Nonprofits Balance Information with Engagement through Social Media

The United Nations is jumping aboard the social media bandwagon this year by using the interactive tools of networking sites to celebrate Human Rights Day. This is the first time that social media has been used to promote the annual event with organizers keen to tap into a truly global audience and share their message as effectively as possible. The use of social media will also be key in achieving the UN’s aim of creating a series of positive and upbeat interactions between the organizers of the event and those who wish to participate in it.

The UN Isn’t Alone in Using Social Media to Reach Out

The campaign has been designed to celebrate what Human Rights Day stands for, as well as reach as wide an audience as possible. Social media will be the key ingredient to achieving both as the UN joins a host of nonprofits who have moved away from traditional promotional methods to increase awareness for their cause. Nonprofit stalwart the Red Cross was a trailblazer when it came to developing an extremely close relationship with social media. It’s investment in social media became apparent when they used Facebook and Twitter to coordinate relief and rescue efforts after the Haiti earthquake.

This epitomizes the primary benefit of social media, which is its presence as a global and tightly knit community of potential collaborators and benefactors. This factor has propelled social media into the heart of mainstream communications and established it as the single most important tool in driving nonprofit growth. Of course this is just a small portion of what social media can achieve. It also provides an unprecedented opportunity for social interaction and engagement, which encourages users to get involved rather than simply absorbing information.

Creating a Positive Perception Through Social Interaction

Social interaction is another feature that the UN hopes to capitalize on. Social media can also be used to set the tone of interactions between nonprofits and network users. Of course the UN wants to increase awareness about human rights across the globe. However, they want to do this in an upbeat and celebratory way while encouraging users to develop an interest in the principles that Humans Rights Day seeks to champion. It is far easier to inform than it is to engage, but interacting with people in a positive way through technology helps to achieve both simultaneously.

No nonprofit has managed to achieve this balance more effectively than Twestival. From its humble beginnings as a single event organized through networking and microblogging on Twitter, Twestival is now being localized in individual cities with a focus on their own independent causes. It is based upon event creation and a series of positive interactions that focus on what can be achieved to solve a social problem rather than simply relaying information about a specific cause. This engages social media users and urges them to participate by empowering them to make a significant difference.

A Template for Nonprofits

Since the first Twestival took place in February 2009, the nonprofit has raised more than $1.2 million across 137 individual causes. It has also provided a template for how nonprofit organizations can get the most from social media through a program of cultivating positive interactions and promoting exactly what can be achieved with user participation. This is undoubtedly a lesson that the UN has taken heed of as they seek to improve awareness and actively improve human rights throughout the world.

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