How are various departments within colleges and universities (both small and large) using social media to:
- increase admissions
- improve student retention
- activate and engage the student body
- engage alumni and solicit donors, and
- brand and increase awareness for specific schools/programs independent of the college's overall brand.
Tweetsgiving is a social media charity drive that mobilizes the Twitter community to Tweet their gratitude and fundraise for a specific social causes in a 48-hour time period. The following case study highlights a successful social media fundraising strategy that resulted in close to $11,000 raised in 48 hours to build a classroom in Tanzania.
Last week, I had the honor of being invited by the Associate Dean of the University of Miami’s School of Education to present a lesson before a Master’s Degree level Non-profit Management course for those either work within the non-profit sector, currently run an organization, or have an interest in starting a non-profit. Being the social media strategist that I am, I dived right into the presentation discussing advanced level strategies for how to convert followers on social media into ambassadors, brand evangelists, and ultimately, supporters. It was not until I was asked by one of the students to start from the very beginning about what Twitter was and how to use it that it dawned on me that there is a major disconnect between social media and non-profit organizations. Obviously, it’s advantageous for non-profits to maximize their communications platform by using social media as an engagement, outreach, and donor cultivation tool. However, I find that the majority of non-profits still lack the understanding of how to use social media to capture and engage audiences.
The breaking news of Osama Bin Laden's death proved the massive power of social media. Before President Obama could formally announce the death of Bin Laden, records were already being broken with 3,000 Tweets per second, which totaled to 12.4 Million Tweets per hour or 27.9 Million Tweets in just 2 hours according to @Mashable. In fact, the first Tweet to break the news of Bin Laden's death was “I am told by a reputable person they have killed Osama bin Laden. Hot damn," Tweeted by Keith Urbahn (@keithurbahn), Chief of Staff for the Office of Donald Rumsfeld and Navy Reserve intel officer.
It seemed to have come from nowhere as if that infamous @Krispy Kreme "Hot Now" light came on. All of a sudden the Twitter universe lit up with talks about it, and if you weren't expecting it, I guarantee you were left wondering Who? What? When? Where? and How? Like a cult following, the Miami Food Trucks trend is like the guilty pleasure of "Keeping Up With the Kardashians" when you know you should be keeping up with your New Year's resolution of "Eat Right, Live Right, & Workout". But just like "Keeping Up With the Kardashians" you just want more. The Miami Food Trucks have rallied up Food TweetUps where dozens, if not more, Food Trucks meet up at designated locations and droves of cult followers convene for the juiciest burger, mamacita's best Cuban dish, and a taste of the Caribbean. And we're not talking about the old style food carts that you were too afraid to eat from. These food trucks are gourmet and outfitted to compete with any brick and morter restaurant.
Twitter, so big and so influential, yet so intimidating for many non-profit organizations. So instead, non-profits choose to stay out of the world of hashtags and 140 character limits and instead choose to continue using the same traditional marketing channels to fight for awareness and donor engagement in the oh so competitive non-profit space. As Rosetta Thurman of the Young Non-profit Professionals Network puts it, "A lot of nonprofit folks are still skeptical about why they should be on Twitter." So of course, we were quite happy to read her tips for using Twitter to effectively build, create, and expand a non-profit's network.