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Social Media Marketing for Non-Profits
Ride the Wave or Drown?

by George Williams

Interviewed for this Article: B.L. Ochman -

Internet marketer, internationally known blogger and social media strategy consultant to Fortune 500 companies including IBM, American Greetings, McGraw-Hill and Cendant, B.L. Ochman heads the creative team of One of the world's leading marketing bloggers, Ochman also publishes the internationally respected What's Next Blog.

Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) -

Juvemile Diabetes research Foundation (JDRF)JDRF is the leading charitable funder and advocate of type 1 (juvenile) diabetes research worldwide. Since its founding in 1970 by parents of children with type 1 diabetes, JDRF has awarded more than $1.16 billion to diabetes research, including more than $137 million in FY2007.  In FY2007, the Foundation funded 700 centers, grants and fellowships in 20 countries.

Social Media Marketing for Non-Profits
Ride the Wave or Drown?

Social media marketing draws crowdsImagine the Internet as you would the ocean on a calm, sunny morning – a glassy-smooth surface with a few ripples courtesy of a warm breeze. That’s the way most people might see it - but there’s something lurking just beneath the surface.

It’s not immediately obvious, but it represents a tidal wave of historic proportions - a social tidal wave - and it can’t be stopped. Whether you know it or not, people are talking about you and your organization like never before.

Is your nonprofit ready for this?

Social gathering sites like MySpace (over 110 million members) and Facebook (over 60 million members) have made it extremely easy for people all over the world to talk to each other, share interests and communicate on a scale never before possible. But these sites are just a small part of the groundswell that is social media.

If you’re good, they’re telling all their friends, who are telling their friends, who are telling their friends, who are telling … well, the exponential power of social networks is staggering and it’s only going to get stronger.  

LinkedInIf your organization is doing something it shouldn’t be doing, hiding something it shouldn’t be hiding, or selling something shoddy – everyone will soon know about it. It’s the perfect storm.  The good get better and the bad get outed. And it can happen in a hurry. Both good and bad news can go viral at extreme speed in social networks. 

You can’t directly sell to the social set. They simply won’t allow it. Sharp organizations that understand the true nature of human relationships;  the fact that you have to establish a genuine connection with people; and that you have to give before you get, will thrive and flourish in this new era of social networks. Those that don’t could spend millions on advertising and branding and still fail.

People join social networks primarily because they enjoy communicating and meeting new people with similar interests, but also because they feel that these networks provide them with a safe environment that is not constantly being deluged with in-your-face advertisements and marketing experiments. Social gathering sites have become a refuge for them. 

If your company or non-profit organization has a solid reputation, good products, services and/or a good cause to support, and you participate effectively in social networks; if you help people; if you provide them with information they need; even if you just get along with people; they will eventually gain trust in you and your organization. More importantly, they will tell their friends, who will tell their friends… it’s a self-propagating process that just keeps on growing. 

Your prospects or donors are in social
networks now – You need to be there

WhatsNextOnline“You can’t wait any longer to test the waters in social media marketing,” says B.L. Ochman, President of, and one of the world’s most influential business bloggers and social media marketing consultants. "Your competitors are already there, or are planning to be, and your customers and/or contributors have already been there for quite a while.” 

“Consumers aren't only part of your revenue stream; they're now part of the marketing landscape,” continued Ochman. “Social media provides the tools and the opportunities for building a social bond with customers and prospects.

“Social media marketing is not advertising, and it is not direct marketing. But its impact is measurable and it can impact the bottom line. By telling customers or supporters what they want to know about your organization, in an open and transparent way, social media marketing aims to create community, trust, buyers and/or contributors."Social media refers to marketing that engages customers in interactive conversation with a company or organization, using tools including blogs, blog advertising, RSS, video, photo and content sharing sites, social bookmarking, podcasting, social networks, tagging, and peer-to-peer communities sponsored or created by companies and organizations that want to get to know their customers better, to serve them better.

“Properly executed, a social media marketing campaign can produce better results than traditional methods of reaching customers and/or donors. You need to have realistic expectations, and know that conversational marketing produces results over time. It is not a quick fix or a magic bullet. Instead, social media must be integrated into the overall marketing plan for the long haul. And over time, you can build traffic, sales and your customer/donor base with these new tools. 

“Socially responsible marketing is an absolutely critical way to distinguish your products and services from the knock-offs, the imitators, the pretenders, and to make people feel that they have to buy or belong to the original - the genuine item. Charities and non-profit organizations can gain supporters through the use of social networking and the creation of community in their marketing. This type of marketing requires you to be an active participant in a network, and to engage in open and honest communication.”

Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF)Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation sees future value of social networks

(Note: You need to be a member of Facebook to access some of the links below, but it's easy and free to join!)

The importance of social networks has not been lost on the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF), which often outperforms other disease-related charities and special interest groups with regards to money raised per afflicted person.

The JDRF has established a presence on Facebook as part of an overall social marketing strategy, and plans to continue investigating and implementing new strategies within the social networks. 

“We used to hope people would find us on the search engines,” said Amin Tehrani, National Director of New Media and E-Commerce at JDRF. “Now we’re going where our supporters congregate and using the power of their social networks to spread the word. Many people use Facebook more than they use e-mail.”

FacebookMost business and organizations utilize a three-pronged strategy on Facebook to create awareness and communicate with their customers and contributors.

This approach includes a personal profile page used to develop a network of friends, an organizational page to establish a formal business or non-profit presence, and a group page, which is used to communicate with customers or supporters of the organization. The JDRF is utilizing all three of the aforementioned page elements on Facebook, plus an additional element, a Facebook Causes page.

The JDRF Group Pages in Facebook, each created by different supporters of the organization and each with their own set of members. The JDRF Cause page and all JDRF group pages on Facebook link back to the main JDRF Web site.

The JDRF Cause page allows administrators to communicate with members instantly, post photos, videos, links and anything else pertinent to their cause. Group pages such as the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation's Kids Advocacy Network (KAN) (requires Facebook membership to view), which has over 300 members, also allow for direct e-mailing to members on a weekly basis, as well as for the posting of videos, photos, messages. Group and Cause members can also send messages to each other, ask questions, communicate concerns and invite people to join. 

“Facebook users can add the Causes application to their personal Facebook page, “said Tehrani.  “Our Cause page allows us to recruit members, solicit donations and communicate with members. Donating through the Cause page is a little cumbersome right now, but I imagine Facebook is just figuring this all out, as we are. The goal is to set up the network now so we have it in place when we have better ways to mobilize it.

“We’re also developing our own Facebook application, which members will be able to add to their pages. This will allow people to leverage the power of their social networks in an advocacy capacity for JDRF. We’re fairly happy with what we have accomplished so far. Board members see news articles about YouTube, Facebook etc. and they want you to be part of it, so we are doing everything we can.”

Squidoo.comThe JDRF also has a presence on other social media sites including YouTube, Wikipedia, MySpace, Google Maps and Squidoo, with more to come.

 “What’s great about social networking in this case is that it allows us to market to our target market - kids and teenagers,” said Jessica Czervionke, Manager of Grassroots Outreach at JDRF and one of numerous administrators of the JDRF pages on Facebook. “Many of the people on Facebook right now are younger people and college students, but that is rapidly changing."

“The key is to engage your members and keep them enthusiastic about what you are doing. You can’t just put a page up. Communication is very important. We keep members informed about what we are doing, various issues, what we are doing in Congress, recent news, recruitment efforts, walks etc. We can also send a note directly to a member’s profile saying please invite 10 of your friends. 

 “Social networks and Web sites are extremely important for increasing awareness. They can also help you with regards to government relations. The government can see what you’re doing to help yourself; how progressive you are in finding new ways to promote your organization; and that is always a positive when trying to secure additional funding.

“It’s free marketing in a positive way and it’s viral. The more people that join the more people are exposed to it. It allows us to reach out to tens of thousands of people we wouldn’t normally be able to get to.”

Social media marketing success
can come from anywhere - Twitter

There are thousands of social gathering sites and social networking applications on the Internet now, with more to come in the future. One social networking application that was recently used to benefit a good cause was the micro blogging tool Twitter – which allows you to follow people during the day who are “twittering”.  At first glance some of these social marketing tools can seem rather like silly time wasters, but for those who know how to use them, that's not the case at all.

 “A member of Twitter, Susan Reynolds, posted that she’d been diagnosed with breast cancer,” said Ochman. “She replaced her profile photo with one of her with Frozen Peas in her shirt to ease post-operative pain. In a show of support, other people (now more than 400) have created avatars featuring peas."

Frozen Pea Fund“This evolved into the Frozen Pea Fund," continued Ochman, "Which raised more than $35,000 in Susan’s name in two months. It is now becoming an actual not-for-profit corporation and continuing its marketing and fund-raising efforts. Every Friday is Frozen Pea Friday, in which members of Twitter donate the cost of a couple of bags of frozen peas to the fund and tell readers of their blogs to do the same.”

How serious is social media marketing? Is this a fad?

A major shift in the marketing landscape is occurring, one in which consumers and supporters now hold immense powers of influence. In the past,corporations and organizations that could afford to flood the market with their branding messages would be the major influencers with regards to consumer decisions. But the power of a friend’s recommendation has always been greater than any advertisement, and with “friend” power now multiplied exponentially through social networks, consumers are starting to control which products and organizations rise to the top. 

FlickrHow serious is social media marketing? Companies and organizations offering inferior products or services will be found out almost immediately and some could even be put out of business. But if a company or non-profit organization has great products, services or an excellent cause worth supporting, and they are adept at setting up their social marketing campaigns, they will reap unheard of benefits well into the future. 

“This is a new and quickly evolving field”, said Ochman. “And there are few established formulas for success. One of the downsides of social media's popularity is that marketing campaigns will become increasingly difficult to implement as the novelty factor wears off and serious money comes into play.”

Ochman is already helping organizations and companies understand social media marketing and the groundswell it represents by giving half-day onsite workshops for $6,500. She also conceives and implements social media marketing campaigns for corporations, companies and organizations at costs that range from $50,000 to $500,000 and up. 

Estimated time frame for getting the jump on your competition in the social marketing space? Six months to a year, maybe longer, depending on your products, services or causes. While a basic social media marketing campaign can still be implemented in-house, having a budget to hire an experienced expert in the field will help to insure your success - especially if you have a good reputation, products, services and/or causes.

But your social network will ultimately be the judge of that.

Social Media Marketing Sites - A starting point

Social media marketing strategies can include a wide variety of applications and Web sites that focus on social networking, content sharing, bookmarking and blogging. Below are just a few of the major Web sites and applications currently being utilized in successful social media marketing campaigns.

Back to Top ↑

About B.L. Ochman, President

Well known as one of the leading business bloggers on the Internet today, B.L. Ochman heads the creative team of She also publishes the internationally respected What's Next Blog.

Since 1995, Ochman's Internet marketing successes also include Internet strategy consultation for Ford Motors, IBM, Cendant, McGraw-Hill, American Greetings and many others. She was cited by Seth Godin's "Bull Market" directory in 2005 as one of the world's most creative thinkers.

Previously, Ochman ran an award-winning New York PR firm that she grew to one of the 100 largest independent PR firms in the US, with clients including Stew Leonard's, Miracle-Gro Plant Food, The American Dairy Association, Kaneka Corporation (Tokyo:JKFC) and many more.

Ochman creates social media marketing and blogging campaigns for leading companies and organizations throughout the world. She is also available for consulting and workshops.

For more information please contact:

B.L. Ochman
345 East 94th Street,
New York, NY 10128
E-Mail: blochman @
Phone: (212) 369-8312

About the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF)

JDRFJDRF is the leading charitable funder and advocate of type 1 (juvenile) diabetes research worldwide. The mission of JDRF is to find a cure for diabetes and its complications through the support of research.

Type 1 diabetes is a disease which strikes children suddenly and requires multiple injections of insulin daily or a continuous infusion of insulin through a pump.  Insulin, however, is not a cure for diabetes, nor does it prevent its eventual and devastating complications which may include kidney failure, blindness, heart disease, stroke, and amputation.   

Since its founding in 1970 by parents of children with type 1 diabetes, JDRF has awarded more than $1.16 billion to diabetes research, including more than $137 million in FY2007.  In FY2007, the Foundation funded 700 centers, grants and fellowships in 20 countries.

For more information please contact:

Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International (JDRF)
120 Wall Street
New York, New York 10005-4001
Phone: (800) 533-CURE (2873)
E-mail: [email protected]

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