Bringing clarity to social media

Craig Wood
Craig Wood

Craig Wood

Social media is the fastest growing, lowest-cost channel for engaging your constituents. But it’s new, it’s confusing and few organizations have in-house expertise.

By using five simple steps, nonprofit and faith-based organizations can develop a successful social-media strategy.

 Step 1: Identify your organization’s social media goals and objectives.

Most nonprofits are not selling a tangible product. You’re selling an idea, a cause, a message – and your mission is only as strong as your supporters.

Use social media to develop a two-way conversation between your organization’s mission and your supporters.  Here’s how to start:

  • List four to five goals focused on fulfilling your mission and growing your organization.
  • Identify your stakeholders and how you communicate with them.
  • Rank how effectively these communication methods help fulfill your four to five goals.

Step 2: Assess your resources and capabilities.

Utilizing social media can’t be just another thing you add on to your to-do list.  It is a critical means to an important end.

Identify who will manage and keep your social media presence current:

  • List the individual(s) responsible for the communication strategies you listed in step 1.
  • Identify how much time is spent on communicating or connecting with stakeholders.
  • Consider how much time can be spent managing social-media profiles.

Step 3: Listen to the conversation and participate. Identify the influencers and develop your presence.

Where are people meeting online?  Where are your constituents?  If you don’t know, ask them.

Start with the most ubiquitous sites: Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. Build your profiles and start developing a presence:

  • Search for similar organizations on Facebook and see what they are talking about.
  • Visit Google Trends or Google Blog Search and find out what is popular.
  • Use Twitter Search, and type in a keyword. Who is talking about you?

Step 4: Empower your stakeholders. 

Social networks are about conversations, so start one. Sitting back and being passive will get you nowhere.

The real power behind social media lies in engaging your stakeholders and actively involving them in developing and fulfilling the mission of your organization.

  • Post questions and ask for feedback.
  • Start a discussion and encourage ideas.

Step 5: Understand the impact.

Measuring the impact is challenging. Choose metrics to track and monitor against your organization’s larger goals, such as number of members, volunteers, dollars raised, media mentions or more intangible measures like stakeholder engagement, awareness or feedback.

Social media in practice

Consider these thoughts as you dive into social media:

  • If you build it, they won’t come (at least on their own). Your social-media strategy should not stop at setting up a profile on Facebook or Twitter. You need to be an active participant, posting on blogs, responding to Tweets.
  • You get by with a little help from your friends. You’ve set up your Facebook profile. You have hundreds of friends. Now you have to engage them to speak on your behalf, and have a two-way conversation.
  • Set big goals, but identify measurable steps. Keep your high-level goals in mind and measure your social media’s effectiveness towards achieving them.
  • Keep it simple. Focus on one or two sites to start. Use a dashboard, like TweetDeck or HootSuite to manage multiple social-media platforms.

To lean more about this topic, visit Craig Wood is president of Clarity Group, a strategic consulting group based in Chapel Hill, N.C., that focuses on customer relationship management for nonprofit and faith-based organizations.

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