Social Media Strategy: ChildFund International

Post by Frank Barry - 7.22.2009 - Follow me on Twitter

ChildFund International recently went through a complete rebranding. As part of that rebranding effort they decided to be much more active in the social media world. Social media is now a key part of their online strategy. In the spirit of continuing to learn how nonprofits are using social media we spent some time with David Hylton from ChildFund.

I’m sure you will find a few great nuggets of information to help you in your quest to make an impact using social media. Here we go …

ChildFund International

How to Get Started --

Why did you decide to start using social media?

Social media is a direct and easy way to connect and engage with supporters and potential supporters. This new media also allows us to reach an audience that may not be familiar with our work with deprived, excluded and vulnerable children.


What obstacles did you have to overcome in ‘selling’ social media to stakeholders?

We’ve been lucky with the support and are hearing good things from stakeholders. Our leadership and Board of Directors have been very supportive of this effort. Overall they hey have embraced the effort. Our president and CEO even plans to tweet when she is in the field. As we continue to make progress we will be collaborating across divisions, looking at it from both a communications and fundraising approach.  


What role has social media played in your rebranding efforts?

Social media has played a role in our rebranding by providing a means for letting people know about the work we do for children while also increasing our global visibility. When we launched our new name, ChildFund International, we launched new Facebook and Twitter pages, as well as a new blog. We’ve been more active in these places and focused on spreading the word about what we do and how ChildFund is helping kids around the world.

We’ve made sure to highlight our presence on these social media websites by linking out from our main web site to our Twitter page, Facebook page and blog frequently. We also built a central area called “Stay Connected” on our site. This allows our supports or new visitors to easily connect with us where ever we’re at.


Where would you suggest I start? What tools should I look at? Where should look for advice? 

We received valuable information in the months leading up to our rebranding through various webinars. We also watched what other people were doing in order to see who was being successful, what tools were being used most and how to properly engage with the community on these sites. That led us to picking one blogging service (WordPress), one micro-blogging service (Twitter) and one networking service (Facebook).

One bit of advice that proved to be helpful for us – Before you dive in at a professional level, be sure to test the waters within your personal social network. It’s a great way to see how things work and get feedback from friends.

What’s the most important thing to remember when using social media?

Information moves quickly and a level of control is ceded. However, if you are responding and posting, you can still share your organization’s messages effectively.


Measuring Success --

What are your social media goals/objectives? 

We want to use social media to engage with our current supporters and donors, as well as gain new supporters. Social media gives us an incredible ability to interact with people and share about the work we do through telling stories, posting photos, publishing video and sharing information.

We also want to empower our supporters to tell us what they want and share information with us. Social media gives them an avenue to communicate with us, ask questions and give feedback. They can share their stories, photos, information with us or point us to other things they think we should be aware of.

Lastly, we want to connect our supporters with each other. Our supporters are passionate about their involvement and how they’re changing kid’s lives. Many want to share their stories – social media allows that to happen immediately. 


How do you measure and demonstrate ROI?

Since this is a new strategy for ChildFund, our ROI is evolving. Our first step was to start the conversation; now we want to engage and provide calls to action. We recently hired a director of ePhilanthropy and Business Intelligence, who will lead our online marketing efforts, including online fundraising and e-mail marketing. We are also hiring a community manager who will keep the conversations going and will offer engagement tools.  


The Tools --

Facebook, Twitter and the ChildFund Blog seem to be your focus. Why did you pick these Three?

We decided early on to pick one blogging service, one networking service and one micro-blogging service. We went with these three in part because they are the most popular right now. However, we are open to expanding the sites we are using and experimenting with new sites that are developed.


We know a Facebook Fan page is the ticket, but what else should we be thinking about?

If a Facebook Fan page is the ticket, engagement is the movie. No matter what tool you choose, you have to engage with your audience. Ask questions; answer questions; respond to all feedback, positive or negative.  Facebook was also desirable because we want to provide causes and fundraising options.


How are you using Facebook Insight tools?

Since our measurements are only a few weeks old, we are looking at these to determine who our audience is and how we can reach the untapped audience. Once we have a few months worth of metrics we can then decide what the next step will be.


Twitter is all the rage, but is it worth the time? How have you used the tool? What makes it worth it?

Twitter is a great tool to spread your message quickly. In the first week of the new Twitter page we received inquiries from people wanting to know more about ChildFund, people wanting to know how they can help and some people just saying they like the work we do. Twitter is a quick and easy way to reach out to people to answer questions and to let them know about the work we’re doing.

Twitter is also a great way to engage with people in different ways. Currently we are using Twitter to help deliver gifts to children and families in countries in Africa. For every 200 followers we gain on Twitter a gift is sent to a country in Africa where the need is the greatest. This initiative helps us increase the number of people we can communicate with as well as change the lives of children in Africa!!

Full details about this initiative can be found on our blog – Follow ChildFund on Twitter and Help Children in Africa and Geoff Livingston’s blog – The ChildFund Twitter Effort.


Outreach --

I noticed you have been reaching out to the blogosphere community. Can you talk about your overall blogging strategy and why reaching this community is important?

The more people are talking about us, the more people know who ChildFund International is and the work we do to help deprived, excluded and vulnerable children become leaders of enduring change. For us, our blog serves as a way to let people know about the work we are doing. Down the road you’ll see first hand blogs posts from staff members who visit program areas. Reaching out to others who are talking about us is very important. If they write something that is not true or unclear, we want to clear up that message; if they write something great about us, we want to let them know we’re reading and that we just want to say thanks. Again, it’s about a conversation and engaging in real time. 


David Hylton is currently the public relations specialist for ChildFund International
David Hylton is currently the public relations specialist for ChildFund International. He has nearly 10 years of communications experience, with much of that coming in newspapers. In his spare time, David enjoys spending time with his new son and running half marathons.



Check out our Social Media Strategy Series below.


We’ve been talking a lot about nonprofit social media strategy and use, but I know there is always more to learn. What have we missed? What can you share with us or ChildFund?



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