Five Social Media Tips For Non-Profits

My friend [Daniel Knox from the William Osler Health Centre Foundation, thanks] tipped me off to a free PDF by Convio, an organization that provides technology for non-profits. There is a section in the report that gives five tips to help non-profits get started with social media, and what to expect. Here they are:

1. Know your audience and the community you want to engage
The tools you use should be directly related to the online behavior of the people you are trying to reach. You should consider whom you are already communicating with, as well as communities and individuals you want to reach, listen to and engage. Ask your members. Engaging them in picking the right tools can help ensure your success.

2. Align social media tools with organizational objectives
Different tools are better at accomplishing specific objectives. For example, blogs are a great way to get feedback on potential programs or causes from large groups of constituents, while video and photo-sharing applications are useful for building a sense of excitement around new programs. Keep in mind that because social and participatory media are evolving quickly, your plan and tools need to be flexible.

3. Establish operating procedures and policies
Social and participatory media require organizations to have a higher level of trust in their publics than most other communication tools. While it’s not necessary to have volumes of policies and procedures, it is still important to maintain some organizational oversight to ensure communications remain appropriate and focused on your organization’s goals.

4. Identify organizational resources
A successful strategy requires active participation from constituents, as well as at least one person from your organization. Before initiating, make sure the appropriate internal personnel support the idea and are willing to integrate social media functions into outreach activities. What you put into a participatory media campaign is typically what you get out of it. If you only have the time and resources to communicate once a week, you probably won’t get a timely and lively discussion, but you can still get value out of the use of the tools. Don’t assume that it is only the younger members of your team or volunteer community that can support you in this effort. According to Facebook, people over 35 are the fastest growing population in this arena.

5. Evaluate
Social and participatory media are in their infancy from a fundraising perspective — don’t expect to drive a million dollar campaign yet. But, when integrated with traditional campaigns social and participatory media can be especially successful. Concentrate on one social media network at a time. Experiment, observe and learn what works and what doesn’t. Establishing how you monitor and measure results will help manage expectations within your organization.

You can download the PDF from here.

~ John Carson, Consultant (Twitter: johncarson)

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