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Who Can You Reach with $25,000?

April 21, 2010

$25,000 seems like a lot, but it’s really peanuts in the marketing and communications world. Especially when you see this as your total annual marketing and communications budget.

Social media is a great win for business. It’s an incredable new medium that allows you to be the publisher. Now, yes, it doesn’t cost anything to sign-up for these websites but it does take time. Budgeting your staff’s time in this communications strategy is so important.

For an average nonprofit in Denver, a Communications Director gets paid around $50,000, hire an intern for $1,500 a semester and have each of them dedicate half their time to social media. That is a communications budget of $25,750. That is a whole lot cheaper than an advertising campaign. In fact for some nonprofits, that is their annual report budget.

This is what we did at CCIC for 2009. What did we do with that budget?

We are reaching 1,500 new people via Twitter in less than a year. Our success has been in being strategic and having a plan. We’ve targeted specific audiences on the social media tool. Our top targets: mom bloggers, funders, healthcare organizations and other nonprofits. Sure, not all those people are super users, but 10% are super users and that’s 150 people who are dedicated to using Twitter as a communications tool. This core of 150 are the ones who spread your message through retweeting. These 150 read your tweets religiously and interact regularly.

Other benefits of Twitter? I’ve made real relationships with real reporters and news producers. I’ve connected with national bloggers for national magazines. I’ve drawn the attention of national organizations in our cause, including the CDC. I’ve literally raised our profile from a small nonprofit in Colorado to a national leader in using social media for nonprofits.

One more benefit of Twitter is answering questions about our cause in real time. I monitor Twitter for certain keywords with TweetDeck and answer parent’s questions about vaccines. During the height of the H1N1 scare I helped lots of parents make the decision to vaccinate their children by giving them more information and dispelling fears about the vaccine. This level of customer service and cause promotion is incredibly difficult to do without social media.

On Facebook, we’ve gained a fan base of 284 people from across the county. These Facebook fans are moms, dads and vaccine advocates who care about our cause and “like” our posts.

An added benefit of Facebook is that we have live demographics on these followers. We know they are 72% female with 35% of them being between the ages of 25-34. I can track what posts they like most. I can track when people “unfan” my page and move on.  All invaluable information that can cost a lot to gather on any other way.

Our subscribers on YouTube are few, I only have 14 subscribers, but my videos have been played nearly 2,500 times since March 16, 2009. We are part of the community and favorite like-organization videos, sharing the pro-vaccine message.

We’ve started a mommy blog – – to be a voice for moms who believe in vaccinating their kids. This blog was free to set-up and after just two months of existence have almost 1,000 page views, 15 comments and 8 subscribers.

The most exciting and innovative project was the Healthy Kids Thank-A-Thon which allowed parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles to give thanks for the healthy kids in their life. Great interaction and amazing results.

We’ve done all this for just salary. That is the best ROI I can find.

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