In the weeks after Google+ launched I saw a number of blog posts and articles about how brands should drop Facebook and Twitter, and migrate their communities over to Google+. My guess is that many of those bloggers and journalists have reconsidered now that the initial buzz and euphoria about Google+ has subsided (especially considering that the Google+ brand profiles haven’t even launched yet). That said, the idea brings up a very important point. Nonprofits should diversify their brand online for a number of reasons, but below are three important ones to consider:
1) There’s no one-size-fits-all Internet anymore.
Unlike 10 years ago, when Web communication was limited to websites and email, today nonprofits also have access to blogs, social networks, video and photo-sharing sites, texting, and smartphone and tablet apps – and which tools your supporters use to access your nonprofit online is often directly related to their age and sometimes class and race. Young, tech-savvy millenials text often and increasing prefer social networks and using tablets. Gen X is big on blogging, e-mail, and social networking. Donors over 40 appreciate a strong website and an e-newsletter. College-educated professionals use LinkedIn regularly. Many low-income communities access the Mobile Web more frequently than the desktop Web. And for all those that do use social networking sites, it is important to remember that 87% of America does not use Twitter and just a little less than half of Americans do not have Facebook profiles. The point is that there is no one-size-fits-all Internet anymore. To access everyone across all demographics, your nonprofit must utilize many different tools. The trick is to integrate the tools and their respective campaigns into one comprehensive Web communications and online fundraising strategy.
2) To tap into the power of synergy.
On Wikipedia synergy is defined as two or more things functioning together to produce a result not independently obtainable. That definition rings true (very loudly) when utilizing social media successfully. Using Facebook in isolation from your nonprofit’s other Web campaigns simply does not produce results. Nor does Twitter. Or blogging. Or e-newsletters. But when these tools are used together – to compliment one another – a synergy begins to happen. Your Facebook Fanbase begins to grow faster. Tweets get retweeted more often. Your blog traffic increases. Your e-newsletter list gets larger, and consequently, so does your online donorbase. Again, the most successful nonprofits online today understand the power of integrated communications and utilize and integrate as many tools as resources allow.
3) To keep for-profit companies competitive and accountable.
Google is largest search engine in the world. They also own Gmail, Android, Blogger, Picassa, and YouTube (just to name a few). When the new Google+ brand pages do go live this fall, the company is very well positioned to dominate the Internet for years to come. Some nonprofits will be tempted to drop many tools such as WordPress, Twitter, and Flickr to consolidate their efforts under one platform, the Google platform. Personally, I just don’t think that is a good idea for your nonprofit’s brand long-term or for the Internet in general. The more these companies compete with each other, the better the tools they create for us. We got to keep them on their toes, innovating – and the best way to do that is to diversify your nonprofit’s brand across many online platforms.