A Primer on Social Media for Nonprofits
As with blogs, it's best to create a short, clear policy and then enforce it consistently. Generally, excluding only hateful and obscene content is preferred; otherwise, you might lose a chance to connect with someone who is starting off with a different point of view.
Cultivate relationships: Collaborate with your supporters
The Internet makes collaboration between large groups of widely spread people possible. And collaboration on substantive projects is great for building affinity in both directions — in your organization for its supporters, and in supporters for their organization of choice. Is there a way you could use the Internet to build affinity in your community through collaboration?
The Brooklyn Museum created an exhibit called Click!, where the public got to be both the artist and the jury. Through an online system, members of the museum's Web community submitted photographs and then selected those that would be included in the show. A total of 3,344 people participated, and the show was a great success.
What it takes
In the case described above, the core components were custom-built Web forms that allowed for the submission and review of the photographs. Both traditional and social-media messaging channels are good fits for promotion.
Comparative engagement measures: In the short term, you can talk about the success of Click!-type initiatives in terms of how many people participated. Of additional interest is carefully comparing subsequent levels of engagement for your "collaborating" supporters to those of your general supporter population. Do they make donations or purchase memberships at the same rate? Do they renew memberships at the same rate? Rate differences could speak to the lasting effects of developing relationships through collaboration.
Social-media risk usually centers on user-generated content. Blogs, photo galleries and video libraries that users contribute to are clear examples of where this kind of risk could occur. That said, user-generated content is not a critical component of every social-media strategy. In cases where it is (Click!, for example), vetting before releasing the content for public consumption often eliminates the issue.