By Lissy Lantz @gladtobelantz
I will confess upfront that my interest has always been in the nonprofit world. (Please don’t tell any of my MBA cohorts.)
So with the class discussion this week about online communities, I started thinking about whether nonprofit and for profit organizations have different types of community. Four key roles for community managers are facilitator, content creator, evangelist, and change agent. This seems to be the case for both types of organizations. So can the community outcome be different?
I asked another MBA student, Alexandra Velasco, who was a social media manager for a nonprofit animal shelter in Ecuador. Her immediate response was YES!! She quickly followed by saying that the community members she worked with were passionate, both in a positive and negative way. They often had posts saying, “Thank you for doing the work that you do. Keep going. I don’t have the resources on my own but you do.” But posts would also include “Why are you not doing more?” Alexandra said they expected more and demanded more from the community manager.
She also said size made a difference for online communities. After reaching around 40,000 followers, she had to hire more staff to keep the community interaction on a personal level.
In November 2011, The Humane Society hit the 1 million Facebook friends mark and they have maintained an active community on both Facebook and Twitter. One of the interesting things they have done is empowered their followers to get involved in preventing animal cruelty campaigns. I think this empowerment piece is another clear difference between nonprofits and for profits.
As for why there might be differences between the two communities I can only speculate. I agree that the passion individuals feel about certain nonprofit causes makes them connect emotionally with the organization. My other thought is that individuals feel more strongly connected to the organizations that they have supported with their precious time and money. Looking at the Susan G. Komen controversy, we can see the depth and potency of the feelings being posted on their Twitter and Facebook pages. (By the way, Kivi Miller’s blog is one that I like to follow for nonprofit marketing.)
(And I was only kidding about the MBA cohort – there are a surprising number of other individuals that are interested in nonprofit work.)
Do you think there are differences between the two communities and why?