There will probably be a lot on this conversation topic here. It’s probably one of the most important things to remember when you dive in to the social media world. Far too often we just want to jump in and get things perfect. We want the most pretty, perfect blog. We want all the best tweets (not to mention the best looking page). We want to have people donate to us like their lives depend on it. But we forget that its SOCIAL networking and SOCIALl media, not just marketing. And that means good social skills.
I originally started this blog because I have read a ton about social media and wanted a way to share the great articles I’ve found with my coworkers. I work for Community Voice Mail and at our yearly conferences I’ve talked a bit about Seattle Free School and what nonprofits can do, marketing wise, without any money. A fitting and timely topic these days for everyone, especially nonprofits who are feeling the pinch from both business and private donations. There were a number of choices to get the word to my friends in the federation. I can post on Facebook as many of my coworkers are friends there. I could email to get to anyone I’m not yet connected with on Facebook. But like so many, far too often I delete emails that I’d like to read because I just don’t have time right now and I don’t want it hanging over my head in that gigantic to do list called an inbox. By blogging people including myself can come back to articles and ideas at some time in the future should they want to. So I hope this winds up being useful to you… it will be useful to me if nothing else!
Because I’m thinking the most about my nonprofit friends the first article I’ll post is an excellent one by Josh Catone posted on Mashable (a great resource that you might want to bookmark. Now. http://mashable.com/)
The article takes you through the 5 main points of Social Media for nonprofits. Engage your followers, consuming information as well as broadcasting it. In other words repost things, share information from other nonprofits, be a part of the, yes you guessed it, conversation! But wait you say, that sounds like a ton of work! And a ton of time. The first clarification I’d like to make here is that you don’t need to be everywhere. You don’t need to be on every social media site ever invented. I suspect that your head would explode if you even tried. So pick the ones you like or ideally, love and make those the ones you really dive into. As Josh states “pare down your social media presence to only the essential sites”. More on how to figure that out in a later post.
OK, so we know we need to talk, converse back and forth to matter to our followers but that means regularly checking on whatever form of social media you’ve picked. “Inactivity only hurts your brand and turns users away”. You can’t grow a community if you only respond once every couple of weeks. No one will follow your blog if you only post every once in a while. Remember, people are looking to you for information on whatever subject you’re talking about. If they aren’t getting it from you they will go somewhere else. So if you’re not going to use it then DON’T use it. Keep the profile if you want, just don’t ever post there. Because I just can’t pass up the chance to quote my favorite movie guru “Do or do not, there is no try”. You don’t have to do it perfectly, but you do have to actually do it, you have to post regularly and respond regularly.
The beauty of this is that you’re not in college. Your posts don’t need to be dry and sterile. And frankly those of us following you would prefer that they weren’t, we’ve gotten enough of textbook writing long ago. We want to hear what you, the human has to say. “You’re a real person, so you should tweet, post and email like one. Always interact with your followers on social networks as you.” You have passion. You have energy. You believe in your cause. Your organization or business is just a thing. It can’t have those emotions so use what you have and make us love what you do by sharing your drive with us. There is nothing motivational about a dry, informational post. But you, you can make us really truly care.
I’ve posted this article first because I think it really covers the basic requirements for getting involved in social media, in a way that is very accessible. There are lots more great articles coming, and of course if you have one let me know… I can never read enough!