Facebook. Twitter. Foursquare. YouTube. Pinterest. Tumblr. Each has a unique and compelling value proposition, but which platforms are best for nonprofits? While there isn’t a universal answer, one thing is for certain. Follow your clients and your critics.
My colleague Jessica and I recently lead a two-day nonprofit social media workshop presented by the CT Association of Nonprofits and the CT Humanities Council. As we developed our presentation, it became clear just how much social media has evolved in recent months. Think Facebook Timelines and Pinning for Autism. How does one keep up with these changes? Be selective. Think strategically. Update consistently. Monitor appropriately.
Nonprofits’ resources are limited and oftentimes employees wear multiple hats. As we told our workshop attendees, we realize every nonprofit isn’t fortunate enough to have a dedicated social media or communications staffer. Ask your constituents – donors, volunteers, clients (if appropriate), strategic partners – which platforms they are using and if they are open to receiving information about your organization through that platform. While it’s unlikely you will get 100% consensus, use this data to guide your platform selections.
Social Media is most effective when integrated into a comprehensive marketing communication plan. Take the time to outline objectives, craft key message points, define target audiences and build a timeline that accounts for who is creating the content and who is maintaining the platform(s). Account for the fact that not all of your constituents will be heavy users of social media and that you will need to reach them in different ways. Be mindful of resources. Don’t overcommit and sacrifice the quality of your content.
It’s great to launch your social media campaigns with a burst of enthusiasm but don’t start by updating platforms at a frequency that you can’t maintain. Manage people’s expectations by maintaining a consistent presence. Whether you commit to blogging weekly or daily, always focus on creating quality content that will resonate with target audiences.
Just because your nonprofit decides Twitter isn’t the right platform to share your message doesn’t mean people aren’t talking about you. Take the time to monitor and be informed about the online buzz surrounding your organization. There are several free tools available online that can help. If your monitoring uncovers some unflattering commentary, consider the criticism an opportunity to convert a critic into a fan and demonstrate that your organization listens to what community members have to say, be it good or bad.
While the temptation to become an early adopter of the latest platform can be overwhelming, we strongly encourage nonprofits and businesses alike to begin by developing a social media strategy. Understanding who you are talking to, what drives them to action and what role(s) they play in helping to achieve your objectives is key to a successful social media program.
A special ‘thank you’ to the CT Association of Nonprofits and CT Humanities Council for inviting us to present and to The Mark Twain House & Museum for hosting us. It was a pleasure.
Interested in booking a speaker for your nonprofit social media training? Contact us!