryl was our keynote speaker. She did an absolutely fantastic job drawing the links between philanthropy, charity, business and personal citizenship. Just consider her observations regarding the volume of Facebook activity directly devoted to addressing the recent earthquake crisis in Haiti. Those observations are from an interview she gave prior to her address. 1,500 posts regarding Haiti PER MINUTE, broadcast out to 400,000,000 people.
You simply cannot ignore that this tool, and others like it, are available for free to your organization to deepen your engagement with your current constituents, and to connect you with millions whom they know, but you might not . . . YET. Still not convinced? Consider these astonishing statistics regarding the growth of social networking usage and mobile platforms to access them. Your constituents “get” the power of these tools and are using them every day. Sheryl Sandberg also had some terrific insights regarding how nonprofit organizations ought to leverage the social Web and Web 2.0. Sure, you can invest a great deal of time and effort trying to craft a grand strategy. There are certainly some very bright, experienced folks out there who can help you do that. Idealware.org has some terrific posts about this topic that are worth a look. But that is definitely not what Sheryl Sandberg suggested. She suggests convening a team of passionate, motivated, dedicated college interns and — setting them loose. Now, of course, you’ll have to manage closely the content that these young folks post; that can be done fairly easily. But make no mistake, these young people know how to leverage these tools in emergent ways like nobody’s business. And, if you are looking to develop a connection to a younger demographic; one that can grow and deepen its relationship with your organization over decades, there is no better place to start, than with the social citizens on these Sites. I am very involved with the Business Leadership Council of the Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco. The BLC has a Facebook presence and leverages it regularly to get the word out to its constituents regarding its forthcoming and recently past events and content that is of interest. Now, imagine that the interactions that your constituents are having with your social networking assets are automatically being populated into your CRM donor database. Think that might provide some powerful actionable intelligence you could use to drive fundraising? Yeah, Citizen Software thought so too.
If you would like to watch the entirety of Sheryl Sandberg’s 53 minute passionate and informative keynote address to the Business Leadership Council’s Gala Annual Breakfast, you can find it here. Some terrific insights. The first question posed to her is from your’s truly.