Steve MacLaughlin has just posted some good advice on the Blackbaud blog:
Make sure that your online communication, wherever it takes place, clearly conveys who you are, what is your mission, why it matters, how people can get involved, and what is the impact of their involvement. Choice abounds on the Web and someone else’s site is just a click away. Your message needs to be compelling and coherent enough to rise above the clutter. Don’t let your message get lost in the medium.
So, just thinking out loud for a moment…
- Ignore the tools… start with strategy, outcomes and the message.
- If it fits, embrace social networks. Let a thousand flowers bloom.
- Keep this core message simple, e.g. “Make Trade Fair”.
- Simple actions repeated at scale within a social network produces serendipity.
- Post your edgiest, most viral content… be useful, and (if appropriate) be entertaining. Be prepared to respond quickly, too… and offer guidance.
- Remember, it’s about helping people to connect to each other… rather than to your database.
- Be collaborative – recognise that people may like to create something which will be seen by many.
- Let them know their efforts are crucial to advancing the cause / your mission.
But manage the risks. Social networking is both a blessing and a curse :)
- Be ready to lose some control – it comes with the territory.
- You cannot ‘vet’ who wants to become your friend.
- People may seek to build their reputation or associate you with ‘their’ cause by adding your logo to their video / blog / profile.
- be wary of anti-big-brand videos / spoof ads.
- Have a strategy in place in case things go wrong.
- Look at the probability of something occurring (e.g. legal action), and assign a value to that and calculate risks.
- The benefits outweigh the risks. In most cases people have the best intentions and will respond to a gentle nudge.
- Don’t embed yourself too deeply into social networking (and for that matter, anything else I might enthuse about) and forsake the other stuff.
Of course, all this will be easier to manage if you employ a buzz director or recruit some virtual volunteers!