“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself…” – Franklin D. Roosevelt
One of the biggest obstacles I’ve run into lately when discussing social media is a fear to delve into the unknown. Many businesses and companies, and particularly non-profit organizations, seem to shy aware from embracing this new and evolving marketing option. So – here are my top 5 reasons to jump into the abyss:
1. IT’S FREE!
Ok, for some organizations money may not be a huge issue. But for many non-profits, costs and budgets are at the forefront of concerns. But, Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, Foursquare and a whole slew of social media sites are FREE. As in, NO COST. AT ALL. Just set up an account and start using it! But, remember it’s “free like a puppy” – meaning you do have to put something into it to really get something out of it – you can’t neglect it and hope it grows up strong and smart all on its own. The more you put into it (training, dedication, snuggling, care & feeding, and of course money) the more you’ll get out of it.
2. IT’S EASY!
Do you have a passion for your cause? Can you write and speak eloquently about your mission, event and beneficiary? Do you have a desire to touch lives and influence people to support your organization? Now, log in to Twitter or Facebook and put those thoughts and feelings into updates and Tweets. And when someone comments or shares back with you, respond in kind and get the dialogue going. Treat these tools as you would a face-to-face personal conversation and speak from your heart. The more tools you use, the more complex it becomes, so just take it one step at a time.
3. EVEN NEGATIVES CAN BECOME POSITIVES
With social media, there’s an opportunity to react immediately to bad press. When someone comments on poor customer service, an organization on its toes can respond with empathy and immediate options to rectify. When an event guest complains about the price of the tickets, an organization can point out exactly what the money can provide to a child, an animal or a cancer survivor. Avoid blaming the commenter for any wrongdoing and avoid defensive remarks. Answer honestly with empathy and a solution and you’ll turn the situation around.
4. THE OPTIONS ARE ENDLESS
Do you think a picture paints a thousand words? Add photo albums to your Facebook account. Videos are even better – load them to YouTube or Vimeo, tweet about it, Facebook it and added it to your site and blog. Do you like to give things away? Hold creative and fun contests! Can you easily engage others in conversation? Ask daily questions or ask for user insights on Facebook and Twitter. Only your time, your money, and your imagination (and occasionally a few legal ramifications) limit your options!
5. FRIENDS HELPING FRIENDS HELPING FRIENDS HELPS YOU
Don’t mistake “viral” for “virus”. In social marketing, viral is a GOOD thing! When you have an engaged base of fans and followers, their comments and shares of your content are seen by their friends, family, fans and followers. And if THAT tier of people is engaged, THEY retweet and reshare your content and THEIR friends, family, fans and followers are seeing it too. And on and on and on…It’s a a beautiful pyramid-scheme pay-it-forward kind of thing done everyday and it’s yours for the taking.
So – take heart, have courage and jump in…you’ll survive, I promise!