Get Social to Create Awareness for Your Nonprofit
Last evening I attended a panel, hosted by The Bay Citizen and The Booksmith, about the foodie culture in the San Francisco Bay Area – and beyond. Inevitably, the conversation turned towards the transformative impact social media has had on the foodie movement. With just a simple tweet, hundreds of people can instantly learn where the crème brûlée cart will be within the next hour. Suddenly, everyone is potentially part of the elite, “in-the-know” people. Anyone can access the most unique gourmet experiences, without having to be a celebrity, bribe a maître’d or call the French Laundry reservations line over and over and over again — to no avail. Social technology has resulted in the democratization of food.
How great that the people have their power. And that’s not all. Of course, this evening’s panel discussion got me thinking again about the way technology is democratizing both for-profit and nonprofit business. Just as social media has turned into an amazing playground for foodies, so can it become a playground for a wide range of consumers. Your consumers. For years, marketing and fundraising professionals have chanted the ‘content is king’ mantra. It’s still true. However, there’s been a big shift.
Today the best content is sourced from the wisdom of the crowd. People play a huge role both in reading and disseminating information, and in sharing and creating content in which others can actively participate. It is the shift from a broadcast mechanism to a many-to-many information exchange model, rooted in a conversational format between authors and people.
For better or worse we’ve entered a user-generated content economy. It’s up to us to seize the opportunity and make the most of it. At the foodie panel this evening, the chefs with the brick and mortar, traditional restaurant establishments did not bemoan their loss of supremacy. They embraced the underground pop-up and food truck culture. Why? Because, on the whole, it means more people are aware of and engaged with food and all of the issues around food that affect people and our planet – sustainability, organic, green, feeding the hungry and health. This is good for everyone. A rising tide raises all boats.
Still, one of the things the panel wondered about was where all this underground food culture might ultimately end up? Was it sustainable? Would there get to be a tipping point where food trucks lined every street and it just became a bit too much? This reminded me of the Occupy movement structure. Social media may not be able to create a sustainable infrastructure standing alone, but… there’s no denying the fact that it’s great for spreading the word.
So, for those of you who love your business infrastructure and don’t want to give it up for social media… you don’t have to throw the baby out with the bath water. Simply integrate your existing structure with this amazingly powerful, democratizing medium.
Wouldn’t it be great to get more people aware of and engaged with what we do; then get them to help us make an impact that repairs the world? Food trucks don’t wait around for people to come to them. They go after them. So should we.
Have you found social media to be helpful to achieving your business goals, or are you still finding it to be competing for resources you’d rather invest in your bricks, mortar and human resources? How have you been able to find a balance? What are you doing to turn customers into cult-like fans?