Last week's post on Twitter created a nice groundswell of interest - so much so that we even received a slight increase in traffic...and increased comments. This week, we'll see how one of these comments provided a wealth of really good lessons for Chicago-area non-profits, social change agents, and other mission-driven organizations.
(We're placing a nice gallery of screenshots below that you can review, since this is going to be quite a lengthy post)
So after posting last week, I received an interesting comment...mostly because it directed me to an agency that encouraged me to "buy" Twitter followers. (Don't worry - the comments have since been removed, but not before I took a screen capture , thanks to my Ubuntu-powered toughbook).
But I was curious - after all, what was this company promising me? I don't believe in purchasing Twitter followers - it's like populating a theater with mannequins before you put on Shakespeare. Sure, the audience won't boo at your Richard III....but they won't exactly cheer, either.
So I did a bit of Google magic, and did some digging, and....well, here's what I found:
- Their web site contains a lot of self-congratulatory text, but quite honestly, there's no really strong case studies. Even their "reviews" are from user names who focus more on the results than, say, what those results brought. (Did greater users mean greater reach? Greater sales? )
- Their fine print and disclaimers were hard to find....and just a hint: putting gray text on white is never a good idea. (03/30/2014 Edit - Since the owners of the site had expressed concerns about the accuracy of this post, I am removing their name from this post. But I stand behind the accuracy of my statement)
- For a company that brags about how their "proprietary technology" will increase your followers....and expects you to purchase their services, without understanding the strategic or tactical side of social media.
- Oh, and the commenter who started this? She returned and made disparagign comments about our online status...as if social media were simply a numbers game. As of 3/31/2014, I'm removing any and all reference to them, since my criticism has unduly affected their search optimization efforts....and quite simply, social media professionals need to hold themselves to a higher standard of behavior. So in that spirit, I'm focusing on principles over personalities.
What's my point, you may ask? Too often, non-profit marketing consultants emphasize the fact that 1) they are wonderful and know social media, and 2) they believe non-profits should use social media to "build awareness".
That's only part of the puzzle: non-profits should be using social media to foster an aware, engaged audience of advocates. It means doing some of the difficult work of investing time and effort - providing insights into their operation, thinking through how their mission impacts the general public, and not falling into the "gee, whiz" mode of believing social media is a cure all and end all.
Want an example: let me give you two - Chicago Red Cross and PAWS Chicago. They provide great lessons in how non-profits engage via social media. They rarely engage in the kind of (in this blogger's opinion) falsely leading tactics of buying and selling followers as a shortcut to social media "popularity".
And neither one will leave you slizzered.
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As always, thanks for reading!