Most social media tools are free, but the time to manage them isn’t. NGOs, large and small, are well aware of this cost and cite it as a major roadblock to using social media. Another obstacle that NGOs use not to adopt social media is a preconceived view that technology is expensive and difficult. These descriptions were accurate at one time but not now. There are many low-cost resources to help – and the people you want to reach expect NGOs, to make social media a cornerstone of their outreach efforts.
It’s the 21st century. People passionate about a cause and eager to bring about social change connect through social media. It is imperative that NGOs learn how to become visible in social media by using the right medium for the task at hand.
Reasons for Using Social Media
• A vast majority of Charity organisations who use social media use it to generate awareness of the organizations’ mission.
• A majority of Not for Profit use social media to drive traffic to their websites.
• The more time an NGO puts into social media, the more it gets out.
• As NGOs increase their use of social media for other purposes, the majority will also realize that they can use social media for advocacy, raising money, and cause marketing.
The bottom line:is the more you use social media, the more comfortable you will be with it and the more you will use it … and the more it will benefit you.
Rules of the Road
Start your social media journey by:
- Spending a few minutes every day reading, listening to, and watching social media. Pay attention to what gets noticed by others (comments and retweets) and what appeals to you. Determine the style that resonates with your charity’s image.
- Participate in other people’s conversations by commenting and retweeting before you start your own blog or tweeting.
- Frame social media efforts by asking who, what, where, and how much. As you develop your social media plan for next year, keep these four questions in mind:
- What do you want to accomplish?
- Whom do you want to reach?
- Which media offers the best access to your target market?
- How much time and money will you spend?
- Invest in training. Using a computer everyday doesn’t necessarily translate into instant ability to use social media. The hardware is the same, the software is not. Learning to use the Big Four (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn) effectively – by creating or joining groups, making comments, participating in discussions – is similar to, but not as difficult as, learning other software programs you use.
Staff members who use social media in their personal lives may not know the best ways to use them on behalf of an organization. In fact, their personal social media habits may not conform with the image you want for your organization. Policies may need to be implemented. Instruction costs time and, perhaps, money depending on what resources you use to train staff.
- Tolerate failure. It is critical to social media success. When social media tactics fail – and some are bound to, no matter how well conceived – pick up the pieces quickly, analyse why they failed, recalibrate, and move on. Social media is a messy process in which trial and error are often your guides to what works best for your NGO. On the plus side, it is much less expensive to track and correct errors in social media tactics than it is to correct errors in traditional media.
Write about things that matter to your NGO and to the people you want to reach. Develop a unique perspective with core messages that you communicate on a regular basis. The content must attract others. The mantra of social media is “This is a conversation, not a monologue.”
Write compelling content. Compelling content is engaging, invites a conversation, and is well written. Engage people from within your network and outside. Draw outsiders to your network by posting comments on their websites
Speak the language of social media. As mentioned previously, using social media requires training, in part because each medium has its own language, navigation tools, and posting rules. For example, can you read and understand this tweet? If you can’t, don’t be deterred! The rules are few and simple; you just need to allow time to learn them.
10 Highly Successful Social Media Habits for Non Profit Organisations
- Excel at social media by dedicating the time to it.
- Use social media for more purposes such as to drive people to your website, to bring awareness, to raise funds.
- Start slowly, build a foundation, and then add more media (and time) to the mix.
- Rely on social media to strengthen marketing, not reduce marketing expenditures. Social media is about increasing cost efficiency and marketing effectiveness.
- Dedicate a larger share of the marketing pie to social media now and in the upcoming year.
- Maximize other marketing with social media. There is a powerful synergy between social media and other marketing efforts, especially other e-marketing efforts, such as search engine optimization and email.
- Allow people to learn in the way that works best for them. Different people learn differently. Whether you have a team or a part-time person, training may require a variety of resources.
- Go with your strengths; outsource your weaknesses. The more non-profits use social media, the more they understand that some tasks are better done by outsiders.
- View social media as cross-functional. Non-profits that do not recognize the benefits of social media throughout the organization may function less efficiently and effectively than those that do.
- Balance empowerment with accountability through policies and guidelines. Developing policies and procedures for the use of social media is a new field so you will have to create your own rules (although you could start a social media discussion to find out what other Charities are doing)