A Primer on Social Media for Nonprofits
1. Pick an existing goal to pursue.
Identify something your organization wants to accomplish. Many organizations find that social media provides good support for:
- building cause awareness
- connecting with new supporters
- soliciting online gifts
- cultivating supporter relationships
If you are just starting, pick one of these to focus on and let that objective guide you every step of the way.
2. Make success someone's job.
Or at least make it an explicit part of someone's job! Treat social media like you would your other communication channels: Figure out where responsibility for your social-media programs should reside in your organization, and assign responsibility. Making an overt assignment (like you probably do with direct mail, e-mail, telemarketing, public relations and advertising) lets a person or group of people on your staff develop the focus, comprehensive view and skills needed to leverage these new techniques effectively.
With your team identified and your initial goal in mind, you might be tempted to start doing something. Resist, at least until you have two more pieces in place. The first is your ability to listen in the social-media channels. There are at least three reasons for this:
- Social media is a two-way channel; as politeness prescribes, you need to be ready to listen before you add to the conversation.
- Organizations like yours are already participating; seeing what they've done will give you inspiration, cautionary information and a sense of what you need to do to differentiate your organization.
- Once you do start to contribute content, the disciplined framework for listening you've put in place will be used to measure the reach and impact of your initiatives.
Some starting points for regular monitoring include:
- Use the flexible automated alerts through Google to receive periodic e-mails listing mentions of your organization across a variety of different types of Web content: www.google.com/alerts.
- Search for your organization's name (or topic words) being used in the micro-blogging world with the search portal on Twitter: search.twitter.com.
- Track the number of times a blog mentions your organization or related topics at www.technorati.com.
- Track the number of mentions for your organization name, your staff and events you are currently running in each of these mechanisms. This helps measure your organization's current social-media footprint and prepares you to measure the reach of your future initiatives.
4. Establish a baseline social-media presence.
After establishing your organization's ability to "listen" in the social-media channel, the second step is to establish a baseline presence that you can use as a foundation for your subsequent social-media campaigns.