Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Undeterred by the Economy

This article appeared in Monday's Hamilton Journal News and featured me as a Hamilton "Woman of Influence." Is it too arrogant to share this on my blog? Perhaps, but I am doing it anyhow on the suggestion of co-workers.  Some of the details are not quite accurate (example, I don't supervise our entire development staff but rather our annual giving team) and the story about Nevin should be credited to the Dayton Children's amazing PR manager, Betsy Woods.  But overall, it was very flattering to be featured as a Woman of Influence for what I do at Dayton Children's.  I am blessed to work for an organization that does incredible things to provide the best possible pediatric healthcare for kids in the Miami Valley.  Everyone at Dayton Children's is appreciative of every single gift we receive and every single donor who made it possible.  I sincerely want to thank each and every one of them.

Great Content Isn't Enough

Thousands of businesses have found the value in having a Facebook presence.  They post all of great content, but pushing out content is not enough.  Companies, nonprofits, organizations, etc. need to think of Facebook (or any other social media platform) as a conversation venue.  Posting content is not enough; interaction is a requirement. 

Think of social media as a two-way conversation with real human beings. Why?  Because that is exactly what it is.  The purpose and value of social media is building relationships.  You don't walk into a room, announce the latest and greatest for your organization, and then walk out.  You stick around, ask questions, respond to questions and generate interest.  The same is true when using Facebook.  Respond to the comments on your page.  Pay attention to what is being said.  Bring people to the conversation.  Reference what others are doing.  Don't let this be a one-side conversation.  It turns people off.  And turning people off is the death knoll to building a trusting relationship.

Here's an example of what not to do:

I am an avid reader of a particular magazine (that will remain nameless to I don't embarrass them to pieces publicly).  They had an excellent feature in a recent issue that challenged their readers to participate. But the directions were vague.  So I checked the website.  Same vague directions for how to enter their contest, what to submit, and the rules for how the contest was going to be judged were unclear.  The website gave no opportunity to pose a question.  So I turned to Facebook.

Yes! They had a Facebook page.  But, alas, they are failing at building relationships.  They are posting articles, links and interesting content, yet they never respond to their fans questions.  I certainly wasn't the only one confused about their messaging.  Everyone had similar questions.  No one was getting any answers.  But new content kept getting added to the page.

Here's my thoughts: This company is selfish and one-sided.  They are not interested in their readers/customers' feedback. They are missing the perfect opportunity to build a relationship and show they are concerned about the service they are providing.

Nonprofits can and should take a lesson from this.  Responding to comments on Facebook shows you care in the same way responding to a question in person does.  Does it take some extra time? Yes.  Is it worth it?  You better believe it.  Donors want to be heard and recognized. That's fundraising 101.  Using social media gives you the perfect vehicle for responding...for listening...for caring.  Nothing builds donor loyalty more than caring about your constituents and taking time for them.

Believe me, there are plenty of organizations way off the mark here.  Take the extra minute to respond when people post things on your page, if for no other reason than to say thank you.  It will pay off -- literally and figuratively.