Thursday, March 12, 2009

Develop a Twittering For Your Causes - UPDATED

Take Online Social Media to New Heights in Promoting Your Cause

This article in Entrepreneur Magazine – March 2009 by Guy Kawasaki discusses ways to develop a following on Twitter. Kawasaki’s story about needing something that was provided after a “tweet” is a great example.

Online social media is one way to generate buzz, certainly, but what if you need more? You have a cause (or a product). You have a strategy. You want attention. Your goal is action. You have to let people know what you need.

Consider these options the next time you are building an advocacy strategy:

1. Facebook. Create a Facebook page that functions as you public relations media center. Set up the page with your motive for action, add information about the key players in your cause and post updates on your activities. Look at the Anderson Cooper 360 page for an idea of where you can go with video, events, photos and more. Invite people to contribute ideas and accolades on your “wall,” and—most importantly—tell your followers how they can help. Keep in mind that your adversaries may be watching closely, but you might use that to your advantage, too. A relatively new feature on Facebook is Causes. Causes lets you start and join causes you care about. (It also has a donation-sharing system.) Set up your page, then link it to the Causes Home. Your "friends" can then feature your cause on their own Facebook pages.

2. Newsible. Forget the old, expensive and unpredictable “fax blast” press releases. Has anyone ever found them effective in advocacy campaigns? Newsible is just coming onto the scene but has the benefits of pulling together into one place your YouTube video, text, still pics and images. It is like a dynamic, multimedia press release but with easy linkage to nearly every social media system known. Check out this PR about The PR page welcomes comments, too, so you can find supporters and get feedback easily. Most importantly, Newsible is hooked deeply into GoogleNews, providing a boost to your visibility instantly. (And I hear they have a fantastic rate for nonprofits!)

3. Twitter. Forget what you ate for breakfast and where you went sightseeing. Rally support with up-to-date musings, strategies and actions. Show people where you are and tell them where you are going—in a figurative sense as well as literal. Use your mobile phone’s SMS (text) feature to “tweet” from anywhere you get a signal. This can be very handy when the action picks up and you have a lot of followers to keep informed. The CNN Political Ticker page is one example of updates (notice the "tinyurl" trick!). Twitter is not a replacement for Facebook and Newsible, but it can serve a valuable role in keeping your followers interested with small updates along the path to victory for your cause.

4. Blog. Pick a blogging tool and just get started. Set a schedule for your posts and ideally post contributions from several people in your group. If you can only get a post published once per month, don’t waste the effort. If you can get one published at least once per week—ideally no farther apart than 2-3 days—then this is where you can give more information than your “tweets.”

Now put it all together. Find a good base camp site like Facebook that fits your cause and has the features you will need in the long run. Spend the time to set it up well, then maintain it even when you are “too busy.” Once you are off the ground, use one or more of the press release and quick-update tools like Newsible and Twitter to develop your following and guide them to your site. Tweet when you post a blog entry or a new photo of your activities. Reference your blog and Twitter links on your Facebook page. Put it all in your press releases in addition to new material that has not even been on your blog. No matter which one of these someone bumps into, they should easily be able to find the others.

UPDATE: Thanks to a friend of mine for this suggestion: a new web site, HelloTXT, allows a user to send and receive status updates simultaneously to Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn and about 40 other social media systems. Now that's convenience!

So raise the profile of your activities. Ask people to follow your cause and pitch in. Let them know what you need when you lead. (And come back to let me know when you succeed!)

1 comment:

yankee said...

Succinct summary with actionable ideas. Great.