As a Nonprofit Leader, Are You Really Engaged on Social Media?
If you are a leader in higher education, independent schools or any nonprofit, you need to be on social media personally, especially if your role includes fundraising.
Why? A key part of your role is to nurture relationships. If your board members, donors and prospective donors are engaged in social media, then you need to be as well. It is an opportunity for you to create a personal brand, to share your passion, expertise and personality. And it is a way to engage with your key stakeholders.
At a minimum, you should have a professional profile on LinkedIn. You, or a member of your staff, should regularly be reviewing opportunities to build your connections there. Share content, post articles and take the opportunity to engage with your contacts on their birthdays and job anniversaries.
On Facebook, you can further engage in a much more personal way. Likewise, you will have the opportunity to learn about some of your best friends—their activities and milestones, including anniversaries and birthdays, as well as illnesses and deaths.
On Twitter’s fast-paced timeline, you can quickly share content and converse with your followers. It is a bit more casual than Facebook and LinkedIn.
Whatever the platform, be sure that it is where your top constituents are and that you can make a commitment to have an ongoing, engaging presence.
Yesterday, a friend shared that while on a family vacation this summer, she unexpectedly saw a friend. This friend knew exactly what grade each of my friend’s children were in at school. The children were perplexed and asked, “How did she know so much about us?” “We are friends on Facebook,” their mom answered.
For inspiration, check out some of the university presidents who do a terrific job engaging on social media, including Cecil Staton (@ecuchancellor11), chancellor at East Carolina University; Gordon Gee (@gordongee), president of West Virginia University; and Brooks Keel (@PresKeel), president of Augusta University.
Have a well-thought-out social media strategy. Who will help coach you, even sometimes post for you? How do you keep it genuine? What is the right mix of professional and personal postings? How do you streamline the investment in time through scheduling tools and applications? Who should you target and engage with?
Recently, a higher education leader announced that he was going to disband his advisory board committees. The rationale? He and his team did not have time to staff them. However, this leader invests generous amounts of time on social media, usually about sports and family—much less positioning about his institution and key constituents. The perception is that he has lots of time to spend on social media.
If you are going to be engaged on social media and interact with your key constituents, you need to be sure that you are sending the right messages and truly engaging with them. In today’s fast-paced, often remote world, this is a priceless opportunity. However, you need to embrace social media with the right knowledge, plan and a commitment. Get engaged!
Looking for Jeff? You'll find him either on the lake, laughing with good friends, or helping nonprofits develop to their full potential.
Jeff believes that successful fundraising is built on a bedrock of relevant, consistent messaging; sound practices; the nurturing of relationships; and impeccable stewardship. And that organizations that adhere to those standards serve as beacons to others that aspire to them. The Bedrocks & Beacons blog will provide strategic information to help nonprofits be both.
Jeff has more than 25 years of nonprofit leadership experience and is a member of the NonProfit PRO Editorial Advisory Board.