Like many nonprofit professionals, social media is an activity I work with on the side, to take care of when I have some extra time. So this fall, when I attended the Social Media for Nonprofits conference, I was not surprised when only 2 out of 100 attendees raised their hands when asked if they worked on social media full time. With the many responsibilities we are tasked with in the nonprofit sector, it can be difficult to dedicate the time necessary to build the online communities we hope for. After spending an entire day discussing social media, I learned a lot about how nonprofits can more effectively utilize this tool.
Here are 7 takeaways I walked away with:
- Social media allows you to control your own story in a public space. Likewise, it also takes timing, thinking, and planning for it to work effectively.
- Social media can be overwhelming. Block out some time to schedule your tweets or updates over the week using automation and scheduling tools.
- Engage your users where they are; familiarize yourself with the platforms they are using and allocate your time accordingly.
- Use images! The human brain processes images 60,000 times faster than text.
- Social media can be a great tool for fundraising, but you need to be able to demonstrate a tangible return on investment from a donation.
- Don't let social media consume you. Take social media breaks after completing higher concentration tasks.
- Email is not dead! You have to make sure your emails are mobile friendly. Format them into a single column, make them responsive, and keep it short.
I can attest that carving out time for social media makes all the difference in the world. Two years ago I decided to spend an hour every Monday morning scheduling Facebook posts for one of the schools I work with. I began to share reminders for our parents, pictures of students on field trips, old black and white photos for our alumni, and even happy birthday messages to our staff. Since then, our following and engagement have increased dramatically.
Sometimes that one hour on Monday mornings means I have to stay an extra hour after work to catch up on my other responsibilities, but the wonderful responses and positive messages from our community members make it all worth it!