Content is Still King Even with Social Media

Posted by Zach Maurin on August 6, 2009

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There was a thought provoking article on CNET yesterday by Caroline McCarthy, “Crowded roads ahead for charity 2.0.”  Using the success of Charity:Water to raise money, attention, and friends via Twitter, McCarthy explores whether social networks might become so populated with causes’ solicitations that they become ineffective:

“The truth is that Twitter and Facebook may fall from favor in the charity world if they grow so big and crowded that it puts a damper on effectiveness. Organizations that want to stay on top of a social media strategy will have to look elsewhere.”

There is definitely good reason to talk about this.  However, it still comes down to content to be affective with social media even if every cause has a strong presence.  Content means messaging, purpose of the campaign/cause, compelling story and theory of change, and talking points that activists can use to engage new people and that inspire a desired action.

Everyone gets TONS of email, yet it is still the most effective medium to communicate and inspire action, according to many in the social media space (and I would agree).  McCarthy adds:

“Experts in the nonprofit space say that while any upstart organization–like any start-up business–will want to have a strong presence on Facebook and Twitter, that it’s dangerous to rely too heavily on them. In order to be successful on Twitter, or on Causes, or with a Facebook fan page or YouTube channel, there needs to be legitimate promotion and effort, not to mention physical resources.”

In addition to content and promotion, the relationship that causes create with people is another big piece to leveraging crowded places like Facebook, Twitter, and email.  Many nonprofits are feeling pressure to be on these sites because everyone is talking about them.  A few weeks ago I met with a small nonprofit and the executive director wanted to have a presence on Twitter, but nobody knows why or what they are trying to accomplish.

I don’t think their presence — which might contribute to the suggested crowding — will harm the presence of those being strategic and putting in time.  Users have the ability to quickly read and filter through information and choose to act or not.

As Facebook and Twitter get more crowded, nonprofits will have to continue to be creative and strategic.  But social networks will still be a valuable place to put that creative strategy to work so they can reach and engage more people, more efficiently than what was previously possible.


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