The world’s biggest annual social media survey has just been published, and it shows that, for charities, the tipping point in the communication revolution has now been reached.
Among the figures the Wave survey – published by ad agency Universal McCann* – throws up are these:
- Over the last two years, the proportion of Net users visiting brand sites has dropped 10% (down to 74%)
- Over the last year, the proportion of Net users connecting with a brand in social networks has increased 20% (to 30%)
- Just under 50% of people have joined an online brand community
Brand? That means you. It means any organisation that seeks to create a community of engaged and connected followers. For businesses, it means potential or actual customers – for charities, it means potential or actual supporters.
It’s the end of the WWWorld as we know it
What do these figures mean? Along with all the other figures showing the sheer scale of social media engagement, they mean that your website has stopped being the centre of your online world.
For most charities and businesses, their web presence has been defined by their website. It’s where the “brand” lives online, how they communicate online, where they point people to for information – it’s the “official” web presence of the charity.
All that is about to change – in fact, it already has. The web is no longer about sites, its about content. Content doesn’t live on a site, it lives online – in social media, in tweets, on Facebook, emailed between friends, mentioned, social bookmarked.
Conversation not destination
It is no longer enough to concentrate your online marketing around your website, with perhaps a cursory nod to Twitter or Facebook. Your charity no longer exists online as a destination, but as a conversation.
Social Media is becoming the first place that people will find you online. It’s becoming the place where they will donate, fundraise, discuss you, support you, engage with you.
The way people use the web is changing radically – Social Media is intrinsically wound up in the way people move around online. They can Like content in Facebook without being on the Facebook site. They can sign into discussions via social sign-in, or write or comment on blogs. They can follow discussions and topics on Twitter. The revolution is being televised – on YouTube, which has become the second biggest search platform after Google.
Increasingly, they’ll stop searching for you online, and instead you – and the issues that matter to your charity – will find them.
All this is breaking down the walls that kept content – and brand – tied to a single website.
Not an option
Social Media is no longer an add-on, or an option, or a means of driving traffic to your site. It is your site – it’s everyone’s site.
When you are thinking about your website you now need to think of your web presence – the way you engage online is changing, and so must the roles of the people in your organisation that support your website.
Just like you did for your website, you need a strategy for social media engagement that directly supports your organisation’s aims. You need measurable goals, and people to ensure that those goals are met. As much as anything, you need a change of mindset away from having a website manager or team and towards having an online engagement team.
10 years ago, there were still charities that didn’t have a website. Now, no serious charity would be without one. In a lot shorter time than that, no serious charity will be without a web presence that has social media at its heart.
* apologies for those of you who clicked the link to UniversalMcCann – yes that really is the world’s most unusable site