Voluntary Sector: Charities wary of social media

CharityComms survey shows chiefs are afraid of negative comments on forums.

Many charity comms chiefs are scared of using social media, as they fear it could negatively affect their reputation.

A survey of 91 delegates at last week's CharityComms conference on digital comms found that 47 of the attendees (52 per cent) were reluctant for their organisations to embrace platforms such as Twitter and Facebook.

Senior charity PROs agreed that the possibility of negative comment in a public forum diminished trust in, and support of, social media within their organisation.

JustGiving product manager Jonathan Waddingham, who spoke at the event, called on charities to be braver.

'Whether organisations are active online or not, those comments will still take place. It shows the need for charities to learn how to deal with such comments and how to have public conversations with people,' he said.

Waddingham added that the perception of the risk is higher than the risk itself: 'It is rare for charities to get negative comment because public trust in charities is so high. The fear comes from not knowing how to listen and respond.' He advised charities to use case studies of what other charities have achieved through social media as a way of dealing with this issue.

In addition, 44 delegates said they had difficulty convincing management of the value of social media tools.

Ben Matthews, founder of volunteer-led PR agency Bright One, said: 'What we have found from working with small charities is they do not have the resources to fully engage with social media but when they do, they realise the risk is far outweighed by the positive impact.'

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