In my last post I commented on an article my professor posted about what nonprofits should focus on in 2012. If you missed that, the link is in the previous entry. The article helps establish some of the best practices that nonprofits should strive for, with a strong emphasis on the smartphone compatibility. While my lack of a smartphone partially inhibits me, there are still several ways I can measure Eugene area nonprofits by the author’s standards. For example, I can measure ZMOT by looking at the top Google search results for each nonprofit. My analysis will also focus on each nonprofit’s use of social media tools such as Facebook and Twitter, and how frequently each is updated.
Today I will be blogging on NextStep Recycling, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit founded in 2002. Originally a Mac-oriented computer recycling center known as MacRenewal, they have since expanded to include all computers and other electronic devices. They state their mission statements as “[p]roviding technology and training to children and adults who have barriers to employment and education, while protecting our environment and community from hazardous waste.”
NextStep utilizes six social media tools: Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Flickr, YouTube, and LinkedIn. Except for the LinkedIn page, all of their social media websites appear in the top right corner of their homepage.
Immediately upon glancing through these pages the reader notices a serious problem. NextStep updates their Facebook and Twitter pages rather consistently. In fact, they often receive the same status updates. For example, as of this writing their latest update reads as follows:
14 new “likes”. Yeah now! Please recommend our page to your friends. The more folks who know about our services, the more positive impact we can have on our community!
While on the surface this is great, since (obviously) Facebook and Twitter are two of the most popular social media websites on the market, NextStep holds an inconsistent record across other sites. Since joining Foursquare, they have engaged in only two tips with other local businesses, both in 2010. Their most recent upload on Flickr was on February 10, 2011. Only six videos exist on their YouTube channel, the latest of these which consists of two robots from Xtranormal engaging in the cheesy self-promotional conversation every other business in the world has already engaged in.
To be fair, their homepage features several other videos, many of which feature their engagement with local media such as KVAL and KEZI. One of these is a story featuring another media outreach program of theirs, ReUse Radio, which features them collaborating with other related nonprofits such as MECCA and BRING Recycling to promote the benefits of reusing materials instead of merely recycling them.
However, all of this consistently demonstrates a problem with infrequent updating across social media platforms. Even their homepage reflects this (their latest news story and blog post are both from April 2010). NextStep does important work and provides a valuable service to the Eugene-Springfield area, but relying solely on Facebook and Twitter for consistent communication severely restricts their voice in the community they serve. Even with smartphone technology such as voice recognition and QR codes, a nonprofit cannot build its brand relying solely on social media tools nearly everyone uses.
Perhaps this uneven presence helps explain their mixed ZMOT. A Google search for NextStep produces the following results:
- Their homepage, which has a Google rating of 4 based on 20 reviews.
- Their Yelp page, where they have a 1.5 rating based on two reviews.
- Their LinkedIn page.
- Their VolunteerMatch page.
- Listings in gazettetimes.com and blue-path.com.
- A story on KMTR (ironically done by another Chris McKee) about the launching of a community computer lab.
- Their Facebook page.
- Their YellowPages listing, where they have a 5 rating based on one review.
- A mention on BRING Recycling’s webpage under “Electronics and Appliances.”
These mentions offer windows into what NextStep’s customers are thinking, as well as to address complaints and concerns. For example, shilliard85 left this comment on the KMTR article:
I appreciate NextStep’s goals and mission, but I am an impoverished college student, I went in looking for a computer, and their used computers are a few hundred bucks…that isn’t cheap, that’s a rip off.
While shilliard85 left this comment on a news story and not a media webpage operated by NextStep, the nonprofit should keep an eye out for these complaints. They appear elsewhere, such as in Google reviews and on Yelp. Without effectively addressing such comments, NextStep risks losing the edge to its competition (such as in losing first place in “Best Environmentally Friendly Business” to BRING and Down to Earth).