Monday, July 23, 2012

Survey says non-profit social media has improved from “Tediously Dull” to “Slightly Boring”





A new, massive year-long survey of the US non-profit sector has found significant improvements in social media content. The study, by the Snidely Center for Social Media Studies, says most charity social media is now “slightly boring” – a clear improvement from last year’s survey, which found most social media was “tediously dull”.

“We’re seeing the non-profit sector make steady improvements in social media content,” said lead researcher Dibble Brewer. “Last year, most charity social media was about as exciting as watching paint dry. This year, it’s like watching a TV documentary on the history of paint drying – perhaps one narrated by a famous actor. There’s a marked progression. It’s very hopeful.”

The study surveyed more than 4,000 US charities about their social media use. More than seventy percent were using Facebook and just under half were using Twitter. Twenty percent didn’t know what social media was and had to be given a written description, and in some cases a five hour tutorial.

The content from all the charity social media was then fed into a super-computer which analyzed its content. Teams of test subjects were then shown selected samples of the social media content. For the more dangerously dull examples, the social media was displayed to monkeys in laboratory controlled settings. The research was not without risk. One test subject went into a one-week coma after being exposed to hospital foundation social media and two test monkeys died. All the research was collated and then plotted on a ten-point scale, where 0 was brain-numbing boring and 10 was very interesting.

“While there is a wide variety of social media out there we were able to determine from our research that the vast majority of US charities have very boring social media. The sector as a whole rated a 2 this year. Last year they were a 1,”said Brewer.

The study theorizes that social media use by the sector has been so bad in the last few years that even charity leaders themselves knew they had to do something to improve.

“We’ve seen a lot of soul searching in the sector. They know their social media sucks, but it’s hard to change,” explained Brewer. “There are many barriers holding them back. They don’t have the time and resources to spend on developing their social media. They don’t have skills to create great content. And, worse of all, they are all very dull and boring people themselves.”

“Overall, we’ve seen great improvements. Charities are beginning to really develop solid content for their social media instead of just putting up stories of what funny thing their cat did yesterday at breakfast. We’ve noticed that they have started to actually think that maybe their stakeholders have interests outside being simply stakeholders of their organization. Now, if only they could find something that was so terribly boring, I think they’d be all set.”

The study recommends that charities try stop using Facebook posts that start with “We’re having another event…” or “Gee, has it been a year since we posted last?”.