Don’t Use Social Media Just Because You Think You Should


Photo by Jason Howie

On September 3, 2014, the latest CMO survey was published. The first slide got a lot of buzz in the social media world because, not to be too blunt, but it was about social media.

According to the survey, CMOs currently are investing about 9% of their marketing resources into social media marketing. That number is expected to increase by 12% over the next five years, meaning that by 2019 companies may be investing 21% of their marketing budgets into social media.

There is just one problem. Only 15% of the CMOs who participated in the survey said they could accurately measure the impact of their social media marketing. This begs a very important question: if CMOs can’t measure how effective their social media marketing is, why would they continue to not only invest heavily in social media, but also increase their dependence on social media?

As a nonprofit organization, you know how much pressure there is to be present on social media platforms. This is a truth for the nonprofit and for-profit business worlds. There is a feeling that your competition is there and so you must be there. There is a feeling that your potential donors are using social media so you need to reach them where they are. You’ve seen the stats indicating that Facebook has enough members to now rank as one of the five largest countries in the world, right? Surely some of your existing and potential donors are among them.

The problem is that companies and organizations too often invest time and effort (and money) into social media marketing based on a feeling rather than basing those tactics on actual research. This also ties into jumping into social media marketing without a plan, without clear objectives, and without an idea as to how to measure what is being put forth. Nonprofits and companies both feel a lot of pressure to be on every possible platform and to devote time on each platform to engage with their communities and post compelling content.

The reality for your organization may be that there is not actually a social media platform that would be ideal for your message at all. Perhaps your donors like Instagram best but you are devoting most of your attention to Twitter. If you are missing the boat, it is not surprising that you are not able to see what impact your marketing is having on your community. Your community may not even realize you are online if you are not building a presence based on where they are.

You do not want your organization to fall into the category of investing valuable time and money into your social media marketing and then having no idea if you are furthering your cause. As an NPO especially, you want to make sure that you are promoting your cause in the best way possible not just for your own organization but also to make sure you are accomplishing your overall mission of helping whomever you are striving to help. Even though you can be very eager to jump into social media marketing right away, take a breath and take the time to do some research and planning on the front end. Know what you want to accomplish, how you can accomplish that goal, and how you will measure your success.