Eugene Nonprofit #1 – NextStep Recycling

Nonprofits such as NextStep have good reason to want to preserve the environment, given the beauty that surrounds Eugene.

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:

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).

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4 Responses to Eugene Nonprofit #1 – NextStep Recycling

  1. Pingback: Eugene Nonprofit #1 – NextStep Recycling « Krios Consulting

  2. Wow! Thanks for picking us to review our work. This feedback is really helpful. We have had some good and not so good marketing advice and support in our short life span as a organization. I get told by other local nonprofits that we do better than many others out there with our communications, and I think that it true, to a point. We also do a lot of face to face activities, which in the end, is more powerful. The two employees who helped us have moved on, Mikalye is at the Springfield Chamber and Jonah ended up getting hired by a company in Switzerland and we haven’t manage to recover from that loss! We miss you Mikayle and Jonah!
    it’s tough out there for nonprofits to stay solidly focused on this type of communication when we have to downsize due to our new economy. I don’t have the funds to support these communication tools and end up being the one to post on Facebook and update our website – not the best use of resources – I quit doing Foursquare because it just seemed like a deep hole, and the LinkedIn site didn’t bring us any new contacts.
    Do you have any suggestions for nonprofits on how to maintain these tools with decreases in staffing and funding? Should we remove the links that aren’t being updated? I’d love to learn more – I took one class with Caroline Cummings about websites, but other than that I’m self taught.
    If you’d be into having coffee/tea/beer with me I’d love to pick your brain. I’ll buy!
    Executive Director, NextStep

    • cmckee2 says:

      Hello! Honestly I’m a little surprised that you responded so quickly! It shows how on top of media management and engaging customers you are! My blog is written for a Journalism class I’m taking at the U of O, so I’m still trying to get a handle on things myself. I am interested in possibly working for the nonprofit sector upon graduation, and this offers some valuable hands-on experience. I do believe NextStep does a great job with social media. For example, you frequently update your Facebook and Twitter pages, which is probably the most important thing for a nonprofit to do. As a college student I understand that it can be tough to maintain various social media platforms with limited resources. Perhaps one suggestion I can offer is to simplify your use of social media and cut back on what it is you use. For example, if Foursquare really does seem like a deep hole, discontinue using it. Focus on what it is you already do well in (such as Facebook and Twitter). I would love to have a drink with you sometime and further discuss how we can improve things. Send me an e-mail a with times that you’re available. Thanks for the feedback!

      – Chris McKee

      P.S. Here’s a link I found that might be of use to you.

  3. Thanks for the link, Chris and for the reply! We now have a date to meet next Saturday and I am super excited to learn more, exchange ideas, and see how we can move NextStep forward!

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