As the Web goes mobile, so does social media… and so should your nonprofit. If there is one thing I have learned over ten years of using the Internet for fundraising and social change, those nonprofits that can embrace change quickly, empower their visionaries, and adopt new Web trends, reap the benefits of being early adopters.
The Web and how people use it is transforming quickly. There are more than 65 million active users currently accessing Facebook through their mobile devices and that number grows daily. MySpace estimates that 50% of its Website traffic will be mobile within 24 months. In 2008, over two trillion text messages were sent worldwide. 1 trillion of those were sent by U.S. mobile subscribers… triple the number of how many text messages were sent in 2007. Many of those texts are being sent via Tweets on Twitter and Status Updates on Facebook.
Social Media is definitely going mobile, and I have listed below three mobile strategies that your nonprofit can start experimenting with and considering for 2010:
1) Text-messaging for advocacy and fundraising: Services like Mobile Commmons and mGive offer mass text-messaging and Text-to-Give services for nonprofits. The tool set is amazing and they get good reviews, but most small to medium sized nonprofits can’t afford their services. MobileCause offers a similar tool set and is a little less expensive, but for those who can not afford hundreds of dollars a month, some relatively inexpensive alternatives are TextMarks, EzTexting, and Frontline SMS. One thing to keep in mind is that most new services when first launched are expensive, but go down in price significantly over time as new vendors flood the market.
My guess is that 2010 will be the year when many nonprofits will be able to starting utilizing these new, powerful mobile tools at a much lower cost. Just keep in mind that it takes time to build your build your mobile list, so even if you don’t launch a campaign until 2010, you might want consider adding a “Mobile” field to your year-end promotional materials.
2) Mobile Websites: When I said social media is going mobile, I meant literally. All the major social media sites have mobile versions of their Websites: m.twitter.com, m.facebook.com, m.youtube.com, m.myspace.com, m.flickr.com, m.linkedin.com, etc. How about your nonprofit? Do you have a mobile Website? Have you considered how your current Website looks on a mobile phone?
Two organizations that have been early adopters and pioneers in their use of social media are the National Wildlife Federation and the World Wildlife Fund. Now they are leading the way in mobile technology. See www.nwf.mobi and www.wwf.mobi. Using a service like Instant Mobilizer and mobiSiteGallore allow to you build a decent mobile Website in a matter of minutes, but with a little technical and HTML know-how you can custom build a mobile Website for your organization pretty easily. If you are going to design your own mobile Website, make sure you check out the article Mobile Web Design Trends For 2009.
3) Nonprofits as Real-time Reporters via Social Media and Mobile Devices: This is a dramatic shift in Web communications. Rather than reporting highlights from your Annual Gala Dinner in your print newsletter two months after it is over, or in an e-mail newsletter just a few days after the event, smartphones and social media Apps now allow nonprofits to report live from the event in real-time.
Whether your updating your Twitter account with Tweetie, recording a video with your iPhone and uploading it to your YouTube channel within minutes, or posting a Status Update to your organization’s Facebook Page, the news cycle has changed forever. So, nonprofits need to be thinking about reporting live from fundraisers, conferences, protests, etc. To do this, you need to make sure that your key communications staff are empowered with a smartphone, such as an iPhone, BlackBerry, or PalmPre. There is a good reason Time Magazine named the iPhone the Invention of the Year in 2007 and that 87% of smartphone consumers in the United States chose the iPhone. Perhaps an iPhone or two is something your organization should write into next year’s budget?
In my Webinar on How Nonprofit Organizations Can Successfully Utilize Mobile Technology and Social Media, I demonstrate live and in real-time each of the vendors listed above, as well as numerous mobile tools and best practices for texting, mobile Websites, and how to use social media on the go. Please also see my new Mobile Best Practices for Nonprofit Organizations which is updated monthly, and the Mobile Technology for Nonprofit Organizations LinkedIn Group and MobileActive.org for additional resources and tools for nonprofits who want to go mobile. I am also experimenting with running a TextMark… you can subscribe at www.textmark.com/NONPROFITORGS.