Conference Roundup: Understand Social Networks and Make Them Work for You
Once a nonprofit decides which social-networking site seems like the best fit, MacLaughlin said, it’s best to jump right in.
“Experiment first. Plan later. It’s that simple,” he said, adding that it’s a really good idea to just get out there and see what it’s like to use a social network: “Stop waiting for it to be perfect. It’s not going to be. Just try it,” he added.
Once you get out there, he suggests listening to the networks.
“Find out, who’s blogging about [your nonprofit] and what they’re saying,” he said.
And, finally, enlist savvy people.
“Figure out who you want to go after, what you’re trying to achieve, what you want it to look like when you’re done and what tools you are going to use,” MacLaughlin said.
The most important thing to remember is to embrace Web 2.0. In doing so, nonprofits should personalize their missions.
“The organizations that will succeed will be those that transform their mission into personalized experiences for constituents,” he said.
Organizations should also integrate channels, and create a balance between old and new ways of communicating and fundraising. Because, if you’re not integrating, “you’re creating islands.”
“The organizations that leverage both online and offline channels together will have the agility to communicate in more successful ways,” he said.
Finally, MacLaughlin said, organizations should always measure their progress.
“The organizations that understand that both qualitative and quantitative measures help guide decision making will be best able to confirm success.”
As intriguing and promising as it all may seem, social networking isn’t for everyone.
MacLaughlin referred to “Should Your Organization Use Social Networking Sites?” a whitepaper put out by Idealware, a group that provides reviews and articles about software of interest to nonprofits. According to the whitepaper, the six signs that social networking isn’t for you are: