Social Media Strategy: National Association of Dental Plans

Post by Frank Barry - 10.14.2009 - Follow me on Twitter

It’s good to see and hear what others are doing. Why? Because we love to learn from the experiences, failures and successes of others. It sparks ideas, connects us to each other and eventually helps us get better. I’m sure you’ve experienced this phenomenon before?  In the spirit of learning we’ve got Jeff Hurt with us this week! We try to highlight the work of nonprofits in the social media space regularly here and Jeff Hurt's nonprofit is a perfect fit! Jeff Hurt (@JeffHurt on Twitter) is the Director of Education and Events for the National Association of Dental Plans (NADP)– a small nonprofit headquartered in Dallas, TX

These guys are avid social media users and Jeff is the mastermind behind it all. OK, maybe not the single mastermind, but he’s doing some great things with his team! Thanks for sharing with us here at NetWits Think Tank!

Let’s jump in …

 

Why did you decide to start using Social media?

Jeff HurtI’ve been using elements of social media such as live streaming, satellite training, webinars with text chat functions and blogs for many years in my nonprofit work, but not until the past few years did I begin using more trendy platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and the like.

In 2007, we had a keynote presenter that wanted to project Wiffiti.com to encourage audience participation with SMS and Twitter texting from both mobile phones and laptops during his presentation. Now, we’d used audience response systems in the past but nothing from personal mobile devices. At this point I saw the power of the social web like never before so I immersed myself in the social media phenomenon. Needless to say we went full force into using Twitter for all future events.

In 2008, our members began to ask us if there was a way they could easily share information with each other online and ask each other questions. They wanted the ability to network and connect with each other beyond emails. I recognized that they were asking for a private, velvet rope eCommunity so we started one in April 2008.

 

What are your goals or reasons for using social media?

Today, our staff is very intentional about our social media use. We’re so intentional that we include it in our annual association strategic plans.

Four of our main goals are:

  • Communication with our overall audience
  • Building a vibrant community eco-system and allowing members to Network with each other
  • Creating touch points with our members that allow us to extend our face-to-face reach
  • Listening to the industry and the general public

 

How’d you come up with your current social media strategy?

We started small and have held to the motto “Fast, Friendly and Flexible.”

From there our strategy has grown organically. Over the years as different team members become champions for different social spaces and platforms we expand on what we do based on the experience we gain. We’ve also figured out that isolating our social media efforts into specific department silos doesn’t work for us. Instead we look at it as a way to listen, communicate and engage with our members, prospective members and the public.

We’ve grown in our efforts to the point where each year, our staff integrates social media into our regular strategic and annual plans so it’s part of our daily efforts. For example, our annual marketing plan automatically includes all of our social media marketing efforts and in some cases, we’ve dropped our print marketing efforts completely in favor of eMarketing and social media marketing.

Lastly it should be known that I have a background in professional education and adult learning so I use some of that education philosophy in our nonprofit programming. I believe in integrating our education, content and community experience so that each effort it is not a stand-alone one-time shot in the dark. Social media helps us to cross pollinate and use different mediums for different people as well as different purposes.

 

What obstacles/challenges did you have to overcome in ‘selling’ social media to your internal stakeholders?

We didn’t sell it to others as “social media.” Instead we sold it as new communication channels and tools to help us do what we were already doing. We identified them as the new 21st century tools just like the TV, telephone, fax and email once were.

We felt it was important for our members to know the technology trends that could impact their business and the new ways for them to connect with their customers. We’ve been providing content and education about social media and Web 2.0 since 2007.

One of the most important things we did was to hire professional speakers that would teach our members about Web 2.0 and social media. These speakers would present the facts and build the case for why social media was necessary in today’s world. Our members and stakeholders didn’t argue much with outsiders and were more open-minded to their content.

Unlike some nonprofits, we didn’t survey our members to find out what platform each of our members preferred or were using. We realized there would be sectors of our membership using each social media platform. So, as staff members voiced passion for specific social platforms, we empowered them to set up listening and community posts there.

 

What advice would you give others trying to get started?

Don’t despise small beginnings! Start somewhere with something. It’s ok to start small and test the waters. The social space is very forgiving and welcoming to new endeavors.

Also, don’t think you must have a detailed strategic plan when starting. It could be as simple as, “We want to begin to communicate and engage our audience in Facebook.” The most important question you can ask yourself is “Why do you want to use social media?” If it’s to reach your market, your members, your audience, then jump in, the water’s fine.

Lastly, be human, act like a human, talk like a human. Engage in conversations. It’s no different from your staff having phone calls with your audience or members. It’s all about connecting.

 

What social media sites/tools are you using?

  • Animoto Videos (free or low-cost video creation)
  • Blogtalkradio (interview members, speakers, board candidates, etc.)
  • EventCenter & EventPartner Webinar Platforms (which include webinar microsite, registration process, podcast recording features, text chatting)
  • Hootsuite (to schedule our daily tweets)
  • iCohere eCommunity (velvet rope eCommunity for members only)
  • Facebook Fan Page (for conferences and events)
  • Google Alerts & Twitter Search (for NADP as well as specific industry key words)
  • LinkedIn Group
  • Ning groups (for our own professional learning)
  • Social Collective Conference eCommunity (which also includes event registration, marketing and crowdsourcing features.)
  • Tinychat – to engage in conversations with general public about dental benefits
  • Tweetdeck (to monitor chatter on specific association keywords as well as government initiatives)
  • Twitter
  • Vovici for our research and surveys
  • Wiffiti.com
  • WordPress Blogs (conference blog, public outreach blog, advocacy issues regarding healthcare reform)
  • YouTube

 

Why did you choose the tools that you listed above?

Some were natural extensions of our education and event endeavors. Others came about from member requests, our own needs or staff experience. All staff is constantly looking for new tools to integrate into our plans.

 

How are you integrating all your social media efforts to maximize your time?

We see ourselves as the catalysts and facilitators of their connections as well as the conduits to their knowledge sharing so in many cases, we’ve educated our members on how to use these tools and equipped them to be our customer evangelists or “help desk.” Our members like to contribute and empowering them to answer questions in various platforms made a lot of sense. They tend to police each other.

We also use various alerts, Twitter search, Tweetdeck and Hootsuite to monitor the social space. One person monitors the Internet chatter all day and lets others know of opportunities to engage in conversations as needed.

 

How much time does your collective staff spend supporting your social media efforts on a daily basis?

That’s a hard one to quantify for us because we use online social tools in so many different ways. Here’s how it works out for us. Maybe seeing how we do it will give you some ideas about how you can staff in a similar way.

  • I manage our webinars, eCommunity, conference eCommunity and registration.
  • Joe Flowers, our resident Gen Y Geek, manages our blogs, Facebook Fan Page, Twitter communications, Tinychat and website. Joe also keeps up with the majority of our alerts. Both Joe and I manage our YouTube videos as needed.
  • Rene Chapin manages our LinkedIn Group and communications. She drives most of the content for our eNews and eMarketing.
  • Jerry Berggren manages our research endeavors and uses Vovici as well as our own internal data collection system. He is also a LinkedIn evangelist.
  • Kris Hathaway manages our government relations and keeps tabs on all federal and state regulations for the industry.
  • Tim Brown facilitates our blogtalkradio interviews, industry electronic data initiatives and manages several groups within the eCommunity..
  • Our CEO, Evelyn Ireland, stays abreast of alerts, press initiatives, and government relations.
  • All team members, with the exception of Joe, are liaisons to various volunteer groups and manage the communications with those members in our eCommunity. We use our eCommunity to drive our committee structures and communication.
  • Several staff have their own personal blogs for specific areas of expertise.

 

As you can see Jeff Hurt (@JeffHurt on Twitter) and the National Association of Dental Plans use social media in numerous ways to help achieve their goals.

 

What stands out to you about what these guys are doing? Did you see anything that you might think about doing?

 


Only 3 Days Left: SXSW Interactive Scholarship Program for Nonprofits

Using Causes on Facebook to Change the World with Matthew Mahan

Geoff Livingston talks Decentralized Grass Roots Fundraising in a Digital World

Claire Williams Diaz talks Hope140, T.W.E.E.T. and her Passion to Change the World

If you could Ask One Question what would it be?

Building Personal Relationships with Thousands at a Time

Birthing a Curriculum for Building a Community

What’s Missing from Your Ecosystem?

Does Suggested Content Capture Your Imagination?

NTC 2011 is Upon Us!

Asking... And Then Listening

Is Society Doomed if We Don’t Meet the UN MDGs?

Enter Blackbaud TV’s INSPIRE Contest for a Chance to Win an iPad

5 Things I’d Do if I Started Today

Announcing the Winners of Blackbaud’s INSPIRE Contests!

Do You do Mobile?

Social Media ROI and More at the Women Who Tech TeleSummit

I Have a Favor to Ask of You

Accountability is Crucial - 4 Tips for Nonprofits

Win a Free Pass to Blackbaud's Conference for Nonprofits

Ask Amounts: Strategic or Arbitrary?

5 Steps to Addressing Sensitive Conversations in Social Media

If you build it they will come, IF…

To Know Your CMS is to Love Your CMS…Right?

BlackbaudTV is on the Air

10 Things I've Learned Over 2,000 Tweets

HOW DO I … Promote my Video Through Email?

3 Simple Tips for Turning Good Web Pages into Great Ones

Nonprofit Giving on the Rise [Online and Offline!]

Your Organization in Eight Words or Less – Go!

License and Registration, Please

Reach Out or Round Up: Which Social Networking Strategy Should Your Organization Pursue?

Social Media Strategy: Pancreatic Cancer Action Network

Is Facebook Right for your Nonprofit's Community?

5 Tips for Writing Effective Web Content

Content Inventory: Never Fun, Always Needed

Go Beyond the Typical To Reach Your Base

Continuing the Conversation with Custom Confirmations

A Guide to Facebook Social Plugins for Nonprofits

Get More Twitter Followers Today [Ethically]

Twitter Hits 15 Billion

FIRST

Increasing Website Traffic with Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

7 Tips for Successful Online Fundraising

Video Interview with Andre Blackman of Pulse + Signal

10 Volunteering Sites to Help You Do Some Good

OPEN CALL: Do Nonprofits Make Films? We Say Yes!

Stacey Monk talks Epic Change, Tweetsgiving and more …

When In Doubt, Hit Something!

American Idol’s Help Me Give Back Program Rocks Team Fundraising

Chris Brogan Talks Nonprofits and Trust Agents

Chris Noble on Check in for Charity, Pepsi Refresh and Social Media for Nonprofits

10 Steps to Building a Successful Social Media Strategy

Measuring Matters

Video Rules!

Do You Know Your Supporters?

Heading to NTEN’s Nonprofit Technology Conference? Don’t miss these sessions!

Building a Facebook Fanpage – Part 3 – Adding Photos

Video Interview: NetSquared with Amy Sample Ward

Building a Facebook Fanpage – Part 2 – Configuring the Homepage

Video Interview: Facebook for Nonprofits by Randi Zuckerberg

SXSW Do-gooding, Inspirations and Nonprofit Takeaways

Spotlight on We Can End This with Scott Henderson

Turn Your Success into New Opportunities!

What to Watch For at SXSW 2010 - The Nonprofit Edition

Building a Facebook Fanpage – Part 1 – The Background Info

Blackbaud Announces March Web Seminars for Nonprofits

Learning is Everything!

Building a Facebook Fanpage – Part 0 – The prelude

Online Giving and Rapid Response Trends

Why Would I Use Social Media?

Independent Fundraising Event Trends

Connecting Advocacy to Fundraising: Free Nonprofit Webinar

It’s Kind to Give In Kind

Nothing But Net - Aid for Haiti Gets Webby

Make it Visible

Unlocking the Power of Online Forms in Sphere- Part I

Support Disaster Relief in Haiti

Getting Started with Twitter

Give your 2010 Strategy a Jumpstart with these Free Nonprofit Webinars – Starting Tomorrow!

The Power of One

Email Communication in 2010

The Science Behind the Art - Broadway Cares / Equity Fights AIDS - Part II

Foursquare: 8 Ideas for Nonprofits

Using Social Media to Improve Your Nonprofit's Efforts

How to Choose a Website Vendor- The Solution

2009 in Review

How to Choose a Website Vendor- The Partnership

Use Your Year End Giving as a Starting Point

The Science Behind the Art - Broadway Cares / Equity Fights AIDS - Part 1

The Science Behind the Art - Nonprofit Website Case Studies

Your Network Matters: Fatcyclist Raises Over 135K in 8 Days

Black December?

Obama, Then and Now: Lessons Learned in Online Advocacy and Fundraising (Part I)

Are Nonprofits Ready to Play Foursquare?

A Facebook Success Story: Charleston Animal Society

NetWits Know-How Event Fundraising Webinar Series

#Tweetsgiving Rocks

Watch for Roadblocks: The Road to More Successful Online Fundraising

13 Twitter Search Examples for Nonprofits

50 Social Media Tactics for Nonprofits

10 Ways to Make Your Website Fundraising Friendly

10 Tips for Online Challenge Event Fundraising

Social Media Strategy: A Small Nonprofit's Experience

7 Webby Sessions Not to Miss at BBCon

2009 State of the Not-For-Profit Industry UK Survey Results

How to Leverage Your Newsletter Subscriber List to Solicit Online Donations

Cause Marketing and Social Media go Hand in Hand

How Independent Schools Can Embrace Online and Offline Worlds

Creating a Social Networking Strategy (Part 1)

Jumpstart Year-End Giving with eCards

NTEN Webinar - The State of Online Fundraising

Branding Your Nonprofit: Part 2 of 2

What is Google Search Doing for You?

Generation Thumb

Social Media Strategy: National Association of Dental Plans

4 Internet Competencies You Need for a Career in Nonprofit

Turning "Brochureware" into a Fun and Interactive Website

Help Inspire Your Fundraisers!

16 Starter Tips for Nonprofit Blogging

Dive into the Flickr Pool!

Supporting Independent Event Fundraisers Using Online Tools - LIVESTRONG Day 2009

Want More Constituents on Your Website? Don’t Annoy Them! Part 2

How “Intelligent” is Your Nonprofit?

Using the Social Web to Make Local Impact

Mixing Traditional Media with Social Media

New England Province of Jesuits Wins Award for Faith-Based Standard of Excellence

Index of National Fundraising Performance- Q2 2009

11 Quick Tips to Enhance Your Facebook Fan Page

The Answer to Nearly Every Online Fundraising Question Is...

How Blogging and Tweets Generate Support for a Family

Measuring Success Online- Is This Internet Thing Worth the Effort?

Nonprofits and Social Media: Seth Godin, Beth Kanter and The Chronicle of Philanthropy All Chime In

Inside a Website Redesign: Plan Canada

Want More Constituents on Your Website? Don’t Annoy Them!

Twitter 101 for Nonprofits

Branding Your Nonprofit: Part 1 of 2

Are you Ready for the Next Facebook?

What is Google Doing for You?

6 Characteristics of a Nonprofit Trust Agent

(INSERT POST TITLE HERE)

What Not to Do on a Fundraising Call

Tips to Strengthen Your Email Campaigns

Listening Dashboard via Email?

On-site and Online Fundraising Best Practices

The Power of a Thank You

Abundant Options & Opting In

Why Twitter Matters

5 Questions Nonprofits Should Ask Before Sending an Email

Help Your Nonprofit Listen Like Starbucks and Dell

5 Mistakes Nonprofit Websites Make

Peer to Peer Fundraising- Painting a Better Picture with Video

Networking at a Grassroots Level

Thank You for Your Permission

Sign Up for NetWits Summer Camp!

A Challenging Economy = More Donations

Have a Contest to Increase Web Traffic

I’m Listening, Now What? 5 Tips to Make Your Listening Worth It

Are Twitter and Facebook Important for Event Fundraising?

Start a Movement!

Set up Your Social Media Listening Dashboard in 30 Minutes or Less

An eCard Experience

Sink or Swim? Nonprofits in 2010

Social Media Strategy: ChildFund International

How to Boost Event Fundraising with Facebook

The Web 2.0 Rummage Sale!

Summer Festivals: Where Music & Philanthropy Collide

Can Social Media Help Your Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Efforts?

Design for Good: 4 (More) Nonprofit Design Principles - Part 2 of 2

A Recipe for Search Engine Visibility: Part II

Payment Processing- You Raised the Dollars, Keep Your Cents

Nonprofit Blogging: Goals, Strategy and Tactics to Crush it

Recurring Gifts: Are You Missing Out on Easy Money?

Members Only!

We Need Facebook (?)

The Healthcare Industry is Stuck – 5 Strategies to Overcome and Resources to Assist

4 Tips to Keep Your Recurring Gifts Recurring

Social Media Strategy: LIVESTRONG and the Summer of Social Good

Social Media Strategy: United Methodist Church and 10THOUSANDDOORS

Design for Good: 4 Nonprofit Design Principles - Part 1 of 2

Social Media Strategy: 12for12k Challenge with Danny Brown

Tangible Love

A Recipe for Search Engine Visibility

Social Media Strategy: Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles

5 Email Sins to Avoid

Are Your Alumni Bored with You?

How One Multi-Chapter Organization is Succeeding with Virtual Accounts

6 Ways to Build Your Email Subscriber List through Social Media

Power to Your Peeps! Why Real-time Fundraising with Twitter Works

Giving Credit Where Credit is Due...

4 Facebook Tips for Nonprofit Success – See What Others are Doing

Reach Your Audience Where Your Audience Already Is!

Is Twitter Important for Thon Participants?

Mastering "The Google"

What's Really Going on with Events this Season?

Podcasting, Podcasting, Podcasting

Social Media Strategy: Athletes for a Cure

Does Your Website Further Your Mission?

Is Mobile Fundraising the Next Big Thing?

Help a Nonprofit This Mother's Day

4 Keys to Building a Successful Nonprofit Web Site

To Tweet or Not to Tweet is No Longer the Question

Expanded Functions in Sphere Connect API

Are Your Recipients Tired? Look No Further Than List Fatigue: Part II

15 Clay Shirky Quotes That Blew My Mind at NTC

Facebook Launches New API

Facebook to Open a World of Possibilities

Stewardship Isn’t Just a Thank You Letter

Connect Usage Goes BOOM!

4 Ways to Jump Into ‘Fundraising 2.0’

A Good Fundraising Appeal- By My Standards

Design for Good: The Hidden Potential of Footers

Website Omnipotence

When Social Networking Worlds Collide– The Facebook-Extended Personal Fundraising Page

2009 Target User Forum- Day 2

YouTube Video, $10,000 Dollars and Your Nonprofit

The Social Media Nonprofit Event Planner

Facebook & “Old People*”

Are Your Recipients Tired? Look No Further Than List Fatigue.

Don’t Fall Behind, Fundraising is Moving On!

SXSW Recap

Things I liked from SXSW Interactive

Five Things I Saw at SXSW

2008 donorCentrics Internet Giving Benchmarking Analysis

Why should you get your event participants to send more emails?

To Moderate or Not to Moderate? That is the Question.

Skittles and Your Nonprofit

Takeaways from the Run Walk Ride Conference

Taking Five Website Staples to the Next Level

Assigned Affinity

Don’t Dump – Learn to Listen

Twitter: Time Waster or Valuable Tool?

Using Twitter for the First Time

Bigfoot Sighting

RSS: Best thing since sliced bread

One Life is Enough!

Get free updates of the the blog articles sent to your inbox by entering your email address:

Make sure to check out our Social Media for Nonprofits resources section or browse by topic ...

Popular Posts

Recent Posts


Nonprofit Tech Featured Blog