Volunteers Going Rogue on Social Media
While volunteers often have the best intentions when they set up a social media page for their local chapter or events, it is a practice that should definitely be discouraged if there is no staff oversight. Communication gaps or inappropriate updates can damage the reputation of the nonprofit, especially as social media becomes more of a prominent place for new volunteers or donors to learn more about the organization.
We’ve spoken in this space before that it is better to be without a social media pages than to have accounts that are inactive. This rule also applies for local events or chapters of your organization. If you have volunteers that are not updating these social media accounts, it may be time to reach out to them and ask them to honestly assess if they have the time to be active in the space. It is important for your organization to establish and define what “active” means, so that your volunteers can understand the commitment you expect. For some organizations this is posting once or twice a week, for others it may be communicating every day.
Additionally, if there are volunteers that are posting content that is not reflective of the brand and messaging of your nonprofit, it is also important to communicate what is expected. Does your nonprofit feel comfortable endorsing local businesses? If not, volunteers should not be posting content that may appear to be recommending services due to a donation to your organization. Does your nonprofit want to be involved in political discussions? Sometimes volunteers can overstep their boundaries when posting on behalf of your organization.
If your organization discovers that there are Facebook or Twitter accounts that were created at a local level and are unsure of who is currently managing them, you should reach out and see if you can determine who the administrators are. This can be as simple as sending a direct message on Twitter, or sending a message via Facebook. It’s always best to send a private message on either Facebook or Twitter instead posting publicly to avoid any confusion or embarrassment for your volunteers.
It is important within this communication to emphasize your appreciation for their efforts and thank them for their enthusiasm – while their social media pages may currently be causing you a headache, it is this type of volunteer that could possibly be a huge ally and asset when attempting to grow your social media audience and community.
If communicating with volunteers is not enough, and you decide that it would be best to close an account, it is important that you post a final message on your account letting those followers or fans know that you’re closing the account and redirect them to your organization’s national or primary social media page.
Social media is no longer the wild frontier it once was – protocols and policies for social media use are now the norm, especially when it comes to volunteers. Don’t let good intentions diminish your organization’s efforts with this social community.