Nora Ganim Barnes and The Center for Marketing Research at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth recently conducted an in-depth study on the usage of social media by the top charities and nonprofit organizations in the United States. The study was conducted using the 2013 Philanthropy 400 list.
They found that 98% of the charities studied are using at least one form of social media. Most use several. Eighty-one percent link their social media to their homepages, providing immediate access to all their outlets. For these successful nonprofits, YouTube, web video and video blogs are the tools of choice for communicating with their constituencies with 97% using some type of video to help inspire their audience. Facebook enjoys popularity with 92% using it and Twitter is used by 86% of the charities studied. While these three platforms have strong usage across many sectors, it is interesting that nearly 3 in 4 of these nonprofits have boards on Pinterest and half are posting on Instagram.
In contrast, studies on social media in the business sector (Inc. 500 and Fortune 500) show much lower levels of usage of these particular tools even though their usage is increasing dramatically each year.
A common measure of effectiveness on Facebook is the number of Facebook Fans an organization has. National Public Radio enjoys over 3.6 million fans on Facebook, over a million more than the second place US Olympic Committee. The Humane Society, St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, the Wounded Warrior Project the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the others listed below, all enjoy over a million fans on Facebook.
A new metric was added to Facebook in October, 2012. “People Talking About This” is the number of unique users who have created a “story” about a page in a seven-day period. On Facebook, stories are items that display in News Feeds. People Talking About This is an important metric because it emphasizes interactions beyond an initial Facebook Like. Pages that create posts that fans enjoy will benefit. When people interact with pages in ways that generate stories, pages reach an audience beyond their existing fan base. Again, National Public Radio leads the way with over 500,000 engaging with the organization on Facebook.
I recently saw that three of the six most wealthiest men made most of their money through Facebook, Larry Page of Google tops that list. I hope these four men are putting some of their fortunes into these charities.
Twitter followers provide an important metric both internally and externally. Of the organizations studied, the Metropolitan Opera Association and the Wounded Warrior Project have the most followers, both with over 96,000. Charities and nonprofits were asked about all the different ways they provide content to their constituencies. Eighty-nine percent of those studied write their own original content for their platforms. Nearly half report gathering it from other sites. Sixteen percent purchase content for their platforms.
Thanks to Nora Ganim Barnes and The Center for Marketing Research for providing more useful insights on the use of social media.