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.

5 Ways Social Media Can Help Your Association’s Lobbying Efforts

Non-profits do a lot of things very well; networking, education and events come to mind.

A vast majority of member-based organizations do all these things with one goal; to promote their members and help them grow in their professions. That’s where lobbying comes in. There are few better chances to make big change in the lives of your association’s members than bringing an issue to those in government.

Lobbying can be used in many ways by associations, whether it’s to encourage tax fairness, promote regulation, combat negative legislation or some other issue.

But lobbying can often be a time-consuming and expensive endeavor, especially for non-profits that don’t have the big budgets of their corporate counterparts. Social media can come as a reinforcement on this front, helping associations and their members petition for a better tomorrow for all in a particular industry. Here are a few ways to turn social media into social change:

1.  The Rallying Cry

You can’t have grassroots advocacy without the roots; i.e. the hundreds or thousands of people that are stakeholders in your cause. For associations, these people are the members. Getting members together to support a common cause can be a challenging goal to achieve. It’s not that they are apathetic or unwilling, but sometimes it’s difficult to reach such a large and diverse audience made of people focused on their own careers.

Social media helps get the message out to members fast and efficiently. For example, an infographic blog post can help explain the issue, its effect on members and what the association is doing to help the industry with lobbying efforts. A YouTube video is a great way to let members know how to go about contributing, whether it’s writing a letter, signing a petition or some other activity that benefits the lobbying effort. And lastly, tools like Twitter and Facebook are great ways to spread these messages far and wide.

2. The New Tin Can and String

The old tin can and string were the cell phones of childhood, the devices that supposedly kept friends connected over the vast distance that was the playground. The technology age has arrived and with it, an update on the homemade device. Now you can have a two-way conversation with anyone by using social media and this comes in handy when you’re an association lobbying for change.

Social media platforms give your association the vehicle to pass on information to members about the lobby efforts and issues at hand while at the same time giving members an opportunity to ask questions, share ideas and offer feedback on the lobbying activity. Twitter, for example, is a great way to pass on information and talk to members in a way that engages them and encourages them to take up the cause. This turns your effort into a truly grassroots approach and helps you triumph much faster and easier.

3. The Radar Game

It’s important to stay on top of the latest news around the issue your association is lobbying for and social media is the place to do this monitoring. Twitter, Facebook, blogs, blog comments and reddit are only a few of the social media channels that can be used as your organization’s radar. Tracking the goings-on around the issue you are lobbying for gives you a sense of how to best go about garnering support amongst members how to effectively push for change.

Social media is also a great place to connect with those who have been through similar situations. LinkedIn, for example, is a great platform to connect with association professionals who have had success in lobbying for similar legislation and getting their insight on the matter. Even connecting online with someone who hasn’t been as successful in mobilizing support, rallying members or petitioning the government can be helpful and lead to a breakthrough.

4. The Bottom Line Builder

Let’s face it, lobbying can be expensive. There’s travel, consultants, studies and more that push you up against a wall financially. But social media can help mitigate the monetary worries of lobbying and can bring lobbying from a bottom line buster to a bottom line builder.

Connecting with member online saves the time and money spent on mailing members. Planning gatherings or town halls with a Twitter chat or through LinkedIn can save your organization from planning a massive, in-person event. Every step is easier on your wallet with social media and has the added benefit of reaching more people.

5. The Megaphone

Recognition is important to retaining members and drawing new ones. That’s part of the reason an association would lobby; an organization recognizes what its members need and it works hard to achieve it. Sometimes this takes political action.

Recognition begets recognition. In other words, when you recognize your members with lobbying efforts, they will recognize your association’s hard work. Social media amplifies this outcome. When members see how vocal your association is online, they will appreciate the effort be more likely to support not only the lobbying, but other initiatives in the future.

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Lobbying is part of the mandate for many associations. Social media helps reduce the difficulty and cost of lobbying while increasing member engagement. All this adds up to a campaign that has more of a chance to succeed. So next time your association is pushing for change with your local or national government, embrace social media and all the great things it has to offer!

 

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 Dos and Don’ts of Running a Contest on Social Media for Non-Profits

If your non-profit is ever looking for a win/win scenario on social media, a contest is the way to go.

Social media contests are nothing new, but a well thought out and creative one can help your association or other non-profit achieve its goals. The second part of that win/win comes when your members or community have a chance to voice their opinion, win a prize and a have a little fun, all at the same time.

But just like anything you do on social media, contests shouldn’t be created haphazardly. A poorly formulated contest can do more harm than good for your organization. So we’ve set out to compile a list of dos and don’ts when planning a contest for your non-profit that will go a long way to helping you increase engagement and promote awareness on social media.

The Dos

Do create contests that will help you reach your overall goals. It’s important to ask yourself what the overall goal of your social media presence are and how can you structure a contest to help you reach this goal. For example, if your association wants to promote a new service, you might want to consider setting up a contest that encourages members to post about the benefits of said service or contribute feedback about it. Conversely, if you already have a large following on Twitter or Facebook, starting a contest that aims to increase followers is probably not a great way to allocate your resources.

Do take the time to plan the contest thoroughly. Take some time to ensure all the angles of your contest are covered, including budget, design, timing, wording, possible problems, etc. It’s also a good idea to make sure all relevant departments and personnel are informed of the contest, its goals, its rules and how it’s all going to work. This way, all staff members can answer questions and promote the contest to your community.

Do monitor the contest and follow up with contestants. Whatever your goals are for creating a contest, increased engagement is probably at the root. Monitoring the contest submissions gives your non-profit a chance to communicate with its members and show them that their voice is being heard and will likely encourage them to keep participating in other facets of the organization. Doing so in a timely manner is important to showing your community how much you care about them and how much value you can offer them.

Do have a plan to highlight the winner. Showcasing the eventual winner of your contest is a great way to not only cap off a successful initiative, but also tell a story about a member of your community. The winner of your contest may be a member of your association, a long-time volunteer for your non-profit or a new person in your community. Use this opportunity to tell their story and connect your organization with the great tale.

The Don’ts

Don’t skip the fine print. Writing up a list of contest rules, the methods for choosing a winner and any legal add-ons can save you a lot of headaches and possible court dates in the future. When your process is clear and transparent, it will make for a smoother ride for both you and contestants and encourage your community to participate in future contests.

Don’t ignore the regional and social media platform rules for running a contest. There are certain laws that your province or state may have about running contests. Similarly, many social media platforms also have guidelines to follow when running a promotion. Read up on these rules before starting up your contest because a misstep at this stage could cause you to be kicked off a site or be called out by lawmakers.

Don’t let up with the promotion. Let your followers know about the contest. And then let them know again and again. Don’ get us wrong, nothing is worse than being bombarded with the same message constantly on social media, but a consistent reminder to your community about the contest can help it flourish. Brainstorm some creative ways to promote the contest throughout the duration of it, such as using current submissions as a way to get potential contestants interested. Always be clear about what the contest involves and its parameters.

Don’t think it’s going to be all sunshine and rainbows. There’s a potential for disgruntled members or trolling social media users to use your contest as a platform to provoke a nasty response or air their grievances. Think about the possible scenarios beforehand and create a response strategy. It’s not a certainty that this will happen, but it’s always a great idea to be prepared to stop the negativity before it ruins the campaign and perhaps even turn it into a positive.

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Contests are great ways to get your non-profit’s community engaged. Your organization can also reap some other benefits, such as increased use of a service, more awareness of a cause, an increased following or crucial feedback. Preparation, creativity and attention to detail are all key factors in putting on a successful contest. If you keep that in mind, it could be a jackpot for both you and your members.

Six Ways to Sound More Like a Human and Less Like a Robot

Use more technology, but be more human.

That last sentence seems kind of like an oxymoron doesn’t it? But it’s an important lesson to remember when you are managing social media platforms for an organization. As technology advances and online marketing becomes the norm, people are increasingly looking for a human touch amongst the cyber-babble.

This is even more important if you are managing the social media of an association or other non-profit. People are drawn to these organizations exactly because they offer something distinctly human. They offer networking, mentors, a helping hand and a chance to give. All these benefits come with personal stories and the opportunity to make a life or several lives better.

But the question remains, how does one keep from sounding like a robot on social media, a mode of communication that, at times, offers little in the way of personal contact? Here are six tips that can help you inject some spirit into your Tweets, Facebook posts, pins and blog.

1. Don’t Copy and Paste Headlines

Explain the content in your own words; it’s as simple as that. Nothing seems more robotic (and just downright lazy) than simply copy and pasting the exact headline or description of an article, video or blog post. Be creative with your description of the content you are sharing. Make it fit with your brand and use words that resonate with your audience

2. Tailor Responses to Individuals

Responding to people in the first place is a good sign, but you need to go a step further to avoid a comparison to R2-D2. If someone shares your post or retweets one of your tweets, say thank you, but don’t do it the same way you just did for another follower. If you receive some criticism or feedback, address the person directly. Whatever you do, don’t throw a canned response at them. This strategy may take a little more time, attention to detail and research, but it will be well worth the extra resources.

3. Tell Stories About Other Humans

In the realm of social media, you are what you post. When you post content about real people, whether that’s your members, staff, volunteers, donors, sponsors or the people you give you give to, it goes a long way to softening the rough edges of a big, organizational account. It highlights your non-profit’s ability to relate to people, connect with their needs and interact with them on a human level.

4. Ask Questions and Respond to Answers

No human being just talks at people all day, every day. That’s why it’s important to ask questions of your following. Not only can this result in great engagement and key feedback for your organization, it can also help members see the non-profit as more human than robot. Asking questions is a normal part of any conversation. Listening and responding answers means you care about what other people are saying. Sharing this experience highlights the humanity in your organization and allows your community to see there really is a person behind those tweets/posts/blogs/pins.

5. Keep Up Human Appearances

There are just some things humans cannot do and people will shine a negative light on your organization if it seems like you are circumventing these obstacles. For example, one person cannot keep up a shred of a meaningful relationship with 2000 people. So don’t follow 2000 people on Twitter. Only connect with those who share relevant content and provide you with chances to engage.

This doesn’t mean you have to keep your “Following” section to 50 people, but try being somewhat selective. People will appreciate that your organization is not in the social media game purely because of the numbers, but rather the quality of the connections it maintains. This loyalty will be reciprocated.

6. Have Fun

We know, we know, this is a vague and cliché tip, but there’s a reason everyone says it; because it works. Don’t take yourself too seriously when formulating content. It’s okay to make jokes, use slang, craft a play on words or try something new one in a while. Being formal all the time is overrated and can put people off your organization. Most people look to social media to connect with friends and pursue a passion, so make it easy for your community to see you as a friend and a fun way to accomplish goals and dreams.

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When you manage social media platforms for an association or non-profit, leave the robot on the dance floor and show your human side. Your community will appreciate it and want to keep coming back. Once that happen, the possibilities are somewhere near limitless.

The Good, the Bad and the Useless: The Latest Social Media Features and the Pros and Cons for Non-profits

Social media can do many things for non-profit organizations. One of those things is keep you on your toes.

The different platforms are always introducing new features and tweaking existing ones in order to provide users with the best, most engaging experience. Associations and other non-profits need to keep up to date on these changes in order to maximize their effectiveness on social media. After all, some of these changes could mean a huge boost to your organization. However, others may be bad or just downright useless for your organization.

To help you decide which is which, we’ve put together a list of some of the most recent new features on the major social media sites and broke down the pros and cons for each one through the eyes of a non-profit.

Twitter Mute

What Are We Talking About: The mute feature allows Twitter users to silence chosen accounts they follow. In other words, if you don’t want to see any tweets from someone, you can mute them and poof, they’re gone from your Twitter feed.

Pros: The mute feature could de-clutter your Twitter feed. If you connect with a Twitter user who doesn’t post relevant content, but tweets often enough to distract you from focusing on other, more relevant accounts, you can erase their presence and gain some control over a messy feed. The person can still retweet, favourite and reply to your tweets and they do not know they are muted. This could help non-profits spend less time sifting through tweets and more time sharing the best content and interacting with its target audience. It’s a more polite way to take people off your feed than unfollowing them.

Cons: You could lose touch with your community. There’s a reason you connected with someone on Twitter and most of the time it’s because they were a member of your community, shared great content or were active in your cause. If you get into the habit of muting those you follow, you could miss out on great content, tweets about your organization, a post about an important issue your organization should address or a chance to interact with a post that highlights a member’s achievements.

Pinterest Q&A

What Are We Talking About: Pinterest is testing a new Q&A feature allowing users to post questions on a pin and notifying the user who pinned the image of the question. The intent is to make Pinterest more engaging and connect users with more people and more information.

Pros: This feature has the potential to increase engagement on Pinterest. A Q&A will, in theory, make it easier for your non-profit’s community to connect with your organization and vice versa to get more information, have better conversations and build longer-lasting relationships. Answering questions is a great way to provide an added service to members of your community and further establish your organization as a helpful, transparent and beneficial source of information and action.

Cons: There aren’t many drawbacks of this feature specifically from a non-profit’s point of view. The feature may fail, just as a similar Facebook service did. You may also get some negative or spam questions, but that risk arises on any social media platform anyways.

New Twitter Profiles

What Are We Talking About: Twitter recently rolled out new-look profiles for users that includes a different profile and background photo display and the ability to pin a tweet to the top of your profile in order to highlight it.

Pros: The new features allow Twitter users to make profiles fresh, creative and unique. The new, larger and more versatile banner could help non-profits stand out from the crowd and convey their goals to the community in a way that is engaging and informative. Being able pin a tweet of your choice to the top of the profile could be useful for organizations looking to highlight a call to action, recognize a standout member of their online community or remind members about an upcoming event without tweeting about it a dozen of times a week and falling prey to the mute feature.

Cons: It takes time, patience and some creative know-how to bring your profile up to date. This isn’t necessarily a con as much as it is a minor inconvenience. However, if your non-profit doesn’t have the resources to dedicate to updating your Twitter profile, your account could end up looking outdated and, worse still, could lose out on the benefits of the new features.

Facebook Nearby App

What Are We Talking About: Facebook debuted the Nearby Friends App last month and was the first significant addition to its mobile platform in over a year. The feature lets users see which of their Facebook friends are in physical proximity to them. It provides a map that places a picture of your friends in the location they are in.

Pros: This feature doesn’t provide many major benefits to non-profits at the moment. To see the location of your friends, they need the app turned on as well, which may mean the chances of finding members close to you only get slimmer. They may be an opportunity for organizations to alert their community of a nearby event or initiative if they notice that many of their friends are living, working, etc., around a certain part of a city.

Cons: Again, there aren’t many cons that come to mind when exploring this app. If you’re looking at broad stroke, the app could cause your community to question their privacy settings. However, this feature may border on useless for many organizations and with less power, comes fewer drawbacks.

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Keeping up with the latest and greatest (and not so great) features being offered by social media platforms can help enhance your overall online presence and communications strategy. Exploring these features and seeing which ones could help your community, and which ones won’t, will allow your organization to rise above the rest.

Let us know in the comments of any other newer social media features you use or that could be beneficial to non-profits and associations. And remember to stay social!

Social Media And The Shutdown: What To Do When Your Website Isn’t Working

It’s inconvenient, it’s panic-inducing and it’s time-consuming; it’s the dreaded website shutdown and it’s going to happen to you sooner or later.

Your non-profit’s website can go dark for any number of reason, but it’s usually technical difficulties or because it’s receiving an update/facelift. These things happen. Updates are especially inevitable, a sort of necessary evil. But as much as a website shutdown is unavoidable at times, it still causes headaches for members and upsets would-be visitors to your site.

Luckily, social media can help cure some of what ails your organization when its website goes on vacation. Having a social media strategy for a website shutdown is important and can serve as one part of a larger plan for your non-profit when dealing with emergencies.

Twitter and Facebook are great social media platforms to use during a website shutdown. Both sites allow you to get the word out fast and efficiently while giving your community access to your organization without using its website.

Twitter and Facebook are great platforms to use to notify your community if you know your website is going to be down. It is important to post frequent messages with details of the shutdown in the days leading up to it. This way, your community will know what’s going on and can plan their actions accordingly. You definitely don’t want your community renewing their membership or donating money at the time of a shutdown. Twitter and Facebook can help prevent that.

If your website blacks-out without warning, Twitter and Facebook are great tools to notify your community, handle criticism in a helpful and transparent manner and help your community with any questions they would normally look to the website to answer. Twitter and Facebook are great for this because they allow you to instantly connect with your community and have conversations that could save your members, donors and volunteers time, money and headaches.

YouTube is another great tool to use during a website shutdown, especially if you know ahead of time that your site is going to be unavailable to your community. Being unable to access a website can mean not being able to contribute money, sign up to volunteer, learn about an organization or become a member, no matter how much you care about the organization. Making a YouTube video can help guide your community and ensure that even after the website shutdown, people come back to your site again and again.

Making a YouTube video ahead of a planned shutdown can help communicate important points to your non-profit’s community in an engaging and lighthearted way while including a human element to the process. It can help explain the need for a shutdown (a retooling, general maintenance, etc) by describing how one inconvenience will make the experience better for a long time to come. Explaining ways that your community can stay involved or find information during a website shutdown can also be a fun and informative way to handle the issue.

Shutting down your website, even if it’s just for an hour or two, can be a tough, but necessary decision. When it happens without warning, it can be a nightmare for you, your organization and its community. Having a plan in place to deal with this issue is important to responding quickly and ensuring your community doesn’t abandon your non-profit. Social media can be a huge factor in this strategy and can put a positive spin on an otherwise unsavory activity. Building a strong social media presence today can help you with your bugs and glitches tomorrow.

Operation Event Success: How to Pull Off an Awesome Event with Social Media

Pulling off any great plan comes in stages. Just take a look at any good heist movie and you’ll see that at least half the plot involves the ridiculously good looking, relatable main characters planning the job (including the creation of a catchy name for it, like Operation X, Y or Z) and the other half executing their plan with a slice at the end that sees them enjoying their spoils.

Putting on a successful event is similar, although hopefully it doesn’t involve breaking the law or doing any of your own stunts. A great conference or fundraising event involves planning, execution and follow up. Social media can help you complete this mission and take your event to the next level.

On that note, here are the three phases of putting on a successful event with social media, or what we’ve dubbed Operation Event Success

Phase 1- Approaching the Mark: Before the Event

The planning stage of the mission has a few key steps. These include establishing a hashtag, getting the word (and the details) out about the event, and posting/tweeting/writing about the important elements like how to register and how sponsors can get involved.

Remember to have some fun with it though. Create a video tour of the venue or trade show area and upload it to YouTube. Create a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure infographic for your blog or Pinterest to give attendees a fun way to plan their time at the event. You could even run a small Twitter or Facebook contest that promotes your event and encourages engagement, such as one that gives clues for the theme or location of your event.

Phase 2- The Eagle Has Landed: During the Event

This is the crucial part of your mission. The action is at its peak and all the players are in motion. A truly great event happens, well, at the event. If social media has anything to say about it, the conference, fundraiser, etc., will be a huge hit.

Live tweeting the event helps attendees network, learn, contribute and engage on another level, which is always a great thing. Setting up TV screens in the venue that show your live tweets can help attendees who don’t have Twitter keep track of any updates, information or fun stuff. Arranging a tweet up can also be a fun way for your community to network, collaborate and have some fun at an event.

Recapping the day’s highlights on a blog during a multi-day event can also be helpful, engaging and fun for attendees. Try to get one of your attendees, volunteers, members or organizing committee to write a short post to get a different perspective on the day and the event.

Phase 3- A Clean Getaway: After the Event

The chairs are stacked, the lights are out and the venue is a speck in your rear view mirror. But hold on, you’re not in the clear just yet. Even after the event is finished there is much to do on social media in order to achieve a successful follow up and ensure future events flourish.

Recapping the event with a blog post, a video on YouTube and/or an album on Facebook gives your members a chance to develop their new connections and reminisce about the event while highlighting the benefits of your organization’s efforts. Creating an infographic or photo collage on Pinterest can help show your attendees how their efforts made a difference.

Receiving feedback is an important part of putting together future events. Put a poll on your blog or Facebook page asking what everyone’s favourite moment was at your past event. Making the poll into a contest where participants win a trip to your next event also helps increase engagement and feedback.

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A great event isn’t built in a day, but with thoughtful planning, a well-executed strategy and a devoted follow up, all on social media, having a successful event can be easier and more fun for everyone involved.

What are your social media secrets to a successful event? Let us know in the comments!

 

Which Social Media Platform Should Your Non-Profit Be On, Part 2: Four Key Questions to Ask

Last week, we gave a quick guide to determining which social media platform might be the best fit for your organization by posing a series of questions. Determining beforehand which platform will be the most beneficial for your organization is important as it takes resources and dedication to consistently follow-through on social media. With that in mind, here are four more questions every non-profit executive should be asking themselves before they decide which social media platform their organization should be active on.

What Are Your Goals?

Determining what you want to achieve with social media is probably the most crucial part of this decision. What your finish line looks like will have a huge impact on which path you take towards it.

Twitter is Perfect If: You want member/community engagement. If you want to share information and news quickly. If you want to reach out to new people.

Blogging is Perfect If: You want to be considered an expert on an issue. If you want to use lots of different media or authors. If you want to tell a story or go in-depth on issues.

Pinterest is Perfect If: You want to drive traffic to your website or other websites. If you want to appeal to your connections visually/emotionally.

LinkedIn is Perfect If: You want to give networking opportunities to your community. If you want to help your connections grow professionally. If you want to start conversations about industry-specific issues.

Facebook is Perfect If: You want to engage with members/community. If you want to share news and information. If you want to be less formal and more relatable. If you want to conduct contests.

YouTube is Perfect If: You want to expose a new side of your organization. If you want to provide your community with tutorials or learning opportunities. If you want to be a visual storyteller.

Who Is Your Audience?

It’s important to know who you’re trying to reach with your social media efforts. Connecting with the right people will help you achieve your organization’s goals much faster and more efficiently. Each platform draws a unique audience and understanding these demographics is key.

Twitter is Perfect If: Your audience is almost anyone. If you want to attract businesses and people of all demographics. If you want to make new connections and build on old ones.

Blogging is Perfect If: Your audience is people who are already interested in your cause or industry. If you want to attract those searching for information on your area of expertise.

Pinterest is Perfect If: Your audience is creative or responds to and provides visuals. If your audience are women (80% of Pinterest users are women). If your audience are members of the wider community.

LinkedIn is Perfect If: Your audience is made up of professionals from the same industry. If your audience is looking to network, gain experience and connect with similar individuals.

Facebook is Perfect If: Your audience is, once again, almost anyone. If you already have an established audience. If your audience knows to look for you.

YouTube is Perfect If: Your audience is, for the third time, almost anyone. YouTube is used by a broad demographic and its videos can be posted to other platforms.

What Does Your Organization Do?

Your organization’s identity is oftentimes tied to its cause and how its community works toward it. An organization’s identity is the key to drawing in supporters. Certain platforms showcase an organization’s identity better than others.

Twitter is Perfect If: Your organization helps members. If your organization sends out calls to action. If your organization wants to create awareness.

Blogging is Perfect If: Your organization tells stories. If your organization works towards its cause by informing people. If your organization studies ongoing issues.

Pinterest is Perfect If: Your organization invites the community to get involved. Advocates for other businesses, individuals or organizations. If your organization evokes emotion.

LinkedIn is Perfect If: Your organization helps people grow professionally or connect with educational and volunteer opportunities. If your organization advocates for an industry.

Facebook is Perfect If: Your organization does almost anything. If your organization connects with many stakeholders as well as the general community.

YouTube is Perfect If: Your organization engages at the grassroots level. If your organization and its community hosts or partakes in a lot of events.

What Resources Do You Have?

It’s common knowledge that non-profits have finite resources and have to use them the best way possible. All social media efforts take time, know-how and some money to be successful, but some fit into an organization’s overall strategy better than others.

Twitter is Perfect If: You have the personnel and time to invest in tweeting several times daily, comb through trends, find the right content and engage with followers.

Blogging is Perfect If: You have the time to invest in researching, writing, editing and promoting a consistent blog. If you have the money to invest in creating a decent looking page for your blog.

Pinterest is Perfect If: You have the time to search out visuals and links for pins. If you have the time to research trends on the platform. If you have the money to invest in photo taking and image making equipment and software.

LinkedIn is Perfect If: You have the time and money to write posts, check in regularly, create networking opportunities and look into paid job postings and promoted posts.

Facebook is Perfect If: You have the time to invest in posting multiple engaging posts a week, follow up with engagement and contests and maintain other features such as photo albums.

YouTube is Perfect If: You have the time, money and expertise to invest in equipment and planning, filming, editing and uploading a video or multiple videos.