April 29, 2009

Charities Need to Track What Is Said About Them Online, Says Nonprofit Official

Monitoring what people are saying online about an organization is critical, Carie Lewis, Internet Marketing Manager at the Humane Society of the United States, in Washington, told participants at a session on social media.

Charities, she said, should be tracking:

  • Their organization’s name.
  • Any acronyms associated with the group — the Humane Society monitors HSUS.
  • The names of prominent employees and spokesmen.
  • Any current campaigns or issues associated with the organizations.
  • Other organizations that work on the same cause — the “competition.”
  • “Detractors” — people who are known to be critical of the organization
  • “Influencers” — people who shape he opinions of others.

“Detractors are people who can’t stand us, and there’s really nothing we can do about it,” said Ms. Lewis. “But we still have to pay attention to them. Our influencers are people who we’ve identified that are evangelists about our brand. We want to be able to communicate with those people and point them out.”

To help the Humane Society track all of that information, Ms. Lewis used iGoogle to set up a dashboard that aggregates RSS feeds from a variety of sources — including Google alerts, Filtrbox, Twitter Search, Technorati, Digg, and Forum — that send alerts on the terms the group is monitoring.

She also receives text messages when someone is talking about the organization online.

Said Ms. Lewis: “Brand monitoring is not a 9 to 5 job.”