Social media networks promise small organizations a low-cost opportunity to engage large audiences. Yet that can be hard to do if staff members are already stretched to meet core responsibilities. This new series of articles will help smaller charities use social media strategically.
In future articles, we’ll discuss choosing social networks to participate in, social fundraising, visual communication in social media, measuring results, and time-saving tips. But to get started, let’s look at what to include in your social media strategy.
Fill in these strategic blanks
If your goals are straightforward and you have fewer people involved, you could keep it simple and start with communications planning basics. Who do you need to communicate with and why? What do you want them to know, think, feel or do differently? How will you measure success?
Those answers will lead you to the “how” – decisions about what social networks to try and what to do on each network. From there you can determine the resources you need. This approach will give you a simple action plan you can use to get started, and adapt as you learn.
Possible reasons for online relationships
Whichever goals you pursue, it’s okay to ask for what your organization needs. Just don’t use social media accounts only as a one-way broadcast tool for self-serving messages. That’s a quick way to alienate people and lose friends – literally.
Also, be realistic about the number of social networks you take on. Depending on your resources, you may be best to start with one network or two.
Possible budget items
We’ll look at many free and low-cost options throughout this series. But as your community size grows. so will your investment to manage it.
You may find a social media policy template for nonprofits offered by SocialBrite helpful. It will take you through many of the topics we’ve touched on and give you additional considerations about how staff members are permitted to use social media at work. They also offer actual policy examples.
The bottom line is that social media tools can be powerful for your organization, if you use them strategically. Stay focused on why you’re building relationships and how you will measure your success, and you can avoid shiny object syndrome and possibly even minimize the time you spend distracted by great cat videos.
Karen Luttrell helps charities raise more money, find more volunteers, and fill programs using strategic communications and inspiring writing. She has been leading nonprofit digital marketing initiatives for 13 years. She volunteers as VP Communications for the Professional Writers Association of Canada Toronto Chapter and manages their social media.