I recently fell into a debate with another nonprofit practioner about the use of social media, specifically Facebook, and whether or not it is worth the investment of time and energy for nonprofits.
He asked for my opinion but, after I lead my response with the phrase “it is worth it”, I could tell the gentleman did not want to hear the remainder of my response.
The crux of my argument was based on the context of my nonprofit: we are based near one of the largest universities in America. With that in mind, our largest volunteer-base consist of college-age students. It makes sense for our organization to use similar media outlets that are in use by 18-25 year olds. This is the age group that volunteers and participates in our events. Facebook and Twitter are the most popular means of communication among this support-base; we know this to be true by simple trial & error. When we need to get the word out social media has proven to be a useful and effective communication tool for the organization.
As I talked about in my blog article called “The Rise of the New Nonprofit Professional”, as nonprofit professionals we ought to meet our support-base wherever it may be. For my nonprofit, social media does just that.
When I pressed my colleauge to describe his largest support-base he dodged my question as if it was a bullet from that Matrix scene when time slows down. At the end of the conversation, he kindly referred me to a book that basically bashes social media and says it is a waste of time…as if prescribing medicine to a clueless sick child.
I am alive and well, my dear sir.
My parting words were “what works for my nonprofit may not work for yours”. As nonprofit professionals we cannot afford to approach our communication strategies as a one size fits all attitude…an attitude that my colleague had.
The key is to understand our market, our supporters, and meet them where they are.