Are You Using Social Media to Grow Your NonProfit? If Not You Could Be Left Behind…

2 10 2010

Let’s face it – social media is here to stay. While the very term “social media” may strike fear in the heart of some nonprofit directors, the simple fact remains: if you aren’t using at least one form of this marketing monster, chances are your nonprofit is going nowhere fast.

The face of communication is changing. No longer do we rely on letters and their responses to be sent via “snail mail.”  Phone calls can be made on the go, to people half way around the world in the matter of seconds. We can email in our pjs. Skype from our decks, update statuses and tweet quick reminders in the blink of an eye and as social media continues to grow and extend its reach, communicating with your volunteers, donors and potential supporters will continue to evolve. It’s time to catch up with what everyone else is doing.

While you may not be overly excited at the thought of implementing a social media strategy into your nonprofit, it doesn’t have to be the unpleasant task you may have it made up in your mind to be.

Tips for Implementing Social Media

R-E-S-P-E-C-T – Give Social Media the respect it deserves. Face facts – social media is changing the way businesses AND nonprofits are conducting their affairs. Now is as good of a time as any to revisit your mission and strategy for where you want to go and how social media will fit in with the plan. If your current strategic plan doesn’t have a place for social media – change it.

There Is No Such Thing As A Free Lunch.  A common mistake that most people make when deciding on which social media tool to choose is thinking that it’s a free marketing method. Wrong. Let me expand on this a bit. Yes, social media tools may, themselves, be free. But what most forget is the amount of time it costs in your time to make it work to your advantage. You don’t create a Facebook profile or open a Twitter account and Voila! people magically find you. Growing your social media presence is much like planting a garden. You first have to cultivate the ground, plant the right seeds, till, till and till and then, and only then, will you begin to see the fruits of your labor. Choosing to take short cuts and not follow the steps needed, will have the same effect as throwing seeds on hard, dry soil – not much is going to grow.

Make it a player change. As I keep saying, social media is not going anywhere, quite the contrary, it’s changing how we do business and in order to be truly successful, you must embrace the change. If you truly want your nonprofit to move forward and succeed, make social media implementation a priority.

You’re Never Too Old To Learn. In order for social media to be a true asset to your organization, everyone involved with the change needs to learn what social media is, what’s involved with implementing it, why it’s so important, etc. From the top of the organization to the volunteers who may use it on behalf of you, educate your staff.

Relinquish Control.  Implementing social media change into your organization is not about you facing the challenge alone. Create a social media team and involve others from your staff in the decision-making. After all, the change affects them, too, and they should have at least some say in the process. It’s important to designate one person as the “lead” to see that goals are met, the plan for change stays on track, etc.

As the leader of your nonprofit, it’s important that you set the pace and bring your organization into the 21st century. Gather the tips, tools, techniques and information needed to successfully introduce social media into your daily operations. Is the whole process a bit overwhelming? Sure it is. But I know that once you dive in and begin using it regularly, you’ll wonder how your organization ever managed to survive without it.

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