The latest issue of “International Journal of Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Marketing” is a collection of papers on the topic of “Broadening the Horizon of Nonprofit Marketing Communications”. This includes a range of papers investigating how nonprofit organisations use social media and the challenges this poses (here to orgs in the US)
Patel and Mckeever use content analysis to look at the tone of messages on nonprofit’s websites and discuss the importance of ‘positive’ messages, though they do not distinguish between different groups of stakeholders (donors, volunteers and advocates are all discussed). Auger also discusses the importance of positive messages, highlighting the importance of ‘optimism’. This was an interesting analysis of the use of twitter though I am not sure I was entirely convinced by the application of content analysis to unpack rhetoric.
Both papers prompted me to wonder more about what being ‘positive’ actually meant and indeed whether it was possible to be too positive – thus making it a negative!
Kinsky et al. look at the use of social media in a crisis, with an analysis of stakeholders responses to communication. Although volunteers were mentioned there was a primary emphasis here on intention to donate (using the theory of planned behaviour as a theoretical frame). In contrast, Saxton and Guo propose the constructi of “social media capital” as essential to nonprofit organisations while Maxwell and Carboni’s paper was (I think) the only paper to unpack the issues associated with communication to different stakeholder groups. Branigan and Mitsis’s paper looked at the use of celebrity endorsement on social media and interviewed the decision makers in the organisations to unpack how and why these had been used. The inclusion of generation y as a rationale for this focus was not however convincingly explained (readers of my posts elsewhere will not be surprised by this view – see also Pritchard and Whiting 2014)
So overall a really interesting special issue and I noted the following questions that are of relevance to our own research interests here:
– why do nonprofit orgs only see social media as a form of one-way communication? (this was a common theme across all the papers)
– how are volunteers different from other groups of stakeholders in their use of social media? do they feel that they are just on the receiving end? is being a volunteer and being a social media user connected in anyway and if so how?
– what is a positive message and can it ever be a bad thing?
– and as all these researchers and the organisations they studied were in the states, what is the experience of UK based not-for-profit orgs?
(Somewhat ironically I tried to include a link to the journal’s twitter account and it appears to have been hacked by someone promoting quick ways to earn money from home! Nothing not-for-profit about that).
Maxwell, S. P., & Carboni, J. L. (2014). Stakeholder communication in service implementation networks : expanding relationship management theory to the nonprofit sector through organizational network analysis, 313(November), 301–313. doi:10.1002/nvsm
Saxton, G. D., & Guo, C. (2014). Online stakeholder targeting and the acquisition of social media capital, 300(November), 286–300. doi:10.1002/nvsm
Kinsky, E. S., Drumheller, K., & Gerlich, R. N. (2014). Weathering the storm : best practices for nonprofits in crisis, 285(November), 277–285. doi:10.1002/nvsm
Patel, S. J., & Mckeever, B. W. (2014). Health nonprofits online : the use of frames and stewardship strategies to increase stakeholder involvement, 238(November), 224–238. doi:10.1002/nvsm
Auger, G. A. (2014). Rhetorical framing : examining the message structure of nonprofit organizations on Twitter, 249(November), 239–249. doi:10.1002/nvsm
Branigan, E., & Mitsis, A. (2014). Reach for Generation Y : using celebrity endorsement to communicate about nonprofit causes with young people in Australia, 321(November), 314–321. doi:10.1002/nvsm