On Thursday, June 21, 2012, I was one of the panelists at Hofstra University, discussing the use of social media for the non-profit organization. I was joined by some great minds in social media, Jerry Allocca, from Core Interactive (author of Connected Culture and SEO expert), Donna Rivera-Downey from the Girl Scouts of Nassau County (Chief Social Marketer), Ellen DePasquale, Regional Development Director for Constant Contact, and our host, Debbi Honorof, Senior Director of Marketing and Communications Coordinator for Hofstra University.
Some of the things discussed included choosing where and how to engage, how to use Google search and their keyword tool to help improve visibility, and best practices for event marketing.
What information came from the panel? Here are five tips to get your social media moving in the right direction.
1. Pick the Right Social Network
The first step in becoming a social non-profit is to decide which network(s) will give you the engagement and results that you are looking for. As discussed during the panel, the best way to determine this is to ask. That’s right, go ahead and poll your users by sending out a survey through e-mail, using the polling function on Facebook, and asking Twitter. If you are not on any of the networks yet, send out an e-mail and ask. Your donors and participants will drive your engagement, so you are best served by being where they are. And, it may not always be the network or method that you think it is. Don’t just choose networks based on size.
2. Ask your Personal Friends for Help
Once you have decided where you will be engaging, do not be afraid of asking for help in sharing your messages. Your cause is one that is a passion for you, and you should be willing to share that information with your friends and family. As they begin to share your posts and information, people will begin to gravitate towards you and naturally share information you provide.
3. Don’t just take your Traditional Advertising and Make it Digital
Digital and social marketing are inbound marketing strategies that require a different message and different tone. Traditional marketing is outbound, and directly asks for the donation or action. Inbound marketing causes donors to participate because of who you are and what you’ve shared.
4. Incorporate Social into your Website and Traditional Advertising
Make sure that your potential donors are able to donate on their terms. This means having the ability to donate through Facebook. Make sure your website/blog is your home base, and that all information leads back home. Help your potential donors connect with you wherever it is easiest for them. Utilize social plug-ins on your site, so that they can connect without any extra effort.
5. Have a Social Media Policy
People make mistakes, and those handling your social media will, at one point, do something you wish they didn’t. That’s ok. What’s important is how you handle it, and a good social media policy will help you do just that. Check out the social media policy of the U.S. Army for a well-written policy, and see how you can implement it into your organization.
Now that you have some basic tools to begin the social media process, the most important suggestion is: Jump in and get your feet wet.
Really, the only way to determine if social media is for you is to begin. Take a chance and begin to experiment where you are comfortable, and then jump into the deep end. Take on Facebook or Twitter. Connect. Engage.
How is your non-profit using social media? What, if anything, have you found works well? What doesn’t? I’d love to hear from you!
Craig E. Yaris is the owner of EsquireTech Solutions, which helps small business get found on the social web, whether through Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn, he can both teach you the effective use of any social network or act as your social media manager, enabling you to reach your clients where they are and when they want to hear from you. He can teach your organization the social media best practices that can help you use the tools of today to cost-effectively increase your bottom line. EsquireTech Solutions brings the social web to your business. Visit EsquireTech Solutions or call 516-495-9107.
- U.S. Army Social Media Handbook
- 12 Tips for Nonprofits On Getting Started With Social Media
- Social Media 4 Nonprofits
- The Nonprofit Facebook Guy
Photo courtesy of Hofstra University