For the last several years, the words “social media” have been inescapable. Everywhere you go there are stories of tweets, status updates, and check-ins. Despite the ubiquity, nonprofit staff still wonder, “Can social media really be used for social good?” That’s the question we set out to answer in the Nonprofit Social Networking Benchmark Report – http://nonprofitsocialnetworksurvey.com.
NTEN (http://nten.org), Common Knowledge (www.commonknow.com), and Blackbaud (www.blackbaud.com) recently released our third annual edition of the report, which surveyed over 11,000 nonprofit professionals (big and small) about their use of online networks. This year’s survey served up some surprising results along with a few “I saw that coming” moments.
Here are some highlights:
-Facebook is King & Extending Its Lead…slowly: Facebook is the most popular social network for nonprofits and continues to grow, albeit slowly. Nine out of 10 (89%) respondents have a presence on FB. By comparison, Twitter has leveled off among respondents with usage levels at 57%. LinkedIn is used by 1 in 3 respondents (30%) and My Space trails at 7%.
–Get social: While a majority of respondents have some presence on Facebook and Twitter, very few are actually using the tools to their fullest advantage. On average, respondents had just 110 Facebook fans and 19 Twitter followers for every 1,000 email subscribers.
–The average FB fan base: Respondents averaged 6,376 fans (an increase of 161% from last year). The average Twitter follower base: 1,822 (reflecting only a 2% increase).
-Budget, Staffing and Resources: More than half (52%) of respondents have no formal budgets for social networks. On the staffing side, 86% commit some employee time with the majority allocating a quarter (1/4) of a full-time employee equivalent.
-Promotion: The most popular channel for respondents to promote their social networks is their website (78%). They also use emails to their e-subscriber house lists (62%) ad face-to-face events (48%). Paid media promotion (i.e online ads, search) are less popular, used by just 12% and 6% respectively.
–Fundraising on FB is growing but it’s still a minority effort. Here’s one characteristic that jumped out at us and reversed many of our conclusions regarding organization size: 30% of the “master fundraisers” (nonprofits that raised more than $100,000 via FB) were small organizations ($1-5 million annual budget). And 8% were medium-sized. So you don’t need to be a big organization to get big fundraising results – but you do need a LOT of fans (and average of 99,000). Even small organizations can win in the social space, if they are devoting resources to it. Which leads to our next point…
-Don’t spread yourself thin: So many organizations spread themselves thin—attempting to jump-start communities on FB, LinkedIn and Twitter while building out their Flickr and YouTube accounts and content. It’s a far better strategy to marshal your resources around one or possibly two social outlets more suited for your audience and mission.
–A few newcomers hit the scene: The newbie, place-based networking platform FourSquare appeared in our survey in a substantive way for the first time (with 4% reporting they use it). Newcomers Jumo, Vimeo, Yelp, Picassa, Ning and Delicious also popped up for the first time, as did donor-empowered peer-to-peer giving sites CrowdRise, FirstGiving, Razoo and Causes.
-Environmental/Animal Welfare and International Services Outperform the Sector:
Environmental/animal welfare groups reported the highest average community size on FB (with 8,490 members compared to the overall industry average of 6,376).
– Social Networks Are Valuable: Sentiment toward social networks remains very positive with 4 out of 5 (82%) respondents indicating that they find their social networking efforts valuable The same question in 2009 and 2010 saw 79% and 81% of respondents answering similarly.
So can social media be used for social change? We don’t know yet. What we do know is that our respondents believe that it can, and we’re all working hard to make it happen.
You can download the complete study at http://nonprofitsocialnetworksurvey.com.