Top 5 Lessons Learned in 2009: Social Media | npENGAGE

Top 5 Lessons Learned in 2009: Social Media

By on Jan 14, 2010


Guest post by: Emma Zolbrod, Marketing Consultant



Reading the news in early January, I came across a few “Top 5” and “Top 10” lists for a variety of topics tied to 2009. These individual snapshots of what transpired over the past twelve months along with the Convio Resolutions Guide got my wheels turning. Would it be possible to sift through a year’s worth of engagements as an independent marketing consultant and boil down the lessons I learned in 2009 into a series of “Top 5” lists? Well, I decided to give it my best shot, starting with social media.


Top 5 Lessons Learned in 2009: Social Media



  1. It’s growing … fast. And there aren’t any signs that it’s slowing down in the near future. So, there’s no time like the present for nonprofits to start dabbling in the world of social media, ideally with some sort of idea about what you want to accomplish and how you’re going to make it happen.
  2. Everybody’s doing it. I have to admit that I was a bit surprised to receive a friend request from my mother-in-law, especially since she doesn’t even own a computer. I just chalked it up to being a sign of the times.  And then I was friended by my 13-year old niece. There’s quite the age gap between these two individuals, but I guess that’s what’s so great about the Internet: it’s accessible to people of all ages. Social media just brings everyone a little bit closer to each other. For nonprofits, it means just that, as well as getting a better glimpse into the personal lives of supporters.
  3. Brush teeth. Comb hair. Tweet. Yes, it’s that natural for Generation Y. Social media is a part of their everyday life. It’s clearly one of the best channels that a nonprofit can use to reach this demographic. They live, eat, and breathe social media in its various forms – from Facebook and MySpace to Twitter and YouTube. Telemarketing? Forget it. (By the way, landlines are apparently a thing of the past.) So, if you want to connect with the folks of this generation, then you’ll need to meet them where they are.
  4. Don’t underestimate the power of influencers. Just like in the offline world, the online world is full of influencers. And when it comes to Generation Y, these individuals have a significant impact on the masses. What’s cool these days? An influencer will let their friends know through something as subtle as a status update or a logo in their profile picture. And she’ll tell two friends, and they’ll tell two friends … you get the idea. Now figure out how to make it work to your nonprofit’s advantage.
  5. If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. Life is different in the world of social media. In a recent conversation with James Young, Senior Product Strategy Manager at Convio, I was reminded of the fact that these social networks have been around longer than I thought. If you’re a nonprofit arriving late in the game, it’s important to be smart about your strategy for reaching potential supporters. In most cases, there’s little point trying to start from scratch if somebody else is out there doing something for your organization already. This is probably the most difficult lesson to digest because old habits die hard.


I’m sure many of you learned other lessons in social media in 2009. So, please share them so that we can learn from each other and figure out this wacky thing called the “information super highway”. (Psst … I hear it’s going to be the next big thing!)


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