The Contribution of Social Media in Helping Nonprofit Organizations Achieving Their Goals

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Natacha Maheshe Due on May 17th 2012 CMJR 245
Media Foundations of Communication
Research Paper
The contribution of Social Media in Helping Nonprofit Organizations achieving their goals Nonprofit organizations (NPOs) are structures that aim to serve a community, a cause or raise awareness about an issue without making any lucrative profit. They are formed by people who work or volunteer to help the organization reach its goals for a given cause. It is known that NPOs do not make money; they, therefore, have to find other means to help them get necessary funds to operate. The goals of NPOs vary from the cause they are working on, a fight that they are leading, an issue they want to raise awareness about etc. Regardless of what the goals of an NPO are, it is very important to find different means that are effective in helping them reach the goals. In this era when technology has made tremendous progress, NPOs are called to adapt and to use technology at their advantage in order to make the most out of it. As a result, NPOs turn to social media, a feature that technology is providing as a mean to help in their mission. Before we continue further on the topic, it is important to define social media and address its features that are helpful to NPOs. “Social media consists of the information infrastructure and tools used to produce and distribute content that has individual value but reflects shared values; the content that takes the digital form of personal messages, news, ideas, that becomes cultural products; and the people, organizations, and industries that produce and consume both the tools and the content.”(Parks and Philip, web 2012). Andreas Kaplan and Michael Haenlein, on the other hand, define social media as "a group of Internet-based applications that build on the ideological and technological foundations of Web 2.0, and that allow the creation and exchange of user-generated content." Therefore, we can see how social media includes a number of tools such as the internet, mobile device, applications, websites etc. that can be used in order to convey a message by creating a shared meaning. The most popular forms of social media used today in the world and mostly by NPOs are: blogs, social website like Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, LinkedIn, video and media sharing platforms such as YouTube and more. These tools are free of charge, which makes them more attractive to NPOs to use them because they allow them to get their work done at low cost. Social networking sites have given non-profits an incredible portfolio of free tools to use to raise awareness, boost their public image, garner new volunteers, and raise money. (Robin Wilding, 2011) First, one thing that social media is helping NPOs realize is raising awareness about the issues and causes they are fighting for. For instance, the like-page feature of Facebook has been great at informing people about issues going on in the world and raising awareness about them. Not only is Facebook providing information about an issue that an NPO wants to inform people about through the page, but it is also creating an interactive setting and shared meaning between the NPO and the people who like the page. This leads to more communication that includes questions, clarifications, and concerns. “The number of fans a brand can attract on Facebook serves as public indicator of its social worth, and more ‘likes’ means more impressions on the real-time newsfeeds of self-selected fans.” (Pardee Thomas, 2011). In the case of NPOs, the number of people who like their page reflects how many people know about them as an organization, or know about their mission and what they are trying to achieve. It is easy for NPOs to reach out to more people via social media tools due to the increase in the number of people who rely on social media to get informed. Furthermore, “installing a sharing-based tool like Facebook...
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