Springfield businesswoman Heather Mansfield is making a name for herself around the globe as a go-to source for reaching people via social media.

The owner of Diosa Communications LLC and principal blogger at Nonprofit Tech 2.0, Mansfield has amassed more than half-a-million online followers, fans and friends with social media.

Her book, “Social Media for Social Good: A How-to Guide for Nonprofits,” published in August by McGraw-Hill, is geared toward community organizations that want to raise money online, but much of her knowledge is applicable to small businesses, too.

The book is built around integration of what Mansfield calls the three eras of online communications:
  • Web 1.0 – the static Web, comprises tools such as Web sites and e-newsletters, and for nonprofits, DonateNow buttons and e-advocacy campaigns.
  • Web 2.0 – the social Web, moves from broadcasting to engaging through use of social networking sites and blogging.
  • Web. 3.0 – the mobile Web, is the newest era, combining the first two but enlisting mobile devices though text messaging, mobile Web sites text-to-give technology and location-based sites such as Gowalla and Foursquare. 
At 256 pages, this book isn’t what I’d call light reading, but its content is lined out in an easy-to-follow format.

Kudos to Mansfield, too, for including in each chapter lists of best practices for using the various methods of delivery in the social media toolbox, and for wrapping up her chapters with examples of excellence and suggested Google terms.

Mansfield covers a lot of basics, and she’s blunt at times when she wants to drive a point home. While she still believes Web sites and e-newsletters are a key ingredient to achieve growth, she says that any site or e-newsletter that hasn’t been upgraded in five years is considered outdated.

Though there are more people jumping on the social media bandwagon every day, Mansfield recognizes that it’s a new venture for some, and she offers advice on getting started, from defining goals and objectives to deciding which tools to use. And, she cautions that just because many social media platforms are free doesn’t mean entities shouldn’t invest in them for the desired return on investment – just as they would for other tools.

“The truth is that you get out of social media what you put into it,” she writes. “If you can invest only five hours a week, then you will get ROI from five hours of work. … If you hire a social media manager who can invest 40 hours a week in engaging your supporters online, then your ROI will be significantly higher.”  

She also gives recommendations for how much time should be spent on social media. In the beginning, she suggests 15 hours a week on the “big three,” which she defines as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Uploading photos to Flickr, she says, doesn’t take much time, but shooting the digital photos, editing them in sets and collections with tags and titles, can take  time, to the tune of five hours a week, which is the same amount of weekly time she suggests for LinkedIn.

For readers who already are engaged in Web 1.0 and Web 2.0, the third section of the book, on the mobile Web, might be the most engaging, from outlining why entities need mobile Web sites to taking a closer look at smart phone apps and tablet apps.

She warns, however, that organizations should be wary of expensive new tools in the social media arena, not only because technology changes so quickly but also because affordability of smart tools might create barriers in terms of the people who can be reached.

The bottom line is that this book covers a lot of ground. If reaching people via social media is appealing, this book is worth your time.

Maria Hoover is features editor at Springfield Business Journal. She may be reached at mhoover@sbj.net.