Note to Nonprofits: Don’t Fear Social Media!

If I had only five minutes to address a group of small business owners and nonprofits regarding their overall marketing strategies, I would use that time to warn them about the dangers of NOT using social media as part of their marketing mix! Time and time again, over the past year, I have heard the following concerns from trepidatious clients, “We’re afraid….. We’re worried that someone might post content that’s negative or harmful; We don’t want to engage in media that we can’t control!”

If you’re afraid of what people might say about your company/organization on your social media site, then your problem is two-fold; first, depending upon how real that threat is in your particular situation, you already have a public relations or customer service problem that desperately needs attention (and social media is a powerful tool that can actually help you in this arena); and second, the real truth is that if someone wants to use social media to complain about, or slander, your product/company/image – they’re probably already doing it on their own, their friend’s, your competition’s, and/or any number of other social media venues that you’re not even aware of! The worst possible mistake that you, as a business owner or nonprofit leader, can make is to have no official social media presence of your own to promote a positive image of your business/organization, or to not weigh in on, or respond to, conversations about your product that are already going on around you!

The reality is that social media, whether we like it or not (and I personally LOVE it as a marketing tool) is here to stay. In fact, the lastest electronic media research reports that social media networking has replaced email as the third most popular activity conducted “online” (only behind doing a “google” search and downloading or using online software). Not since the advent of the internet itself has something so immediately and completely transformed the way we market and/or communicate about our “products” to the world. In this new digital age where interaction and conversation have become the driving force behind successful brand strategy and product marketing campaigns, the danger lies not in engaging in the conversation, but in turning your back on it and the millions of potential customers, supporters, volunteers, and/or donors who can be found there!

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