The following is a post by Usma Ziard, GuideStar’s senior director of marketing. You can follow her on Twitter at @Usma_Ziard.
Even though I did not use social media that often in the past, I currently am using it now in my professional life. Before I decided to make an “entrance” into the social media space, I needed to decide on the following:
· What were my goals of using social media and what did I want to get out of it?
· How much time was I willing to dedicate?
· What would be the best social media outlet for me as a nonprofit professional – would it be Twitter, blogs, Facebook, etc.?
Realistically, I did not have hours in my day to be an “active” user of social media and be a part of every social media outlet and conversation. But I certainly felt I could dedicate a few minutes every day to one channel of my choice. For me the goals were “listening” to and “learning” about the nonprofit sector. I decided to read some articles, learn about the most popular social media outlets, and seek advice from our Communications Director, Lindsay Nichols, on how to use social media without it overwhelming my world. I found some good information and was given excellent advice, and with that I felt I was ready to begin.
I decided to start with Twitter. It is easy to set up and literally took me 5 minutes to set-up my account and I was ready to go. Next, I needed to decide on whom to follow. I decided to follow people who would help me listen and learn about the nonprofit sector, be exposed to what they had to say about new trends, and find new tools and ideas in general that were being shared in the nonprofit industry. One of the advantages of Twitter is that you can also follow your peer organizations (organizations that are similar to your own company or organization). For example, I follow the Foundation Center, and can see their latest news and trends. I chose to listen and learn from this peer organization, and learned about what they do and what information they are sharing. This way, these things are relevant in the sector. In addition, Twitter is a great way to follow your partners. Another peer organization that I follow is Nonprofit Finance Fund (NFF). They have great articles and information that are very enlightening.
In summary, if you are thinking about trying out social media for the first time, I would recommend to:
1) Choose your goals. What do you want to do by joining a social networking site?
2) Decide on your time and dedication. How much can you allocate to this activity?
3) Pick a social media channel that you feel most comfortable using.
4) Expand to other social media outlets. But only when you are ready!
If you are a nonprofit professional or you deal with the nonprofit sector you should try social media–you might like it!
- Karen Saverino
June 13, 2012 at 2:29 pm
Great article Usma. So many nonprofits are overwhelmed by social media and understaffed. Keeping it simple, starting slowly and measuring how it’s impacting you and your organization are the first place to start. It’s pretty clear that social media is not going away so we all need to dip our toes in the water and get ready to swim.
- Usma Ziard
June 14, 2012 at 8:29 am
Thanks Karen. I am impressed with how much relevant information circulates within these social media channels – people are so willing to share their insights and experiences to help others make better decisions. Yep,social media is here to stay!