Following is an interview I conducted with Danielle Brigida of the National Wildlife Federation. She has been mentioned several times on Beth Kanter’s blog about her use of social media to increase traffic to NWF’s site.

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How The National Wildlife Federation Uses Social MediaWhat was the business reason for the National Wildlife Federation getting involved with social media?

How The National Wildlife Federation Uses Social MediaWhen I initially started signing NWF up for social media sites, I was looking to increase our activist numbers and rally people to speak up for wildlife. I was looking for hard numbers on converting people and engaging them to be high-end activists. I soon learned that NWF needed a presence that was about much more than pushing people to fill out action alerts, so I switched my goals to be more about engagement, leaving traditional ROI behind. Currently, our business reasons for using social media are (1) to establish our brand, (2) to build relationships and (3) to listen to people more effectively. We’ve definitely had to take into account that the benefits that come from being active on social media sites are often measured differently than other business goals of the organization.”

How The National Wildlife Federation Uses Social MediaWhat, specifically pushed the executives and board members to say “Yes, let’s use social media to achieve these business results”?

How The National Wildlife Federation Uses Social Media“Mostly it was my coworker Kristin Johnson and I, spending a few hours a week playing around with different social media sites and testing out NWF‘s messages on them. There hasn’t been a conscious decision to do this stuff–a few of us just started doing it and the organization is seeing the benefits and is jumping on board one program at a time. The way I see social media is that it’s like an extended hand that allows people get to know us better. Hopefully it gives them meaningful context for what NWF does, as well as a reason to get involved with us.”

How The National Wildlife Federation Uses Social MediaWhat was the “before” picture of your metrics (For example: traffic, repeat visitors, subscribers, number of online donations, amount of online donations or viral tendency)?

How The National Wildlife Federation Uses Social Media“Social media has helped increase the number of people linking to our site and this is very desireable from a search engine optimization perspective. We’ve also received a lot of traffic from Stumbleupon and Digg as well as the other social news and bookmarking sites. While we have seen increases in traffic, our next goal is to help increase engagement.”

How The National Wildlife Federation Uses Social MediaWhat did you do first? What was your very first step into social media and why?

How The National Wildlife Federation Uses Social Media“My first step was to get NWF on Facebook and MySpace. We soon realized that while these were great, it was somewhat an interruption to contact people through these realms. Now, we play with a number of communication tools. If you start to view social media as an orchestra you can see how they all work together. We have used StumbleUpon, Digg and other sites strategically to drive traffic and share interesting resources.”

How The National Wildlife Federation Uses Social MediaYou have over 10 NWF staff members on Twitter. What has been working with Twitter?

How The National Wildlife Federation Uses Social Media“Our Twitter strategy is that we have an overall @NWF account, with a few specifically branded program accounts that are geared toward specific audiences (@campusecology messages to college students and faculty; @wildlife_watch is geared toward people actively watching wildlife). We also have a number of staff with personal accounts who sometimes tweet about the work they do at NWF. Our Twitter strategy is doing very well because we are expanding our reach and connecting different audiences with the right people!”

How The National Wildlife Federation Uses Social MediaYou have over 5,000 fans on your Facebook Page. What has been working with Facebook?

How The National Wildlife Federation Uses Social Media“The facebook page is nice because we have syndicated a lot of content. However, I’d like to see us double our fanpage base in the next few months. Figuring out how to do that would mostly entail using the FBML boxes to create a more interactive page for users who are getting familiar with NWF.”

How The National Wildlife Federation Uses Social MediaWhat measurable results have you gotten from social media to date?

How The National Wildlife Federation Uses Social Media“Besides Digg being one of the top referring sites for NWF.org last year, we’ve seen a ton of other meaningful traffic and linkbacks to our site. But more importantly, we are forming meaningful relationship with people that are passionate about our cause WHILE getting great results. It’s a win-win situation.How The National Wildlife Federation Uses Social Media

What would you have done differently with social media if you knew what you know now?

How The National Wildlife Federation Uses Social Media“Probably worked more with our program staff initially. I think that our strategy grew organically and has now set a process in place for people who want to start promoting their program through social media. It’s great because I feel like if done right, social media can really connect people so that it helps everyone!”

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Comments

  1. [...] 1977-2005 : The Circle Is Now Complete wrote an interesting post today on How The National Wildlife Federation Uses Social MediaHere’s a quick excerpt Following is an interview I conducted with Danielle Brigida of the National Wildlife Federation. She has been mentioned several times on Beth Kanter’s blog about her use of social media to increase traffic to NWF’s site. ________________________ What was the business reason for the National Wildlife Federation getting involved with social media? “When I initially started signing NWF up for social media sites, I was looking to increase our activist numbers and rally people to speak up for w [...]

  2. I came across Digg as a platform for spreading educational resources and breaking information because it isn’t our typical audience, but they are still hungry for information. Social news sites offer great potential for non-profits because it gives us a chance to show that we are doing so much more than asking for donations– it is a chance to introduce our research and spread important information without coming off like we need something in return.

  3. Danielle, thanks for the information about Digg. We're excited about using social media at our cancer support nonprofit and this was our next step. John, thanks for posting a great interview.

  4. Excellent basic overview in how to communicate these powerful social media tools to the non-tech .This is a great article. I work with nonprofits on integrating social media into their marketing plans and will share this with them. As a marketing professional, I am always telling my clients that just because it's popular it might not be the right marketing tool for you. Focus on your desired outcome (education, community, etc.) and then develop a strategy to achieve it. Utilizing social media is a strategy. Social media tools are tactics. I will be linking to your blog in my next e-newsletter.

  5. Excellent basic overview in how to communicate these powerful social media tools to the non-tech .This is a great article. I work with nonprofits on integrating social media into their marketing plans and will share this with them. As a marketing professional, I am always telling my clients that just because it's popular it might not be the right marketing tool for you. Focus on your desired outcome (education, community, etc.) and then develop a strategy to achieve it. Utilizing social media is a strategy. Social media tools are tactics. I will be linking to your blog in my next e-newsletter.

  6. @Frank – The the power of social media explodes when you trust and appreciate your fans.

    @Danielle – I’d like to hear more about how you use Digg. Can you share?