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.

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!

How to Create an Awesome How-to for Your Non-profit Community

How-to guides are tremendously popular at the moment. Websites like wikiHow give step-by-step instructions to curious Google searchers and advice articles dominate Twitter feeds.

The rise of how-to content on the internet is well-deserved. People are looking for information and these guides are catering to the needs and cravings of an increasingly tech-savvy population.

How-to guides can give associations and other non-profits a great opportunity to provide members with more value and increase awareness of a cause or industry among the general public. One of the chief reasons members join an association is to learn and grow professionally. How-to guides are a great way to make learning easy and your organization’s other services more accessible.

There are many online platforms that provide you with the tools to create a successful how-to guide, ranging from YouTube to blogs and infographics.

Still don’t know where to start with your own how-to? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered with a how-to guide of our own!

Step 1- Choose a Focus

Having a how-to guide requires something that needs explaining. If you are helping to explain something that is very simple or that none of your members need to know, readers/viewers will have no use for your guide.

For example, pick a newer service that your organization provides to members and create a how-to for accessing that service and getting the best out of it. This is useful for members and promotes your organization’s value to its community.

Step 2- Plot the Steps

Before you even get started creating your how-to online, it’s a good idea to write down and review the steps. Completing this step can tell you a few crucial things about your guide including: Is the issue too simple? Will people have use for it? Are there too many or too few steps? What audience am I trying to target?

Answering these questions before you begin will place you in the shoes of your members or the general public, which will help you make a better how-to that addresses their needs and concerns.

Step 3- Chose a Platform

Not all social media platforms were created equal; some are better for your how-to guide than others. The two platforms that lend themselves to good how-tos are blogs and YouTube. Both allow for visual storytelling, longer explanations and accessibility by just about anyone.

Think about which platforms are best for your certain guide. Are written words and photos/infographics on a blog good enough? Or does a video showing a step-by-step explanation do the trick better? Think about the resources and technical knowledge you have and how many people you can reach with each platform.

Step 4- Be Clear and Concise

Once you have started making your how-to guide, make sure to keep it simple. The purpose of your guide is to make it easy for the average Joe to access your association’s benefits. If you fill your how-to with complicated steps, vague references and technical jargon, people will become even more lost than before.

Step 5- Use Visuals and Examples

Many people learn by seeing. Adding visual, whether it’s a video, pictures or an infographic, is always helpful. If members are able to follow along with the how-to as it is explained, it becomes much easier to get the hang of the activity.

This how-to guide from the American Diabetes Association is a great example of the power of visuals in getting a message across.

Step 6- Do a Trial Run

Before you release your how-to for viewing by members or the public, be sure to take it for a test drive. Follow along with the steps yourself and ask a colleague or volunteer to try it out as well. You may find that there are some steps missing or a gap in the information. Testing your how-to will ensure that everything is clear, concise and complete so your members will get the most out your guide.

Step 7- Promote It

There’s no sense in having a well-made how-to guide if no one sees it. Promote your guide on other social media platforms and on your website. Make it available at conferences and meetings. Make it accessible for everyone.

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How-to guides are a great way to engage your members and add value in the process. Pay attention to detail, keep it simple and let your members know it’s there.

What do you think makes a great how-to guide? Let us know in the comments!

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.

What Social Media Platform You Should Be On, Part 1

Choosing the best social media platform or platforms for your organization isn’t always easy or simple. Before you decide to embark on a Twitter journey, Pinterest quest or some other social media adventure, you must first ask yourself a number of questions about your organization’s goals, audience and brand. While this takes both time and research, we thought we’d help get the ball rolling.

The following infographic is a great way to get the process started when picking an online platform for your organization. Hopefully it can get you thinking about what the various networks have to offer your organization and how it might appeal to your community of connections.

Quick Social Media Guide

Choosing the right fit for your organization takes some thinking and realizing the strengths and weaknesses of each social media platform relative to your non-profit is crucial to this process. Next week we’ll look at a few more important questions to ask yourself when starting up online. We’re looking forward to seeing you then!

Is the Blog Dead?

We heard the whisperings of some tragic claim the other day, a claim that blogs are dead.

Yes, we were told (true story) that blogging was dead, buried and gone forever. Different media and different tastes had made the platform obsolete and as good as extinct, said this person.

Well, we’re here to tell you the rumors of the blog’s demise have been greatly exaggerated, to borrow a line from Mark Twain.

No the blog isn’t dead. Or rather it is not dead anymore.

Let us explain. Blogging has evolved since its inception in the 1990s and while its original form has declined to the point of extinction, it has been reincarnated several times and it will continue to do so in 2014 and beyond.

What hasn’t changed about blogging is its core purpose. Blogs, since their start in the basements of the earliest adopters of the internet, were a way to share opinion, information and content with those who were interested in the same things. This is still the same.

Blogs, however, look different and are read differently than before, but they can still be a huge boost to organizations seeking to make an impact in their industry or community.

The modern blog ties together multiple platforms and seeks a variety of ways to communicate content. Gone are the days when a blog was simply a journal in digital form. Blogs are, often times, attached to a website or are a website in their own right. They now have social media streams attached to it like Twitter or YouTube. Some come in short and frequent bursts and use pictures to tell a story rather than words. Others have not one, but dozens of contributors and still others crowd-source content from the community.

While the look of blogs has changed, so too has the way audiences read them.

While it was common five to 10 years ago to have a list of 15 to 20 blogs to read weekly, that is no longer the case. More and more people have one or two they read regularly. Rather, reading blogs has become an ever-changing adventure to discover information. A Google search for information on a topic will definitely turn up at least a couple hundred blogs on the subject. Instead of getting 1000 loyal readers browsing your material every week, your blog may receive 1000 readers one week and a completely different 1000 readers the next.

This is where your organization can step in and use a blog to flourish and help others flourish.

Let’s start at the beginning. Your organization and its members/staff/volunteers are experts in something. Whether it is health care, finance, pastry making or something else, your association or non-profit has worked tirelessly to promote and improve your industry.

Writing a blog is a way to share your expertise with the world. Blogs afford you the flexibility and creativity to tell your story and share your knowledge in a variety of ways. From humorous to matter-of-fact, from pictures to words or from short to long, blogs have very few limits if you are willing to spend the time to create great content and are ready leap outside the box.

Sooner or later there will be someone who comes looking for information on the subject your organization is an expert in. It might be a member, someone from the community or even a student looking for information for a project. This is when they will find your blog.

At that moment, when someone looking for information finds your blog, the possibilities are endless. They may read it, say “That’s interesting,” and move on. But they may also learn from it. They may see your passion, creativity and knowledge and realize that the content and the organization are worth investing in. They may take the information and spread it around. They may change the way people see you, your members and your organization.

Blogs aren’t dead. In fact, we at Incline think blogs can breathe new life into non-profits and associations. Although they have evolved from years past, the new species of blogs that has risen up has only improved. Harnessing the power of blogging can take your organization to new heights.

We don’t think it’s time to say bye to the blog, but we want to know what you think. Is the blog dead or alive and kicking? Let us know in the comments!

Four New Year’s Resolutions for Non-Profits and Associations

New Year’s resolutions are often like elephants playing Twister; no matter how well-intentioned they are, it just doesn’t work out.

People often start pursuing their goals with vigor and enthusiasm. As the year goes on, the initial excitement turns into excuses and dread amid mounting priorities elsewhere. If you ever need proof of this, compare how busy the local gym is in January to how empty it is in September.

But when it comes to social media, consistency, engagement and creativity are the keys to success. Making new goals and striving to achieve them can build up your organization to new heights. However, a drop-off in the middle of the year will do worse than just stop the growth of followers; it may lead to a diminished reputation among the community, both online and off.

So here are four New Year’s resolutions for non-profits on social media and tips on how to stick to the path of success.

Resolution #1- Ask Questions

Sharing links, tweeting about news and blogging about the latest trends in the industry are all great things, but it is important to remember that social media is about having conversations. Asking questions is one of the best ways to initiate a conversation.

Asking questions allows members, donors, sponsors, volunteers, etc., to have a voice and feel like a part of an organization. It also helps the individuals of your online community grow, network, learn and have fun. Last, but not least, the answers to these questions can provide new insights and perspectives that can improve your organization.

How to Stick to it: Don’t be discouraged if engagement is slow at first. You might receive very little or no response the first two, three or even 10 times you ask a question. But keep asking. Once people begin to reply, others usually follow suit.

Focus on asking at least one or two relevant and/or interesting questions a week.

Sit down for 10-15 min at the beginning of the month and brainstorm questions for the next 30 days. Talk to staff, board members, volunteers, etc., about questions they might have and include these in your bank of questions.

Resolution #2- Post More Photos

We’ve mentioned it a few times (okay more than a few); photos are a great way to engage people and increase awareness of your organization. Pictures can convey things that words cannot, like emotion, humor, dedication and information. Post more pictures to your social media networks in the New Year and watch how far it can take you.

How to Stick to it: Carry a camera wherever you go and take pictures. This can happen at the office, events, networking dinners, volunteer orientations, etc.

Set aside an hour or two every week to go through your photos, chose the best ones and develop a plan as to how you will share them.

Make coming up with captions a contest for your followers/subscribers or a fun game with staff. This will make the sometimes tedious task of tagging and describing photos exciting again.

Resolution #3- Create a Social Media Tutorial

Social media is one of the most useful and efficient tools your organization can use to communicate with people. Social media gets the job done fast, whether it relaying important information to members after a natural disaster or updating volunteers about an event.

However, some members of your organization or the community may be hesitant to start on any platform because they perceive themselves as not being tech-savvy enough. Be a guide to those people and show them that the world of social media is not as complicated as it may seem while highlighting the benefits. Conduct a how-to session through YouTube, your website or at a conference to get people started.

How to Stick to it: Don’t do it alone. Creating a whole tutorial may may seem like a daunting task, but enlist the help of staff, volunteers and outside experts to share the load.

Do it in steps. You don’t need to do a tutorial all at once. Break it into segments and post them weekly. Make sure to have all the segments easily accessible. This will keep the task from seeming overwhelming and taking too much time from other important tasks.

Resolution #4- Have a Guest Blogger

Blogging is a great way to provide analysis, opinion and information in your own voice. This has many advantages, but it also pays off to change it up once in a while. By having a guest blogger, i.e. someone else in your organization or industry, it provides readers with a new style and new insights. A fresh face is always exciting and can lead to increased engagement.

How to Stick to it: Do your research. Take a few weeks or a month to find out which industry professionals are already blogging frequently. Make a list of those people you would like to have write a guest blog and send out a few emails. Ask around at meetings and networking events for those who may be interested in writing a blog post. Assemble ideas you can propose to people who may want to write, but do not have a subject in mind.

Take all these lists and bank them away so you can hit a goal of one guest post for every one or two months. The more work you do earlier on, when the resolution is still fresh in your mind, means less work later when you might be swamped in other duties.

New Year’s resolutions may get harder to stick to as the year goes on, but those in the non-profit and association sector are no strangers to perseverance and determination. The above are just a few goals that your organization can strive for on social media to make next year even more successful than the last for staff, members and the entire community.

Do you have other resolutions in mind for 2014? Let us know what they are and how you plan to achieve them! And Happy New Year!