Last week was a busy one in the tech world, with Apple, Facebook, and Twitter all rolling out new products and features. Reactions from the public have ranged from cynicism to enthusiasm.
But what, if any, effect do these new products and features have for the nonprofit world?
Let’s start with Twitter.
Twitter Donation Feature
The micro-blogging social media platform recently announced a new feature that will allow users to donate directly to political campaigns, all through the Twitter app.
*Phew* Thank goodness, I was worried those poor political campaigns wouldn’t have enough money to keep the lights on!
...anyway, the bigger news for readers of this blog is the possibility, as suggested by Twitter, that this is a feature that will be rolled out to nonprofits in the near future. That would seem like pretty big news. Twitter, afterall, is renowned for the frequent social justice conversations that erupt there on a near weekly basis. It’s real-time aspect, public nature, and easy search/trending functions, make it an easy arena for debate.
This makes it a great place for nonprofits to spread their message and engage with potential supporters. Organizations like DoSomething.org and The Getty Museum have experienced a lot of success engaging on Twitter.
So naturally, this seems like a great thing for nonprofits. There are however, a few caveats…
If Twitter is not already a platform where your nonprofit is engaging supporters successfully, this is not an open invitation to set-up an account and start hitting up people for money. The organizations that will have the most success with this will be the ones that have built engaged audiences that trust them.
And the worst way to break someone’s trust and drive them away is constantly hitting them up for cash.
Successful organizations on Twitter use it as a platform to enter conversations with their supporters, educate them on the issues they work to solve, and provide helpful and entertaining content to the public.
Mixing in occasional asks could prove to be very effective for them, especially when these asks are contextually timed to events related to their cause. People flock to Twitter during social justice events to learn about the situation and share their feelings. Offering an path for people to donate during these times could be very successful. Best of all, users can easily share the donation ask with their own followers, providing a powerful viral element.
Alright tech world, what else do you have for us this week? Ah yes, Facebook.
Facebook "Dislike" Button
Founder Mark Zuckerberg announced last week that the long awaited “Dislike” button may finally be on the way.
Facebook users have long requested alternative to the ubiquitous “thumbs up” button that made Facebook what it is today. The idea being that Facebook users share a variety of emotions on the platform, beyond just positive ones. Giving someone a “thumbs up” to sad news seems a little...off.
Others have blasted the idea, saying that the button will only serve to introduce even more negativity into an already volatile environment.
The outcome really depends on how the button will function.
Facebook would be far from the first social network to offer users an ability to dislike something. Reddit has famously offered both upvoting and downvoting for years. Thousands of spin-off sites have mimicked their methods to create environments where the best content flows to the top of pages while downvoted content slips to the bottom of rankings, as voted on by users.
If Facebook’s dislike button functioned in this way, hitting dislike would affect what people see in their timelines. However, based on the Zuckerberg’s comments, it seems unlikely that this is how they will set up the thumbs down button.
“What they really want is the ability to express empathy. Not every moment is a good moment,” said Zuckerberg.
That sounds more like a way to “Like” something without the connotations of a happy emotion. Or as TechCrunch so aptly described it, an “Empathy” button.
This doesn’t actually effect the way Facebook functions (or doesn’t function) for nonprofits, but it does allow for supporters to show empathy for a message an organization might deliver. Human rights organizations can ask supporters to hit “dislike” to show their support or empathy for a message without it feeling quite so callous.
Although, this does raise the possibility of increased slacktivism…
Alright, one more big announcement: Apple’s new operating system for the iPhone, iOS 9.
iPhone Suggested Caller ID
One of the coolest new features available to iPhone users suggested call ID. Now when you receive a phone call from a number that isn’t saved in your contact list, your iPhone will make a best guess of who that number might be associated with by scanning your email.
This could affect fundraisers as they call prospects to set up meetings, particularly for new fundraisers who might not have built a relationship with that prospect.
However, if you’re practicing some good old-fashioned #DonorLove, this change shouldn’t affect you too much. Good fundraisers have relationships with their prospects and don’t treat them like ATMs, so even if the prospect sees where you’re calling from, they’ll likely look forward to speaking with you.
Like most technology tools, it’s all about how you use them.