The Social Observer

The Social Media Marketing Blog by SNHU Students

Driving Growth – 10 Social Media Lessons

Nonprofit organizations have excelled in using social media to grow.  For example, the United Nations Foundation has seen their social media marketing strategy provide about $200 million annually to United Nation causes.  You could say they once risked the entire organization on Social Media but it is paying off in a big way as engagement expands. Now companies both for profit and nonprofit can take away some key lessons for their marketing strategy and website.

The United Nations Foundation links the United Nation’s work with others around the world, mobilizing the energy and expertise of business and non-governmental organizations to help tackle issues including climate change, global health, peace and security, women’s empowerment, poverty education, energy access and US-UN relations. The Foundation’s CEO Kathy Calvin refers to the birth of global citizens in  Forbes interview, she describes the power of social media; “We are moving beyond traditional philanthropy, where companies or individual provide only funds to deeper, carefully managed relationships that share personnel, expertise, and creativity.”

Lesson 1: Website Hub

The UN Foundation website is simple, clean and to the point. The 9 key pages include: 1) Who we are, 2) What We Do, 3) How We Help, 4) Connections, 5) Blog, 6) Press, 7) Partners, 8) Video and 9) Campaign Spotlight. For a nonprofit every page has a Donation button. The top of each page has a revolving call to action for campaigns or projects with links to “Learn More” or “Take Action”.  A scroll of all campaigns, just project names; is the page footer.  This is a design many can use.

Lesson 2: Clear Mission with Specific Projects/ Campaigns

When you go to the UN Foundation’s website there is no question what projects they are focused on or their product offerings. You can select any campaign and see the purpose, the budget, progress and how a person can help. This clear focus leaves an impression of an organized and efficient group, doing great things and not wasting resources.  They are not afraid to share all their financials with a 12% Administrative cost, an excellent number thanks to social media helping to reduce marketing costs.

Lesson 3: Blogging around Projects/ Campaigns

The project or Campaign theme continues in the blog, you feel pulled into the UN world. The blog is set up with just 11 standard categories with the ability to search. There are blog posts every 1-2 days by project leaders, customers and those being helped. The blog is not a 1-man operation it is a community project, likely using a calendar to keep it organized.

Lesson 4: Let the People You Help Participate

Imagine a blog post, a Facebook share or a Tweet  coming from those you are providing services to – this can be a powerful message.  In the midst of disaster relief having people on the ground in the loop is critical.  Aaron Sherinian, VP for Communication for the UN Foundation said in a Mashable interview “The power of social media for social good will be at the village level and the municipality level and connecting issues – everything from land tenure and mapping to access to health posts to governance and transparency.” This brings a two-way engaged conversation.

Lesson 5: Financial Transparency

You can easily find financial records, including tax reports back to the first year ofoperation. The UN Foundation proudly shows 87.7% of funds go directly to services and 5.6% for fundraising. These are impressive statistics – probably some of the best. The records are there and easy to find, no hidding here just open trust.

Lesson 6: Connections

In addition to the main website blog social media platforms include Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and a new Mobile App. Across all platforms the campaigns or products are the central focus. In addition the UN Foundation has begun an annual conference, with many well-known partners from the social media world, RIO + Social, a social network onto itself. Partners are openly  shared and recognized.

Lesson 7: Ask for Action

On every web page and in many posts there is a call to action, engaging you in a campaign offering ways to help with funds or volunteering.

Lesson 8: Make Donating Easy

Everywhere, every page on the website, Facebook or the mobile app there is a button so  you can immediately make a donation if so moved, there is no guessing how.

Lesson 9: Partnerships

The UN Foundation does a great job of celebrating their partnerships as a natural part of their transparency. Partners are clear in campaigns, contribute to blogs and the annual conference. Partner’s names and ability to connect are all at your finger tips.

Lesson 10: When you are Ready Go Mobile

I do not recommend going mobile until your website is in good shape, as the mobile app should simply mirror the website and operate effortlessly. The UN Foundation has just launched their Mobile App this year and you can get it through the App Store or SM Market.

Take a look at the United Nations Foundation yourself to learn more. But at a minimum learn from how they revolve around their products, because after all that is what a company is there to provide – so it must be central to the Social Media plan.

Photo’s from United Nations Foundation (2012)

photo credit: <a href=””>arimoore</a> via <a href=””>photopin</a> <a href=””>cc</a>


Category: Social Media Marketing 101