Find the Right Social-Media Enthusiast for the Job
One of the main reasons I initially approached FundRaising Success about covering social media was because at the time (now more than a year ago), there seemed to be hesitancy about the how, what and where of social-media fundraising, and who to go to in order to find the answers to those questions. What a shift from how things are today!
I won’t go into the whole debate over what makes someone “qualified” to be classified as a social-media expert, mostly because I don’t believe there is such a thing. There are people who understand the landscape of social networks — generally, however, this does not an expert make. Think of the many ways different people, organizations and businesses interact on social networks. Can someone really claim to be an expert in all of those situations?
I consider myself to be fairly savvy in the workings of social media — but exclusively around nonprofits, community building and engagement. If Pizza Hut approached me and asked me to run a social-media campaign where the winner received a free year's worth of deep dish, I would be completely out of my element. However, that doesn’t mean I’m not interested in Pizza Hut's application of social media; of course I am, but in context to if/how that strategy could be applied to nonprofits.
So with that it seems we have gone from very few options in terms of outlets for consultation on social media and its application regarding organizations, to now an overwhelming amount. To help cut through all the noise, I want to introduce you to the term social-media enthusiast. A social-media enthusiast breathes, sleeps and eats social media, and also tends to have a niche within social media. Some focus solely on nonprofits, other strictly Facebook applications, others on making websites socially friendly. They love the concept of social media and enjoy watching it evolve as people and technologies advance.
The trick is finding the perfect enthusiast for the job. With all these companies and individuals claiming to be experts in the field of social media, how do you find the perfect fit for what your organization is looking for? Here are a few tips on finding your perfect match.
Be specific. It knocks out most of the experts and gets you in touch with the people who can really help you. By specific I mean make sure you know what you want out of your campaign. Are you looking to build a community online, increase your e-mail list or create a contest? Know where you want to go so you can seek out those who specialize in that particular niche of social-media application. Googling “social media expert” likely will not get you the results you are looking for.
Show examples, ask for examples. Do your research before a meeting with a consultant or enthusiast. Surf the Web on your own, and locate other nonprofits that are doing things you would like to implement within your social-media strategy. Then ask consultants if they have experience creating similar campaigns.
Start small, and build from the ground up. You want a solid foundation for integrating social media into your marketing strategies, so find someone who understands that first and foremost. However, once you build communities and they begin to thrive, other questions — more specific and more advanced questions — will arise.
Start to develop a go-to list of people who actively write or blog on those specific topics so when questions arise, you know exactly where to go. For example, I have several go-to people just for nonprofits' use of Facebook. By building these lists of enthusiasts, you will likely save time and money. Once you find the right people to follow for specifically what you are looking to achieve, you might get the answers to your questions right there in their blogs.
Christina Johns is online media manager at International Fellowship of Christians and Jews.