Making most of the Two-way Symmetrical Communication for Nonprofits

The Grunig and Hunt  ( communication model and Social Media Engagement go together.  And the model describes nonprofit communication well.  As a digital platform, social media reflects two-way symmetric communication in its essence.  

Audiences engage in real-time conversations, sharing thoughts, ideas, and emotions, creating an web of interactions just like  symmetric communication.

With this in mind, the communication model focuses on “dialogue that creates and sustains mutually beneficial relationships between an organisation and its stakeholders.”

Ways to Facilitate Two-way Symmetric Communication

Here are seven ways that social media facilitates two-way symmetric communication:

Instant Feedback.  Social media platforms allow nonprofits to receive real-time feedback from their audience.  Whether comments, likes, shares, or direct messages, users can engage with content and provide their opinions, thoughts, and suggestions.  This immediate feedback helps them to understand their audience better and make necessary adjustments.

Engagement and Interactivity.  Social media encourages interactive communication.  Rather than just broadcasting information (one-way communication), organisations can actively engage with their followers through polls,  contests, and live streams.  This interactivity fosters a sense of community and encourages open conversations.

Social Listening.  Social media platforms provide tools to monitor conversations and mentions about a brand or topic.  It allows organisations to track people’s words, identify trends, and respond appropriately.  It helps manage crises, address concerns, and stay in touch with the public’s sentiments.

User-generated Content.  Social media platforms empower users to create and share their content.  This user-generated content can serve as a valuable source of feedback, testimonials, and insights into the audience’s perspective.  Nonprofits can incorporate user-generated content into their strategies and show appreciation for their customers’ contributions.

Personalised Communication.  Social media enables nonprofits to tailor communication to different audience segments.  Understanding the preferences and interests of nonprofits can create targeted content that resonates better with specific audiences.

Transparency.  Social media encourages openness and authenticity.  Organisations that engage in genuine, honest, and open communication tend to build trust with their audience.  This, in turn, fosters more meaningful interactions and brand loyalty.

Crisis Management.  In times of crisis, social media becomes a vital channel for organisations to communicate updates, address concerns, and manage their reputation.  It allows them to provide timely information and clarify misunderstandings.

A Last Word

To quote Amy Jo Martin: “Social media is not a monologue.  It’s a two-way conversation.  Social Media Engagement lends itself to real conversations and real community relationships where one can talk to one another.

Read more about the social media process here: