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Avoiding Shiny New Toy Syndrome

It’s been awhile since I last updated this blog and in that time quite a lot has happened. Among some of the many things that happened since my last update: I settled into my new home, caught up with a good friend I had not seen in a long time, started working on two talks for an upcoming nonprofit conference and Google+ debuted. As someone who works in nonprofit social media this was a big deal and, of course, I signed up for Google+. And after I signed up I read a number of the many articles and blog posts debating the merits of Google+ for organizations.

The buzz around Google+ got me to thinking about how quick people can be to embrace the newest tech offering in the hopes that this will be the magic tool – the tool that will lead to a successful online fundraiser, help recruit more volunteers or get an organization in their local press.

retro red robotWhy is that we are so quick to jump on the latest thing? Call it “shiny new toy syndrome.” A term I heard used at the 2011 Nonprofit Technology Conference, “shiny new toy syndrome” refers to the tendency to move onto the newest, latest tech tool the way a young child is inclined to do with new toys.

Google+ organization profiles are not yet available and until they are and can be accurately judged, it would be wise to make sure that we are making the most out of the tools we already have on hand. Among the things to consider to judge whether your organization is just scratching the surface when using social media tools are:

  • Timing: Are you updating your Facebook page, Twitter account and blog on a regular basis? Keeping your fans and followers engaged requires a steady stream of new and interesting content. The frequency with which you post content will be different across platforms – understand what works for your different audiences and strive to update accordingly.
  • Built-in features: Are you making the most of the built-in features of the social media tools you are using? Twitter users should take advantage of “Who to Follow” recommendations to discover relevant people and organizations to follow and grow their own following. Users can keep Twitter from becoming overwhelming by using Twitter’s list feature to organize their followers into categories. Facebook’s Photos, Videos and Events applications are a good place to start for page administrators.
  • Third-party applications and tools: There are a number of third-party developer applications and tools that either make up for what is lacking on social media sites or increase their ease of use. Twitlistmanager, for instance, makes managing Twitter follower lists easier. Social media dashboards like HootSuite or Seesmic allow users to keep track of conversations about their organizations, issues, and relevant keywords all in one place. A number of applications are available for Facebook so that users can post once to other social networks (i.e. Twitter, YouTube or Flickr) and have the same content show up on their organization’s fan page. It’s even possible to create custom Facebook content with the right applications. YouTube users can add overlays to their videos to embed a call to action directed to viewers.
  • Measurement: Has your organization developed benchmarks for measurement? How else will you know what’s working if you don’t know what to track and if you’re meeting those goals? A free tool such as Google Analytics can track how much traffic your social media accounts are generating to your organization’s website. Some social media sites have built-in measurement tools, however, if a social site doesn’t, or you’re not happy with what’s available, consider third-party tools. A couple of measurement tools to consider include: Klout, PeerIndex, Twentyfeet or Social Mention.

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