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Wednesday Aug 24

Spreading the Good Word

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Written by Galia Myron Wednesday, 27 February 2013 02:02

Nonprofits benefit from using all kinds of social media channels.

Budget-conscious nonprofits are using social media to bring awareness and contributions to their causes, with some channels proving more beneficial than others. The past year has seen an increase in nonprofit usage of social media, with about 60 percent of charitable organizations stating that they have increased their time networking when compared to last year, says eMarketer. About one-quarter of nonprofits report spending about the same amount of time on social media as they did the previous year, and only four percent say that they spent less time on it this year.


How much time do non-profits devote to social networking sites? Nearly two out of six report spending six hours or more a week on social media channels, with three-quarters of organizations using Twitter. In fact, nearly one in five organizations (19.5 percent) post several times a day on Twitter versus just over one in ten who post multiple times per day on Facebook (13.8 percent).


While Twitter is popular with nonprofits, Facebook and other outlets have shown to be as or even more beneficial to some organizations, depending on the cause.


For national animal advocacy nonprofit Farm Sanctuary, the immediacy and visual appeal of Facebook make it the most effective social media tool for the cause. Video clips and photos of rescued, safe, and happy pigs, turkeys, lambs, cows, goats, and other animals have touched thousands of people’s hearts through Facebook.


Lacking the budget for expensive social media tracking tools, Farm Sanctuary uses a grassroots approach to spreading the word.


“Our visuals are the most powerful thing that we can share,” says Krysta Vollbrecht, online communications manager at Farm Sanctuary. “What we try to do is introduce people to farm animals in a way that they have never seen before. We show them how gorgeous, happy and healthy they are playing, with the sunset behind them. They see videos of animals feeling safe and happy.”


Farm Sanctuary’s 91,000-plus Facebook followers, whose numbers increased by 35,000 last year, are treated to photos and videos of rescued piglets playing in the snow, and meet turkeys with all different kinds of personalities—“they really do have their own unique personalities,” Vollbrecht says—as well as other positive animal images.


Current Internet sensations are the happy leaping lambs Elizabeth and Zuri, whose fame has moved beyond Facebook onto sites like cuteoverload.com.  


Online pinboard Pinterest is also a fun and effective tool for the animal rescue and advocacy group. While “it is not as timely, as current” as Facebook, Vollbrecht says, it is “great for sharing visuals, and we share photos of delicious vegan food and recipes there. There are whole boards devoted to vegan foods, and we focus on plant-based diets and other positive stuff” on Pinterest.


Other kinds of nonprofits also benefit from utilizing a range of social media tools. Jewish women's educational organization Midreshet Devora finds LinkedIn and Facebook useful in its goals to reach young women who may want to study about and in Israel. 


“I find it important to post on [those channels] because I am able to reach out to a larger pool of people,” says Sharona Margolin Halickman, the program’s director.


“Once I make contacts on LinkedIn, I send private messages to people across the world to inform them about our program,” she adds. “Without the help of social media, I would not be able to reach such a wide spectrum of people.”


Vollbrecht agrees that social media allows for reaching a broader scope of people than ever before.


“We find a community of people who care about farm animals and we chat with other nonprofits like the Humane Society, which has a division that focuses on farm animals,” she states. “You form this community of like-minded people with shared goals in a way that you can’t with emails.”


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