Note From Beth: I recently keynoted the Social Good Brasil conference and one of the other speakers was Simon Mainwaring who gave an amazing keynote about social branding. His talk resonated with some of the ideas around how nonprofits can use a network mindset and leverage the professional networks of senior leaders of nonprofits. He agreed to riff on the idea and write this useful post.
As a long time reader of Beth’s blog, I am very excited by the release of Beth’s new book, Measuring the Networked Non-Profit. One of the important issues she raises is “how do you balance a personal brand and an organizational brand to best serve its strategic goals?” They can either work in opposition or complement each other depending on your priorities. In truth, however, your ability to effectively blend the two turns on how you frame your role within your non-profit organization.
When an organization leader – non-profit or otherwise – has a hierarchal outlook in which he or she sits at the top of an organization disseminating information to its employees and community, using social media to build a personal brand can be perceived as self-serving and even competitive with the higher purpose of the non-profit. If, however, that leader deeply embraces their service role seeing themselves as the chief celebrant, rather than celebrity, of their donor community, their personal brand becomes an extension of the non-profit’s higher purpose. For inspiring examples we need only look at Doug Ulman, Melinda Gates, and Beth herself, each of who provides the shoulders on which others stand to reach greater levels of social impact.
To execute this more balanced and productive approach to personal branding within your non-profit organization, it’s critical to integrate social media on three levels:
1. Leadership: There are several reasons to build a strong personal brand to help support your non-profit brand. First, by building your personal brand, you develop the social media fluency and a critical understanding of the relationship dynamics between your organization and its donors. Second, refining your personal brand will force you to find your own voice and align it with the core values of the non-profit. Third, and perhaps most importantly, the development of a personal brand will serve as a powerful permission slip for everyone within your organization to exercise social media themselves.
2. Employees: As an extension of his or her personal brand, a non-profit leader should also provide training to their employees to ensure the necessary skills sets across the organization. This will allow the organization to spread the load of content creation and distribution evenly across all employees and to provide the opportunity for each employee to inject their own passion into the personality of the brand.
3. Community: Finally, leadership and employees must engage with their community on an ongoing basis across different media channels focusing on the how and where their community likes to be reached. For example, younger donors may prefer to see the impact of their donations through photos on Instagram or short 15-second Viddy videos, while older members enjoy data-driven blog posts, white papers or podcasts.
When a non-profit leader frames their role as one of service, and when social media is integrated across these three levels, your donor community will enjoy a consistent and purposeful brand experience. That’s when you strike the most effective balance between a personal and organizational brand, and truly unlock the power of social media to leverage the connective tissue between people to serve a purpose higher than ourselves.
This week, Simon Mainwaring, Fortune 50 consultant and New York Times selling author is launching the We First Social Branding Blueprint that shows non-profits how to use social media to build their reputation, fundraising and social impact. Simon reveals the most effective strategies of the smartest brands in the world like Nike, Coca-Cola and Starbucks, so that you can use them to build your non-profit. Order your Social Branding Blueprint now and receive an extra online access pass FREE to give to a non-profit colleague. Plus, if you order this week only (November 15th – 21st), you’ll receive TWO free tickets to the Social Branding Seminar in Los Angeles, California in March 2013.