Ready or not, social media is here to stay. Even if your organization has consciously decided not to expend resources on managing a social media presence, the individuals that interact with your organization – from staff, to vendors, to clients, to volunteers – likely do. We’ve asked colleagues and pulled various best practices for managing volunteer social media usage related to your nonprofit:
- Realize you can’t control or anticipate every post. We’re not telling you to stop reading and give up! But want to open with a reminder that each user individually controls what he or she posts and organizations can only create guidelines and set expectations for what they believe is appropriate to share online. Beyond that, organizations need to give some thought to how much work they will want to spend tracking down each post and how much energy they want to give to creating consequences when the poster has gone ‘too far’.
- Just like employees and board members, volunteers too should be asked to sign a conflict of interest form. The conflict of interest form your organization uses should include verbiage about digital respect, privacy, and an understanding that actions taken online can have repercussions in the real world for individuals in need of your nonprofit’s service.
- Give all new volunteers social media guidelines, and retroactively share it with all current volunteers so that everyone understands the expectations. The guidelines should cover some basic W’s:
- Who can be featured or photographed in a post (Children? Service recipients?),
- How can they be featured (With a pseudonym? Without their face showing?),
- Where and when can they post (Following formal approval? On an internal private site like an organization’s closed Facebook group?), and
- What can be shared (Could the location compromise relief efforts or endanger a client? Should specific identifying details be removed?)
- Set clear expectations on requests to remove posts and consequences should a post-er decide to disregard. Despite its prevalence, not everyone understands how damaging a simple post can be. We’ve had to counsel organizations in the past on how to handle a post from a volunteer who was well intended but didn’t understand how a simple post could harm the organization’s mission.
- And finally, amongst all the rules of what not to do, give space to encourage users when it’s a good time is to post, such as a highlighting public facing events where additional digital coverage helps drive online engagement and web traffic. Sharing and highlighting the organization’s social media handles and hashtag(s) make for an efficient nudge.
Does your nonprofit have a social media guideline that works well for you? Share with us at @StarfishMarta.
Sign up here to receive the highlights from the Starfish Impact blog in your inbox.