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Four Easy Steps to Social Media Success

Resource Center - Foundation

(Sept. 21, 2010) Social media tools are like every other marketing and public relations tool - they are useful in some situations and not in others.  The trick is to have a clear objective, then experimenting with the tools until you achieve positive, measurable results.

Here are four simple steps for developing a social media program at your nonprofit, taken from a white paper by the organization NPower.

1.  Develop a strategy by identifying your objective and your audience.
Ask yourself what you want to achieve: Are you branding your organization? Are you fundraising for your cause? Are you gathering feedback from supporters? Determine your audience by asking where your supporters congregate online: Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, texting or email?

2.  Launch an initiative designed to achieve your objective and reach your target audience.
This could a Facebook page, a Twitter feed or a YouTube channel, to name a few. Be creative and original, but also look at what others are doing and adapt it to your needs. Don't be afraid to experiment.

3.  Feed and nurture your initiative.
Find the people in your organization who can generate content to power your initiative.

4.  Measure and evaluate your initiative.
What worked and what didn't? How much time did you spend on it and did it have an effect?

Once you have completed these steps, start the process again. Through experimentation, you will find what works best for your organization.

Defining Your Objectives

There are three basic ways nonprofits engage their constituencies: Recruiting new customers, patrons, volunteers and donors; developing deeper relationships with these constituencies; and retaining existing relationships with these constituencies. Your job is to determine who your constituencies are and specifically what outcome you want from your social media outreach.

Do you want to reach the media? Do you want to reach an international audience? Do you want to inform or spark a specific action? Knowing your objective means you can find the right social media tool to best accomplish it.

You should also consider getting your board members involved with the social media programs, linking your organization to their existing virtual networks.

Make Social Media Part of Your Daily Routine

Since social media is all about increasing engagement with your target constituencies, make sure you update consistently. If you build a reputation for active, thought-provoking posting on your social sites, your followers and friends will come to view your organization as a community leader. However, if you let your social sites become stale, people will lose interest.

Schedule time each day devoted to making updates on your social sites. All it takes is 15 minutes to a half hour to make an update, respond to visitor comments and share relevant news articles. Consistent engagement on your social sites will help keep your organization top-of-mind for your supporters.

Measure Wisely

Measurement of social media programs is important, but never let the metric of the tool define your metrics. If your Facebook fan number is up to 1,000 - that is great for Facebook, but what does it mean for your organization? Are these new "acquaintances" for the organization or individuals already engaged? Are they "more" engaged than they had been without the Facebook page or have they transferred their engagement from your newsletter to your Facebook? Are they more likely to donate money than before they became a fan on your Facebook page?

Make sure that there are solid and clear base measurements on your desired outcomes. For example, if your goal is to increase interactions with your supporters, track the number of repeat visitors to your Facebook page or number of "clickthroughs" to your website--both with pre-defined hard-number target goals. Setting meaningful and measureable goals is extremely important to adjusting your strategy for the tool, for gaining upper management buy-in for the tool and to effectively use the tools.

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