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Which social media tools are right for your nonprofit? How can you use these tools to enhance your communications strategies, expand your network, strengthen relationships with your constituents, increase awareness of your cause, and raise money?
When considering how your nonprofit can benefit from using social media, it’s important to consider the energy, time, and skill sets required. While putting up a Facebook page or uploading a YouTube video has a very small monetary cost, to effectively implement a social media strategy will require substantial staff and/or volunteer time. Depending on your goals, it may be important to consider hiring additional help as well. Here is some basic information about social media platforms commonly used by nonprofits, as well as additional resources you can use as you develop your own social media strategy.
Facebook is the largest online social network. Users can create a personal profile where they share information, pictures, and updates with “friends.” Members can also use Facebook to communicate directly with other members, join interest groups, and subscribe to and interact with organizations or brands through pages.
FIVE WAYS YOUR NONPROFIT CAN USE FACEBOOK
1. Share your story
- Share your mission and story in a personal way.
- Include pictures, videos, and any other applications to highlight the work you do—put a “face” on your story.
- Invite supporters to contribute their own photos, stories, videos.
2. Engage and grow your community
- Ask questions, encouraging members to share feedback, stories, and insights. Find 16 ways to ask questions on Facebook in this article by John Haydon.
- Respond to wall posts.
- Interact and join the conversation on other organization’s pages.
3. Fundraise online
- Use applications like Causes to raise money.
- Choose a fundraising platform that has a Facebook share feature, such as FirstGiving, Crowdrise, or GiveZooks.
- Get started with Causes, and review their best practices.
4. Raise awareness and promote your cause
- Create content worth sharing—as more members share, more people learn about your organization and the work you are doing.
- Use events and tabs to promote upcoming events.
5. Drive traffic to your website or e-communications
- You will want to direct people to your website, eNews, and other online communications. Encourage and make it easy for people to sign up and subscribe directly.
- Include social sharing features on your website and electronic communications using widgits.
- Add a link to your Facebook page to your email signature.
- Add an eNews subscription tab to your Facebook Page.
- Personal profiles are for you. Pages are for your organization. Learn more.
- You can create a Page, without having/creating a personal profile. Create a page.
- There is a difference between Facebook Groups and Pages. Read Facebook’s How are Pages Different Than Groups?
- Consider using Facebook Places. But first: Four Questions You Need to Answer Before Using Facebook Places for Your Nonprofit by John Haydon.
- Facebook Engagement Practices: Recent Studies and Discussions, by Debra Askanase, Community Organizer 2.0.
- Nonprofits on Facebook: Get Started, on Facebook.com
- Nonprofit Facebook Guide (pdf), Facebook Best Practices
- Social Media Toolbox, WeAreMedia.org
- Build Your Own Facebook Page, by Janet Fouts
- Facebook Best Practices for Nonprofit Organizations, Diosa Communications
- Facebook Ads—Case Studies, a library of regularly updated examples of successful Facebook ad campaigns, e.g., (RED)
- How Non-Profits Can Maximize Engagement on Facebook from Mashable’s Social Good section (including tips from Danielle Brigada of NWF, Holly Ross of NTEN, and Brook McMillan of Livestrong)
- Example of Community Guidelines, AARP Facebook Fan Page from Beth Kanter
- Social Media Policies in the Workplace, created and curated by Vivienne Storey (on Scoop.it)
- Does Your Enterprise Have a Social Media Policy?, from ReadWriteWeb
- Listening Tools for Social Media Monitoring by Janet Fouts
Twitter is a real-time network of short, text-based messages (limited to 140 characters) for you to exchange, connect, and broadcast what you and/or your organization find interesting.
FIVE WAYS YOUR NONPROFIT CAN USE TWITTER
1. Share your content and related news, and update your community
- Share posts you find useful or interesting relevant to your organization, cause, or sector.
- Keep your community informed of upcoming events.
- Communicate current happenings (e.g., a fundraising event or conference you are hosting), or “calls to action.”
2. Receive direct feedback
- Use search to find out what is already being said about your organization (also known as your “backchannel”).
- Respond to concerns and questions, or acknowledge any praises.
- Ask your followers about current issues or solicit feedback about your organization or programs.
- Encourage people to give further insights by directing/linking them to a forum, blog post, survey, or discussion group.
3. Build community, support your members, and discover new supporters
- Follow staff, members, supporters, or partner organizations (following also enables them to direct message you).
- Use lists to acknowledge supporters (e.g., donors, funders, and volunteers).
- Create a staff list so other people can find and follow members of your team.
- Review and follow other people from lists of other similar organizations.
4. Participate in larger conversations about your cause
- Search for keywords and hashtags (#) to find and contribute to topics relevant to your cause, organization, or mission.
- The # symbol, called a hashtag, is used to mark keywords or topics in a Tweet as a way to categorize messages (definition from Twitter).
- Include hashtags (#) in your tweets to help others find useful content related to your work.
- Join live Twitter Chats (40 Hashtags for Social Good, from SocialBrite.org).
5. Personalize your organization
- Have your Executive Director or Board President use Twitter.
- Encourage staff to use Twitter.
- Create a Staff List and a Volunteer List.
- Twitter in Plain English, by Common Craft
LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional network, with over 120 million members. LinkedIn connects you and your organization to your trusted contacts and helps you exchange knowledge, ideas, and opportunities with a broader network of professionals.
FIVE WAYS YOUR NONPROFIT CAN USE LINKEDIN
1. Increase visibility
- Create a “Group” for your community (staff, Board members, volunteers, and supporters) to join. Members can then display your organization’s badge on his/her profile.
- Create a “Company Page” to expand visibility of your Board.
- Use “Search” to find similar groups to join.
- Participate in “Questions and Answers.”
2. Moderate discussions, ask for advice and feedback, and share resources and links
- Post a question on a specific topic or get advice on an issue you are grappling with and get a Discussion going that encourages engagement.
- Post links to interesting news articles about your organization, or your cause.
3. Network and community building
- Connect with professionals you meet at events and conference.
- Use Groups to help your members connect to each other.
- Identify connections (and ask for an introduction) to potential partner organizations, sponsors, and/or donors.
4. Build your organization’s brand and increase your credibility
- Complete your Company Page (and personal profiles) to give potential donors, volunteers, employees, and partners a better picture of your organization.
- Use Company Page to highlight your programs and services, job openings, and your employees, Board members, and volunteers.
- Participate in relevant group discussions and answer questions.
5. Promote events
- Create an “Event.”
- Read Using Twitter & LinkedIn to Promote Your Event on SocialBrite.org.
- LinkedIn’s Nonprofit Best Practices
- About LinkedIn Groups
- LinkedIn Questions & Answers
- About LinkedIn Company Pages
- Read The Three Most Common Mistakes Nonprofit Group Admins Make on LinkedIn by Diosa Communications
- For using applications like SlideShare, read More LinkedIn Applications: I just added my blog and slideshare content! Wow! by Beth Kanter
- Complete your personal LinkedIn profile, and help others in your organization complete theirs. Here are 16 questions to help you write a bio by Copylicious
- Using LinkedIn for Change, by Claire Sale
- Creating Conversations and Relationships Using LinkedIn, by SOBCon, school for bloggers
- Should Your Nonprofit Be on LinkedIn? by Joanne Fritz at About.com
- Five Things to Do on LinkedIn by Chris Brogan
YouTube is a video-sharing website where users can upload, share, and view videos. YouTube for Nonprofits is a special program for nonprofits that allows organizations to create their own branded channels free of charge and to collect donations.
FIVE WAYS YOUR NONPROFIT CAN USE YOUTUBE
1. Tell your story and share your message
- YouTube is the number one video-sharing site, which makes it the largest platform to share the story of your work.
- Use playlists to group your videos to make it easy for people to find information or to give a bigger picture of your work.
2. Get connected to similar groups and get new ideas
- Look through other nonprofit videos to find organizations with complimentary causes and cross-promote.
- Reach out to partners for ideas.
- Add those organization’s videos to your playlist.
- More from Michael Hoffman of See3 Communications: Why Nonprofits Should be on YouTube.
3. Search engine optimization (SEO) helps people find your organization
- YouTube is one of the top search engines. Having a presence on YouTube will help your search rankings.
- Make sure to include tags relevant to your organization and the content you are posting (“Tags” are labels or keywords you can add to your content to make it more findable).
- Find cool videos to watch, which leads you to the organizations and people who create and watch them.
- Learn more on SEO and why it’s important: Beginner’s Guide to SEO by SEOmoz.org.
4. Raise awareness and money
- Participating in YouTube’s nonprofit program gives you added features, like Google Checkout, Call-to-Action Overlays, and Annotations to raise money.
- For more explanation and examples, read 5 Ways Nonprofits Can Increase Engagement on YouTube, by Geoff Livingston.
5. Educate others about your organization and your cause
- YouTube is not just a platform to broadcast. Use it to engage with your community and create two-way communication.
- Get creative—use music, humor, and storytelling. Especially storytelling!
- Create & Manage Account, with information on linking your Google/Gmail account (Google bought YouTube in 2006) or creating a new account
- Getting Started: Uploading Video, learn how to make, upload, and format your videos
- Searching for Videos—find the good stuff!
- Setting Up Your Nonprofit Channel
Video Campaign Tip Sheet
- YouTube on a Shoestring, advice about making and editing videos without a lot of staff or money
- Thoughts on How & Why to Tag Videos, by Marshall Kirkpatrick
- Broadcast Your Cause & More Tips
Flickr is a photo- and video-hosting website and online community where users share, organize, and embed personal photographs. Before you start using Flickr, make sure you have any required, documented permission to post photos of your constituents.
FIVE WAYS YOUR NONPROFIT CAN USE FLICKR
1. Organize your photos
- Use tags to keep your photos organized by events, categories, causes, people, etc.
- Because Flickr is in “the cloud” and can be accessed by multiple people and locations, you can enlist others, including Board members and volunteers, to help you organize.
2. Capture pictures from your community of friends and supporters
- Encourage your volunteers, board members, and program participants (when appropriate and not in violation of your organization’ confidentiality policies) to upload and share their photos on Flickr.
- Search Flickr to find images relevant to your mission and programs.
- Flickr is a more open platform than Facebook, which is limited to friend networks for people to share photos.
3. Use in presentations, as alternatives to stock images
- There are a number of photos that are licensed under the Creative Commons you can use with proper attribution.
4. Participate in or form groups
- Find and join groups on pretty much any topic to meet others with the same interests.
- Create a group for your members to share photos and find each other—you can make them private or open depending on your or your group’s needs.
5. Use mapping
- Flickr allows you to geotag your photos (this is optional, and since mapping is publicly viewable, be smart, and again, consider confidentiality issues for your organization).
- Get a FREE pro account through TechSoup/Flickr for Good
Tagging Tutorial, Part I Flickr, from TechSoup Blog
- Periodically check the Flickr Blog for ideas, examples, inspiration, and tips
- How To Get the Most Out of Flickr
- Using Participatory Media Tools in Nonprofit Campaigns by Beth Kanter
- Tips for Flickr Beginners from LifeHacker.com
- How to: Upload Once, Share Everywhere, from the Flickr Blog
Enter a broad term (Example: “Training”) or specific phrase (Example: “How to start a nonprofit”) to search (the entire site will be searched).