Folks, I work with nonprofits who are fighting for really good causes, and sometimes they're so busy that they forget to engage online. The thing is, their supporters aren't forgetting to sign into their social networks and scroll through Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.
Each time I meet with a nonprofit that I support, I suggest that they invest more time into their social networks. While many of the orgs sometimes forget or don't have capacity, lots just don't know what the right thing to do is. My team and I compiled a list of nonprofit best practices.
Here are 5 things that nonprofits should be doing on social media:
1. Keep up with the latest trends. This doesn't mean you have to be on every social network, but make an effort to keep up with what the social networks you're using are doing. This will allow you to optimize your usage, and will help you prioritize quality over quantity. Keep up by reading nonprofit news and signing up for updates.
For example, Facebook just did an update for Pages, and nonprofits can now use a video as their cover photo. This could be really beneficial for conveying your mission. Note: This feature's still in early testing, but Facebook expects it to roll out more widely soon.
2. Utilize your networks. Many good nonprofits are having a real hard time getting the word out on their good work, even though their board members have extensive social networks, online and offline. Send your board members and your advisory council draft posts to share. Your board and advisers are there for a reason, and they want to support you – make it easy for 'em to do that.
3. Team up with allied orgs and your biggest supporters to host a Twitter Chat. I actually just participated in one with Ellevate Network. They're doing a series of Tweet Chat Interviews with folks who are speaking at their upcoming summit, Mobilizing the Power of Women. This is a great way to get the word out, and to engage your audience.
4. Don't add punctuation to a hashtag. As soon as you add any sort of punctuation in a hashtag, it gets cut off – only the portion before the punctuation will be hyperlinked. This might seem like it's not a big deal, but if you punctuate a hashtag, A) It looks like you don't know what you're doing, and B) You won't convey your message accurately. #DoingItRight
On this same note, make sure you implement a hashtag for online campaigns and events. This is a great way to track metrics and to consolidate all of the social media from lots of different people in one place. I just participated in a hashtag campaign with the Red Cross. Each time someone used the hashtag #Help1Family, I gave $1 for disaster relief, up to $10,000.
Another example: for every Women Startup Challenge, we use the hashtag #WomenStartupChallenge. This has acted as an archive for lots of the tweets, images, and videos of the women-led startups over the years.
5. Make sure your content is mobile-friendly. So many people scroll through social media on their smartphones now, and if your content isn't readable on someone's phone, they're likely going to skip over it. According to Pew Research Center, 95% of Americans now own a cellphone of some kind, and 77% of those are smartphones. Now's the time to make sure your website and your content are all optimized for mobile.
What social media tips do you think work for nonprofits? More to come…
[photo credit: Jason Howie]