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Just For Nonprofits: Social Media Strategies - Executive Leadership Articles

Just For Nonprofits: Social Media Strategies

Executive Leadership Articles

Just For Nonprofits: Social Media Strategies

Corporate involvement in today's social media boils down to the same tenets across just about every realm: it's all about engagement. Still, tributaries of thought branch off the main river of engagement, such as branding, social responsibility, accessibility, and outreach, and here is where the flavors of engagement may vary, depending on an organization's context. Where a commercial venture may think of outreach as getting its product in the hands of consumers most likely to appreciate it, for a nonprofit, it can be about saving a life or preventing an injustice, or connecting concerned citizens with places their donations will do the most good. It becomes therefore necessary for nonprofits to think differently about what the engagement will look like.

Melanie Mathos and Chad Norman provide a framework nonprofits may find useful in their book, 101 Social Media Tactics for Nonprofits: A Field Guide (Wiley and Sons, 2012). Their approach begins with the assumption that your group is starting at the very beginning (the first seventeen "tactics" involve the setting up of accounts on Facebook and Twitter, among other step-one actions), in the category of "setting up." There may be a temptation to roll one's eyes at these simple steps, but not every organization is blessed to have social media gurus already on their staffs. More likely, decision-makers higher up the chain of command may not know the most rudimentary concepts of this social media thing they keep hearing so much about. Resist the urge to skip this stuff, as the authors are good about explaining what many people assume everyone knows, some of them concepts you may have to explain also.

The rest of the 101 tactics are broken into the categories of communication, engagement, fundraising, and measurement, so you can see where the advice veers away from a lot of the published for-profit social media advice. Mathos and Norman offer very specific steps, some which experts might disagree with. However, the advice is explained carefully, so that "create a Facebook donation tab" and "hold a Tweetathon" (numbers 78 and 79) make pretty good sense, and they arm your social media person with a few places to start before coming up with his or her own new ideas for these tools.

If your group is just beginning to move into the social media space, or if you've had someone on the job for a while and neither you nor she knows what she's supposed to there, make it a point to work through the book together (or a similar book; there are a few out there), one step at a time, perhaps agreeing to try each tactic with an open mind and a sincere effort. As you do, your own concept of the value of social media and your vision of your group's personality in that space will inevitably take shape. Perhaps number 43, "livestream your events," at first sounds technically impossible or maybe it goes against certain policies; you'll be in a better position to predict the value or feasibility of such a move if you work on some acceptable version of it.

In the world of education, "project-based learning" is an emerging concept embraced in some places by entire schools. If you've yet to designate one person as the social media guru in your organization (or even if you have), consider assigning different collaborative groups to some of these steps. Group A might be given the job of livestreaming a fundraising dinner, for example, and will have to learn the technical needs such an event would require, while Group B might be assigned to establishing a YouTube channel, learning the practices of good video editing. Such projects will result in everyone learning a lot more about social media in general, and it will give them new ways to see their own places in the organization. It will be professional development as well as corporate development.

Whatever your approach, be involved as much as possible until a clear, specific, organizational strategy emerges (number 101). By then, you will be fluent in the language and culture of social media, your social media team will have a clear idea of where it's headed, and you'll lead more effectively as your group attempts to make the most of this new era of engagement.


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Just For Nonprofits: Social Media Strategies - Executive Leadership Articles

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