A recent link I saw to the 2008 Cone Business in Social Media Study had some really interesting info about Social Media.
According to the press release, "sixty percent of Americans use social media, and of those, 59 percent interact with companies on social media Web sites. One in four interacts more than once per week."
More importantly, fully 93% believe that companies should "have a presence in social media, while an overwhelming 85 percent believe a company should not only be present but also interact with its consumers via social media. In fact, 56 percent of users feel both a stronger connection with and better served by companies when they can interact with them in a social media environment."
I have written here before about how wherever the private sector goes, the nonprofit world inevitable follows, but with a 5 year delay. This study makes it pretty clear: consumers (a.k.a. donors) are sending a clear message: we expect those who are interested in our business (which would include donations in my opinion), need to come to us, find us on the web, rather than expecting us to to come to them.
Companies online have become the traveling vacuum salesman: traveling to each person's home, offering them the product. The problem we have online is, figure out where a given donor's "home" is and making consumers are "home" when the companies "knock" on their online doors.
Even more interestingly, the study finds that particularly for those consumers/donors who can rarely be bothered to come find us online, knocking on their door is exactly how they want us to interact with them.
"Men, a much sought-after target in the online space, are twice as likely as women to interact frequently (one or more times per week) with companies via social media (33% to 17%, respectively)."
For those of us struggling with DM files that are more than 50% female (women live longer), but also knowing that men tend to give higher average gifts when they do give, figuring out how to get more men engaged in our causes would be a coup d'etat.
"Likewise, of younger, hard-to-reach users (ages 18-34), one-third believe companies should actively market to them via social networks, and the same is true of the wealthiest households (household income of $75,000+). Two-thirds of the wealthiest households and the largest households (3 or more members) feel stronger connections to brands they interact with online."
So let's see: younger people, the wealthy, and men--all demographics many of us want to, but struggle to lure into our core giving files in large quantities--are telling retailers: FIND US ONLINE ON OUR SOCIAL NETWORKS.
So why would they not want the same from their fundraisers?