Saturday, October 31, 2009

Local nonprofit uses social media to reach out to Wisconsin constituents

Wired Wisconsin is a coalition of concerned individuals, businesses and organizations working to put the state of Wisconsin on the cutting edge of technology. However, like most nonprofits they face challenges in trying to raise funds for outreach and marketing of their message. With only two or three employees and a couple of interns, how do they accomplish statewide what they need to do?

A social approach

After meeting several key staff members of Wired Wisconsin during the recent event - Government
2.0 | Utilizing Social Media - I looked at how they are using  social media efforts to accomplish their organizational goals and the partnerships they are forming along the way.

Wired Wisconsin is actively using social media in their public relations and outreach efforts. They appear to have started their blog about 1 year ago in October of 2008 with weekly updates to Twitter included.  The blog does not identify the author(s)  in anyway, and its lacking a personality at this point. They have a Website setup as a home base for traditional media and social media.  They have links to their Twitter profile, Facebook, Youtube, Podcasts, and a RSS feed for their blog.

Practicing what you preach

At the conference I attended, Wired Wisconsin was educating government agencies and elected officials on social media.  They are actively using a variety of tools and promoted the event using social media channels as well. You can see that they started slow, with a website and added a blog.

You should have a strong "home" for social media links.  Just consider that with a bio area of 160 characters on Twitter, you don't have a lot of room to state your mission and issues. So take the time to have good landing pages on your website to explain your mission.  If your budget doesn't allow that yet, be sure to create a solid LinkedIn profile or other social media profile with very complete details
that can help deliver more of your brand and various content for you, but one should be designated as home.

The first six months of blog posts are all Twitter weekly updates of news articles that they added to the Tweet stream. This is an inbound marketing tactic.  This is a good way to start with baby steps based on resources and time. Starting in February 2009, Wired Wisconsin began to offer monthly blog opinion blog posts about the issues they have coalesced around.

May 2009 brought a new addition to the action plan. Bring article content around core issues from other journalists and editorials directly into the blog posts. The Twitter updates continued and in fact they are longer and appear to more much more active during this time period.  Wired Wisconsin also penned more opinion posts covering issues.

While it appears that their Twitter activity is all about outbound press and news media type content, by creating a blog post out of the update (through the use of TwitterTools plugin on their blog)  it does help to give them weekly posts and document activity for the non Twitter users who may want to stay in touch with these issues.

Incorporating video posts

Emily Lenard, Associate Director,  explained that they have used Youtube to post their videos for free and feed to other social media sites such as Facebook. They have an ongoing program to interview state politicians on their stands for issues pertinent to Wired Wisconsin and post them on their Website.

She also said they they follow a particular strategy for blog writing described in this interview:



Other uses that they have planned to put in practice for social media include:

    * Press conferences
    * News
    * Events
    * Issue presentations
    * Action alerts
    * Interviews
    * Programs

Audit and assess regularly

After a year, it may be time for Wired Wisconsin to take stock and review their activities, audiences, spaces and places for social media sites interaction.  Evaluating and benchmarking the progress over the past year for subscribers, comments, membership growth, partner additions and activity should shed some light on any changes in directions that they should pursue.

Ideally they should be blogging 2-3 times per week.  If the goal of the blog is to strictly be a news source they are doing a good job of that.  I think that they could  increase the Wired Wisconsin opinion pieces to give someone a sense of the passion and drive this organization has to make change happen. And personally, I would like to get sense of who the authors are.

Social media is about people after all and we don't connect with companies and organizations, we connect and share passions and interest with the people inside them.

Do you have a nonprofit I should review?