How Adaptable Is Your Nonprofit Social Media Marketing Plan?

Two weeks ago, Google Buzz came out of nowhere and instantly turned 175 million inboxes into a Twitter-Facebook devil child. Small non-profits didn’t see it coming. Even many of the the big brands didn’t see it coming.

The same thing happened during the second half of 2009 with Twitter. Companies were busy trying to wrap their heads around the implications of outspoken customers on Twitter.

Two large nonprofits I spoke with last week felt that their 2010 social media marketing plans they worked so hard on were now all but useless.

Kudos for them for recognizing the clunking sound of a shoe on a hardwood floor.

The Speed Of New Media

Social media technology will continue to change even faster with the real-time web, which is essentially gives instant feedback for social media tool development. For example, Google was able to quickly respond to privacy concerns about Google Buzz because they were able to hear them very quickly.

Concurrently, the number of people using social media to share content is exploding. Just last week, the San Francisco Chronicle reported that Facebook directs more traffic than Google!

But you still need a plan, right?

How Adaptable Is Your Nonprofit Social Media Marketing Plan?

TV and print media, virtually unchanged for decades, is rapidly being replaced by social media. But the way we plan marketing strategies hasn’t changed to deal with a medium that changes on a weekly basis. Darwin would bet his theory of evolution on the demise of the 50-slide strategic marketing plan.

The wisdom of the housefly

The common house fly navigates by sensing the extremely subtle changes in air pressure with thousands of tiny hairs all over it’s body. With a lighting-fast nervous system, it’s able to instantly adjust direction away from the hovering rolled up New Yorker.

Imagine if the housefly relied on the location of the north pole to navigate? Splat – no more house fly.

The Housefly Social Media Marketing Plan

Highly Tuned Sensors – How does your organization learn about new media? Is there a single person who is responsible, or do you have systemic way of learning? Do you have a compound eye like the housefly, or are do you have a patch over a single eye?

How Adaptable Is Your Nonprofit Social Media Marketing Plan?

Lighting Fast Response – Can your organization respond quickly to news and events with social media? Instead of running everything by an executive board or legal council, how can decision-making be more decentralized? For example, give your online community manager complete authority over how comments are responded to on your blog, your Facebook Page, and especially Twitter (based on guidelines, of course).

Shorter Plans – Focus on plans for events or campaigns instead of quarters or years. Google Wave is a great collaboration tool for campaigns.

Gather Info By Moving – How willing is your organization to act with incomplete plans? Waiting for info on best practices should be mixed with higher levels of risk taking. This way, you get results sooner which can then help you fine-tune your strategy.

Wingless Buzzing - Gmail allows you to create contact groups which can now be used in Google Buzz to publish private streams to specific people. Try using this in your organization to buzz about the buzz on your cause or nonprofit.

How Adaptable Is Your Nonprofit Social Media Marketing Plan?

Tiny Hairs – Using a social media playbook throughout your organization allows staff to be highly tuned to listen and act in response to mentions about your organization. Check out this post on creating a social media playbook.

Gary Says It Best – If houseflies make you sick, check out what Gary has to say about housefly strategy:

How has your organization adapted?

Learn how one nonprofit increased their online fundraising by 1,400%!


Learn the tools, tactics, messaging, and website tweaks that created thier explosive result!


  1. Thanks for a great post; this question has been coming up a lot lately for us in conversations with nonprofits about social media. There was an interesting article on Mediashift last week about Vancouver's social media strategy for the Olympics, and it touches on the fact that they couldn't have been properly prepared for the realities of Facebook and Twitter if they'd tried to plan too far ahead.
    I've added your post to my weekly roundup (–thanks!

  2. [...] John Hay­den on keep­ing your mar­ket­ing plan nim­ble and quick. Did Google Buzz come out of nowhere and make you reach for the no-pest strips? (Do they even make no-pest strips any­more?) What’s the next big social media on the hori­zon? Or is it a medium we haven’t even con­sid­ered yet? And as a non-profit, how do you develop a mar­ket­ing plan for a plat­form that doesn’t exist? Can you bend like the wil­low, or are you stiff as the oak? (Do you even know what I’m talk­ing about when I talk about no-pest strips?) [...]

  3. Social media can also use for emergency liked the incident that happen in Haiti, they used Facebook and Twitter to give donation for those affected by earthquake and many users response on this issue. We can also read several opinion the posted on pages of Facebook and Twitter that related in economy and business.