Book Review: Social Media for Social Good: A How-to Guide for Non-profits

Social Media for Social Good: A How-to Guide for Non-profits
Heather Mansfield – 2012

Heather Mansfield has worked in the non-profit sector for over 15 years. Her first fundraising campaign used a Yahoo! email account via internet cafes in Guatemala back in 1997. Since then she has become one of the leading experts on non profit organisations can use social media to advance their online communications and development strategies banks refusing loans. She is the creator on www.nonprofitorgsblog.org and has presented more than 500 social media webinars and training to nonprofits worldwide accounting management.

Her book Social Media for Social Good is in my opinion the ‘social media bible’ for any nonprofit organisation. The book is a clear, well organised, step-by-step ‘how to guide’ to creating a social media strategy from scratch. It also gives indications of how much time and money organisations should be spending on each activity. In reality this is very hard to predict due to many variables, however it is often good to have a ballpark figure to start planning your budget with online tools to run business or your personal finances.

The book is neatly divided into 3 areas:
– Web 1.0. – broadcasting from one to many – websites / e-newsletters etc
– Web 2.0. – social web – evolution from broadcasting to supporters to engaging with them – social networking sites / blogging etc
– Web 3.0. – mobile web – group text messaging / responsive websites / apps and so on

Mansfield explains that although the social media tools are free, to manage them isn’t. To manage social media properly it takes a lot of time and creativity. Nonprofit organisations are realising this more and more. I love this quote from the book “Interns and volunteers are wonderful assistants, but if they are untrained, most often they do not have the experience to use these tools effectively.” It reminds me of a great video on Social Media Interns and ROI by Social Media Marketing Guru – Erik Qualman.

Going back to the book, it has a good section on ROI. Mansfield says that the ROI of using social and mobile media is directly linked to your website, e-newsletter database and the quality of your content. She believes that 5,000 followers is the magic number for social networks to be effective and give a good return on investment.

The book offers some sensible advice on building a website or ‘5 must have characteristics of a non-profit website’. These are:

1. Easy to use CMS. So obvious but so important! If your editors find updating difficult they are unlikely to post information updates as regularly.
2. Good writing – again this seems obvious but is so true. It is fundamental that your web editors have excellent spelling and grammar skills. They also need to know how to write copy for a web audience.
3. Well designed graphics and photos. I’ve said this time and time again. Please don’t skimp on your photography budget. A good photo can say a thousand words.
4. Simple, consistent navigation. Information architecture is key to a successful website. There’s a great book on web usability called ‘Don’t Make me Think’ by Steve Krug. I thoroughly recommend it.
5 Purchase a dot.org web address.

What I like about this book is it also gives some good examples of websites and campaigns that Mansfield thinks is important.

The book goes on to give sound advice on Web 2.0 and ‘Web 3.0.’ as Mansfield calls it. She offers some great tips for beginners such as ‘be consistent when reserving vanity URLs’. She also offers advice for advanced users of social media too. The book even gives 11 qualities of an effective social media manager.

My final quote from the book is on mobile marketing.

“The Mobile Web is full of promise and potential for social good. It will connect communities worldwide in ways that the nonprofit sector has never experienced or even imagined. In the past, nonprofits in developing nations and the communities they serve have been hindered by the cost of desktop computers and Internet access; they often have not has the infrastructure in place or the financial capacity to utlilise the Internet on a regular basis. The revolution in mobile technology in the developing world is changing forever.” I’ll write lots more about the potential of mobile in future posts!

I wish I’d had this book the first time I wrote a social media strategy. Although it’s aimed at the nonprofit sector, many people can make use of the excellent advice given. An excellent toolkit for anyone interested in social media for social good.

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