How Non-Profits are Putting Social Networks to Work
Many people see social networking as a fun way to keep up with friends, family & coworkers, some savvy non-profits have created systems to leverage social media to accomplish so very lofty goals. These networks are increasing their visibility, helping their constituents improve their situation and quickly raising awareness of time-sensitive issues. To get the most from social networking, non-profits should start by focusing their attention on the “Friend Of A Friend” networks such as FaceBook, LinkedIn and MySpace that are suited to connect individuals and organizations with others who share similar interests and goals.
5 Popular Social Networking Tools
FaceBook: Currently the fastest growing social network of the group. FaceBook has jumped to the front of the line by being the clean and well organized “sibling” of MySpace. Techradar predicts that FaceBook will achieve 100 million active users by the first quarter of 2009. FaceBook has its greatest strength in its system of connecting members to each other.
MySpace: The site that sprouted an industry. MySpace is a massive social network, averaging 300,000 new sign-ups each day. The sheer volume of users makes MySpace a great place for organizations to promote themselves. While MySpace does not cater to any specific audience, like other targeted networks like LinkedIn and Care2, it has found it’s niche in the younger demographic and among musicians. The main advantage of MySpace is the video sharing section, making it a good platform for exposing your nonprofit’s advocacy films to a larger audience.
LinkedIn: Focused primarily on creating and maintaining professional contacts. This site helps you find coworkers from all you previous employers, classmates, others employed in the non-profit sector and gain professional references. With its 6 million plus professional users, LinkedIn can connect you with opportunities for corporate support, fund raisers and professionals looking to lend their time. LinkedIn has a wide variety of resources for hiring employees, finding service providers or researching consultants.
Care2: With its strength in helping activists network and mobilize around a cause, from environmental issues to political concerns to human rights. This site allows users to create groups devoted to specific issues; create and sign petitions; share photos; solicit donations; and promote events.
Gather: Gather offers non-profits an outlet to share stories with other users. It works with a blog format (they call “articles”) which allow the articles to be tagged and rated according to their usefulness by other users. The articles which gain the highest rankings are promoted on the home page and generally get more visibility. Gather is a warm and fuzzy place to share photos and stories about what your organization does.
To some the social networking arena can seem overwhelming and intimidating. But if you take the time to research the various communities, visit profiles set up by other non-profits, experiment with different features, and finally determine the tools which best move your organization toward its goals, you’ll likely realize that social networks will benefit your organization. Who Knows &emdash; you just might make a connection that helps in a way you never imagined.