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 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.”
What, specifically pushed the executives and board members to say “Yes, let’s use social media to achieve these business results”?
“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.”
What was the “before” picture of your metrics (For example: traffic, repeat visitors, subscribers, number of online donations, amount of online donations or viral tendency)?
“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.”
What did you do first? What was your very first step into social media and why?
“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.”
You have over 10 NWF staff members on Twitter. What has been working with Twitter?
“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!”
You have over 5,000 fans on your Facebook Page. What has been working with Facebook?
“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.”
What measurable results have you gotten from social media to date?
“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.“
What would you have done differently with social media if you knew what you know now?
“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!”