Blog | Aug 25, 2011 | 4 Comments

[the power of positivity in social media]

Two of my favorite social media experts hosted webinars this week. One counsels only nonprofits, and the other focuses on businesses. But they both said the same thing: people are overwhelmed with bad news these days. So positivity trumps negativity in social media.

We’re battling negative information overload.

As Heather Mansfield of DIOSA Communications said,

“People are beginning to shut down. They don’t want to pay attention any more.”

Heather consults on social media with nonprofits across the globe. Most of them are involved in solving critical social problems, and it’s easy for them to be negative. But that doesn’t work well on Facebook and other social media sites. She says that people are much more likely to “like,” comment on, and share good news on Facebook.

In fact, there are three elements to social media interactions: Attention – Exposure – Motivation

According to Dan Zarella, getting attention is not enough. You need to create motivation—to buy, to share, to give, or whatever it is you want people to do. Good things create a stronger motivation. (Dan is well-known in social media circles for his quantitative analysis of social media usage. He understands psychology, patterns, and timing like nobody else.)

It turns out that success is your best option.

As Heather said,

“Even in a very despairing, depressing situation, there are success stories to tell.”

Heather and Dan both suggest that we post Facebook status updates that include positive pictures, videos, statistics, inspirational quotes, and–most importantly–stories and case studies. Interestingly, Heather says that nonprofits are more successful in posting the negative news and appeals through the mobile web—but that’s a blog for another day.

In the past, we may have been more about the problem than the solution.

Though part of our job is to educate the public about social problems, our main task in fundraising is to prove that we have a solution (or part of it). We need to impart confidence and optimism. We need to provide inspiration and make people feel that their contributions will make a difference. Or we risk losing our audiences completely.

What’s your take on positivity? Do you have different strategies for using positive and negative news?

A related posted you might enjoy: [telling stories: the best part of my job]

Image credit: Espen Faugstad on flickr.
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Author: Claire Wagner

I'm a seasoned freelance writer/editor and an enthusiastic community manager. I'm passionate about developing and sharing good content.


Claire – great post! I’m so tired of the ‘leading with the fear’ that it’s great to hear about the power of positivity. From a marketing messaging standpoint, I’m always trying to find a positive angle. It certainly makes sense from the nonprofit angle as well. Thanks for posting this.


Claire Wagner Reply:

Thanks, Anne. And you know so well that this applies to any kind of marketing. In the for-profit sector, when I did a lot of work for HP, we did try to minimize the FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, and Dread), though other marketers thought that was very effective. But in the sound bytes of social media, people want a quick hit of the positive.


Anne Janzer


Hi Claire,

Beautiful post with a great thought to remain positive- without which things don’t work- anywhere. I like what you mentioned about the three elements to social media interactions- which are so true.

Thanks for sharing!


Claire Wagner Reply:

Harleena, so nice to see you here and thank you for the validation!


Harleena Singh


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