Maabara, 1950
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On the 28th of February I had the honor to participate in one of the most important events I’ve ever been a part of – The Future of Non-Profit.
The event, created and managed by Shoshanna Jaskoll and Dave Weinberg from Causil, explored the challenges of non-profits in the 21st century, from business models, to organization, to fund raising, to marketing.
I was heading a panel about Social media and its value to non profits. It followed an excellent presentation by Miriam Schwab about site design and online presence for non profits as well.
The panel was based on a great team of pros – Florence Broder, Social Media Manager, Jewish Agency For Israel, Hadassah Levy from Jewish Ideas Daily, and Dvir Reznik, blogger and marketing manager of an interesting startup called Onavo (if you are traveling a lot, you should check their site).
We discussed the pros and cons of social media marketing for non profits. Florence gave examples of how her involvement in social media helped recently immigrated jews coming to ISreal and facing beuracrqacy challenges. Hadassah talked about social media as traffic source for media sites. And Dvir discussed the value that bloggers and Twitter provide for companies and organizations with limited budget.
Things got interesting when a member of the audience, asked the million dollar question – why should an organization invest in social media, with no clear ROI.
The panel didn’t agree on the way to approach this challenge. Florence had strong opinions about the low cost of social media, and the absolute need to be there. Dvir discussed the low cost structure as well.
My views are a bit different. First of all, social media platforms are tools. Nothing more and nothing less. The mere presence in Facebook and Twitter is meaningless. An organization should figure out its overall digital marketing plan – messages, where to act, when to act, and how to measure its impact. Social platforms are part of that picture. Then an organization should define what’s the value of social in their overall mix. Only then one could know if it is worthwhile – and more important, measure it over time.
Just like in a case that unprofessional usage of email marketing doesn’t void the value of this channel, the fact that many fail in social media doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have value.
The audience was social savvy. Most of the audience had a Facebook account, twitter account, and smartphone. I am certain that next year we will see more case studies and success stories then questions.
I strongly believe that these events push the industry forward, and I’d like to thank Shoshana for inviting me to attend.