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Is social media right for your organization?

Last month, an anonymous reader asked the following question in response to a GuideStar Newsletter article:

The article confirms what I already knew: my all volunteer group is going to whither on the vine because we have no staff at all. I am 56, not of the social media generation and have to choose between my existing duties (running our small cat rescue) I can’t be monitoring 4 different social media sites, blogging & doing what I need. WHAT ARE WE TO DO?

Our next newsletter offers suggestions from several nonprofit social media leaders. I’ve added my own thoughts at the end of that article, and continued below:

Source: SustainableJournalism.com

Source: SustainableJournalism.com

Utilize someone with the passion. When there’s a will, there’s a way. Does another volunteer in your group like social media? If yes, and your colleague understands the values of your organization, let them have a go!

Use the platform to listen and thank. If you do nothing else but go on once a week and thank a new donor, or show pictures of a cat that was recently rescued, or ask questions of your supporters, you’re making a statement without doing much. It’s about connecting with the people who care about you – and showing them what you do.

Remember you are a unique snowflake. Believe it or not, you have insight that others may benefit from. Don’t be afraid to share it! If you find something interesting in your day, and say to yourself, “I didn’t know that!” there’s a good chance that others didn’t either. And remember that an organization’s brand isn’t just a logo or font-type; it’s an experience. Social media can help people have a good experience with your brand, which can turn them into evangelists for your organization and cause.

Don’t do it all at once. Not every social media platform is good for everyone. Facebook is the most popular, and it provides the most flexible way to connect with your audience – you can share photos, videos, text only, etc. But remember, your website is really your best social tool, so if you only have the ability to focus on one thing, dedicate resources to keeping your website engaging!

Set goals, so you’re not willy nilly about the way you use social media. The more targeted you are, the more you can see the value in it. Do you want to increase funding, or hear what people think about your service, or get perspective on your mission area? Social media can mean something specific to you.

There are free resources that can help you. Hootsuite.com is a great tool for those wanting to schedule Tweets ahead of time – and now you can schedule on Facebook. SocialMention.com can help you gauge the real-time conversation about your organization across social networking suites. TweetReach.com gives you insight into how far your Tweets are going. The bloggers who answered our reader’s question in our newsletter have wonderful tips and tricks for doing social media well and on a budget.

Remember that social media is free-flowing. Don’t be afraid to flub up. It’s okay to have misspellings. It’s no biggie to forget a link when you post. Have some fun with it – post a joke (maybe even about yourself) once in awhile. Just remember to be honest about yourself and your organization, and you can’t go wrong.

I’d love to hear from you! What do you suggest to our reader? What resources have made social media manageable – and perhaps even fun – for you?

COMMENTS:

  • Deelight

June 6, 2012 at 7:53 am

One comment from the anonymous query caught my eye: “I am 56, not of the social media generation”. As a member of the same demographic, I can say with confidence that there is no social media generation, and any roadblocks are purely of our own making at the individual level. Many of us with more miles on the odometer of life are choosing to be fully engaged in these new communication channels, and it does not have to usurp big blocks of our busy day to make an impact. Please…take the time, have some fun, learn something new, and build your network.

  • Linette Singleton

June 6, 2012 at 8:07 am

These are great suggestions and I particularly like the idea of utilizing the passion of a volunteer or supporter. That’s been my personal path of entry to almost every community group or nonprofit organization that I’ve been involved with – I started as a volunteer charged with promoting the organization either as the public relations director or marketing their fundraising events. My only caution is that you don’t just leave it all up to the volunteer. This is an excellent opportunity to strengthen their knowledge of and long-term commitment to your organization as you work together to create a strategic plan for your social media engagements. Just keep in mind that your social media activities shouldn’t operate in a vaccuum. They should be an integrated part of your larger marketing plan that encompasses both your online and offline efforts. Good luck!

  • Jim Welch

June 6, 2012 at 9:37 am

I certainly appreciate the comment on being a individual snowflake.

Whilst social media is rampant in our world, it is also true that a lot of hours can be wasted playing around with it.

Not to sound condescending, but any social media mechanism is trying to take stray sheep and turn them into a herd.

Think of private businesses that are excelling at what they do. Are they industry leaders or are they copy cats or a little of both?

  • Jim Welch

June 6, 2012 at 9:38 am

I certainly appreciate the comment on being a individual snowflake.

Whilst social media is rampant in our world, it is also true that a lot of hours can be wasted playing around with it.

Not to sound condescending, but any social media mechanism is trying to take stray sheep and turn them into a herd.

Think of private businesses that are excelling at what they do. Are they industry leaders or are they copy cats or a little of both?

There are many ways to get the job done. What works for you?

  • Lindsay Nichols

June 6, 2012 at 1:13 pm

Deelite – Love your comment. I completely agree. Just because someone is young in years doesn’t mean they are good at social media by any means; nor do those with more miles on the odometer automatically know less. It’s about finding your niche and becoming great at it. Thanks for the feedback!

Linette – Agreed! Social media, to be done well, has to be thoughtful and integrated with a larger strategic plan. Good point!

Jim – I’d never thought about it that way. I certainly think social media can bring people together around a specific topic area – the herd, as you put it – but I do think social media allows people to bring their own identities and unique voices to bear for a particular cause, which is a bit different then a nameless, faceless bunch. I totally agree that there are many ways to get the job done!

Keep the comments coming all.

  • Thomas Cole

June 7, 2012 at 8:54 am

Dear “What Are We To Do?:”
I’m surprised your cat rescue isn’t already heavily involved with Facebook. Virtually all the rescuers and rescue groups rely almost 100% on Facebook to post their animals and seek donations.

This is very easy – find someone in your group who already uses Facebook. The other sites aren’t important right now in rescue work. It’s exclusively Facebook. Have that person create a business page for your rescue:
• If you have a 501(c)(3) tax exemption, link up with Paypal to collect donations.
• Write up something for the ABOUT section.
• Post a few pictures of your adoptable cats to get started.

If you don’t know how, ask someone. You don’t need paid staff! Volunteers love this work, much of which they can do at home.

Get your group’s name in circulation. You’ll be amazed at the huge rescue community on Facebook. Beware: it’s very easy to get caught up in “cross-posting.” Don’t! Stay focused at first.

Hope this helps. Bless you for your important work!
Thomas Cole
Executive Director, Shelter Revolution

  • Sandy

June 7, 2012 at 9:01 am

There is so much hype about social media, it’s easy to think that every organization must be involved with it to succeed. Not so. I disagree with the advice that no matter your mission, resources, etc., you should just “take the time, have some fun, learn something new.” Whatever you spend time on takes time away from something else — just because something is fun doesn’t make it effective. Developing content on a regular basis that is new and interesting, that will attract people and not become repetitive, takes time and thought. I run a small-ish organization that is extremely successful, and our only online presence is a website. Social media is only one tool. It’s fantastic for certain kinds of causes, but don’t get sucked in just because it is the latest thing.

  • Lisa F.

June 7, 2012 at 9:02 am

If the question asker is looking how to get started, children can be a great resource, but many local chapters of Chamber of Commerce offer free workshops about using social media. In our area, many marketing agencies offer free workshops as well to get someone up to speed on the newest updates.

  • Teresa Scruton

June 7, 2012 at 9:12 am

I’ve been using Facebook to reach my demographic, people with rare, orphan diseases, to guide them to my website, which is my business – I don’t have a physical office/place. Facebook accounts for about half of my website traffic. I also post articles on Facebook disease-specific group pages at least twice a week, articles that address issues that impact that group of people, for example a new therapy available for people with Fabry Disease or Gaucher Disease.
I use Google Analytics to measure traffic levels and demographics of the people who come to my website.

By doing these things, I have been able to reach 215 unique visitors from the U.S. primarily, but also Europe and Africa, in the first month the website was up and running – which is good considering I serve a very small demographic base: people with rare, orphan diseases, specifically children with Pompe Disease, DiGeorge, VeloCardioFacial Disease, Bardet Biedl Syndrome, and adults with Hereditary, Acquired, or Idiopathic Angioedema, and Narcolepsy.

I also Tweet a few times a week, participate in Linked In groups related to my business, and I post there at least twice a week. I’ve gotten some traffic from those sources, but more from Facebook groups.

So if the demographic you are attempting to reach has a specific Facebook group presence, then Facebook is definitely worth utilizing. If there isn’t a Facebook group specific to your organization, create one! You’ll need an administrator to make sure the posts are appropriate, which requires a quick scan of the posts every day or two.

And remember Facebook group pages are interactive, whereas Facebook pages are much less interactive, and serve as platforms to get your message out. Good luck!

  • Lindsay Nichols

June 7, 2012 at 9:17 am

Thomas – Great ideas!

Sandy – I couldn’t agree more. If it’s not right for you/your org, don’t do it!

Lisa – So true, workshops and webinars are wonderful resources. Check out the archives of our own free webinars (several have focused on social media): http://www.guidestar.org/rxg/news/webinars/webinar-archive.aspx

Teresa – Wow, very cool. I love seeing real returns – congrats!

  • Cait Duffy

June 8, 2012 at 3:26 pm

There is a VERY easy and affordable solution to this problem. It’s called “college students.” Unpaid internships in Social Media Development are highly coveted.

  • Cait Duffy

June 8, 2012 at 3:30 pm

Also, to Deelight, I disagree. There most certainly is a “social media generation.” My generation, the twenty-somethings, all grew up with social media sites available from at least middle school, beginning with myspace, xanga, etc. and moving to facebook, twitter, and thousands others. Although it is difficult for even us to keep up with the multitude of sites, we are considerably “fluent” in the necessary language and usage abilities required for social media marketing to be effective. While that is not to say older generations cannot use social media, it is to say that older generations need to learn the language of social media, a considerable difficulty.

  • Dania Toscano Miwa

June 10, 2012 at 10:31 pm

I really like Lindsey’s point about taking a step back to think about what your Nonprofit gains by joining a social media venue. I encourage all my clients to consider social media to build constituencies, but it’s not a one size fits all model. There are some groups who will do very well on something like Instagram, and others who won’t. I tell my clients to ask themselves, to what end are they joining this service? What do they hope to gain? If they can’t clearly answer that question, then maybe it’s not an appropriate use of time.

  • Dania Toscano Miwa

June 10, 2012 at 10:32 pm

I really like Lindsay’s point about taking a step back to think about what your Nonprofit gains by joining a social media venue. I encourage all my clients to consider social media to build constituencies, but it’s not a one size fits all model. There are some groups who will do very well on something like Instagram, and others who won’t. I tell my clients to ask themselves, to what end are they joining this service? What do they hope to gain? If they can’t clearly answer that question, then maybe it’s not an appropriate use of time.

  • Teresa Scruton

June 12, 2012 at 1:24 pm

I’m 65 and my non profit is entirely web based. My demographic is global, but very small: people with rare, orphan diseases.

I use Facebook to connect with the various rare disease specific FB groups, and post new research about their disease, such as promising genetic therapy research articles that give hope to a suffering population. I also have my own FB group pages dedicated to each disease grouping that is the focus of my website, as well as a dedicated FB page (different from group pages where people post online to each other and to you), where I post information about new additions to the main website.

After only one month online, my website is attracting visitors from all over the globe, not in the thousands, of course, but in increasingly greater numbers.

It’s not hard to learn to use Facebook, just get yourself a personal Facebook page for friends and family, make your privacy settings to “friends only”, and start learning how to make a Facebook page from there, where it’s safe.

Once you grasp the basics, build your business Facebook page and voila! you have a presence on Facebook. Make sure to “join” groups that share your interests, and click on “like” buttons on pages relevant to your business, and add a Hello note, and they’ll likely return the favor, making your Facebook business page more easily accessible in Facebook searches.

I also am very connected (but only recently) on Linked In, and there are specific groups in your interest area there that can help build your web presence.

And have fun connecting with people from all over the world who share your passion!
Teresa

  • Lindsay Nichols

June 14, 2012 at 7:49 am

Love all the great feedback, comments and tips. Keep ‘em coming!

  • Mixed Links for Nonprofit Marketers

June 15, 2012 at 2:20 pm

[...] gives some tips on how to handle social media when you aren’t really into [...]

June 27, 2012 at 11:40 pm

[...] từ bài viết gốc: http://trust.guidestar.org/2012/06/06/is-social-media-right-for-your-org/ vớisự cho phép của tác giả Lindsay Nichols Share this:TwitterFacebookEmailTumblrLike [...]

June 27, 2012 at 11:47 pm

[...] từ bài viết gốc: http://trust.guidestar.org/2012/06/06/is-social-media-right-for-your-org/ vớisự cho phép của tác giả Lindsay Nichols Share this:FacebookTwitterEmailPrintLike [...]

June 28, 2012 at 3:48 am

[...] từ bài viết gốc: http://trust.guidestar.org/2012/06/06/is-social-media-right-for-your-org/ vớisự cho phép của tác giả Lindsay [...]

  • games

July 4, 2012 at 9:34 pm

Great article! That is the type of info that are supposed to be shared around the web.
Shame on Google for not positioning this put up higher!

Come on over and consult with my website . Thank you =)

Topics: Communications