December 17, 2012

Periodically I rant about social media, one of my pet peeves. Yes, sure, I know… Social media can be useful. Social media can be fun. Social media can help nurture relationships with some people.

But professionals – whether in fundraising or any other sector – are fully aware of the excessive hype about social media. Professionals are balanced and measured. Professionals read the research! So check out this information about social media:

1. Read for 12-15-11, “Which Mailbox Delivers Emotion?” Surprising, perhaps. 50% of U.S. consumers said they pay more attention to postal mail than email. 60% of U.S. consumers said they enjoy checking the mailbox for their mail. That’s an emotional connection. And the research found that the least trustworthy communications channels are social media and blogs. Only 6% of U.S. consumers trusted those sources! Read the rest of the research at the agitator or visit Epsilon’s Consumer Channel Preference Study.

2. Jeff Brooks ( reminds us to avoid excessive focus on social media. Read his blog of 12-14-11. Jeff remarks that “one of the cool things about email fundraising is how cheap it is.” So you just keep sending stuff cause there’s no postage or printing costs.

But watch out. “The longer an emailer goes without responding, the less likely they are to respond,” says Jeff. (And Jeff reminds us that the same holds true for direct mail.)

So why does this matter…you keep emailing and they don’t answer but it doesn’t cost you any real money. But what it will cost you is being labeled as a spammer. Here’s the bad news: Internet service providers are closely studying metrics. Internet service providers know which messages aren’t being opened. And when messages aren’t opened, the sender can get labeled as a spammer. Do you want that to happen to you? Because then your marketing messages won’t get there at all.

Read more at The Big Fat Marketing Blog, “Unscrubbed E-mail Files Pose Risks to Marketers: Study.”

 3. Read Seth Godin‘s blog of 12-11-12, “The trap of social media noise.” Being heard seems to equate with the number of listeners and readers and followers. How many follow you on Twitter? How many read your blog? How many subscribe to your e-news?

But who cares? Who is really listening? Who is really interested in what you’re saying? It isn’t the numbers, it’s the quality. It’s the alignment of like-minded people with similar interests.

Stop polluting the space with noise. As Seth says, “Relentlessly focus. Prune your message and your list and build a reputation that’s worth owning and an audience that cares.”

In conclusion: “Build a reputation that’s worth owning and an audience that cares.” That’s the truth for social media. And that’s the truth for fundraising, too. Measure the right numbers…like those who care, those who engage, those who are interested in your message…whether it’s social media listeners or donors. It isn’t the volume of numbers; it’s the type of numbers and what they represent!

About Simone Joyaux

A consultant specializing in fund development, strategic planning, and board development, Simone P. Joyaux works with all types and sizes of nonprofits, speaks at conferences worldwide, and teaches in the graduate program for philanthropy at Saint Mary’s University, MN. Her books, Keep Your Donors and Strategic Fund Development, are standards in the field.

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