Interview: Danielle Brigida, Social Media Outreach Coordinator, National Wildlife Federation


“You can look at traffic numbers and followers, but what it really comes down to is relationships,” says Danielle Brigida, Social Media Outreach Coordinator at the National Wildlife Federation, in regards to the organization’s attempts to measure its online communications efforts.

In an interview with PRNewser, Brigida tells us about the NWF’s social media strategies, how they measure and evaluate them, and whether or not having a Democrat in the White House has effected environmental communications.

Oh, and a heads up to all social media service providers. “We’re actually investigating vendors right now,” says Brigida.

The NWF is the nation’s largest conservation network. At a high level, what are some of the organization’s goals when it comes to social media communications?

We have four million members and supporters. Our overall goal is to obviously fulfill our mission: to inspire Americans to protect wildlife.

As opposed to a lot of groups that have specific goals for social media, ours falls into all of our goals. I work as an internal consultant in a way. I sit in on different meetings, see what their goals are, and come back and assess what their needs are from a social media perspective.

I make it program specific. It’s hard to scale something as complex as social media. In terms of different programs, we have a college campus program, we have our magazines, they all have different needs and goals they think they can meet via social media. It’s fun because you can assess people based on what their needs are and then recommend the platform.

On which social platforms is the National Wildlife Federation most active?

We’re actually really active on Twitter. We have more than 70 staff members on Twitter out of 360 total. They are all using Twitter to reach out to their specific audience. Some are using it for personal communications, some are using it for their programs.

They are all cultivating their own friends, their own audience. That came about because initially it was me doing a lot of it, in my opinion, it was much more effective to spread out the focus and efforts. People were already making these connections on their own. Putting them online is a more effective way to give them a voice.

What’s neat is that while we have an outward facing tool like Twitter, we use Yammer to organize on the back-end. We have 130 people on Yammer. We use it for organizing re-tweets. It’s a good way to break down communication barriers.

What are you doing to measure your efforts in social media?

It really does depend. For example, we have a robust magazine online and their goal is really growing traffic.

Knowing that, traffic is how I measure my return for them. For a lot of programs it’s partnerships and relationships, and it’s a lot harder to measure.

So, it’s measuring quantitative and qualitative measures and seeing where there is overlap. You can look at traffic numbers and followers, but what it really comes down to is relationships.

We had some neat partnerships that sprung up via these social tools. One of them is in relation to our Wildlife Watch program, where if you use the hash-tag NWF on it shows up on our Website.

What vendors are you working with?

We’re actually investigating vendors right now. The way I do it right now is taped together. I use a listening dashboard. I made it myself.

The other thing I do, with Delicious, what I’ll do is book mark every time we’re mentioned online and I’ll bookmark it with internal terms and keywords and how it’s mentioned, and it shows me overall what people are talking about. It’s public to anyone. It shows an outward facing vision.

You mentioned in a previous interview that you want NWF to be a resource for people online, not just a non-profit that asks for money. In terms of being a resource, what kind of content and information have you seen resonate most with your audience?

NWF has three main drivers: one is combating global warming, one is protecting wildlife and habitat, and the other is connecting people with nature.

We’ve had a lot of success in talking about how you can get outside and get your kids outside, and sharing wildlife articles.

People expect that kind of info for us. Not that global warming isn’t also big for us — we’re really respected in terms of the legislation side, but that’s not what people come looking for.

We have a program called “Be Out There,” and it’s very much geared around the fact that kids are spending only four to seven minutes outside each day, and we need to get them out more. Without them spending carefree moments outside, they’re not going to want to protect it.

It seems many organizations have attempted to use the recent snowy weather in the East Coast to paint a picture of doubt on climate change. What do you make of that communications strategy?

We actually put out a report called “Oddball Weather” right before the major snowstorm.

Part of what the report says is because of global warming, there is going to be stranger weather like the recent snowstorms. It actually coincides with what scientists are thinking, as opposed to going against it.

It’s hard, because science is just in trouble right now, especially climate change science. There have been so many people coming forward saying the data is wrong. One way we’re communicating is we’re not really backing down. We’re trying to be proactive and not reactive.

Has the Obama administration had any effect on environmental communications? Does your strategy change at all with a Democratic administration?

Yes and no. It’s funny, but when George W. Bush was in office, they [environmentalists] were angry and more afraid of what was going to happen. We were worried when Obama got elected that it could hurt, but I don’t think it has. We have a ton of work to do, and we’re pushing Obama just as much to back certain legislation and bills

The biggest issue is not who is president but what issues we’re struggling with.