Eight Secrets of Effective Online Networking
“I am starting to see larger nonprofits creating full-time social-networking positions for 40 hours a week,” she says.
Keep in mind that there is a fair amount of trial and error with using social-networking sites, and your organization might not see results right away.
“There is a learning curve; don’t expect immediate results for at least three months — whatever your objectives may be,” advises Alex de Carvalho, director of community and marketing for multimedia social-networking site Scrapblog. “Take the time to build your profile correctly and learn the ropes of what works and what doesn’t.”
Nick Noakes, a director at The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, stresses the value of this “no-guilt” exploration time: “It has brought me knowledge and contacts more than a lot of planned things I do,” he says.
Some nonprofit professionals, like Beth Dunn, director of communications for the Arts Foundation of Cape Cod, use their after-work hours and their individual (rather than organizational) profiles as a low-risk way to try out new tools.
“Keep following what others are doing, and test,” social-media expert Chris Brogan says. “If you want, use a ‘dummy’ user account to make sure your experimenting doesn’t leave breadcrumbs that go nowhere for folks who legitimately want to engage with your organization.”
He also suggests keeping track of your progress.
“Don’t do random trial and error, [which] isn’t as effective as creating learning experiments that give you some information about how to improve your strategy.”
2. Test the waters with an individual profile.
If finding someone to be a dedicated or part-time social networker for your organization is unrealistic, you might want to consider testing the waters with an individual, rather than an organizational, profile. Whereas creating an organizational presence — such as a group, cause or fan page — requires a bit more time and planning, setting up an individual profile is fairly simple.