Carie Lewis from the Humane Society of the U.S. left a very valuable comment on our interview post. She shares some good tips to convert folks from just passive members of your group on MySpace or Facebook to active advocates or givers.
When something big hits, like the Michael Vick case for instance, I'll go immediately to MySpace and blog about it, because that's where our biggest network is. I use a very casual tone, because I've seen that our MySpace friends are very passionate, very driven, and very VOCAL. There's a huge age span but one thing's for sure... they love their animals. There's a lot of profanity and harsh statements, some that I can't even post. So I'll start the blog off by saying something to get people riled up, maybe throw a bit of sarcasm in there, and then go into what they can do to help.
Then, I go to Facebook. I can't just copy and paste my MySpace blog into Facebook - as much as I would like to in the interest of time. My Facebook readers are different. They are more calm and cool, most in the 20 something crowd, most went to college. Now this is not to say that they are any smarter or even more sophisticated. But many Facebookers use the site to stay in contact with college friends or coworkers. Before the addition of Facebook Causes, I didn't see much activism on the site. Most of the groups I visited were dormant or just for fun. And since orgs can't have individual profiles, there was a roadblock. Getting started on Facebook was a challenge. You have to fit in somewhere amongst all the connections between friends. So, I speak to my Facebookers very simply. Here's what you can do and here's why. Very organized and straight to the point, like Facebook! And now, with Facebook causes, there’s a sense of social recognition when your achievements are displayed on your profile. Brilliant!
So THEN I head over to Care2, which is a network for activists. They are hardcore, highly engaged, and there for a reason: to create change and make the world a better place. They want to know what they can do to make a difference. So I usually post a quick intro with a direct link to the advocacy campaign. No sugar coating, no back stories – these people already know what’s going on for the most part. They are on it!
And finally, I go onto Gather. Gather is a community geared towards a more “grown up” crowd. I don’t even post all of our news or issues in this community. Most of the posts I put on there are related to issues in the media or pets. The harder issues just don’t appeal to them. I use a more sophisticated, less casual tone. I provide a background and have to be very careful in incorporating the advocacy aspect into it, to make sure it flows well. Gatherers are there to discuss their opinions and share their thoughts with others… not so much to take action on the latest issue.
At first, it was a trial and error for all of these networks. I posted the same thing on every one of the networks. I monitored what kind of responses I got, as well as the tone of communication. Then I modified my messaging based on the responses I received. This is how I became familiar with the different crowds and learned how to speak to them separately. I had a lot of individual conversations back and forth with friends and group members. I came to understand what they were there for.
Just keep in mind that there are some things to keep consistent across ALL networks… it’s all about two way communication, having a conversational tone, and keeping things short and sweet. Use bulleted lists, provide direct links to advos (reduce the number of clicks as much as possible!) and embed items whenever possible (videos, widgets, slideshows, etc.)
Grab people’s attention by speaking to them in the right way and keeping your content fresh…. and you’ll keep them engaged!
To read more great tips, check out the interview.
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For an example of how simple web tools and social networking sites can be used to raise awareness of a nonprofit's cause, LOLseals is worth a close look. It's a new photo caption contest from the Humane Society of the United States, blending pop culture