There’s a lot of discussion about whether “social networks” have seen their best days, citing things like declining unique visitors, time spent on site, and general grumbling (esp. about whether one can truly ever back out of Facebook) . You might ponder what this portends, especially for nonprofits.
If web 2.0 means harnessing the collaborative benefits of the web, then it means more to you than how many friends you can get on Facebook.
It means reaching the right people,
in the right way,
about the right things.
TechSoup has words of wisdom from Brett Bonfield and Beth Kanter about the considerations a nonprofit should give to their use (or non-use) of social media. Frankly, they offer a lot to think about. Let me add another dimension to what nonprofits need to think about, but bring it back to basics. The basics of planning. It’s not so much original thought as it is simplifying the myriads of strategic info folks like Brett, Beth and others have given nonprofits.
Mid-Life Crisis or a Refining Stage
Like any “product,” the “first blush” is off many of these media vehicles. They went from introduction stage through the ravenous growth cycle and are now facing “maturity.” If we’ve moved from people jumping in willy nilly to planful consideration, I’m all for it. I think the best days are yet to come, as organizations refine how they use web 2.0. Judging by the number of professional people I’m in contact with each week that don’t use any social networking (mostly because they haven’t had the time to figured out its best use), maturity and beyond has the potential to be glorious.
Strategize, Implement, Evaluate
Use of social networking should not be a goal in itself.
Use of web 2.0, if appropriate, evolves as part of your organization’s implementation of it core long-term strategies. It’s part of the short-term goals and tactics that move you toward your long-term goals. And, as in any good strategic plan, you need to periodically evaluate your implementation for its effectiveness–tweaking, eliminating, expanding as needed.
I see four major strategic areas in which a nonprofit can use social media to achieve their goals.
Internal Business Processes
Fund Development/Fundraising (so often, this is all you read about)
Community/Friend-Building (which may feed into some of the above. BTW, advocacy would fit into this category).
Over the next week, I’ll take a look at each of these and how long-term goals can be implemented through short-term objectives/tactics via web 2.0.