By James D’Ambrosio

Having written several articles about social media, I also know that many nonprofits lack time and resources to spend on it — social media can be time-consuming. But there are ways to make it more manageable. If your agency has been held back in this area, the following approach can streamline the process.   


Here’s a four-step approach to maximize impact with less time and effort:

1) WHO ARE YOUR TARGET AUDIENCES AND WHERE ARE THEY? First identify key stakeholders — donors, board, staff, service recipients, members, volunteers, funders, community leaders, sponsors — and their demographics. This helps determine which social networking sites they’re likely using. For example, LinkedIn consists of professionals focused on business; Facebook caters to a younger audience mixing social and professional elements; and Twitter has a broad spectrum of users sharing links to information. With so many sites out there, aim for quality over quantity: you don’t need to be everywhere;  just several places where constituents and other like-minded people are more likely to be. 

2) PREPARE CONTENT Next, prepare appropriate content. Ask yourself: a) What do I want people to know about my agency? b) What types of information would be of interest? c) Are there special offers I can promote? d) New programs to highlight? e) A library of photos (preferably action-oriented) illustrating the mission? Organize basic information such as agency overview, mission, programs, news items and key employees. Having this in place before opening accounts allows more time to focus on the technical aspects of social media which can take some doing. Working on both at the same time makes things more difficult.   

3) OPEN ACCOUNTS & PLACE INFORMATION Now you’re ready to open accounts. Place basic information and a few photos. You just want a foundation to build on, not an entire agency history. The focus should be on building a following by connecting with like-minded people. Post information and ideas useful to others and avoid being overly promotional. If people see you as a good resource, you’ll attract a larger audience more quickly. As your following grows, incorporate more information about the good work you do.   

4) MAINTAIN A REGULAR DIALOGUE Once you’ve gained a foothold, monitor accounts daily to engage followers, fans and subscribers. Responding to inquiries and comments quickly is crucial, especially complaints and problems. Good social media is about two-way communication  not posting information and forgetting about it. Drawing people closer helps build long-term relationships that can help spread positive messages about your agency and attract potential donors, volunteers, sponsors, board members, and employees. A sort of digital stewardship.     


What do you think of this approach? Does it make sense for your agency?

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