Your institution has recognition societies, clubs, and circles based on giving levels. You may even have a recognition group based on consecutive year giving. You probably have an annual event or two that recognizes and thanks your donors based on these groups.
You also have a strong sense that the “new world order” of communication (i.e., social media, primarily facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc.) can be a powerful tool in your work as an advancement leader. And, if you are like many advancement leaders, you are not sure exactly how to use social media to its fullest potential.
For most institutions, social media is utilized simply as another vehicle to distribute press releases. You know how this works. You post institutional stories online – perhaps on your website – and you share them with your facebook friends and Twitter followers. And next week you do the same thing.
But let’s think about this for a bit. Isn’t the power of social media about engagement? Isn’t the beauty of social media that people can interact by posting comments and sharing comments? I mean, isn’t the whole purpose of this new communication reality to be social? The question, then, it seems to me, becomes, “how can we encourage more socializing online?
Here’s a thought: What if, in addition to our societies, clubs, circles, and other groups designed to recognize donors of various sorts, we also established “Engagement Societies.” These groups would encourage, recognize, and thank those individuals who, through various social media vehicles shared, re-Tweeted, commented on, etc., items about our institutions? In other words, what if we encouraged and recognized the most prolific of our institution’s social media champions in ways that are similar to how we recognize our donors? What if we thanked them formally as an institution?
Financial gifts, more often than not, follow donor engagement. Donor engagement happens when someone is asked by someone they know and trust to get involved. By helping our institution’s marketing and communications effort by personalizing and endorsing our messages, our social media engagement champions have the potential to impact our institutions’ reputation as well as our giving totals.
One way to start using social media tools more smartly is to recognize and thank those who are using those tools to our benefit.