Amy DeVita, TopNonprofits: I’m really excited to have Ms. Julia Campbell with us today. She is my favorite go-to, social media expert. Not only does she understand social media very well and stays on top of all the changes, but she also has a very deep background in nonprofit work. Julia, Hello and thanks for joining us today.

Julia Campbell: Thanks for having me, Amy

Amy DeVita, TopNonprofits: I’m sure I left out some very important things. So if you want to take a moment and introduce yourself to the audience, that’d be great. Okay.

Julia Campbell: Well, I am a digital marketing and fundraising consultant to nonprofits specifically. I come from the development and marketing world, and before I started my consulting business, which I’ve been running for about 12 years, I was that development, marketing volunteer coordinator, event planner, cleaning the kitchen sink and, you know, bringing the food and cheese and crackers to the events. I did all of it. So my bread and butter is really small nonprofits, bootstrapping nonprofits, people that are kind of wearing all the hats

Amy DeVita, TopNonprofits: Well, we can relate. That’s very helpful and I think familiar background for a lot of the listeners. So thank you for sharing that. And, and thank you also, I picked up on, you know, your digital media specialist and I need to evolve my vocabulary. So thank you. I will continue to use that phrase and, because there’s so much more than just social media.  So today, Julia, I wanted to get your take on the recent news that came to light, you know, about Facebook and Instagram. And since these are channels that are really important to so many nonprofits, I’d love to get your take on things.

Julia Campbell: This is one of my favorite topics. I think this comes up every few years, but the reason why it’s been such a polarizing issue lately is because of the congressional hearings with Francis Haugen, you know, the Facebook whistleblower and then the other whistle blowers that have come to light and then just sort of the real push back on Meta/Facebook, whatever they want to call themselves. the pushback that these platforms and sort of the PR campaign that they’ve instituted to defend themselves against pretty indefensible actions. So I think what’s really interesting here is that way back when Facebook was created, we were really sold a bill of goods. So it was positioned to us, especially as nonprofits, small nonprofits, with no marketing budget, it was positioned as this great, free playground where you could potentially connect with millions of people, potential donors, potential supporters.

They were on there. They were talking about what they care about. They were connecting with friends and family. They were connecting with businesses and we could set up a business page and reach all of our fans and all of our donors in one fell swoop. And then with the sort of evolution of the platform and the algorithm, and now the sophistication of the ads mechanism, what happened was that we found that this was not true. And now we know organic reach, unpaid reach on these platforms is really like one to 2%. So if you have a hundred fans, 200 fans, you’re really only reaching a very small fraction with all of your posts. Now that’s not to say that Facebook is not a powerful tool. We just got off of giving Tuesday. And I have some clients that raised thousands of dollars on Facebook and Instagram on giving Tuesday.

I have clients that have mobilized entire communities and Facebook groups around advocacy and around, especially for people that are in very niche communities, like, rare diseases or communities that have a lot of stigma where they need like a private group, so they can have a safe space to talk. So I think the issue that I’m having is it’s not as simple as should organizations quit or not. It’s more, how are we using them and how are we holding them accountable And the nonprofit sector has huge amounts of power. We, I think we’re 30% of the workforce. We have huge economic power. We have huge vocal power. We need to be calling on our legislators and saying, we need to legislate. We need to have some regulations. The platforms need to be regulated. They are literally utilities and they are not regulated at all. Like the phone companies, the gas companies, even the internet companies.

So social media companies have this weird, I don’t know, wall built around them that they are not regulated really in any way, but I think non-profits rather than leaving the platform, we can call on legislators. We can use our voice and our economic power and our political power to actually make changes to the platform. I think leaving the platforms is not viable for many, many nonprofits, especially from marginalized communities that rely on the platforms to communicate and organize. But I do think we have a responsibility to have sort of a, an existential discussion about how we are moving forward and whether or not these platforms are serving our best interest. So it’s, I just don’t see it as a let’s all leave or let’s all stay. I think we should probably be staying, but being a little bit more intentional and strategic in the way that we’re using the platform. And also in the way that we’re talking about the use of the platforms.

Amy DeVita, TopNonprofits: Yeah. I couldn’t agree more. I, I certainly didn’t think that the real answer would be to stop using the platforms, but the idea of really digging into the strategy that works right for that group, using that particular channel,

Julia Campbell: Oh, we have to also remember WhatsApp is a part of the Facebook, Instagram trifecta, and many international communities rely on WhatsApp for communication and for organizing. So if we say let’s leave Facebook, we are, we’re saying that we want to basically remove ourselves from all of these other platforms that, that a lot of communities rely on. Yeah.

Amy DeVita, TopNonprofits: Yeah. And, and to your point of getting in touch with legislators and, trying to make our voices heard how we can, use our, use our power and size to affect some change because yeah, I mean, I’ve been watching the hearings that I’ve watched the hearings and clearly they get away with so much. I’m just going to say getaway, they got, they’ve gotten away with so much because the people in the Congress, they just don’t understand what any of this is.

Julia Campbell: Oh gosh, it’s, it’s almost painful to watch those hearings and to know that there are so many other people out there that really do understand it and get it, and we need to, we do need to regulate them. I also don’t think they need to be split up. And that’s another question that I get, I’m not, you know, by any means an expert in, in business and an expert in this kind of law. But I just think if we separate them, we just have three behemoths that we now need to regulate and deal with. It’s like, you know, the devil, you know, versus the devil you don’t know… and I would rather have them stay together because the, if you separate them, it’s not going to address any of the problems. You’re just going to create a three-headed beast or three separate beasts rather than one. So to me, let’s deal with the actual problem, which is the fact that misinformation is spreading like wildfire, the algorithms favor, provocative conversations that spew, you know, that spur outrage and millions, millions of comments. I mean, we, we need to just tackle the root causes rather than attack the platforms necessarily. And this is on all the platforms. Let’s be real. We target Facebook, but this is happening on all of the platforms.

Amy DeVita, TopNonprofits: Absolutely. so, okay. And I agree with you. I think, there is a bigger problem that needs to be addressed and we need to do that. Let me put that aspect of it aside for the rest of this particular conversation and what I’d like to hear from you, our suggestions. So, a communications manager or an executive director is listening to this and they’re, you know, trying to square all the, the news that’s come out and then they’ve got stakeholders who are like, well, why are we still using, well, whoever the stakeholders are, but they could be, you know, they could be staff, they could be donors, community members, board members, whatever that say like, well, why are we still using this channel If they, you know, we’ve found out that they’re doing detrimental, like serious damage to our children. And they’ve been taking our data, which I don’t think anyone surprised by, or, you know, all of these things. So how, what suggestions do you have in terms of, addressing misalignment of maybe the negative news and, organizations, missions

Julia Campbell: Well, I really believe it’s sort of like anything else in the news. I just think non-profits, if they are getting questions from their stakeholders, they need to be very transparent. And very honest . Trust is down so much, especially in the nonprofit sector with brands, with institutions. I know the latest trust barometer showed that 50% of us adults do not trust nonprofits to do the right thing. So that has to be because of what we need more transparency. And, we also just need to be more human and talk more about what’s going on in the world and not necessarily what is going on in our organization. So how are we, for instance, there’s, you know, there’s huge conversations around, how are we committed to diversity, equity and inclusion ? How are we committed to anti-racist policies? These are all questions that my clients are getting, and rather than kind of bury our heads in the sand, I think we need to truly answer these questions, but have a, have a response that’s meaningful and isn’t just sort of corporate speak or legal speak.

So ,  have the executive director come out and say, we are not quitting Facebook because of X, Y, Z. I don’t want anyone to do this unless you feel like your constituents are asking for it. If people are not asking for it or clamoring for it or, or banging on your door about it, then maybe just go kind of one at a time to certain emails. But if you do feel like there’s a groundswell of people really questioning it, it might be worth making a statement. You know, an example is, NTEN , the nonprofit technology network, which is a nonprofit, they decided to deactivate their Facebook page, sort of as a protest. And they wrote an entire blog post about why they did that. And I’m happy to share that with anybody. And I thought it was really interesting, but the individual members did not deactivate their Instagram accounts.

So in my view, I thought, well, they should’ve probably explained why that was. So just make sure that any statement you release is authentic to your mission and your values clearly explains what you’re trying to do and why. And I also think a good example of this is the organization, DoSomething.org. They target, 18 to 24 year olds, even younger. And they really struggled with this, especially the revelations of how Instagram in particular was hugely harmful to, I think it was 30% of teenage girls experienced, increased thoughts of suicide, or self-harm when they went on Instagram horrifying. So I do not let my daughter on Instagram, but that’s my own personal choice and do something that org, they are an organization dedicated to combating suicide and self-harm and addiction and all of these things in, in teens. So they actually came out with a statement to say, you know what

We feel like we are actually doing more good by being on Instagram because we’re promoting our hotlines, we’re promoting our programs, we’re reaching our audience where they are. And we feel strongly that if we left, there’d be a huge void and our we’d be abandoning our audience. So they made a statement in that way. So I think if you can make a statement in that way and say, we looked at the data, we understand what’s going on, but we actually think we’re making a bigger impact by staying. And this is why I think just being honest about it, it is funny though, how, you know, none of the Facebook executives let their kids on platforms. I’m the same way.

I’m a social media consultant…. Oh yeah, no, you’re not going on any of these platforms. I Nope. Not until you’re adult.

Amy DeVita, TopNonprofits: Yeah. I mean, I think in the back of our minds, we all knew this was very likely .  You see what’s going on, you know, people are taking selfies with filters and, you know, you see the body dysmorphia that’s promoted. Right. it’s all very visible, but when, I guess whenever the whistleblower released specific, story,

Julia Campbell: The interviews that she released was from Facebook’s own internal research department and they knew that it was going on and they covered it up. I think that’s just really the upsetting part. It’s sort of, we all knew this was happening, but we didn’t really know that they knew and they did know. And that’s, yeah, that’s just what we have to all kind of live with right now and think about, and think through,

Amy DeVita, TopNonprofits: Hopefully listeners or our understanding, understanding this a little bit more clearly and able to have a better way to discuss it with their stakeholders and within their organization. And, as they’re looking into 2022 and what their programs, what their marketing will look like. I thank you so much for your time today. Julia, what’s the best way to get in touch with you and learn more from you?

Julia Campbell: Oh, well, my website is JCsocialmarketing.com. That’s my blog posts. all my blog posts and pretty much anything I have going on is linked to there. And my podcast is nonprofit nations. So you can go to nonprofit nation, podcast.com or you can just look up nonprofit nation in your favorite podcast app. So I would love to get some feedback and I’d love to have people contact me.

Amy DeVita, TopNonprofits: Yes, please do. And check out her podcast, check out her website. We definitely share a lot of your content in our newsletters and, and I believe your podcast, if it’s not already up is one of our recommended podcasts on our website. It will be so yay because we love what you’re putting out there. So thank you so much, Julia. really appreciate the time and, have a wonderful rest of the holiday season.

Julia Campbell: You, too. Thank you.

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