When clients and potential clients ask me to help them with their social media, I often groan (silently) and wonder what I should say. Your social media tells a story about your organization. Are you telling the story of an active and dynamic organization that is mobilizing and engaging supporters in the passion of their mission? Or are you telling the story of an organization that would prefer your supporter hand over their money and let you get on with your work?
Social Media is not just another leg on your marketing stool. It's a whole different seat at the table.
The problem most non-profit organizations and for-profit companies have with social media is the social part. This isn't old-school, get-your-message-out promotion… Creating a successful social media presence requires you to actually interact with your customers, constituents and supporters.
Which is why I cringe when nonprofits ask me to bid on writing their social media content. I write my own tweets, Facebook posts and LinkedIn updates for my consulting practice, and I really believe it's critical that you have an organizational insider conducting your social media.
It's easy for a consultant to come in and say something like, "You should make sure you tweet your message XX times per day." or "Engage your supporters in conversations on Facebook."
Social media is another way of telling a story -- the story of how your organization functions on a daily basis. How do you treat supporters and staff? How do you view your mission? How nimble are you when news breaks or a crisis rises up? Social media is a big plate-glass window into all of these areas.
And an outside consultant -- even one specializing in social media -- cannot deliver that authenticity you need. A consultant will never, for example, be able to walk out of an energizing meeting and tell your donors and supporters about the excitement in the air around the office.
When you have an actual social media professional leading your SM efforts, you'll get
- Someone with their finger on the pulse of the organization.
- Someone who can seamlessly integrate the rest of your marketing, communications and fundraising plan into your social media.
- Someone who can explain social media to those in your organization who might not understand what it can do…and what it can't.
- Someone who can be the "voice" of your organization on a ground level.
Better yet, make sure your social media person also has a working knowledge of donor-centered fundraising, so they can give your SM-savvy supporters a more personalized, high-touch experience.
Of course, social media isn't (yet) a fundraising powerhouse. But like fundraising, social media is about creating and nurturing relationships. And investing in key relationships is something that all successful nonprofits are committed to.
Social media isn't going away, and it is increasingly the way people are checking out the organizations they decide to support. What are you doing to make sure your social media plan is as engaging and authentic as it can be?