Non-profit social media rock star Beth Kanter is making a cross-country move. Rather than taking a hiatus from blogging (as I did last month), Beth wisely lined up some cool guest bloggers. A post today by Brian Reich, author of Thinking About Media, got me thinking about what’ s been missing in several non-profit marketing plans I’ve seen lately: a hypothesis about what will cause a desired action to happen (be it donations or advocacy) and a strategy about how to achieve that momentum.
The plans I’ve seen are a bucket used to hold a bevvy of popular tactics (including social media) – with no educated guesses about how they will contribute to the desired outcome, and no prioritization. I’d call them a listing more than a plan.
Brian’s post is focused on Facebook Causes, about which he’s skeptical, but his comments go to the heart of my concern about lack of strategy:
You can’t expect your audience, no matter how passionate they are about your work, to make an online contribution only because you ask – or to continue to make donations after they became involved through an event or opportunity. Those are all actions that you, as an organization define. Your audience, and particularly those who donate, want to be directly involved in your work and empowered to help support your efforts in the ways, and using the tools, they feel most comfortable with…. Stop developing new features and tools until you have found ways to get your users more invested in the setup you already have. Find ways to better educate and support all your nonprofit members, as well as the users that power your success. I’m not suggesting you stop innovating or improving your tools, but the needs of your audience should drive that work, instead of the technology driving how the users are able to get involved.
Many of the organizations I’m working with as a pro bono consultant haven’t clearly defined why the world needs to support their organization or cause, nor have they raised awareness. To use Brian’s suggested five-part process, they have to start by listening, introducing and educating their target audiences before they turn to engagement and mobilization. His process is a variation on a traditional marketing communications pyramid model (from awareness building to preference, trial, use and loyalty) but it’s a nice update for the non-profit world.
If you’re thinking about Facebook Causes or any other form of social media, read Brian’s post first.