Digital experts Clara Shih and Lisa Shalett offer a sharp reality check to organizations who think they don’t need to spread their message through social media.
“There are conversations taking place about your company or brand 24 hours a day, seven days a week in social media” they warn. “Are you a part of these conversations? Or are you hoping that if you don't hear them, they don't exist?”
They pinpoint three risks for businesses large and small that choose to ignore social media. They’re just as applicable to nonprofits, so here they are in case your boss, your board or even you yourself need some convincing.
Others will define your brand
Have you ever noticed that if you don’t give people the information to which they feel entitled, they go ahead and make it up? Social media accelerates that phenomenon. Enough organizations are now paying attention in real time to questions, complaints and opinions that such behaviour has become a new norm. Get in on the conversation. “If you don’t tell your story,” Shih and Shalett warn, “others will do it for you.”
If they can’t find you, they won’t trust you
More and more people look for information with their smartphone or tablet in hand. More than that, they consult the people they trust most – their network, to get their questions answered. Social media pages are prominent in search results, and that gives online explorers one more way to find you, rather than an almost similar charity doing more or less the same work, in a hurry.
On the other hand, if your organization is buried on the fifth or tenth page of search results because of other charities’ multiple presences via their Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter pages, seekers may not find you at all. That will make them wonder if your organization is reputable, even if they’ve heard of you before.
You look outdated
Because you adopt new technology and appreciate its convenience in your personal life, you expect businesses you patronize to be equally up to date. That extends to charities as well. “Companies (and their representatives) that aren't using social networks will not be perceived as forward-thinking and, in the long term, will risk losing customers who want business partners who speak their language.” Shih and Shallet warn.
Think of social media as just another communications tool. Why would you not want as many ways as possible to build relationships with donors, prospects and advocates, share your mission hopes and achievements, and give your supporters the means to tell their friends how they can support your work?
Social media may seem risky, but it is full of rewards and opportunities. You can start small – this article by Karen Luttrell will help you. If someone around your office needs more convincing, read the full post by Shih and Shallett.