The Word from a Social Media Evangelist

The Word from a Social Media Evangelist

Carnival%20Mary - The Word from a Social Media EvangelistAs a social media evangelist, I praise the wonders of Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Yes, I have a smart phone and I know how to use it for social good. I spread the gospel of the power of blogging and the sweet grace having an up-to-date LinkedIn profile.

Most of the time I’m a patient teacher gently guiding social media doubters to the light. But, I have bad days. I have days that I want to scream at people “My stars MAN, can’t you see the potential of social media? Don’t you see all the cool stuff your company could be doing?”

In my current position, I serve as the Communications Director the Colorado Children’s Immunization Coalition, a nonprofit organization that promotes improved access, delivery, and demand for children’s vaccinations to keep Colorado healthy.

As it should come to no surprise to other nonprofit communicators, I came into this position with a very limited budget. I’d say I squeaked out about $3,000 in the 2009 budget for dedicated marketing and communications projects. The rest of my budget was just my time; essentially my salary was my only budget.

Many nonprofits face this conundrum. Nonprofits have lots of great stories to tell with no dollars. So how can you share them?

Traditional media relations is free, it just takes someone’s time. It’s powerful, but as any PR pro knows you don’t have a lot of control over the final message. You better pray it doesn’t snow or there isn’t some celebrity story on your press conference day.

There is e-newsletters and email outreach. It’s a great tool to reach out to your small section of the world who has already expressed an interest in the great things you do. We also know that open rates on emails and e-newsletter is DISMAL. Believe it or not, 15% is a good open rate. Really? That is like your mom, grandma and a few friends opening it to glance at what you are up to. Click through rates are even more depressing – 3% is the national average and sad!

Face-to-face meetings are powerful and inexpensive. A cup of coffee and an hour of your time can turn into support and dollars for a nonprofit. This tactics always sees great returns and worth every moment.

That pretty much expends your free to low-cost communications tactics. Events and print materials can be expensive and still only reaches a small, predetermined list of folks who have expressed an interest in your work. Websites and advertising are also expensive and while they are better at reaching a wider audience. Often advertising is a luxury that most nonprofits can’t invest in.

So you still want to reach a large population with nearly zero dollars? Enter social media!

Getting engaged in social media is FREE. Creating a brand space on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, MySpace, and Flickr is free. Even creating a blog is free. You can even go as far as to set-up a niche social network for your organization that could, in all honestly, serve as your website only with more interaction and functionality for FREE (see Think 360 Arts for a great example).

What social media can do for your organization that it rises above other communications tactics is the interaction you get out of this new medium. You can do the exact same things you do with your print materials and advertising campaign on social media.
With social media, you can push key messages and tout the benefits of your work.

With social media, you get a bonus: interaction with your brand. You can find out if people like your key messages. You get to query your customers to find out if they like your benefits or find something else more powerful.

It is this rich experience of interacting with real people that makes social media’s return on investment invaluable.

{Side note: For more great Mary photography check out Chris Haston’s “Riding with Mary” project}

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Kate Runy


A passionate technical wizard, Kate thrives on managing online content, social media for communications, and development projects.  Kate is the workhorse of the team, pulling out amazing feats of content creation and management week in and week out. 

Prior to joining BC/DC Ideas, Kate coordinated website and social media content, communications, and advertising for Go Global NC and Alzheimer’s NC.

Things that make her happy: I love animals about as much as I love working for nonprofits.

Mishel Gomez Cespedes


Mishel brings a passion for video storytelling and quippy social media content to the team.  At BC/DC Ideas, she is most likely editing video or scheduling the next moving social media post for our clients.

Her ear for storytelling is her greatest asset. Mishel has a unique ability to assemble content into a concise story that moves audiences to action.

A graduate of Wake Forest University she spent a semester in Spain and years serving her community through the campus organizations. Now, she is putting her passion for good to work.

Brian Crawford

creative director

Mix equal parts nerd and creativity and that’s Brian. A natural problem-solver, Brian’s ability to cut to the core of any problem helps guide our creative team to the correct solution without wasted time or money. It’s the core, this little nugget of truth, that helps our clients take the next step with their audiences.

Brian gets the greatest joy out of helping our clients realize and connect with their story. He is a true believer that everyone and every organization has a compelling story to tell, you just have to listen with an open heart.

Things that make him happy: Hanging out at the park with family, toddler-speak, hitting the focus pull, and good coffee.

Dawn Crawford


The engine behind BC/DC Ideas, Dawn has dedicated her career to good. Dawn brings her considerable experience and expertise to helping elevate the nonprofit sector. Our team’s lead strategist, Dawn is often seen leading our IdeaStorms, penning communications plans, or checking in with clients.

Before launching BC/DC Ideas in 2010, she earned her chops in 10+ years of communications leadership roles for public health, healthcare and youth-focused nonprofits. Working for nonprofits is Dawn’s dream job, and she loves that her 40+ hours a week make the world a better place.

Things that make her happy: A glass of champagne to celebrate big wins, Basecamp, living in the South, seeing the world, and a well-formatted spreadsheet.