My terrific friend Hillary Chybinski (who writes her personal blog at hacscrap.com) has a strong affinity for social media for non-profit organizations. She helps them get their social media presence started and develops their strategies for continued success. I asked Hillary if she would kindly share her tips for new NPO’s looking to get started with social media. Here are her 5 simple steps to social media for non-profit organizations, in her own words:
Non-profits, especially the small, grass-roots variety, are known for skeleton staffs of mostly volunteers and small budgets. Those two factors have an enormous impact on how the non-profit operates. But small staffs and low-budgets aren’t a reason to shy away form social media. Your non-profit has a message to share and a mission to accomplish, and social media can be your best friend.
The best part about non-profits using social media to share their message, is that social media is free for the most part. All it takes is time. So if you set a little time aside for these tasks, you will soon have an efficient social media strategy that gets you the results you’re looking for.
- First set up the basic accounts. Start with Facebook and Twitter. After you are up and running comfortably, you can determine if and when you can better achieve your goals and mission with help from YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram, or another social network.
- Spend time on pictures. Social Media, is well, social. It is also very visual, so you should have a bright, clear picture that depicts your non-profit. This picture can be used as your cover photo in Facebook and your header photo in Twitter. You will also need a smaller “profile” picture for both. This can be a person or a logo.
- Use your description to encourage engagement. Don’t just copy and paste your mission statement as your Social Media description or about. Take some time to craft a creative invitation to people to get to know you better. Be sure to include a link to your website and use terms that will make it easy for others to find you.
- Listen to what’s being said about your area(s) of interest. Now that you are there, you want to spend a little bit of time just listening. What are people saying about keywords relevant to your non-profit? Who are the stakeholders in your non-profit? Are they on Social Media? Follow them. Like them. Watch their methods of interaction.
- Join the conversation. Once you get a feel for what’s being said, it’s your turn to speak. Don’t be afraid. Start with a few RTs (retweets) of relevant links or events. Reply to questions and conversation starters. Send out a daily message with a link to your website, calendar, etc. Share pictures of events and happenings. Send out conversation starters of your own.
As you get more comfortable, you can start to build lists in Twitter and take on other, more strategic initiatives to grow your followings. And remember, it’s not always about the numbers; it is about the engagement.