[Book Interview] Nonprofit Example of Social Media Excellence: The Nature Conservancy
Organization Size: +1 million members, +3800 staff
Name: Amy Ganderson
Title: Associate Director, Digital Marketing
1. What was the very first social media tool your organization utilized, and when?
My guess would be either MySpace, YouTube, or Facebook Causes. I know our YouTube channel started in 2007.
2. What social media tools are you currently utilizing? Which tool has been surprisingly useful in getting out the word about your organization and its programs? The least?
We’re using all of the main social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, etc. For tools specifically, we use CoTweet to manage our Twitter communications and MBuzz for monitoring our social media mentions. Facebook and Flickr have been two of the most useful social media sites. We use Flickr to collect all of the photos for our annual nature photo competition. On Facebook, we’ve had some great success with Facebook Causes generating donations and our Facebook Fan Page driving traffic to our stories on nature.org. I would say MySpace has dropped off the most for us.
3. Who maintains your social media campaigns? Are they paid, full-time, part-time?
We have a decentralized team of 10+ staff contributing stories to our social media channels. They are representatives across the organization who have an interest in social media and can use the medium to help promote their own department’s stories. I manage the general strategy and help cultivate ideas from our social media team. We’re all paid-employees, but we none of us do social media full-time.
For my role, social media is only about 30% of my job – I manage our paid online advertising strategy, SEO, and web analytics strategy in addition to social media. I should say I did recently hire a social media volunteer who helps me on a part-time basis. I’m a big believer in getting volunteers and interns to help be part of this growing space.
4. Are you tracking Return on Investment (ROI), and how? Please summarize your ROI.
We track ROI by looking at a couple of different factors – first we see how much revenue is generated from sites like Facebook Causes, Crowdrise, Social Vibe, etc. Secondly, we look at the traffic driven from these channels and if they trigger a conversion event on our site. We’re actually going through a new web analytics implementation right now – so starting in the spring our data is going to be a lot easier to interpret and report out. The last thing we do is measure our market share in the social media space. We compare ourselves to our peer organizations and see who’s being mentioned more often and where.
5. Of all the mass communications tools your organization is using (website e-newsletters, social networking sites, mobile), which is resulting in the most online dollars being raised (directly or indirectly)?
Direct mail and e-newsletters are still the leaders. Social networking sites and mobile are on the rise, but we can’t forget our traditional marketing methods bringing in the majority of the revenue.
6. Did you experience resistance from higher ups in the organization initially utilizing about social media, or were they supportive?
When I came on board a couple of years ago, I think people still didn’t understand what social media was. Now that it’s so popular, there’s definitely interest from the higher ups. They’ve been very supportive of our strategy and engaging staff across the org. I think having our decentralized structure creates an army of social media ambassadors that encourages buy-in at all levels.
7. What the best piece of advice you could offer nonprofits about social media, and online communications in general?
I know resources are always a struggle. My advice would be to ask around – see who’s already interested in social media in their personal life. Then, invite those people to help you with social media. Some of our best ideas came from people on our social media team.
8. Are you currently investing resources in mobile marketing i.e, a mobile website, texting, mobile Apps, text-to-give, etc.?
Yes, we definitely are. We have a small mobile site at m.nature.org and we’ve done a couple of text-to-give campaigns. We’re working on building out our mobile strategy even bigger next year.
9. What do you think are the most important skills necessary in a social media practitioner?
I think you need to enjoy networking. That’s really what social media is all about – forming relationships.
10. What is on your To Do List for 2011?
We’re launching a new content management system, site design, and web analytics tool – all at the same time! We’re really excited about it, so definitely check out our new nature.org site this spring. The other two big to-do items are mobile and going global.
11. Anything else?
I’d love for people to check out our last social media campaign called Green Gift Monday. With all of the crazy consumerism of the holidays, we tried to bring awareness to responsible and meaningful gifting – like giving to charities. It was a really fun idea to work with, since we were promoting other people’s causes instead of just promoting our own marketing efforts. We had 67+ partners participate in this effort, which was fantastic for our first year out. We’re collecting feedback for next year, so please tell me what you think at email@example.com or @amyganderson.