“The wise learn many things from their enemies.” – Aristophanes
In normal times, the job of U.S. intelligence agencies is to mine data in order to thwart attacks, carry out tactical operations and keep American interests safe at home and around the world. Remember Benghazi? Remember General Petraeus? The word “intelligence” took a beating.
Businesses mine data for “competitive intelligence” (CI), allowing them to learn as much about the competition as possible. In the past, securing this vital information sometimes came under the heading of industrial espionage. But thanks to Google and, especially, social media (SM), it’s all there for the taking–and 100% legal.
More and more nonprofits (NPO) are competing for donors’ attention and money. Many NPOs have joined the SM revolution in order to gain a larger slice of the donor pie. But how do you know if anyone would be interested in what you are posting?
Before embarking on a fundraising campaign, your NPO would work hard to create a strategy with donation targets, presentation ideas and solicitation lists. The same is true for SM strategy.
The first component of a SM strategy is to check your competition’s web presence. A good scan of the competitive environment allows you to:
- observe what other NPOs in your field are doing online
- see which SM platforms they are using and how
- learn from their best and worst practices (do they only broadcast or only share other organizations’ content, for example)
- read their posts and see what content they are producing
- check how they’re engaging people- who they follow, who follows them and whether people are conversing with them
This online CI gives you great insights into what value other nonprofits are offering their followers- if you’re not bringing added value to the table, people will not pay attention to you. And as I mentioned above, competition is fierce, so you had better stand out! (The above also applies to other NPO websites. Check out their content, design, ease of navigation and usability, supporters and partners. The information is available- use it to your advantage!)
For instance, if you work with troubled youth, odds are you are familiar with other organizations locally that perform similar activities. Why not check out their programming to see if there’s an untapped niche? And while you’re at it, use Google to research similar NP’s from around the world. There’s much to learn and implement.
None of the above means you should steer clear of other NPOs. Far from it! I am a strong proponent of NPOs working together on specific projects aimed at helping more people. A partnership allows you to pool resources to reach a wider audience and potentially increases your chances of receiving funding from donors.
Before you team up, CI rules apply: Check out your potential partner and make sure they have a solid web and SM presence. Once you have determined they are a good fit, create a joint strategy to determine creative ways of spreading the word.
I always say that a NPO is like a business- if you do not raise enough funds to serve your constituents, you’ll have to shut down. Why not apply the business practice of gathering CI and use it to further your NPO’s goals?
Hello Google – we have work to do…
Ephraim is always happy to connect with people on Twitter.
More posts from NPO Week at Pixel/Point Press:
- How to Stay Sane When Social Media is Your Job
- Perfecting the Act of Not-For-Profit Task Juggling
- Content is King – Help Yours Reign Supreme
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