As an Internet marketing and public relations consultant, I use technology every day, commonly referred to as Web 2.0. However, it seems before I integrate one piece of technology into a campaign, another new technology has sprung up.
While viral marketing can be exciting and extremely beneficial to any business or organization, it can also be overwhelming. Between blogging, linking, networking, Digging, YouTubing, Flickring and Tweeting... well, you get my point.
As new technology is introduced and social-media sites expand their cyber nets, how can a nonprofit organization with limited people power keep pace?
You may have a website, a video on YouTube or a MySpace page, but what is it really doing for your organization?
> Is it helping your organization spread the word about your mission?
> Is it reinforcing the right image?
> Is it communicating to the right audience?
> Are you reaching new clients, donors and volunteers?
> Are you attracting high-quality staff?
These are just a few of the questions you need to ask if you are going to utilize the Internet effectively for your organization.
For nonprofits operating on a shoestring, here are a few tips to get you started:
See the Internet as your best friend. The Internet is truly nonprofit-friendly because much of it is free. However, like any relationship, you're going to have to invest some time understanding what's going on in that cyber head called Web 2.0. This is where a consultant can be extremely valuable - helping you identify the best practices you can utilize to achieve measurable results through your Internet marketing efforts.
Design an Internet marketing campaign based on building a community. This is where the Internet gets exciting, allowing you to connect with like-minded people and expand your reach with relatively low cost. Think about the people you want to attract to your organization. Then look at each piece of Web 2.0 technology as the building blocks of your community. Businesses, nonprofits and individuals use the Internet and social media in different ways and for different purposes. The ones that are most successful are using it effectively by creating exciting communities that others want to be part of.
Image is still King. In spite of the fact that we're working for cause-driven organizations, when it comes to the Internet, what a person sees or reads will either compel them or repel them within seconds. Make sure your message is engaging, your content is fresh, your images are strong, and always include a call to action. First impressions are very important.
Remember, everything you publish on the Internet is a reflection of your organization and an indicator of your level of commitment to your own cause.
Web 2.0 technologies are some of the most effective tools you can utilize to create a nonprofit identity on the Internet and beyond.