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 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.

4 Things Non-profits Can Learn From The Food At The Canadian National Exhibition

The days are getting shorter and back-to-school commercials are starting to pop up on. That can only mean one thing; the Canadian National Exhibition is in town.

The CNE is the annual end-of-summer fair that takes place in Toronto and includes midway rides, carnival games and countless other attractions. And one more thing; food, lots and lots of crazy food.

‘The Ex’, as it has lovingly been called, has become quite infamous as a testing ground for weirder and weirder food combinations, year after year, like deep-fried butter and cronut burgers (a hamburger with donuts taking the place of the buns). This year is no different. Some of the new items available at the CNE in 2014 include spicy peanut butter sriracha rolls and butter coffee.

cronut burger

The cronut burger was the talk of the town at the CNE in 2013. The Ex has plenty of zany food options like it. (photo via observer.com)

You’re probably more than a little hungry by now, but you might also be wondering what this has to do with social media and non-profits/associations. Here are four things that organizations can learn from the wacky, greasy, shamefully-delicious food selection at the CNE.

Create An Experience Like No Other

Part of the reason any sane person would ever eat a cronut burger or deep-fried butter is being able to brag to their friends about it. That’s the reaction you want from your members/community. When you make your social media efforts part of a unique experience for anyone involved in your organization, they will keep coming back and they’ll bring friends who can’t resist being a part of something extraordinary.

Devising and implementing an experience like no other is not an easy task, but the best way to get the creative juices flowing is to answer a few key questions, including; What does your community need? What solution can you develop to include as many members/people as we can? How can you make it easy for these people to share this experience with others?

Something as simple as a great Twitter chat, a Pinterest board mural or an Instagram scavenger hunt can go a long way to getting people involved in your organization because you have provided something they rarely get anywhere else.

Give Them Lots of Variety

There aren’t just crazy, over-the-top food options at the CNE; there’s lots of choice when it comes to picking something for lunch or dinner. The options range from Canadian comfort food (poutine and back bacon sandwiches) to Japanese (sushi) and everything in-between (pasta, perogies, curry, etc). The point is, there is something for everyone and it’s never boring.

The same concept should be applied to your non-profit/association’s social media strategy. It’s great to publish a comical story about your industry, such as a hilarious YouTube video, but it’s not especially wise to make this a daily occurrence as it doesn’t really help members or progress your organization’s goals. It’s necessary to tweet about new services your offering, success stories from your non-profit fundraisers, editorials on current events, findings of the latest surveys or reports, peer-reviewed articles and many other forms of content.

This goes for all platforms. Mixing it up every so often will allow you to provide frequent value for member, donors, volunteers, staff, sponsors and other involved in your organization.

Passing Inspection is Key

There’s been a lot of talk about the cronut burger in this post and for good reason. It was one the most talked about foods at the CNE over the last few years, for both good and bad reasons. In the early days of last year’s fair, the cronut burger was the biggest food adventure, but only a couple days later people began to get sick from the glazed delicacy. It turns out the cronut burger stall in the Food Building didn’t exactly pass health inspection with flying colours.

Your organization’s social media can learn a thing or two from the cronut burger fiasco. First of all, have a plan. Poor organization and lax guidelines make for nightmares down the road. If you have a plan and stick to it most of the time (barring any breaking news and appropriately light-hearted spontaneity) than your social platforms will run like a well-oiled machine. Creating a content calendar is good place to start and can be a big help with running your platforms effectively and efficiently.

You should also give your social media a health inspection of its own. Review the performance of your organization’s social media performance regularly and update your strategy. Don’t only look at the numbers, such as clicks, comments, retweets, follows, likes, etc. Ask your staff, members, donors and the rest of your community what they like and don’t like about the current strategy and update your plan accordingly.

Consistency

The CNE has been around for more than 100 years and food has always been a major feature of the event. Generations of Torontonians remember their first ice cream waffle sandwich or their years of sampling Tiny Tom donuts at The Ex.

food building cne

The Food Building has been a popular staple at the CNE for generations. (photo via BlogTO)

Your organization’s social media strategy needs the same kind of consistency as the food at the CNE. It is crucial that posts are regular. For example, if you create a blog for your non-profit or association, make sure to evaluate your resources (monetary, time, etc) before you start publishing. This will help you determine how often you can realistically post a blog with consistency. Otherwise you may publish three blog posts in three weeks, hit a busy period at work and not post for two months. Your community will become disillusioned and will be less likely to be loyal followers of your blog and other platforms.

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Your organization’s social media platforms need to be consistent, organized, unique and varied to appeal to your community, much like the food at the CNE. So next time you’re stuck in a rut online or are looking to venture forth on a new platform, remember these four tips and you won’t go hungry.

4 Ways for A Non-Profit Organization to Use Social Media on its Website

An organization’s website is its online HQ. It’s where much of the non-profit magic happens.

Websites can help a charity take donations, update an association’s members on the latest news and services and give other non-profits a space to tell its community about an upcoming event.

The bottom line is that websites are important to your non-profit, as is social media. So how to you bring the two together to make the online experience better for your community? We’ve put together four suggestions for integrating social media with your organization’s website.

1. Twitter

Putting your organization’s Twitter feed on the home page of its website it a great way to keep visitors to the site up-to-date and engaged. Not only does it let your community know your non-profit is on Twitter (and make it more likely they will follow the account), but it also makes the content you tweet about more accessible to those who may not be as social media savvy. Twitter feed widgets are generally simple to install and don’t take up too much space on your website’s home page.

One tool that could help your organization drive Twitter engagement from its website is ClickToTweet. This tool allows you to write a suggested tweet for any content on your website and turns it into a clickable link on your web page. It kind of looks something like this:

Tweet: The Upwards Blog: Bringing you the latest in social media for non-profits since 2013 http://ctt.ec/99Su1+

This makes it easy for visitors for your website to share news, information, event notices or other things from your website without a hassle while allowing you to track how many times your community engaged with the link.

2. YouTube

Your website is almost like a welcome mat for visitors; you can either put out the old, dusty square of fabric or roll out the red carpet to start the experience. YouTube videos can help you make it the latter.

Making a YouTube and placing it on your home page is a great way to welcome visitors to your non-profit’s website right away. This sort of video can be as simple as a greeting from the executives/board of directors or it could explain, in a fun and visual way, what your organization is about. It may also be helpful for those who are new to your website, such as first-time members or donors, to have a video guiding them through the website and how to get the most out of it.

YouTube videos can also be used to highlight members, donors, volunteers or sponsors for your organization. Putting these videos on your website, in a place designated for community recognition, would only increase the exposure your members receive. Not only does this highlight the good your community is doing, but it also shines the spotlight on what your organization can offer to potential and current members.

3. Blog

If you want your non-profit’s website to be more than just a dreary notice board, it’s time you became a storyteller (aka, a blogger). A blog creates a space on your website to tell stories, go in-depth on issues and allows for some creative sharing strategies for members, volunteers and staff. It takes your website from a boring drive down a country rode to one along a stunning, ocean-side highway.

Establishing a blog on your website takes a lot of consideration, design and content creation, but the benefits and options are numerous. Share photos, event recaps, editorials, calls-to-action, original articles and infographics from your blog. Make sure to have a specific section for your blog and make it easy to access blog archives. Not only does this help your organization’s SEO, but it makes it a better experience for visitors.

4. Pinterest

Pinterest is like the older brother your website wants to be like; it’s creative, it’s engaging and it’s visually appealing. Really, what this section is all about is mimicry; try to make your website more like Pinterest. Have more visuals on your page. Lists and how-to guides can help clear up complicated processes for members or donors. Include infographics and link to other resources your community might find interesting.

If you’re really in the mood to be radical and revolutionary, make your organization’s Pinterest account its website. It’s cheap and is guaranteed to pack the visual punch that’s engaging. Have a Pinterest board for each section that would normally be a menu item on your website and tell stories about your association or other non-profit through pictures and infographics. This approach isn’t for every organization, but it does offer something new and fresh.

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Your non-profit’s website is an integral part of what makes your organization tick. Incorporating social media into your website takes it to a whole other level and gives your community a place to learn, participate and have some fun at the same time. Explore the options available for you and your non-profit when it comes to combining social media and website and watch a world of opportunity become open to you.

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!

Pinterest for Non-profits: The Anatomy of a Great Pin

In an online world where more users mean more influence, Pinterest is climbing the ladder of social media bigwigs.

There is no doubt that business is booming on Pinterest and non-profits are not excluded. Having a strong Pinterest profile could be a key part of your organization’s social media strategy and overall path to success.

But what makes a perfect pin? What secret ingredients need to be tossed together to create an irresistible image that leads your community to information and investment in your association or other non-profit?

We have some thoughts on that:

1. Label Your Pins The Right Way

Pictures may be able to say 1000 words, but you’ll need a few more to make a successful pin. If no one can find your pins, than no one can see them, engage with them or benefit from them in any way. The same goes for pins that confuse your followers; if they don’t know what they’re looking at, they’ll skip right over it and take their chances elsewhere.

First thing’s first; create boards that are descriptive and easy to find, both on Pinterest and search engines. A board called “Our Awesome History” might seem fun and descriptive, but when a member is searching for you online or on Pinterest, this board will likely not show up. Stick to something simple and descriptive, even if it’s not terribly imaginative.

As for your pins, add a description that is clear, concise and relevant. Keep the description short without too much jargon. Using hashtags is also a good idea. It’s always a good practice to search various, relevant hashtags to determine which ones are used the most and will gain your pin more exposure in your target audience. Ensure the link from your pin to any website or other platform is working. There’s nothing worse than seeing a pin you want to follow up on and discovering it leads nowhere.

2. Use Your Best Images

This may seem like a no-brainer, but higher quality pictures catch the eye quicker and thus draw more engagement.

Invest the time and resources in taking, creating or curating really good images. This can turn into a great opportunity to engage your association members or non-profit community by crowd-sourcing images from an event, project or initiative.

Once you have these photos, do a little research (and your own trial and error) to see what sizing makes the image look great. These images are a representation of your organization, so make them a great one; your followers and community will appreciate this effort. They will probably also engage more with the content.

3. Make Sure Your Pins Tell a Story

Descriptions are a great way to tell your audience what they’re looking at on Pinterest, but as we mentioned further up in this post, they should work to enhance and organize your images, not serve as a crutch for a poorly put together or confusing photo. Your visuals should tell a story by themselves, especially because each and every one of your members has a history and wants to be part of your organization’s continuing tale.

For images to capture a moment that tells a story, they should be focused, vibrant and descriptive. Think of a key moment at an event, a scene that displays everything you want to say about your organization, its goals, its benefits and, most importantly, its people. The image should evoke an emotion and give people information at the same time.

Another great tool that can tell great stories on Pinterest is the infographic. The name itself, infographic, explains its purpose; to inform your audience on a subject while being visually appealing. No other description necessary!

4. Have a Call To Action in Your Pins

You use calls to action on your other platforms and communication material, so why not on Pinterest? When you create an image to pin, add a call to action in it.

By now you know that the images should inspire and educate your community on a certain cause, but they may be sitting there after the initial interest has worn off and asking, what do we do next? A call to action takes your storytelling a step further by explaining to your association members or non-profit community how they can add their own voices to that story.

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Pinterest can be an exciting and beneficial platform for both your organization and its community. By combining the elements above into each and every pin and having some fun with it along the way, you can create great content that will engage, educate and inspire your members.

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!