Monday, November 7, 2011

Social Media for Social Good: Q&A with Heather Mansfield pt. 2

In Social Media for Social Good: A How-To Guide for Nonprofits, author Heather Mansfield draws on over a decade of social media and nonprofit experience for clients like The National Peace Corps Association, Safe Kids, and The National Wildlife Federation. Her book provides nonprofits with tools and effective strategies using social medial and mobile web technology. Currently, Heather is on a national book and training tour. We recently caught up with Heather for a Q&A about her new book, and how growing non-profits can best reach the public and spur positive change.

Q&A with author HEATHER MANSFIELD pt. 2

Q: With social media promotion, what are the pitfalls of relying solely on dominant platforms such as Facebook and Twitter? Ideally, what does a comprehensive marketing plan look like in terms social media mix?

I am a firm believer in diversifying your brand online. Having your avatar spread throughout many different communities results in a synergy that grows stronger as your communities grow larger over time. Also, like never before nonprofits are enmeshed with for-profit companies like Facebook and Twitter that provide absolutely zero customer service and little to no support for nonprofits. Eventually, I think this is going cause an increasing sense of frustration and resentment by the nonprofit sector, and unless nonprofits go out of their way to diversify their brand to inspire competition, innovation, and social responsibility on the part of these companies, we will then be completely at the whim of the for-profit Web.

Q: For more established social nonprofits, how important is reinvention and how often should organizations revise communication strategies?

The nonprofits who excel online today were on Myspace in 2005, Facebook and YouTube in 2006, and Twitter in 2007. The Web moves very quickly now and those nonprofits that embrace early adoption and take risks on new tools are the best positioned to reap the benefits. It’s not so much reinvention, but rather always evolving and acting quickly – often on a good impulse. The truth is that the best nonprofit social media campaigns are the best not because of the tools, but because of the person behind the strategy and the avatar. The best social media managers love social media and are always experimenting with the Next Big Thing – usually years before it becomes the Next Big Thing. The old model of waiting for case studies to come out to prove a tool works before a nonprofit starts to use it is dead.

Q: In addition to the book release, you’re also doing a nationwide social media and mobile technology training and book tour. Can you tell us your goals for the tour and how those who participate can actually help support deserving nonprofits while learning more about social media?

The book tour is a fundraiser, and honestly, I don’t think a book tour being launched as a fundraiser has ever been done. As of today, it has raised more than $11,0000 for partner nonprofits. Launching a book tour as a fundraiser is the nonprofit psychology at work in me. The tour is more about making the world a better place than making a profit. I have to practice what I preach, or I wouldn’t have any credibility in the nonprofit sector. Beyond that, I love to train in person and this tour is allowing me to reach nonprofits all over the country and Canada. So far, the feedback has been very good. The content of the training is based on the book, thus packed with a lot of How-To’s and best practices which is what most nonprofits are looking for these days – proven methods that work.

Q: Finally, today is the era of the Mobile Web, or Web 3.0. How is this changing the landscape as we speak and where do you think social media and nonprofit communication are headed next?

Nonprofits are tragically falling very far behind in mobile! I think it primarily has to do with what I mentioned above about nonprofits now expecting Web-based tools to be free or they won’t use them. Now is the time for early adoption, but a couple hundred dollars at least is required to experiment with mobile and most nonprofits won’t pay it. Smartphones, tablets, and texting are changing how supporters and donors consume content, and that means nonprofits need to change how they present their content. Internet TV is going to transform the sector as well, but from what I can tell most nonprofits haven’t even considered mobile or Internet TV. That said, the early adopters of the Social Web – the Humane Society of the United States, Oxfam, Peta, The Nature Conservancy – they are just now beginning to launch well-thought out mobile campaigns and “TV” stations and when they do, others usually follow. I just wish for the sake of nonprofits and social good in general that it would happen a little faster. ☺

Thanks again for this interview.

Continued success from everyone at What You Can Do!

Heather Mansfield is the owner of DIOSA Communications, principal blogger at Nonprofit Tech 2.0, and author of Social Media for Social Good: A How-To Guide for Nonprofits. She also created and maintains the “Nonprofit Organizations” profiles on Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, YouTube, Flickr, LinkedIn, and Foursquare, which cumulatively have more than 500,000 Friends, Followers, and Fans. A pioneer in utilizing social media for the nonprofit sector, Heather has fifteen years of experience utilizing the Internet for fundraising, community-building, and advocacy. To date, she’s presented more than 100 social media and mobile technology trainings throughout the United States and over 500 webinars to audiences worldwide.

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