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Overcoming Social Media Marketing Challenges for Biomedical Nonprofits

Overcoming Social Media Marketing Challenges for Biomedical Nonprofits

By Karan Cushman, February 25, 2014

4 questions development and marketing directors should ask about their social media strategy.

Biomedical nonprofits face unique challenges when it comes to using Social Media effectively. Asking 4 questions about your Social Media strategy can help you isolate some of those challenges and focus on implementing Leadership Marketing solutions:

How can we help senior management understand the value of Social Media?
Biomedical nonprofits must use every dime wisely, which means legitimate marketing strategies can be seen as frivolous. To convince higher ups that Social Media is an effective outreach tool, start with the basics. Show examples of success stories from other nonprofits—and not necessarily bioscience nonprofits. For example, this video from the organization Water for Life demonstrates how Social Media can emotionally connect to build awareness and drive support for a nonprofit.

How can we get our entire team involved with Social Media?
An effective Social Media strategy requires the active participation of those outside of your development or communications marketing team. This includes your researchers, post-docs, and other influencers behind your work. After all, the thought-leading content that you will be sharing has to come from somewhere! Give a presentation to these key team members about the ways in which Social Media can improve outreach, create greater awareness for your institution, inspire partnerships, and enable your team to connect with other thought leaders around the globe. Invite your team to brainstorm some SM tactics. People are more willing to invest time and energy in something if they think it was their idea. Once you have buy-in, support team members by helping them flesh out ideas and refine what they write and publish. This will encourage participation and avoid “dead air” if they struggle to finish what they started.

Are we currently using Social Media well?
Looking through the lens of Leadership Marketing can add safety rails to your Social Media strategy. Leadership goals include communicating the value of your research, highlighting your team’s innovations and creating new and better connections with donors, potential donors and other thought leaders. Activities that accomplish one or all of these will ensure positive results. Some specific tactics to consider:

  • Form alliances with other advocacy groups to increase your brand’s exposure and maximize networking opportunities.
  • Leverage a high profile scientist, physician, donor, trustee or industry influencer who can articulate the value of your research to others.
  • Find new ways to connect with the “rock stars” of science on Twitter and LinkedIn.
  • Stay open to discovering Social Media growth areas, including Google Hangouts or Flipboard (a magazine-format networking tool).

How can we avoid a “one-and-done” mentality?
To be successful, posts should be part of an overall strategy, organized effort, or a campaign. But it can be tough to get others within your institution to realize that Social Media is more than a one-off post. Before beginning any Social Media project, have members complete a Creative Brief. This will facilitate their understanding of the scope of the project and get you the upfront information you need to plan a campaign. Some questions might include: Why is your work important? Who is the audience? Which Social Media channels will best facilitate sharing this content? What is our end goal for sharing this work? Does this work communicate our value as a biomedical leader?

Is your biomedical nonprofit facing Social Media challenges? Feel free to contact me, Karan Cushman, for help by calling 866-960-9220 or emailing

Tagged: Biomedical, Leadership Marketing, Nonprofit

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