Should We Join a New Social Media Network?
In the San Francisco Bay Area, it seems as if a new social media tool or app appears every day. And at times, it is overwhelming keeping up. But with pressure from constituents, board members, staff, and volunteers asking why your nonprofit isn’t on the newest network, it can be easy to launch a new account or page without considering if it is right for your organization.
So when should you use a new social media tool? You should start with these key questions:
Who are you trying to reach?
Highly funded social startups now have extensive business and marketing plans aimed at getting the attention of investors and users alike. These are plans that your nonprofit would be wise to pay attention to, as it details the target and expected audience of the platform.
Is the target audience of the network you are considering one that you have struggled to reach in the past? Is it an audience where your constituents or donors are, but that you haven’t found a community?
What can this potential audience add to your nonprofit?
Another way of asking this – why do you want to reach this audience? If your answer is to grow income and get donations, you likely have come to the wrong place. Social media networks, regardless of their age, are best at building relationships and communities with those participating. So in considering this new potential audience – what can they do for you?
Some networks have shown to be useful for having community members share stories about your nonprofits. Others are best at spreading the great work of your organization to others. Others can provide access to celebrities, politicians, and other prominent figures that otherwise would be difficult for a small nonprofit to reach. Ultimately, before starting a communications campaign on a new platform, you need to consider what the audience, and not just the website itself, can add to your nonprofit.
What can you offer this audience that is of value?
A key component of a successful social media presence is providing value to your audience. No individual user joins networks to be bombarded with ads and requests from organizations and businesses; they want to gain something of value in return.
This doesn’t mean your nonprofit has to provide coupons, giveaways, or other free items, but it does mean you have to consider what you can add to the growing network, not just what they can do for you. Perhaps you can provide a community that didn’t exist before. Or act as an expert in your certain field to those asking questions. Perhaps it can be as simple as responding to requests for help in a secure, friendly fashion that is less stifled than email or the telephone. Your options are only limited by the time and resources that you can put into managing these platforms.
Who is going to run this?
Last but not least, discussion of limited resources and time as it relates to social media typically mean one thing – who is going to run this? By deciding up front who will manage and take responsibility for this new network, you can better prepare for the challenges of entering a new platform. Be sure that this individual is interested in social media, and that they have time in their schedule dedicated not only to updating content, but to responding to requests from users.
Don’t fall into the trap of signing up for every social media service in an effort to be ahead of the curve – take the time to consider how this new network will fit into your overall strategies, how your new audience can be of benefit to you, and who will manage your account before embarking on a new platform.
This week’s smattering of links that you may find helpful:
- LinkedIn added a volunteer marketplace. The Nonprofit Times outlines the opportunity.
- NPQ provides an interesting piece on the evolution of charitable giving.
- Jose Ferreira, Founder at Knewton, wrote a thoughtful article on the intersection of education, poverty, and the digital divide.
- Are you tired of your nonprofit’s story? #Fundchat argues that’s a good thing.
- Pinterest now fully supports GIFs. All Gif lovers rejoice!