When I was in graduate school, we had a mantra about the work that didn’t get done: “There is always an excuse, but there may not be a reason.” We used it to remind our colleagues (and ourselves) that just because we could justify our lack of progress didn’t mean we were off the hook.
I’m pulling out this old gem because when I hear nonprofit leaders talk about why they aren’t using social media to build relationships with the people who can help them achieve their goals, I hear a whole lot of excuses and not so many reasons.
I don’t care what you ate for lunch
This is a favorite excuse of social media avoiders. The actual complaint differs person to person, but it starts with “I don’t care” and ends with some specific light topic people tend to mention in social media (weather, traffic, flight delays, etc.) Luckily, it’s also the easiest problem to overcome.
Get over yourself.
Personal chit-chat is a part of living in a human society. Social media is a communication tool, and humans engage in small talk when they communicate. If you ask after people’s children, or inquire into holiday plans when you communicate with people in person, you can bite the bullet and learn to do the same when you use online communication channels.
I tried it and it didn’t work
If by “tried it” you mean you built a Facebook page, posted links to your website and yet, you were not flooded with new traffic, or you have a twitter account where you promote press releases about your events, you have not “tried” social media.
Social media is not an advertising tool, and it’s not a magic bullet. It won’t work over night, and you’ll only get benefit from it if you use it in a sustained way. Social media is a two-way communication tool that gives you and your organization the opportunity to find, and build relationships with, the people who are likely to be interested in what you have to offer. It also gives you the chance to “overhear” what people are saying amongst themselves about you and subjects you care about. Used correctly, these new relationships can be a key leverage point in your ability to get the word out about what you do–but only if you focus on the relationships and not your short term advertising or fundraising goals.
I don’t have the technical expertise
The internet may have been invented for geeks, by geeks, but, much to their chagrin, its most popular tools have been co-opted by lay people and re-built to accommodate our lack of technical know how (and interest). That’s not to say there is no learning curve. Like any new undertaking, getting started with social media will involve learning some new vocab words, getting comfortable with new customs, etiquette and standard ways of working, but it is most certainly not rocket science. You will be able to learn. If you are nervous, or just don’t feel like navigating the journey alone, I can help.
My people don’t use social media
If this one were legitimately true, it would be a good reason to exclude social media from your marketing plan. But, before you check it off your to-do list, be sure you aren’t underestimating your user base.
My grandmother is on Facebook. My co-worker’s daughter blogs about her mission work from a part of Africa where electricity is a “sometimes” luxury. I am more likely to learn about breaking news from Twitter than I am from CNN. In other words, social media is no longer a fad for teenagers and college students. Almost every one with an internet connection in the United States, and increasingly, around the World, uses social media in one way or another–and those numbers are not likely to drop any time soon. If your organization has a need to connect with individuals for any reason (ticket buyers, donors, volunteers, clients, etc.), you can benefit from social media. Even if you work for one of the very rare nonprofits that interact only with other organizations, those organizations are also made up of people. People who use social media.
Are there good reasons to avoid social media?
In the spirit of fairness, there are reasons to avoid social media. I just hope none of them apply to you.
What are your favorite excuses for social media avoidance? Have I over looked any good reasons for not taking the plunge?
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