Thursday, October 21, 2010

"Our members and supporters aren't on social media" (and therefore it won't work)

Bookmark and Share Social media has a loyal following.  Many are convinced while others from time to time that I encounter inevitably tell me a number of things:

  • "My members are in the field and don't have access to computers or internet"
  • "My members (usually in the medical field) are too busy to be on social networking sites (they might only be on at night for personal reasons)."
  • "Social media is for another demographic than mine"
Ok, so let me admit this (even as a fan of social media): Social media may not be for you — yet.  The studies on social networking engagement are abound and point clearly to the fact that this phenomena is not going to go away anytime soon.  As with any new technology, there will always be the quick adapters and those for a number of reasons who will lag behind.

Yet, just because your inclining may lead you to think that social media is not a right fit for your audience, I want you to at least open your mind to the possibility that perhaps...just perhaps social networking might make for a good portion in your organization's marketing mix.  As any marketing campaign is only as good as the marketing plan and research behind it, do a survey.  As the lines between personal and professional lives are increasingly blurred, social media is becoming a greater forum than ever for developing niche communities.  My suggestion is to find out how and where your members and supporters prefer to get their information.

For associations whose memberships are made of tradespeople in the field or who are not regularly in front of a computer with internet access, I foresee the growing popularity of mobile and cell text message campaigns bridging the gap.  Stats show that 1/3 of human kind has mobile internet access and that people are twice as likely to use text messaging and respond to this form of communication.  With services such as mGive, organizations can now link their websites to mobile call to actions campaigns.  Many organizations are becoming very effective in mixing traditional campaign calls that lead over to web/ social media presences.  How many have seen or heard an ad referring people over to a website?

Social media does not have to mean only blasting information out through Facebook, Twitter, etc.  Social networking is also a great support mechanism and strategy for getting the word out with other communications mediums.  In doing so, associations bridge the gap between different demographics of their supporters.

It is noteworthy that social media isn’t dominated by the youngest, often most tech-savvy generations, but rather by what has to be referred to as middle-aged people (although at the younger end of that spectrum).  This is a critical element to consider for professional associations whom, for the moment, more likely need to recruit and retain in their ranks.

What do you think?  Is ruling out social media outright a reaction to the unknown or have non-profit executives critical of this new means of communications done their homework in market research to justify the rejection?
Mark A. Buzan, APR
Principal & Chief Magnifying Officer
Action Strategies
#3, 270 rue Champlain
Gatineau, Quebec J8X 3S1
819.770.2899 phone

LinkedIn Group for Public Relations: http://tinyurl.com/nonprofitideas
LinkedIn Group for Government Relations: http://tinyurl.com/nonprofitlobbying

Please take a look at my just released book: Online PR and Social Media for Associations and Not-for-Profits -http://www.onlineprsocialmedia.com/associations


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