Leveling the Field – Social Media Empowers Big and Small Alike

If the last decade of technological and business evolution has achieved anything, then it’s to level the playing field upon which small and large corporations and nonprofit organizations trade. Sitting proudly alongside innovative concepts like crowd sourcing and organic SEO is social media, as resources like Facebook and Twitter have contrived to empower nonprofit entities to both attract and engage effectively with their customers.

Of course, this empowering of organizations with minimal resources also opens great opportunities to emerging nonprofit ventures, and recent statistics show that there are a growing number of smaller entities who are using social media as a significant customer service and marketing tool. With case studies showing a lack of correlation between a brand’s revenue and the scale of their social media presence, it would seem that cost is no longer a significant barrier between attracting and engaging participants.

What Are the Figures What Do They Prove?

More than 11,000 respondents completed The Nonprofit Social Network Benchmark Survey this year, revealing the following:

  • 89% of respondents indicated that they have developed a presence on social media outlets
  • 55% of respondents also reported that the primary role of their community is for program and service delivery, which eclipses marketing for the first time amongst non profit organizations and suggests that social media is now a significant customer service tool
  • In general, the attitude of non profit organizations towards social media has grown increasingly positive, with 82% claiming that their commercial efforts through social media were especially rewarding

This growing appreciation of social media as an affordable and accessible customer service tool is also reflected amongst independent commercial brands, and supported by the recent ‘Top 10 Small Business Facebook Pages 2011’ contest which was concluded in September and attracted more than 14,000 nominations. The ultimate winner was Intrepid Travel of Australia, and the adventure travel brand had not only promoted a clear business philosophy to attract consumers, but also used breathtaking imagery and interactive gaming to retain their loyalty and engage them.

What Does this Mean for Emerging Nonprofit Ventures?

While selling a mysterious and unique holiday experience is entirely different to promoting a charitable cause of course, the challenge of giving a venture maximum and prolonged exposure with a minimal budget is something which brands like Intrepid Travel have in common with nonprofit organizations. So if social media is narrowing the gap between the haves and the have nots in terms of revenue and the ability to reach a global market, then emerging charitable organizations are well placed to capitalize.

As if to prove the point that social media allows organizations to achieve marketing success based on their creativity rather than budget, 12Kfor12K have built an operation which is not only social media-led, but also hugely successful in raising funds for charities. By capitalizing specifically on 24-hour tweet-a-thons organized through Twitter, they have encouraged individuals to communicate with them about campaigns and causes, increasing both international awareness and charitable donations in the process.

In Summary

In the world of the nonprofit venture, it is becoming increasingly apparent that social media is allowing organizations to increase brand and cause awareness through an ability to innovate rather than their level of capital. This is so long as they are willing to utilize the text, audio and visual features of social media resources to their fullest, and also able to engage followers through interactive means. It is this increased imagination amongst non profit organizations that has also changed the perception of social media, from a mere marketing tool to an engaging and powerful customer service medium.

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