Social Media as a Marketing Tool

Taken from the Winter 2014 JAD “The Cider Press,” Jeff Ulrich, editor

Social media, including pages like Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Linkedln, are playing an increasing role in people’s lives, both as a way of connecting with friends and as a way of increasing business activity. Nonprofit organizations in particular have benefited from social media marketing in a number of ways. A recent study revealed that, since 2007, nonprofit organizations “have been setting the pace for the use of social media in marketing.” For nonprofit organizations like ours, such marketing is especially beneficial. Here are a few reasons why.

1. No need for large amounts of funding
Our income from chapter shows, fund-raisers, etc. goes primarily into fulfilling our goals, so there is rarely enough money available to get our message out to the public in traditional ways. Television, radio and print media channels are often too expensive for the typical barbershop chapter to consider. Social media costs only the time and effort of one volunteer.

2. Involvement of stakeholders
Stakeholders tend to hold a great interest in causes that are related to themselves. Our stakeholders – our chapter members– willingly share information about their chapter with their nonbarbershop friends, and social media provides an easy way to share. And, I’m not just talking about young people. Many of our older brothers use Facebook, and share information with their older Facebook “friends.” The entire chapter becomes your marketing team.

3. Establishing relationships
Just as social media websites give individuals the opportunity to carry on relationships with their relatives and friends, so too they enable chapters to establish and maintain relationships with one another. This benefit goes even further when we create relationships beyond the borders of our society. Social media “sharing,” “liking” and “following” create broad public awareness when other arts organizations become our
“friends.”

4. Videos as leverage
Nonprofit organizations can also use social media networking to get potential customers to view their promotional videos on sites like YouTube. YouTube offers special access for nonprofits (www.youtube.com/nonprofits) to help you get your chapter’s message out.

If your chapter doesn’t have a good video to promote, share one of the BHS licensed videos that are posted on YouTube. It doesn’t have to be your chorus performing for a viewer to get interested in joining your chapter, or attending one of your shows.

5. Surveys and polls
You can also use Facebook or Twitter to conduct surveys and polls, which are especially useful because they can enable you to find out what things about your chapter your “customers” approve and disapprove of, and use that information to improve what you offer. Surveys can also be used to generate interest in fundraisers and other chapter events. Social media is proving to be the barbershop chapter’s best friend. Setting it up is so easy that even a child can do it (and probably should). I’m sure you have someone on the risers who is just waiting for the right opportunity to show the power of social media in marketing your chapter.

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