Seven Deadly Sins of Starting a Social Media Account

Social media networks make it easy to sign up and create an account. It’s almost a little too easy.

In about 10 minutes, give or take a few, any organization can set up an account on a platform like Twitter, Facebook or Pinterest and be ready to increase engagement and awareness. However, the ease with which one can create an account can lead people to fall into temptation.

We’ve outlined seven of these social media start-up sins and how to steer clear of these misdeeds.

Lust

When your association, non-profit or small business starts a social media account, it can fall in the trap of lusting after an unrealistic return on investment right away. And by an unrealistic ROI, we mean a financial ROI.

Don’t focus on monetization or financial stats at the beginning. It’s important to keep track of these figures, such as cost-per-impression, but don’t use them as a measuring stick of the account’s success. In other words, stay away from chasing profits and large returns because you’ll just be disappointed.

Rather than focus on a financial ROI at the outset, focus on social ROI. Social ROI is all about calculating how many relationships you have built and how much awareness you have generated. Keep track of the demographics of your community (such as followers) and make sure they align with your target audience. Measure how many interactions you have received (such as retweets) and how many good conversations have come from them.

Gluttony

Being gluttonous means consuming too much and living in excess in hope of attaining happiness, power or fame. This is as dangerous when starting a social media account as it is when standing in line at a buffet.

It’s important to know that being successful on any social media platform takes time. Don’t expect to get lots of followers, likes or subscribers right away. For example, stay away from following a large group of people on Twitter right away just to gain an equally large amount of followers. This sort of activity just means your numbers are inflated and gives you only the appearance of success.

The better strategy is to make connections slowly and integrate yourself into communities in which you can connect with your target demographics and provide value. Gaining a reputation for value, credibility and engaging content takes time, both on and offline. Slow down, focus on quality and you will see for triumphs than trails.

Greed

It’s not hard to get greedy when starting out on any social media. It’s important to connect with others and remember that sharing the wealth is one of the key reasons social media has become a popular marketing and awareness tool.

When sharing content on social media, ensure that you are giving others credit. Mention the original authors or those who posted the content before you did. This is how you build trust and relationships online. It’s also essential to use the sharing tools provided by all social media platforms, such as established hashtags or LinkedIn Groups. Stay away creating your own groups, hashtags, etc when you are just starting out just because you want all the attention on your association/non-profit/small business. Use the well-worn paths available online and your account will grow and flourish.

Sloth

Sloth doesn’t get as much play in pop culture as lust or greed, but it’s just as dangerous to those organizations that are looking to build a new social media account.

One of the worst elements of sloth is that it is so apparent. When an organization is lazy on social media, it shows and it drives people away. Being lazy online means not completing your profile, not posting consistently and failing to ensure all the little details are taken care of, such as making sure your photos are the right size or the spelling and grammar are correct. However, laziness doesn’t start, or stop, at the little things. Being lazy also means not having a plan before starting on social media. This includes a plan on who you’re going to connect with, what content you’re going to share and how you’re going to measure success.

Combating sloth is about attention to detail, time management and patience. Slow down and double check every detail before making your profile live. Run it by colleagues, board members and volunteers to ensure you have thought of everything. Draft up a plan and make sure you have smaller benchmarks that can be met along the way, such as a content calendar.

Wrath

Wrath leads to knee-jerk reactions, the kind of reactions that could harm a social media account beyond repair and damage an organization’s reputation. Wrath could even stop a successful social media account before it even gets started.

Wrath leads people to become too closely guarded. Don’t let this feeling reach your social media accounts. Avoid making your account too private, such as locking a Twitter account or creating a hidden Pinterest board. The main goal of using social media is to grow awareness and engagement and you can’t do this by being too exclusive. Invite everybody to participate, even non-members/non-customers, and you’ll get much closer to endearing yourself to these groups.

Another part of controlling wrath is recognizing how to handle criticism. It’s important not to get angry or vindictive when handling negative comments on your social media accounts. Handle criticism with patience, information and great customer service and that it what your organization will be known for.

Envy

Envy is one of the deadly sins that prevent your association/non-profit/small business from being who it really is and achieving its goals. Envy forces you to plagiarize the work of others and miss out on some of the greatest opportunities that starting a social media account offers.

It’s great to see what strategies work for others, such as what profile designs look great and what hashtags people use, but it’s crucial to recognize there is a line between being a smart strategist and a copy-cat. Combine tried and tested strategies with elements from your own brand. Develop your own voice on social media. This will differentiate your organization from others and raise you above the rest.

Pride

Pride is probably one of the most dangerous and common sins that organizations fall into when starting a social media account. Pride blinds people and causes them to miss the necessary steps that are required to create a successful online network.

One of the consequences of pride is posting too often about yourself/your organization. Having a strategy that consists, in large part, of posting about promotions, services, products, etc., that your organization provides will offer little value to those you’re trying to connect with and will give them little incentive to be a part of your online community.

Instead of being vain, recognize that sharing content, joining chats and having fun is an important part of your overall strategy. Highlighting content from others will allow you to engage key influencers and be active in conversations. Being a part of a community, and not the king of that community, is what social media is all about.

How Managing a Social Media Account is Like Going to the Gym

Being fit is a big business these days. There are gyms on every other corner and home fitness programs are becoming commonplace in many a basement.

There’s plenty that a social media manager can learn about this weighty trend (excuse the pun). Managing an organization’s Twitter account, Facebook page, YouTube channel or any other social network can be a lot like lifting weights and putting in hours on the treadmill. So if you are feeling guilty about skipping your workout today, sit back and at least read about some exercise.

Stretch First

It’s always a good idea to stretch before doing any kind of physical activity; your body will thank you tomorrow morning. Preparation is also important in the social media world and when managing your account.

Before you start (or re-start) your organization on a social media platform, it’s important to do some homework. You need to know which platform is best for your association, non-profit or small business and which audience you’re trying to target. Knowing the goals you want to achieve is also crucial to being successful on any platform, as is drawing up a design plan for your new account.

The planning isn’t done when the social media account goes live. It’s crucial to plan your social media strategy on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. Building a content calendar is a helpful tool in preparing for the week or month ahead and ensuring that your account is engaging and efficient. It’s a win/win for both your organization and its community.

Don’t Overwork Your Muscles

Every exercise guru knows that rest is just as important as being active in the world of fitness. It’s never a bright idea to work the same muscle over and over again, every day, because the muscles cannot recover fast enough. It becomes counterproductive.

Social media is similar in that posting about the same issue or topic too frequently will drive people away. For example, if your association, non-profit or small business tweets about itself and a great benefit/cause/promotion twice a day, every day, people will find little value in following the account and will stay away. Remember to provide diverse, but relevant content to your network to keep them engaged and coming back for more.

You will also have to think about how often your organization posts in general. Posting too frequently can leave your community feeling overwhelmed, but not posting enough can make your desired audience forget about you entirely. Experiment with posting frequency, analyze the data and set yourself a schedule you can follow.

No Pain, No Gain

The old adage, no pain, no gain, has more than a little truth to it when you’re in the gym. When you’re a little sore, it usually means that you’ve done something right and you can build on that feeling. Going through some tough times is also normal on social media.

You’re probably going to run into a little pain when managing an organization’s social media account; i.e. some criticism or negative reaction. This is normal and can even be advantageous. As a public and engaging media, social networks open your organization up to scrutiny and criticism. Some people may shy away from Twitter, Facebook, YouTube or any other platform because of this inevitability. But there are many steps you can take to handle the odd negative interaction.

One of the most crucial steps you can take to combat criticism is to turn a negative into a positive. Use criticism to improve your services and gain trust from members/non-members, customer/potential customers and donors/potential donors. This will help your organization grow and be stronger.

Have a Spotter

A spotter is a teammate, a coach and a cheerleader rolled into one. He/she is someone who can help you through a workout and make sure you don’t get hurt when you’re lifting weights. Having a similar people at your organization or on social media will give your online efforts a boost.

We’ve covered the importance of having a content calendar, but we haven’t mentioned the need to get feedback on this plan and any other content you share. Getting input from colleagues or staff on your content calendar, blog, YouTube video or other content will expose you to new perspectives and help you catch any mistakes or omissions. Getting your staff/board/donors to participate on social media will also help make your accounts strong.

One of the most important goals of social media is to engage with your target audience. When you interact with your audience, you’re more likely to make a lasting connection that results in a monetary investment. Find out which content is most valuable to your audience and connect with people on a regular basis and they will become your cheerleader both online and offline.

Cool Downs are Important

It’s not a bright idea to go straight from the gym to your car to your couch. You need to do some cool down exercises to help your muscles recover and lower your heartbeat. A cool down is also important when managing a social media account.

A cool down in social media language means collecting the data from your efforts and analyzing it to create a better strategy moving forward. It is essential to track your progress on social media and gather as much data as you can. When analyzing this data later (at the end of the month, the quarter or the year), look at which content provided the most value and seek to increase the frequency in which you post this kind of content.

Knowing which data is most important is also a key factor in ‘cooling down’. There are a few key stats that all organizations should be paying attention to and which can tell you a lot about how your social media platforms are doing.

Three Key Takeaways

- Have a plan for your social media account. This will help you be engaging and relevant and guard against too much repetition in your content.

- Get feedback from colleagues and encourage participation on social media from inside and outside the office.

- Take some time to analyze your strengths and weaknesses on social media and don’t be afraid of a little criticism; it can be turned into an opportunity for your organization to grow.

How Often Should Your Non-profit/Association Be Posting On Social Media?

Posting on social media can sometimes feel like driving on an icy road; if you veer too far to one side, you’ll skid off the path and into the ditch. If your organization posts too little, the account will become irrelevant and people will lose interest. If you share too much content, people will likely feel overwhelmed and annoyed and will probably unfollow or unlike your account (or the equivalent).

It’s difficult to gauge how often your non-profit or association should be posting on social media. It varies with the platform, the audience and what your organization’s wants to achieve. While one size doesn’t fit all when it comes to frequency of posting, we’ve put together a guideline to help you and your non-profit out.

Facebook: 5-10 per week

This may seem low, especially because other sources suggest anywhere from 14 to 25 posts per week, but fewer posts are often better for non-profits and associations because of their audiences.

Facebook is a more private platform than, for example, Twitter and YouTube. Your followers are often restricted to those who are truly invested or engaged in what your organization works towards, such as members or donors. Fewer posts allow your organization to highlight the things that are important to this very defined audience, like highlighting a new initiative, member benefit, event or member accomplishment. Limiting the number of posts to 10 or fewer per week helps keep interest and engagement high. When you’re only providing content that appeals to your target audience, instead of posting simply because you want to meet a weekly quota, people are less likely to scroll past your name on their newsfeed because they realize there is value in every post.

Twitter: 3-8 times per day

Twitter is a different beast than Facebook. It’s more public (anyone can see your tweets) and tweets tend to be shorter and more conversational. Twitter is also a more common place for people to go to get information and content, as opposed to the more social platform that is Facebook. All this combines to make it beneficial to tweet more often.

Twitter and hashtag feeds fill up fast and your organization has to complete will thousands of other pieces of content that is flying past your target audience’s eyes. Tweeting more often helps get your content recognized. Tweeting 3-8 times per day also helps your organization cover a variety of different areas and issues that might appeal to your members, including relevant articles, photos, organization-specific news, industry updates and conversation starters. If you’re not providing value on Twitter, followers will often unfollow your account, as there are many other sources available. However, posting too much may push your connections to use the Mute button. Tweeting 3-8 times per day is often a happy medium.

Blogging: 3-8 times per month

A blog is like a newspaper, but more people with special interests. If you picked up the Saturday issue of the newspaper, expecting a nice, relaxing and informative read and instead saw last week’s articles, you might be a little ticked. The same is true of a blog.

Depending on your industry and the resources at your disposal, a blog should be updates at least once a week, or ideally 3-8 times per month for non-profits/associations. The purpose of a blog is to give your readers an engaging and informative forum to learn and get caught up on news, trends and tips. But it’s also a platform that establishes your organization as the “expert” in an industry and drives traffic to your website. If your blog is not being published consistently, people will lose faith in the “expert” moniker and will stop typing your website into the search bar, directing their valuable time to other sources.

Pinterest: N/A

Pinterest is a tricky platform to declare an exact range of frequency for your organization to post, but the situation can be viewed through two lenses; the goal of Pinterest is mainly to drive traffic to websites and the social network is similar to a combination of Twitter and blogs.

The first lens we’re viewing Pinterest through (the goals is to drive traffic), helps you determines the frequency with which to post original pins. Find out which websites or web pages you want to drive traffic to and post accordingly. For instance, if you are a Business Improvement Area (BIA) and want to highlight members, it might be a good idea to pin 2-3 times per day to cover different interests and drive traffic to your members’ pages. If you are an organization who is raising money for a cause, posting original pins 2-3 times per week may be good to keep interest high, but not reuse the same stories, stats or articles.

The second lens (Pinterest is a combo of Twitter and blogging) helps you decide how often to re-pin posts. Pinterest is very public and updates frequently (like Twitter), but is also a platform that encourages regular viewing of certain boards (like blogging). Make sure to pin enough (1-3 times per day) so that your content is fresh, engaging and relevant for loyal visitors.

YouTube: 1-4 times per month

YouTube is a platform that is often used together with other social media networks, which means that videos are usually seen on blogs, websites, Facebook or Twitter. This unique trait is part of the reason its frequency is 1-4 times per month.

YouTube can often be thought of as an addition to other platforms’ editorial plans. For example, one video showcasing a member/donor per week can be slotted into an organization’s Twitter calendar for a particular month. Since YouTube videos usually act as a supplement to other platforms for non-profits and associations, be careful not to overdue the frequency with which you post videos. Posting 1-4 times per month will keep videos in your content calendar and your YouTube channel from becoming stale.

Instagram: 1-4 times per day

Instagram is as close to a purely visual platform as you can get with the big social media networks. Pictures are treated differently than words, which is why the frequency of posting is higher for Instagram than most other platforms.

Pictures take less time to appreciate than words. Instagram’s “liking” process is also fairly quick (a tap on the screen means you’re a fan of the photo). These two elements add up to Instagram users checking and scrolling through posts at a fast and furious pace. To keep relevant, engaging and in front of people’s eyes, posting frequently to Instagram is a must for any association or non-profit who chooses to use this platform. A word of warning to any organizations thinking of using Instagram; don’t start an account if you don’t have a daily source of visual, because without this well to draw on, your followers will forget you pretty fast.

LinkedIn: 2-3 times per week

LinkedIn, like every other platform on this list, has a specific purpose that determines how frequently your organization should post on it. LinkedIn is an association’s dream platform as it fulfills a primary goal of an organization; offering professional development to members. If your association chooses to invest resources in LinkedIn, a frequent and consistent approach to posting should be taken.

LinkedIn offers an opportunity to appeal to the professional side of your connections. Posting articles, conversation points, job openings and similar content can be done multiple times a week to keep members engaged and give them a chance to get involved, learn or contribute to a discussion and keep up with the latest trends and techniques that allow them to do their job better. LinkedIn, much like a blog, will allow your organization to be known as an expert and a great forum to go to when someone wants to connect with like-minded individuals. If you are not consistent, the forum will go into disuse and lose all effectiveness, but posting too often may make people overwhelmed and unwilling to contribute. Posting 2-3 times per week should provide a great balance.

Other Things to Consider

Determining the frequency with which your organization should post on different social media sites is not an exact science, but it is a type of science. The advice in the paragraphs above is simply a guide. The best path for your organization to travel is to experiment with different frequencies of posting, collect the data, analyze it and see which strategy turns out the most favourable results.

You will also have to be flexible with your frequency of posting. The number of times you tweet or post to Facebook, Instagram, etc. will change depending on the exceptional circumstances of your non-profit/association. For instance, you will probably tweet more when your association is hosting its annual conference or if your charity is having a fundraising event.

The key to finding the best frequency with which to post is to stay organized, stay flexible and stay informed. Using these tools, you’ll social media platforms will go from good to great in no time.

The Issues That Matter Most To Association Executives And How Social Media Can Help

The one issue that matters to association leaders, above all else, is lobbying and advocacy, according to a study by Association Adviser and Naylor LLC.

Informing the government, media and general public about an industry and its members mattered more to association leaders than any other duty, ahead of such topics as member news, industry best practices and networking, in the survey of 910 executives.

While the responses to the survey showed a wide range, all the top issues had one element in common; they can be addressed, in part, with a great social media strategy.

We took a look at the top five most important topics for association leaders and how social media can give each area a boost.

Lobbying and Advocacy

The Naylor reports explains the ascendancy of the issue of lobbying and advocacy like so, “…it’s because there’s a great deal of ‘misinformation—even fabricated information’ presented to legislators that it can easily turn into bad legislation. ‘This increases costs to consumers…’”

We detailed how social media can help the lobbying and advocacy efforts of associations a couple months ago, so we’ll highlight some of the key takeaways from the post that address how being social can help dispel myths and aid advocacy.

Social media platforms, like Twitter or Facebook, make it easier for your association to stay on top of all the latest news, trends and comments. Having a strong presence on these platforms allows your association to have a conversation about falsehoods or misinformation that may pop up online. Blogs, YouTube, Twitter and other platforms can also act a rallying point for members to join an advocacy campaign by your association and a place to shine the spotlight on member achievement where thousands of people are paying attention.

And when a city, a country or the world takes notice, so too, do politicians.

How-To/Best Practices

How-To/Best Practices came second on Naylor’s list, just slightly behind advocacy and lobbying. Just like the previous section, we’ve covered how social media can help you create and promote a how-to for members. Here are some of the finer points of our explanation:

Social media is a storyteller’s dream and that’s what a how-to is all about. If you can tell a great story, explaining how to go about an activity in the best way can be engaging for members. A video on YouTube or an infographic tacked onto Pinterest, a blog, Twitter or a website will give your members a visual to go along with your story.

Social media also provides members a place to ask questions about the how-to or interact with experts in the field who have published an article about best practices. Sometimes an article, video or explanation is not enough, but social media is there to save the day and give members the more in-depth knowledge they need and want. Host a Twitter chat, monitor the comments and plan a follow-up webinar to your how-to/best practices posts.

Industry News/Trends

There’s no denying it; people go online to get most of their news now-in-days. Your association’s members are no exception.

Being online and on social media will help your association connect members to the news and trends that will benefit them in their profession. Like we mentioned earlier, social media is a great way to keep tuned to all the latest news on a particular industry, particularly with tools such as Paper.li and hashtag monitoring. Spreading the word to members takes an engaging tweet and a little digging on which articles are the most timely and helpful.

News comes in all shapes and sizes and so does social media, which makes it a match made in heaven. You can write a blog for more a more in-depth look at news or to promote the latest technological trends, for example, or take to Instagram to document the latest about association programs, services and events in bite-sized chunks. Promoting your association’s magazine or newsletter on social media allows a much wider audience to find value in your organization’s services and makes them more likely to invest in the association in the form of membership.

Career/Professional Development

Think of the career development resources your association offers members and you can probably come up with at least a handful of examples before you finish reading this sentence. Most of them can be promoted and made more accessible through social media.

Events are a hub of learning for members and social media can add a tremendous amount to any conference, meeting or webinar, such as live-tweeting, daily recap blog posts and YouTube interviews with speakers. We’ve also detailed, at length, the newest form of education and career development taking off right now called Meetup and how it could help your association and its members.

Other programs, such as a mentorship initiatives, accreditation courses and awards programs, lend themselves beautifully to the kind of storytelling social media does so well. Tweets, Facebook posts, YouTube videos and infographics can capture success stories and can make people in the industry aware of the programs when they might otherwise not have known they existed.

Statistics and Data That Help Them Do Their Job Better

Social media is a goldmine of helpful stats and data that help both association leaders and association members do their job better.

Social media provides a wealth of information about an association’s members and non-members and recent developments have made it even easier to access this data. Twitter analytics became open to all Twitter users in the last month and the data to be gleaned from the available numbers could be a game-changer for association leaders. Executives can now measure which issues get the most engagement, which trends members are paying attention to most and what topics are receiving the best response from the general public. And the best part is that it’s free! There are not many resources that are better than Twitter analytics for conducting research into the behaviour, wants and needs of membership.

As for relaying the stats and facts that members want to see, well, we’ll just leave this right here. It about sums up the giant role of social media in presenting the relevant facts to the right audience.

—————

The most important issues for association leadership are constantly changing, but what will continue to stay the same is social media’s ability to lend a helping. From advocacy to statistics, social networking platforms can bridge the gap between problems and solutions in a cheap, effective way for many an association executive.

 

Hot or Not: Answers to Social Media FAQs for Non-profits

There are a few frequently asked questions we receive when we talk to non-profit or association executives about social media platforms. But instead of just explaining the ins and outs of each question, we’ve gathered five of them and enlisted the help of the fashion magazine staple; hot or not. Here they are:

Responding to Retweets and Favourites: Room Temperature

We’re going to walk the line between hot and not for this first one because there really is no right answer. Many people give a small shout out to those who retweet or favourite a post from your organization. It’s definitely a nice touch, but it’s not 100 per cent necessary.

While it’s not improper etiquette to just let these interactions be, it doesn’t take a whole lot of extra effort to write, “Thank you for retweeting us! Glad you like the article/tweet/question. Let us know if you have any other feedback,” or something like that. Who knows, it could even start a nice conversation that might lead to a very happy member, donor, sponsor or volunteer!

Posting Every Two to Three Days on Facebook: Hot

Social media is a fickle beast. Some platforms, like Twitter and Instagram, want you to pay attention to them every single day. Others, like Facebook, are okay with having your attention every other day.

While it’s definitely important to check Facebook several times a day to monitor discussions and track statistics, it isn’t at all necessary to post a status every day. Actually, it can grow quite tiresome for some people to see content from an organization clogging their newsfeed, even if it’s from a non-profit or association they care about.

Save your best content for Facebook so people aren’t skipping by your posts that are only there because you thought you should post every day. Make it fun, engaging and worthwhile. Of course, if something is happening, say a big event or a breaking news story that affects your community, it’s okay to post something two days in a row. It’s all about measuring the content’s relevancy and timeliness to your audience. Too much of a good thing can become a bad thing!

Having a LinkedIn Company Page Instead of a LinkedIn Group: Not

This is actually a bit of a trick question, or rather a trick answer. You shouldn’t be deciding if it’s one or the other, you should be creating both. A company (or ‘Organization’) page is great and has many benefits. Your organization can share news, company information and helpful pieces of content, like blog posts, through company pages.

Groups, on the other hand, can be thought of as a place for individuals to have conversations. While your organization can’t run groups, you can as a representative of your non-profit or association. Groups are a great way to get discussion going and be more inclusive. They often have a broader focus, such as issues affecting a certain industry or issue, and encourage those who may not be connected to your organization yet to participate. From there, the participants are only a few steps away from engaging with your organization.

Using ROI Stats to Justify Your Social Media Efforts: Not

Using social media these days is the equivalent of being in the phone book back in the 1980s; if you’re not investing in a spot, than you’re not going to get noticed. It’s no longer a matter of if you should be on social media, but how.

Many people, mostly skeptics, will point to hard-to-come-by statistics on the financial return on investment for social media, but the benefits of social media don’t always come with a dollar amount attached to them. Rather, social media should be looked at a means to engage and communicate with your community, providing them with service and value in order to encourage them to invest time, money or interest in your non-profit.

You’ll likely never get a phone call from someone saying they joined your association or donated to your cause because of a tweet they saw or pin they liked, but exposure to consistently great content, over time, will cast your organization as an expert that prides itself on communication, transparency and hard work to achieve a goal for members. This should be the real gauge of how well your social media efforts are doing.

Encouraging Offline Events Through Online Platforms: Hot

Online and offline efforts are not in competition with each other. It is not social media’s intent to destroy face-to-face interaction and it’s not the tradition meeting’s aim to shout down Twitter, Facebook and the like. They actually complement each other quite well.

For example, if you develop a strong Twitter following, try organizing a tweetup at your next conference or fundraising drive. A tweetup takes the best of the old school and the new school and combines them into a great networking and learning opportunity.

We’ve mentioned before in this blog that the social networking platform Meetup is a great way to promote face-to-face small group continuing education online. It lets people connect who may not have ever connected before and plan a localized event that they find immense value in. Tying you organization to one of these events will only endear you further to your members or community.

Facebook vs. Twitter: Which Social Media Platform Does Hashtags Better

It’s the age of the hashtag.

The little symbol has stood in the spotlight of late-night TV, started revolutions and become synonymous with being connected and in-the-loop.

The use of the hashtag in social media started on Twitter, but has since spread to Pinterest, Instagram and Facebook. But which platform does it best? Which one should non-profits and associations use if they’re hashtag savvy?

We pitted two of the internet’s biggest social networking sites, Twitter and Facebook, against each other to see which one has more clout when it comes to hashtags.

Twitter, Facebook Hashtag infographic 2

The Debate: Should Non-profit Executives be on Social Media?

Opening Arguments

Argument For: Of course non-profit executives should be on social media. They are the face of the organization and know the ins and outs of its cause/industry. Being involved in social media is one more way to serve their community/members and be a leader for the organization.

Argument Against: There really is no need for non-profit executives to be on social media. It is not helpful and could even be hurtful to the organization. Their time and effort should be directed to other areas and the risk of making a mistake and being criticized are not worth the potential rewards.

Resolution #1- The risk of executives participating in social media is more than worth the rewards.

For: Yes, there are risks to participating in social media for anyone who types out a tweet or snaps a picture and puts it on Instagram. The key is understanding those risks, avoiding them and having a strategy just in case something goes awry. The truth is, if executives never took a risk, their organization would never move on to bigger and better things.

Against: What if an organization’s executive tweets out something that’s a not too politically correct? What if their blog posts are riddled with grammatical errors or spelling mistakes? What about if they get into a Facebook battle with disgruntled ex-members or volunteers? Risking the reputation and goodwill of your organization is not worth the 140 characters.

Rebuttal: Not so fast there buddy! Your executives are the face of your organization; you trust them to talk to people on the non-profit’s behalf every day, so trust them to do great things online. Besides, you’re forgetting the biggest risk; becoming disconnected with what your members/community really wants or needs. Social media definitely cuts this risk down to a minimum!

Resolution #2- Executives should take the time and resources that are needed to participate in social media on a daily basis.

For: Let’s face it, social media takes a little more than one or two minutes when it’s done well. Crafting the perfect pin or taking time to contribute to a LinkedIn discussion is an investment of time and energy, but’s it’s an investment that is worth it for non-profit executives. Serving members and contributing to the community are the main jobs of executives. The best place to inform, educate and advise those who are key to your organization is online because that’s the go-to resource for many people today. Taking this time will help executives stay connected, in-touch with the community they are serving and up-to-date with issues affecting those they are looking to help grow.

Against: Non-profit executives are already too busy. The demands on them, both time-wise and financially, are strenuous. Wouldn’t it be best to prioritize the responsibilities and tend to matters that actually need attention, rather than trying to construct a perfect response to a tweet from a member or a donor? Executives owe it to their community to be focused on the task at hand and be fully engaged in making the organization run properly, not fiddling with social media.

Rebuttal: How wrong you are, Mr. Against. Well actually you’re right, non-profit executives do owe it to their community to be focused on making their organization run properly, but part of what makes a non-profit great, day-to-day, is connecting with the members/community on a regular basis. Social media gives the executive the tools to communicate even more with these groups, which provides ways to make their experience with the non-profit even better. Surely the time and resources it takes to accomplish this growth is worth it!

Resolution #3- Marketing is no longer the sole territory of the marketing team and thus, executives need to get involved.

For: This one is definitely true. Social media broke down the walls between the communications team and the rest of the work place that traditional media had built. Social media made marketing your organization accessible to all and a collective responsibility for all employees. That includes executives. It especially includes executives. They are the face of your non-profit and hearing their stories, expertise or input is probably one of the best ways to connect with your community in a way that makes them realize the value in your organization and want to invest in it with time, money and other resources.

Against: False, false, false. Executives should stick to what they know. They shouldn’t water down both their own efforts and the efforts of the communications team by wading into the social media waters. They aren’t trained, they aren’t prepared and they aren’t hired to do that sort of job. Overseeing the message is a good thing, but don’t take it into your own hands.

Rebuttal: Your thinking is backwards my friend. The efforts of an executive would not water down the end results, they would bolster it! A complete effort from all members of the organization only legitimizes and strengthens social media’s benefits by spreading the message far and wide and giving your non-profit’s community more avenues to engage with the organization. Plus, social media is done best when it’s done with a personal touch. That’s why only training can be done on the job for an executive. Only by tweeting, posting, pinning, etc., can they develop their own voice and take full advantage of all social media has to offer.

Result

I think we have a winner and it’s the “For” argument! The truth is, executives should be on social media and helping their organizations connect and engage with members or others in the community. There may be some fears at first, but learning this new skill is important to helping your organization thrive and rise to new heights.