COMM0015 – Blog Post #2: Strong & Weak Organizations

I recently had the honour of attending the annual Three Wishes Gala hosted by Make-A-Wish Eastern Ontario. For this blog assignment, I was drawn by the tireless efforts of the countless volunteers who make this important mission a success. I found myself curious about what similar organizations, which depend equally on fundraising and volunteer efforts to change the lives of sick children, were doing to engage the community online. Some are leveraging social media to their great advantage, and others are missing the mark a little.

Strong Organizations: Make-A-Wish Eastern Ontario & CHEO

Make-a-wish

Photo Credit: Make-A-Wish Eastern Ontario
(http://www.makeawisheo.ca/index.php)

Make-A-Wish Eastern Ontario is consistently applying their social media strategy to their website, Facebook page, and Twitter Page (@MakeAWishEO). While their online presence is relatively new, having joined Facebook in January 2012, they have increased their efforts in 2013 to attract and engage new audiences.

Make-A-Wish Eastern Ontario is a regular contributor to its parent organization’s YouTube channel, boasting videos of fundraisers, wish reveals, and benefit concerts. The Eastern Ontario branding is consistently applied throughout their online activities, so the online community is always aware who it is they’re engaging with. They have direct links to all their social media platforms clearly visible on their homepage, as well as a Twitter feed. They also use a consistent tone throughout their messaging, clearly demonstrating a direct application of a larger strategy.

CHEO Logo

Photo Credit: CHEO
(http://www.cheo.on.ca/)

The Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) is another organization that is making exceptional use of a social media strategy. Given the subject matter, CHEO is very good at making meaningful connections with their audience, highlighting the importance to the organization of helping these children get well, and providing emotional support to their families. Like Make-A-Wish, they have applied consistent branding across all platforms, have made direct links to each available on their homepage, but are even more active and engaging in their approach.CHEO posts a number of new videos each month to their YouTube channel, on a variety of topics, ranging from health talks, to parent experience interviews, to celebrity fundraisers.

On Twitter and Facebook, they are responding regularly to questions about hospital wait times and flu clinic dates, they are posting images from their family New Year’s party, responding in gratitude to parents who comment on their exceptional services, and are even able to help you find a lost cell phone on Boxing Day.

Twitter CHEO

Photo Credit: Twitter @CHEOhospital
(https://twitter.com/CHEOhospital)

There is no question that these two organizations are implementing what appear to be successful social media strategies. They are clearly motivated to maintain lasting relationships within the community, following up on children’s progress, and showing a genuine concern for both the business and personal side of their operations.

Weak Organization: Children’s Wish Foundation of Canada

Children's Wish

Photo Credit: Children’s Wish Foundation of Canada
(http://www.childrenswish.ca/en-on/home)

At first glance, Children’s Wish appears to be fully engaged in online activities. They have a website, produce videos, and they have a Facebook page and Twitter presence, as well as a YouTube channel. However, upon closer inspection, none of these activities appear to be coordinated at all. The organization does not appear to have any formal social media strategy in place, and their online efforts are completely disjointed. It would appear that provincial, local, and national offices are operating in silos with little coordination.

The national website is divided into provincial chapters, and upon exploration of the Ontario site, there is no evidence of a social media presence at all. The three videos embedded on their homepage (some over three years old) do not link to the organization’s single national YouTube channel. Furthermore, the organization has only produced 17 videos in the last six years, and has a poor showing of only 70 subscribers; which isn’t surprising since the only way to find the channel is to manually search for it. The organization would benefit from posting not just scripted videos, but also candid videos of wish reveals.

The organization has a Facebook page governed by the National Capital chapter, which is again counterintuitive given that the website is divided into provincial chapters. Although there are others, such as Newfoundland and Labrador, that also host their own pages. While the national Children’s Wish has a strong Twitter following of over 7,500 followers, there are other Twitter presences for some, but not all, provinces.  It is unclear which accounts interested parties should follow, and where to direct attention.

This organization, like the others, depends on fundraising and donations to proceed. Their subject matter is gripping and lends itself to engagement with the community. An organization such as Children’s Wish could build long-term, lasting relationships through social media engagement. First and foremost, the organization would benefit from a national strategic social media strategy, with clear direction on implementation at the provincial, and if needed, at the local levels. Measures need to be put in place to ensure consistent messaging for the organization across platforms and throughout the country.

COM0015 Blog Post #2 – Strong and Weak Organizations

like-and-unlike-stamps

In conjunction with viewing the Lung Association’s video and checking out their social media practice for a lesson in this course, I would categorize them as a weak organization.

To me, the website or “home-base” does not connect to the visitor right away. It is clear what their mission is, but as a reader I’m not drawn into their story right away. It should be visible right on their homepage how the Lung Association makes a difference and why I should be donating money. I find their blog well written and interesting but somewhat hidden. There is a little slideshow on the homepage but no other reference to their blog, so if I miss the picture on the slideshow, I will not likely find their blog.  On their blog page, I can choose blogs from different provinces. I would find it more useful to have a selection of topics to choose from.

The Lung Association is active on national and provincial levels on Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, Twitter and YouTube. None of their social media presences have significant traffic. As an example, their national Facebook page has just over 1330 likes but more importantly, there is almost no engagement. I’ve also noticed that the link to their YouTube channel on their Facebook page is not working.

There must be a reason why the Lung Association had decided to entertain so many local social media presences but I think it requires too much time to energize and maintain them properly. It also might be more effective for the employees to work together to come up with ideas and content while providing a more collaborative environment. In the video the Lung association mentioned their limited resources which makes it even more important to work efficiently and nurture creativity.

I would call the Heart and Stroke Foundation is a strong(er) organization. Their social media activities are limited but they seem to do a better job connecting and engaging with Canadians. While I was looking into their activities, I noticed that a lot of readers posted negative comments on Facebook because of a certain YouTube video, which criticizes the Heart and Stoke Foundation for endorsing a specific product.  I thought it was impressive that someone replied on behalf of the organization on a Saturday within the hour.  Their response was somewhat official for my liking, but I think it was appropriate for the situation. I also noticed an idea for a fundraiser to get sponsors to donate $1 for each “like” received through a certain app. Their postings were more informative and less “official”.

I was surprised to see that they received over 120,000 likes and with engagement at almost 5% while the Canadian Red Cross totaled only 21,000 likes and less than 3% engagement. I found similar metrics on Twitter. I picked Heart and Stroke over Canadian Red cross because I thought they where more relevant given they are similar company sizes.

photo credit: yaymicro.com