Before you hire someone to help with your social media, ask this question: How have you kept up with the recent changes to (insert the name of the social media platform)?
Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and other social media sites are constantly changing. You want to hire someone who has an ongoing commitment to keeping current. Put their knowledge to the test. Have them explain the changes. The response should help define your selection criteria. It’s also a good chance to see how well the person can explain things to those who may not be experts.
Your potential marketing partner should also have different strategies for different social media platforms. What works on Twitter, may not work as effectively on Facebook.
I keep hearing about nonprofits that are struggling with social media. You’re job is hard enough without not knowing how to use these free and powerful tools.
I want to offer you the opportunity to pick my brain for 30 minutes. We’ll talk through Skype or over the phone and you can ask me whatever you like about social media. This is a chance for you to learn. I won’t be selling anything. It’s all about helping you.
In my career, I’ve benefited from the wisdom and generosity of others and I want to continue the tradition.
Contact me to set up your call. I’ll take the first five to sign up.
Every day more and more nonprofits are under pressure to start using social media. I think it’s a great idea, even if you’re just sticking your toe into the water with one tool. But very often the call to action comes from a board member or a senior member of staff who may have other motives.
While they may not know it, are they trying to have social media substitute for some task they don’t like to perform? Fundraising is a big one that comes to mind. Do they think that if they start using YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter that they’ll never have to ask the community for a dime again? In their minds, the cash will just magically pour in. Then when this doesn’t happen, you’re suddenly in trouble and don’t have a backup plan.
This is one of the biggest mistakes people can make with a social media strategy. Don’t think of it as a tool that will replace a task. Instead integrate it into your fundraising, communication, and outreach processes. Over time you then may be able to shift more of each function to online methods. But it takes a while to build your capacity. Resist the urge to dive head first into social media with the idea that it will save you from having to do something else.
As a nonprofit, I understand that there’s never enough time to get everything done and there are always emerging challenges. But to maximize your social media strategy, I want you to spend a few minutes ever week doing some homework.
I want you to spend a few minutes online looking at what other nonprofits are doing. Check out your competition locally as well as national organizations. Are they using tools like Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter in new ways. Can you gain inspiration from them and bring those techniques back to your office?
It’s also important to see what doesn’t seem to work in your mind. Just because someone is doing something online, doesn’t mean that it will resonate with a nonprofit’s supporters.
Think of this research time as an investment in your nonprofit fundraising and relationship building.
As a nonprofit, in today’s economy, does it make sense to do some free market research? Social media can make it happen.
Survey Monkey is a free tool that allows you to ask questions to your supporters. You can give them quizzes, let them vote of the time of your events, and asked them what they’d like to know more about. A basic account is free and includes:
100 responses per survey
10 questions per survey
15 question types to choose from
Ability to collect emails via weblink or email
If you’re concerned about people not responding to your survey, then offer some sort of prize to a selected entry. It doesn’t have to be a big thing. Just enough to move people to action.
You can put the link to the survey on your blog, your electronic newsletter, your facebook page, and even on Twitter.
To get the most out of your social media strategy, your nonprofit would be wise to get some feedback on your efforts. Consider forming a small committee to review your progress. Try to find a diverse group of people who will share their opinions.
Find out what social media platforms they use and whether they follow you on places like Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. Have them tell you what they like and don’t like about your posts. Some questions to consider asking are:
Are your posts too long or short?
Does it seem like you have the right balance of informing your supporters and asking them for money?
Would they recommend any of your sites to their friends? Why or why not?
What aren’t you doing that they would like to see you achieve online?
Perhaps you’re not able to do something because of a lack of staff time. If someone is critical of this, see if they can volunteer to help make it happen.
While I like doing a lot of things online, I think this gathering needs to be in person. You’ll receive some great market research for the cost of a few refreshments. It’s all about making sure that you’re maximizing your social media efforts.
Social media may not be finger lickin’ good but it’s meant to be passed around as you would a bucket of chicken around the dinner table. The idea is that you want people to share your information with others.
One of the easiest ways to do this is to simply tell people to feel free to pass on your messages or links to them to their friends. It’s funny but for some reason a lot of people won’t do this if you don’t say that it’s fine to do.
It’s all about using your presence on sites like Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube to reach current friends and perhaps generate some new ones. When a friend forwards something to me I’ll probably take a look at it. It’s a passive way to do some online marketing. In this economy, it can be a great way to connect with people.
If you’re still unsure whether you should move your nonprofit into the world of social media, look to those who are already doing it for inspiration. Go to sites like YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook and search for nonprofits that are similar to yours. See what they’re doing online.
Can your organization duplicate their efforts? By duplicate, I don’t mean copy or rip off. But rather, can you walk a similar path to those who are a little ahead of you?
If you’re really impressed with an agency, give them a call and see if they can outline the amount of time and effort that goes into their social networking strategy. What’s been the return on their investment in terms of engagement or an increase in donations? The answers you receive should give you a much better idea if social media is a good fit for your nonprofit.
As we’ve discussed in the past, with Twitter, you only have 120 characters to get your message out to your supporters. In our last post, I discussed the importance of ReTweeting, which means that you forward someone’s message to another Twitter subscriber. They then can pass it on even further.
Imagine that you’re in charge of a food drive. You could do a post about how you need canned goods. Having it passed on by so many could be a very effective way to collect a lot of food.
But there’s something you have to remember and when I heard this explained to me the other day, I almost fell out of my chair because it seemed so obvious: Make sure your original message is only about 120 characters long. Why? Because the remaining spaces are needed for people to ReTweet your message properly. If you don’t keep the size around 120, then when they try to pass it on, some of your message will get cut out. That could include some critical info about your nonprofit, like where you want people to drop off their canned goods.
I guess this is an example of where less (characters) is more (impact.)
A Retweet is something you do on Twitter. It’s simply a way to pass on someone else’s Twitter post. While your nonprofit may not do much of this, you’ll hope that others will pass on your Tweets to their network. Imagine if you need to get the word out on a problem. Twitter is great way to reach a lot of people fast.
Copy and paste the message you like into your Twitter stream: End hunger by supporting the XYZ food drive next week.
Then add the letters, RT, followed by the “@” symbol and the post’s creator’s Twitter name: RT @KenOkel: End hunger by supporting the XYZ food drive next week.
It’s considered poor form to forward a Tweet without giving the creator credit for it.
Next time, we’ll talk about a mistake a lot of people make that makes it impossible for their messages to be ReTweeted.