social media

If You Love Your Content, Set It Free

Is that Sting song in your head now?

"Free, free. Set them free."

"If you loooove someone—SET THEM FREE!"

Thank you, Gordon Sumner (Sting's real name - let's just take it all the way).

I'm singing this in my head because of some funny conversations I've had about social media this week. It seems so weird to still have to get into the "yes, but you really want them to take your stuff and reuse it" conversation, but there you have it.

Nonprofits especially seem to get all tomcat territorial over their posts and content. I don't understand it. With acquisition being so difficult these days, their social networks are where they should be building the back and forth, warm and fuzzy goodness that will nurture those folks toward the next step: making a gift, volunteering, sharing posts, etc.

For my nonprofit brethren, this is for you.

1. Why Are You Using Social if You're Not Feeling Social?
The purpose of Facebook, Twitter, et al is to share, share, share. If you're not comfy with people taking your stuff - or bits of your stuff - and sharing it with the world, you need to consider why you're using this particular medium.

2. There Are Nice Ways to Get What You Want.
If it's super important to you that excerpts or blurbs are credited when retweeted or shared, say so — and make it easy. Ask them to link back to your site. Provide them with the text to use. Just be friendly and not finger waggy. Trust that people will do what you have respectfully requested. If they don't, they're still sharing your content and that's the name of the game. (Set It Free)

3. It's A Conversation with Real People - Not a Press Release Cannon.
It must bear repeating, y'all, cause I repeat it all the time. If you're in the fortunate position of having your donors and supporters take pride and ownership in your mission and want to spread it across the land in their own words to their people, you won. Don't quibble over the fact that they didn't quote your beloved mission statement exactly or edited your 500 word press release to one sentence. Be glad they care enough to read, engage with and distribute your goodies.

What Is Social Media Doing for You?

"It’s hard to replace paper dollars with digital dimes."

A publisher friend was actually talking about the difference between online and print advertising revenue.

But I suspect many development directors feel the same.

Sure ... online revenue is growing. And direct mail is falling (especially for those organizations that decided to save money the past two years by cutting back on their mailings!)

But the bulk of donations are still being generated through direct mail.

I was asked to be a part of a workshop last week. The topic was “Communications and Social Media Strategy for Your Nonprofit.”

But I wasn’t asked to talk about social media; I was asked to focus on segmentation ... and how to develop messaging strategies to address different segments differently.

I opened by admitting I'd feel like it was a bait-and-switch tactic if I was sitting in the audience. This was old hat. Boring stuff. Research. Data. You know, the kind of learnings you get from direct mail.

Or from tracking online interactions. If you have the ability (and discipline) to do that, of course.

But the fact is, no matter what the medium, you’re only going to be as successful as your messaging strategy. Knowing what you want – or need – to say.

And to whom. Knowing where your constituent is in terms of their understanding of - and commitment to - your mission.

Knowing what the next step on their path to advocacy could be.

Success stories on blogs. Facebook groups for events. Tweets about volunteer needs. It’s all good (as they say).

But, is it as good as it could be?

I’d say that depends on your messaging strategy.