The Humane Society of the United States has been dedicated to using social media because of a positive ROI, the result of engaging current supporters and from attracting new ones. In December 2010 the author of Social Media for Social Good, Heather Mansfield posted a Blog about the Humane Society “Nonprofit Example of Social Media Excellence” based on an interview with Carie Lewis, the Humane Society’s Director of Emerging Media. Carie has helped us to update the original post and to look at changes over the past year and a half.
In 2010 Facebook was the prime social tool for the Humane Society, and remains so today with close to 1.4 million likes. Today the organization’s staff of 6 people spends about 70% of their time on Facebook and it returns the best ROI of all their tools. What has grown in the past two years is pictures, with both Filckr and Pinterest with people sharing pets and animal causes. The use of video, through YouTube, has continued to grow now with over 13 million video views.
By 2010 the organization had found Twitter to be an important listening place and customer service tool, this has not changed. On Twitter Carie, shown, says it is the most real-time account we have of what’s being said about the Humane Society and that everyone who comes via social media with a legitimate question or concern gets an answer. Earlier she had stressed the importance of listening to find your audience and what they are talking about as the guideposts to planning any social media program. With about 134 thousand followers on twitter and well over a million on Facebook, there is certainly a lot to be heard.
There may have initially been resistance to social media at the Humane Society, but not today, as Wayne Pacelle, President and CEO leads the way in Blogging and with his own Facebook page. Wayne’s Blog is sometimes used as a response to issues, or in sharing the latest concerns and focus for the organization. With the President out there it becomes easy to share the “official word” and engage supporters to ask for feedback in the Blog and on Facebook.
So with all this great activity it appears that LinkedIn, with only 2,500 followers is not the platform for engagement. Carie agrees the contribution is small but that it has been a great vehicle for finding new employees. Most Humane Society employees have profiles on LinkedIn so people know who they are and that they are accessible. I had to ask how they use Foursquare, it is a niche but has come in useful for event check at conferences and protests. Now maybe there is an application for fundraising auction check in, will have to look into this further.
As for mobile apps, there is HumaneTV and many local affiliate sites, just search for these apps in your phone’s market place. In addition, as always, you can sign up for text alerts. But as of yet the mobile world has not been a big space for the over 11 million supporters and lovers of animals. Although growing daily, many supporters are not yet involved in social media so email still is a critical elemnet in fundraising.
The organization is a big believer in transparency with the highest rating by CharityNavigator, a Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance Charity Seal and were named by Worth Magazine in 2010 as one of the 10 most fiscally responsible organizations in America. Policies and financial reports are available on the website, a fresh and active hub for this organization. The Humane Society has learned to listen, so they are constantly reviewing what supporters want and trying to stay one step ahead of the technology curve. Carie concluded with saying the investment in social media is building engagement and relationship building that leads to member trust, which leads to their goals of advocacy and fundraising.
Thanks Carie Lewis for sharing The Humane Society’s story, a great place to engage and support a great cause!