Looking Back At the Year That Was: Trends and Topics for Non-profits and Social Media

We past a pretty cool milestone last week; our blog celebrated its 50th-post birthday!

If our blog was a person, it might entering into a mid-life crisis. Fortunately, we don’t think our much-loved platform will suddenly start buying sports cars or quit its job and move off the grid.

But we did think it would be a perfect opportunity to take some time and reflect on the last 50 weeks. We put together five lessons we’ve learned from 350 days of writing on non-profits, associations and a little thing we like to all social media.

1. Social Media is the Next Step in Education

Education is a vital part of any professional association’s mandate. A large part of the allure for members is getting access to cutting edge lessons from experts in the field so they can grow in their careers and collectively thrive as an industry.

Social media is a new frontier in education that can help your organization’s members to learn every single day and connect them to the information that matters to them. Setting up a live blog at your next conference¬†will allow your attendees to get the most out of the event. Twitter chats give your members a chance to learn from each other in a very engaging way, while other social media tools make these lessons accessible to all members, regardless of tech abilities.

Social media and educational events go together like peanut butter and jelly and can even encourage face-to-face networking at conferences. But social platforms open up whole new opportunities for your members to learn their way; when they want and how they want.

2. Urban Legends Don’t Hold Any Weight

There’s no doubt about it; social media can look scary from the outside. There are plenty of reasons to convince yourself that social media isn’t right for your non-profit, but many of them just aren’t valid in a world that is constantly becoming more and more connected online.

Criticism can be handled in a way that actually turns a frown into a smile. Social media ROI is a slippery animal to snare, but it’s not impossible, nor is it all about the numbers. You also shouldn’t count out a social media platform just because it’s changed, just as no one should bet against your organization‘s ability to do good (and use social media to achieve it). And forget what people are saying about non-profit’s these days; your unique and your social media accounts should be too!

3. A Little Recognition Goes A Long Way

Everyone likes a little time in the spotlight once in a while, especially those members of your non-profit community who work tirelessly to strengthen the organization. Social media has proven again and again that it is the tool for the job.

Sponsors are key to any non-profit’s operation so a Big Ask is important. But a Big Thanks, facilitated by social media, is also a critical step to continued support.

Recognizing each and every member of your community is important as well and that’s why giving them access to the latest news and trends that fit each person’s interest is important. And then there are those who many disregard as posers in the non-profit world, but with a little patience, a bit of care and a pinch of social media love, they can be some of the most active members of your organization.

Giving a face to the Twitter name can help connect members of your community and rewarding great ideas through social media can be the start of a long and happy relationship between members and your non-profit.

4. Consistency is Key

You know consistency is key in everything your organization does; from event planning to processing member dues to the services you provide. Well, same goes for social media.

Social media is a conversation that requires frequent follow-up. Creating a buzz is great, but you need to sustain it. A great conversation generates a great brand, which comes from connecting with the right people on a regular basis. Maintaining consistency doesn’t always follow a stable schedule and things may happen that are out of your control. This is when social media can really help with a solid plan B. And always remember, you may be using technology, but you’re engaging with humans, so a consistent, human voice helps a lot.

If you want some examples of how putting in daily effort can take your organization to a whole new level, take a lesson from the Sochi Olympics or the social media giant Facebook.

5. Images Are Powerful

A picture is worth 1000 words; the saying that has spawned a million spin-offs, puns and quotable lines. But in the midst of all the cliches and corniness there lies a load of truth. Images can be an amazing way to connect with an audience and encourage them to invest in your non-profit or association. Social media makes this easier than ever.

The photo is a critical ingredient to any part of success on social media. We even made it a New Year’s Resolution for non-profits looking to grow and succeed in the online world.

Facebook, for instance, gives you a platform to share photos and harness the power of images. Pinterest is not only the fastest growing social media site, but is full of potential for non-profits to show off their services and success. And last, but not least, YouTube allows your organization to show its human side, to capture the passion of staff and connect the world to your amazing members

 

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It’s been a great year of innovation, insight and ideas. Thank you to everyone who joined us on that journey and we are looking forward to continuing it, starting next week with another great post!

Let us know what you though the social media highlights were of the past year in the comments. And remember, stay social!

The New Platform That Could Revolutionize The Way Non-profits Do Meetings

Camaraderie is one word often linked to associations and other non-profits. Being in an association means connecting with those who share your passion and working together with those people to strengthen a cause or an industry. It’s not uncommon for members to meet life-long friends or mentors through an organization.

Non-profit events are the place to go to find friendship and togetherness. Some of the best conversation and biggest brainstorms can come when members connect face-to-face. So why not have more meetings, events, conferences, etc.?

This is easier said than done. Events are expensive and take a lot of time and resources to coordinate, especially for non-profits with finite staff members and budget space.

That’s why Meetup is such a great platforms. Meetup is a site that bills itself as “neighbours getting together to learn something, do something, share something.” Basically, it is a platform where you can search for a group of like-minded individuals in your community who meet up, network and talk about their passion. And it has the potential to revolutionize the way non-profits serve their community.

Here are four ways Meetup can help raise your organization up and give your community an opportunity to thrive.

#1. Encourages Board Members to Get Involved

Your Board of Directors may be spread out across the province, state or country. Although they may want to help the organization and its community, sometimes they are limited to monthly or quarterly meetings because of geography.

One of the best features of Meetup is that a meeting can take place anywhere and anyone can plan one. The members of your Board can take advantage of this to coordinate a meeting with your non-profit’s community wherever they are. It’s a great way for the Board members to get involved, get to know the community and put their own mark on the organization.

#2. Empowers Local Chapters/Leaders

Members of national organizations likely share the same problem as Board members; they are spread far afield and chances to connect with others in the community are few and far between. Local chapters and leaders in the community may want to build up the organization, but lack the resources, time and know-how to do so.

Meetup gives these individuals an opportunity to organize a gathering of local members, share stories, take the pulse of the community, gain feedback and increase services. Engaging the local community is important to ensuring the larger organization enjoys a dedicated member-base that will keep coming back again and again. Meetup is a great way to start achieving this goal.

#3. Promotes Your Organization

Organizing a meetup, big or small, can bring more awareness to your non-profit and grow its community. Meetup is one more platform that gets the word out about your organization. Its search function makes it easy for those with an interest in the cause or industry to find a meeting you have planned.

Meetups are also a chance for current members of your organization’s community to show a friend or colleague what your non-profit has to offer. It’s a perfect place to connect with people that share the same interest as you and get to know the benefits of joining an organization full-time without formalities, a hard sell or a rigid schedule.

#4. Gives Members Some Freedom

The conference or event scene isn’t for everyone. Don’t get us wrong, events are amazing. They raise awareness, provide networking and learning opportunities and connect organizations with those in the industry. But sometimes people won’t attend because of limited financial resources, geography or a feeling that the event lacks relevancy for them.

Meetup can change all this by putting event planning in the hands of members. They can meet up, network and find solutions to shared problems in the setting they want, at a time they want. That can mean meeting for lunch every week to hear a professional speaker talk to the group or it can mean a monthly pub night. Organizing a meetup or helping members organize a meetup gives your organization the ability to connect with different demographics in an efficient and cost-effective way because it gives people the choice to network the way they want to network.

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There’s no telling what the future of event planning has in store, especially because each and every organization is different. Meetup offers a great option for non-profits searching for ways to connect its members with each other and the organization itself. Don’t forget to promote any meetups on your other social media platforms and follow up using your various social media channels.

Let us know what you think about Meetup and how you can see your organization using the site. And, as always, stay social!

5 Tips for Organizing a Successful Tweetup at your Non-profit’s Event

Social media is a great way for your non-profit or association to help your community network with different people from around the world. Twitter is an especially great platform for your community to connect with colleagues or those who share your passion for a cause.

With these constant, real-time connections that erase the distance between people, it can seem like your followers know each other, even if they live and work across the country from one another. Collaboration, networking and sharing information can happen without sitting down at a table together.

Yes, social media has made connecting with people incredibly easy, but there is still something to be said for meeting someone face-to-face. In fact, having a chance to network is one of the most common reasons people attend events or conferences.

So, how can you take the community you have built online and give them a face-to-face networking opportunity at an event? Organize a tweetup.

A tweetup is when people from a Twitter community (or any online community) arrange to meet in person to put a face to the Twitter handle, make new friends, build career connections and just have a good time.

The great thing about the non-profit industry is that it gives you plenty of opportunities, through conferences, fundraisers, meetings, etc., to organize a tweetup for your community. Here are five tips to help you organize a successful first tweetup at your next event.

1. Make Sure People Know About It

Plaster the details for the tweetup on your social media platforms beforehand. Be specific about those details. Let your online community know the where, when and even why of the tweetup. In addition to social media, put the details of the tweetup on your organization’s website, event schedule, in the pre-conference emails and even mention it as part of the general announcements at the beginning of your event. All this will ensure you get a healthy response at your tweetup.

2. Be Inclusive

Let people know that anyone is welcome to come to the tweetup, not only those who are on social media. Encourage people to come, network and learn how to get involved in your online community. This is how your online network improves and how your non-profit community grows.

3. Know Your Space

That means having the details about the location where you’re going to meet and the space in the schedule you’re planning on using. Don’t arrange your tweetup at a time when people will want to do something else, like attending an education session. Plan on meeting somewhere relaxed, open, big and not very noisy, so people can talk, enjoy themselves and stay a while.

4. Make Sure You Are Prepared

Be there early so you can meet people as they get there. Know some of your more active followers’ handles, faces and interests. This helps people feel comfortable and encourages interaction between attendees. Have some topics ready to talk about to break the ice or encourage discussion if things are quiet at first.

5. Follow Up

Thank people in person and on social media for coming to the tweetup. Make a list of attendee’s contact information so others can follow up on connections they made at the tweetup. Recap any interesting conversations with a blog, on Twitter or Facebook. Plan another tweetup for the future.

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Tweetups can be a great tool to grow your non-profit’s network and help benefit both your organization and its community. Being organized, friendly and engaging can go a long way to making a tweetup a success and raising your organization even higher.

Have you had a great experience with tweetups? Let us know in the comments!

All Together Now: Blogging at Industry Conferences

Your members have seen it all before.

They’ve seen the convention center rooms packed with chairs.

They’ve experienced the PowerPoint presentations and the orientation packages.

They’ve witnessed the pomp and procedure and the dreary hotel breakfasts.

Yes, they’ve seen everything an industry-wide conference has to offer.

Or so they think.

No, conferences are certainly not the newest trend for professional associations, but by incorporating social media into the event, specifically a blog, an organization can add much needed perspective and engagement that can benefit members and bolster any large professional get-together.

A conference-oriented blog should be established before the conference begins for three reasons: so attendees are aware of its existence and purpose before the event, to promote the conference and its benefits and to prepare members so they can get the most out of their time.

A blog is a great way to introduce members to all things, big and small, the conference has to offer. This allows members to not only plan their days according to what catches their eye on your blog, but gets them looking forward to the event.

During the conference, a blog can be used to effectively summarize days that always seem to pass by in a flash. With so many activities, seminars, networking opportunities and meetings jammed into a few days, it’s easy to miss something or lose track of the benefits of a conference. A blog allows attendees to catch up at the end of a long day and provides a fresh perspective on the day that was.

A blog also allows members to engage with planners and organizations during a conference, providing yet another arena to network with peers. Many times blogs can turn into channels for crucial feedback from attendees as well. Encouraging this feedback can be helpful in ensuring conferences, present and future, run smoothly and members get the most out of them.

The flexibility of a blog is yet another advantage for organizations during a conference. Blogs can be posted to and shared on most social media platforms, such as Twitter, Facebook and mobile apps as well as through email. This allows members to access the blog whenever and wherever, whether it is in their hotel rooms at night or in between meetings. Viewing a public blog also does not require signing up for an account, meaning all members can easily access posts regardless of their level of tech usage and savvy.

The benefits of professional conferences can sometimes be hidden behind a fog of rushed meetings and dull routine. Blogs can help clear this fog by engaging and empowering members that attend these conferences. Blogs offer preparedness, fresh insight and a sense of togetherness that few other platforms offer. Realize the potential of your organization and its members by utilizing a blog at your next conference.