Okay guys and gals. It’s time to get real. If you’re not actively using social media to connect with your supporters you’re fast becoming a dinosaur.
Dinosaurs became extinct.
Don’t be a fool Social media is the number one way people find out about brands (yes, you’re a brand) these days. And when it comes to non profit marketing to create awareness and fundraising to drive contributed support, it may be today’s best practice.
Unless you think the CEO’s job has nothing to do with awareness creation and fundraising (in which case you’ve got a much bigger problem), this means you need to warmly embrace (not just tolerate or delegate) social media.
Smart CEOs Practice What They Preach
In 10 Things about Social Media Every C-Suite Executive MUST Know the author likens saying “I don’t get social media” to saying “I don’t get the Super Bowl.” In other words, whether you know all the players and rules of the game or not, you do know the Super Bowl is a mega event to which massive numbers of folks are tuning in. Ignore it if you will, but it’s called being “out of touch.”
I can still remember back to when I thought I didn’t need to get an email account. Sounds crazy, no? It just seemed like a huge bother, and another potential time suck. And I had plenty of other ways to communicate. That was before people started saying to me: “I’ll just email to you; what’s your address?” Well… it does suck time, but I’d be completely cut off without it.
Pretty soon, if you’re not actively using social media, you’ll be cut off too.
So before it’s too late and you’re out in the cold, here are 10 simple tips borrowed from B2B marketing to help you “do your own” social media – or at least understand it better so you can oversee its most effective use.
10 Tips for Effective DIY Nonprofit Social Media
- Point the finger at yourself. For social media to really work for your organization it’s got to be appreciated, understood and supported from the top. Just like being a customer-centric organization must come from the top. If you’re the CEO, you’re the face of your organization. Your organization’s brand and image are your You set the tone for your corporate culture. You should be the most concerned with supporter engagement and loyalty.
ACTION TIP: It’s up to you to set your nonprofit on a course to build the essential relationships that will move your mission forward. Do you know if you are doing everything that need be done to keep your supporters engaged beyond their first interaction with your organization? Find out what your engagement and retention rates are. Then do what must be done to improve things. The buck stops with you!
- Prepare for a marathon. Social media is not something you do on the fly. It takes preparation and commitment, and must be implemented, monitored and measured as part of a comprehensive long-term marketing strategy. Simply starting up accounts; then using them as the spirit moves you, will do more harm than good. If you tell folks “We’re on Facebook” you’d better be If you just check your social accounts periodically you’ll be leaving those constituents who try to connect with you in the dark. This makes them think, at best, that you’re ineffective. At worst, they think you’re snubbing them personally. Bad mojo.
ACTION TIP: Find out what the content marketing plan is for each of your social media accounts, and who’s responsible for what. Is your strategy robust, or more lackadaisical? Do you have enough boots on the ground? What needs to be fixed?
- Engagement matters; Numbers of followers, not so much. The whole point of social media is to be social. To connect. To build relationships. If your marketing team is simply tasked with building numbers, you’re going down the wrong road. It’s like meeting folks at a cocktail party, grabbing their business cards and then counting them as “my BFFs.” Not so fast! You’re fooling yourself.
ACTION TIP: In order to truly create friendships you must nurture the relationship through a series of personal social interactions. When folks connect with you, connect back. When folks make comments, comment back. When folks retweet you, thank them. When folks ask you a question, answer. When folks answer your question, listen — and show you’re listening.
- Social media is a team sport. Model effective use, and make it crystal clear all the way down the line that social media communication is one of your organization’s preferred methods of reaching out to your constituents.
ACTION TIP: Don’t make this your only method of communication, of course, but don’t hamstring your development staff, program directors and volunteer coordinators by making it the purview of just your marketing team. Your consumers (your volunteers and donors) are ‘increasingly omnivorous’ in that they use all media channels in combination. If they’re connecting with your staff, your staff must be empowered to respond.
- Always be looking for new team recruits. Your employees on the front lines often are your best spokespeople and content creators. They have an experience-based perspective on what your constituents care about. They also know your organization better than anyone.
ACTION TIP: Enlist your staff – and incent them – to participate. No content you can offer will be more trusted.
- Be human. While automated tools can simplify your life, you don’t want them to take it over. In other words, you’ve got to pay attention and not rely on robots to do all your human interaction. If you do automate all your interactions, after a while people will be able to tell. That’s when they’ll tune you out.
ACTION TIP: It still takes a human brain to think carefully about the type of response that will be perceived as meaningful information by your constituents. Meet with your staff (marketing, development, volunteer coordinators, other frontline folks) and discuss the types of responses that will likely be most appreciated.
- A synonym for “personalized” is “tailored; a synonym for “personal” is “private.” Act accordingly. While it’s great to share a personal perspective about your work, it’s not so great to share details of your personal life. For example, if you direct a food bank it’s appropriate to wax enthusiastic (“I’m over the moon today because…”) about the fabulous produce just delivered to your warehouse. It’s not appropriate to wax enthusiastic about the 4-course restaurant meal you enjoyed last night with your friends.
ACTION TIP: Don’t confuse “personal” with “personalize.
- Measure your digital ROE (Return on Engagement). As stated in #3, above, don’t waste time on meaningless metrics. Determine your goals; then focus on strategies that enable you to reach those goals. If you don’t know where you’re going, you won’t know how to measure whether you’ve reached your destination. Once you know, think strategically about ways to inspire the actions you desire. Remember, engagement is all about relationships. Relationships are give and take.
ACTION TIP: Don’t just ask for stuff. Give folks stuff they want. I often say that if you want gifts, you must give them. What greater gift could there be than enabling folks to be the change they want to see in the world? Help them connect with others who share their values. Give them the gift of being part of something meaningful. Social media is, as described by Harvard Business Review blogger Mark Bonchek, a gift economy.
- Use common sense. I add this in because common sense is one of the least appreciated and most underutilized tools I find in the social benefit sector. Just because you’ve marched across the office threshold does not mean it’s time to take off your good judgment hat. Sadly, this happens all too frequently. Perhaps it’s due to fear of getting something wrong. Fear paralyzes.
ACTION TIP: Slow down a minute and think about what you’re trying to accomplish through social media. You’re trying to capture attention, right? What jumps out as the best strategy? No doubt you have plenty of experience upon which to draw. You know how to catch people’s attention when you’re with them face to face. Or when you’re using traditional marketing techniques. You know how to start a conversation; then let the person you’re talking with take the ball and run with it. You know how to network effectively, without being all about you. Apply this wisdom to your conduct on social media and you’ll be well served.
- Learn which social media channels your constituents frequent. Whatever you do or don’t do, your potential constituents are most likely using social media in spades. It behooves you to find out which channels they frequent so you can be where they are.
ACTION TIP: A simple one question survey using the free versions of Google Docs or Survey Monkey will help you find the answers. For new people coming through your doors (virtual or otherwise), consider having your receptionist ask them how they found out about you. As you spread your influence on social networks, don’t be surprised if folks start to answer with “on a Linkedin group discussion” or “on YouTube.”
No more saying “I don’t get it.” You’ll merely get further and further behind and more and more in the dark. You know what they say? When in Rome…
What’s one thing you could begin tomorrow to ‘Do It Yourself’ and get more invested and engaged in social media that drives awareness and support for your cause?