Social Media and Non Profits – at the SMBSyr 8

By Joe Cunningham, Internet Marketing Manager

This will be a historic day.  First off, I will be fulfilling my “Blog Post a Day…” mantra, started this week (good feeling).  Secondly, though Poe (@PoeTheGnome) and I (@IndianaJoe77) have been to every Social Media Breakfast Syracuse, never have we finished the blog post about it on the same day.  Though this will have to go through the approval process, today, it will be done (great feeling).

Chris Malone and LisaMeet & Greet

John Rogers (@JonMRogers) and I laughed about this later, but as I walked into the #SMBSyr, Poe’s fame preceded me.  The kind lady who heads up the Syracuse Connective Corridor (@syracUSE_CC), Ms. Linda Dickerson Hartsock, immediately recognized the gnome and was extremely excited to take his picture with the Connective Corridor info up around The Warehouse.  I felt awesome about it: my little mascot was becoming known; didn’t matter that I was not, not at all (okay, maybe a little bit, lol).

“And I’m Joe, by the way,” as I handed her Poe’s card and mine.

Saw some old SMB friends, too: Chris Malone (all-around awesome dude); finally met Sarah Roche (Co-Founder of Platypus TV), my parents came (cool beans), Kate Brodock (SMB Committee and a thousand other cool things, awesome lady); Joanna Giansanti (designer extraordinaire); Lilibeth Northern (SSL – Spanish as a 2nd language teacher); and Kathy Purdy (we had connected on Twitter and finally put the face to the Twitter).

Poe is not the father.I almost died laughing at one of the tweets my friend Becky Guiles posted after Poe met George (her son in the womb – I know, congrats!): “Poe is not the father.”  Just to make that clear.

We also met Kevin Foresti who does SMM for a local medical center.

Shook hands with Kevin Morrow (@UncleDuke), who is always extremely warm.  Was busy with the set up.  A big thanks to that guy who does this stuff without getting paid.  #Dedication

Poe and I checked out the SU Warehouse where both Paul and Gail teach, and we got to see Cowley from the other side of the street (great view, by the way).


Linda from the Connective Corridor invited everyone to tweet a love note to Syracuse with the hash tag #DearSyracuseWithLove with the chance that your tweet could be mentioned on their billboard, like Syracuse Women Magazine’s publisher, the beautiful Farah Jardan’s “Dear Syracuse, Thank you for providing me an education, a rewarding career, roads to run on, and for being the place I found true love! With Love, Farah.” (Moved.)

“It’s very exciting,” to see that, said Ms. Jardan.

Kevin also gave a plug for the next SMB events: a Round Table (be there or be square; okay, that wasn’t funny) coming up (sign up here), Social Media and the Arts (November)! (awesome), and a holiday event (so close already!).

(Note: if you have any ideas for round table topics or would like to head a group, contact the SMB Committee via the EventBrite or Facebook pages.)

Social Media and NFP’s

There were four different highly qualified presenters from various local NFP's who each spoke briefly about how they utilized social media to help their organization.

John TonelloWCNY

First up was John Tonello, VP of communications at WCNY and former mayor of Elmira (cool!).  When John took the reins at WCNY, they had 300 Facebook fans.  Today, they have over 3,000.  They shifted from giving all their volunteers access to their social media accounts to just one after getting a lot of “selfies” and random Tweets.  They employed a few cool tricks with social media, like organizing fundraising teams as a little competition.  They receive a tremendous response to their social media campaigns: great support for public broadcasting.

I would have more notes on this but I was eating, and getting organized. #thehonesttruth

Lisa RomeoThe Downtown Committee

Next up was Lisa Romeo, Director of Communications for the abovementioned org.  Before Lisa, the Committee had no social media, and, being the youngest, she started their Facebook and Twitter, presenting to both the staff and board why this was so vitally important.

The Downtown Committee is a private not-for-profit whose goal is to improve downtown’s image (so far, great job, by the way).  Facebook used to be their main go-to, said Lisa, but now Twitter has taken over, as the downtown target demographic is more of a tweeting crowd.

The DC has received over $283 million (!) to develop the area, due much to the fact that the d-town population has increased by 45% in the last 3 years.  They help people find out when new biz is opening up (16 new this past year) and she told the story about Gannon’s opening up.  The number of RT’s was extremely exciting.

It was about this time when Chris Malone leaned over behind me and pointed at Lisa’s PowerPoint.

“Oh my God, that’s my tweet!” he said, in the quietest yell, or loudest whisper (you pick).

It was part of DC’s hash tag campaign “#ILoveDowntownSyracuseBecause” and Chris wrote: “…simple or complex, a coffee outing or a festival, there is much to do it’s simply inspiring.”  Well said as always bro.

My last note on her cool speech was that they/we love to interact with people; and besides the face to face/phone/email – social media is that immediate and still friendly way to do it.

Liz PodaThe Rescue Mission

Thirdly, Liz Poda, DOM for the RM (like that?) spoke about their 13 Thrifty Shopper stores in the area and increased involvement in social media.  Though their donors are often not using tech, they do want to engage a younger crowd.  However, Liz made the point that most in the room were of the “older” generation.  (Point made.)

They create awareness of their homeless outreach, but the SM for the stores reaches a totally different audience: the thrifty trenders, and they seek to engage them as retail customers.

(Was I the only one who could only hear Macklemore during this talk? #laughinginside)

Liz has gotten over 4k Facebook fans (wow!), and they also partnered with Café Kubal on Marshal Street near SU to open a “315” store (similar idea).

Their CEO is writing a weekly blog (imagine lots of exclamation points, because I can’t write them, because Google doesn’t like them!) (Awesome!).  I can’t tell you how great that is for a website/organization (to blog like that, that is).  They also plug their SM activity into the website (kudos, as well, from an Internet Marketing Manager).

Liz talked about how they recently invested in a good camera for high-qual photos (good move), and how they email blast their 40k (wow) card holders.

“Events for us are key,” she said, “That’s why social media helped a lot.”

Last year, they added a 5k at the last minute and named a bicycle “Red Rider,” taking pictures of it around CNY and posting “Where is RR today?” etc.  Got a lot of SM response.  An awesome idea: reminds me of a certain gnome (lol).

“We got a lot of mileage from using the bike – no pun intended,” she said, and was pleasantly surprised at the immediacy of the response.

They even got SU B-ball’s Scoop Jardine, who was volunteering with them (good man) to take a pic on the bike. #rideandrunfortherescue

They even went out on a limb and put on this cool event “MissionAlfresco” – totally SM driven: which is an elegant dinner which attendees don’t know the location of until the day of the event!  (Cool!)

Today incidentally is one of the weekly #RMThriftyThursdays where they encourage employees to wear something from thrift shop and others and take a pic and post with the hash tag so they can go “rollin in the hella deep.”

“It was a challenge,” said Liz, “A lot of mixed messaging, a lot going on.”  They gave store managers free rein at first on their SM, got pics of strange merch on their (lol), and then centralized (a popular NFP best practice).

A huge fan of Hootsuite, Liz confesses, “We are still in the learning phase.”  Aren’t we all.

Jared PaventiThe Alzheimer’s Association

Fourth, and last but not least and all that, was Jared Paventi, CCO for @AlzCNY.

“I apologize, I’m allergic to PowerPoint,” he said to break the ice, as he booted up his PDF.

The Assoc. covers a very large area: Canada to PA, Finger Lakes to… (I was distracted) and focused on ministry and finding a cure. #noble

Mine is the “office where everything goes,” he said – “marketing, advocacy, communications…  You learn how to do a lot of things and that is appreciated, or abused.  But I really love my job.”

Though slow to adapt to new things, he’s gotten the Assoc. on a good track on SM and outlined 5 great points about social media marketing:

5 Great Tips on Social Media Marketing

Have a Plan

Just because you build it doesn’t mean they’ll come.  Have good content.  There is no worse reaction than no reaction.

Know Your Audience

“If you don’t, any other rules won’t apply.”  Jared mentioned they target 35-64 year old females: the decision makers. #wise

Define Your Voice

Authoritative or fun and light?  The Al’s Assoc deals with fatal topics so they have to “tread lightly.”  However, you can be a leader in your field and still be funny and lighthearted – you just have to be authentic!  He gave Jet Blue as a great example of “authentic” and Taco Bell – like the food or not – as a great example of “fun.”

“You can’t just be satisfied with your work when someone tweets to you: ‘Thank you – that’s so helpful!’  Not getting those doesn’t mean you didn’t really help somebody.”

Loved that.  (Thank you, that’s so helpful, man!)

You Are Not In Charge

Writing “what do you think” (oops) isn’t organic conversation.  Think again.   Also note: hashtags are great but no one owns them: for better or for worse.  Work with it.  Social media is community-driven media.

Learn From Your Mistakes

And learn from others’ mistakes!

“Anytime you see a list online that says: ‘Common Social Media Mistakes’ – read it!  Better them and not you next time.”  (History 101!)  Great point.

Poe and the Great Sarah RocheQ&A

Kevin asked the panelists to give one piece of advice in one sentence:

  • John: “Set the right tone and maintain it: consistency mirrors who you are.”
  • Lisa: “Social media might be your only opportunity to win or lose a fan.”
  • Liz: “Know your purpose, put together a plan based on it, and check and adjust it to remain on target – don’t just float along!”
  • Jared: “Every person is a potential follower.”

Also mentioned was to take note of your analytics to learn what time is best for max interaction.

Someone asked WCNY (John) about 2nd screen TV viewing, i.e. Breaking Bad (we at @CowleyAssoc LOVE that show – who doesn’t?).

“We are nibbling into it more slowly than commercial broadcasting.”  I immediately thought of Sarah Roche, whose enterprise is pursuing just that!

Joanna Giansanti with coffee (I suppose) at the SMBConclusion

I’m literally running out of the office in the next few seconds, but feel great.  New world record: SMB blog post done day of! #excellentfeeling


Contact Us a
Stay In

Sign up here to get our monthly newsletter and blog updates.

Sorry for the quiz. Just making sure you're a human.

Latest Blog Posts

July 5th 2023

Jul 5th 2023

The most meaningful attributes of a successful brand are...

May 9th 2023

May 9th 2023

What's our take on AI?

January 12th 2023

Jan 12th 2023

Cowley included in "Marketing Metrics" article from Drive Research

December 4th 2022

Dec 4th 2022

m-tip 9: Have you utilized the power of social media "groups?"