Nonprofit around the country have thrown themselves into social media while few foundations or their leaders have utilized these platforms. What’s the right amount? What organizations are best suited for social media and should yours start using it? A few things to consider first:
Resources. As in any new initiative, communications or otherwise, you should always consider whether or not you have and are willing to commit the needed resources to it. Free, you say? Yes, most platforms don’t have any entry cost but your staff or volunteer time to manage it can quickly be cannibalized by social media content development, analysis, and audience engagement.
Priorities and objectives. Are you trying to reach new audiences? Engage with your current one? Share new messaging or brand yourself in a new way? It’s important to recognize what you are trying to get out of social media use. If you can’t answer this question easily, and come to agreement with your senior leadership team that this is a priority, then maybe you do not need to use social media. And yes, we do not believe that every organization needs to have a social media presence.
Starting and stopping. This is a tell tale sign of an organization that either should not be utilizing social media or has not thought through what they are doing. The cornerstone of social media is the impression that users get to have a sneak peak to what is going on behind the scenes. So if you stop engaging for months, it can give the impression something more serious is happening behind the curtain. Also, engagement and reach are cumulative so every time you stop, you lose a lot of the growth you spent time cultivating.
Images. Do your staff and volunteers frequently engage with your mission? Do you produce unique content like reports or infographics? In those cases, you might be well suited for social media, which thrives off of images instead of long text. Spend a week going through your normal routine and think about what you might be able to capture in a photo that would give users an understanding or what is happening at your organization. This is one of the most meaningful ways to use social media.
In the meantime, protect your brand. If you’re not ready to begin tweeting, posting, or snapping, at least create the account so that someone else is not doing this under your name. This protects your brand by locking the handle (or account name) to your organization and prevents anyone else from using your name.
There are a number of resources available to help you think through if your organization is right for social media. These are just a few of the things we take in to consideration when we work with our clients. Let us know if you’re interested in hearing more!
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