9 Social Media Tips for Nonprofits

If you are new to the idea of social media as a means for promoting your nonprofit, you may find it difficult to know how to begin. Should you start with Facebook or Google+? Should you start a blog, join Twitter, or open an account with LinkedIn? The answer is an emphatic yes: all of the above.  Need some more specific advice? Read on.

Plunge in. The main thing about social media networking is to just jump in the water and start swimming. If you’ve got an idea to promote, don’t sit on it overnight—out with it. Because if you don’t, someone else will. Blog your idea, send out a tweet. Just do it. By using social media, you’ll gain an understanding of its purpose and your correct behavior in each social media environment.

Define your territory. The various social media networks each have their own personalities and attract different people for different reasons. But that doesn’t make these networks mutually exclusive. You can and should join as many of these networks as possible. Just keep in mind that you will want to tailor your posts accordingly. It takes some time to get a feel of the lay of the land. Each network has its own culture and function.

Make a groovy profile. When it comes time to setting up your profile, avoid half measures. Use a truly great photo for your avatar, even if this is just your organization’s logo as a quality, high resolution file. Spend some time on crafting a really awesome social media presence. If you build it, they will come.

Quality posts. Don’t just post fund requests and other self-promotional stuff, but offer value to keep people coming. No, you don’t have to have all original content. In fact, the opposite is true. You’re merely the curator, but one with a good eye for links and photos that will fascinate your followers. Look for articles that touch on issues connected to your cause. Scour the web for interesting material.

Keep self-promotion to a minimum. The idea here is to generate loyalty and tell your story so that when you actually do put out a request for funding or volunteers, people won’t mind a bit, since you’ve given them so much value until now. Only a modest 5% of your postings should be related to self-promotion.

Always add visuals. Some people are text people while others prefer other forms of media. If you add photos or video clips to your postings, you’ll be covering all bases. Adding media makes your posts more attractive and interesting.

Keep it a two-way convo. Social media networks aren’t just for posts. The posts are just the jumping off point for the conversations between you and your audience. People will comment. Respond to them. Ask them questions in kind. Remember things about your regulars. Wish people happy birthday. Commiserate with them when they’re having lousy days. In other words: be a human presence.

Stay friendly and if you can’t, be neutral. Trolls are a fact of life. Don’t engage them. Say something constructive and then back off. Don’t try to endlessly debate them. It doesn’t work.

It’s okay to repost old favorites.  People never tire of, for instance, Monty Python’s Parrot Sketch, so you can repost that clip and it will always be appreciated. Old doesn’t necessarily mean passé. People like to greet old favorites. Case in point, the jingle for the car donation charity, Kars For Kids—people love to hate the jingle. An updated version of an old favorite was well-received and attracted a great deal of attention to the nonprofit’s cause.