What Non-Profits Can Learn About Using Social Media From The Olympics

The 2014 Winter Olympics brought with them two things, a collection of medals and a collection of lessons.

No matter what country you call home, how much you know about sports like curling and the biathlon, or what you do for the living, the Sochi Games could teach all a thing or two.

As the athletes leave Russia and the flame begins its four-year journey to Pyeongchang, we believe there is lots to learn from the Olympics that can help non-profits on social media. We decided to look at three of these lessons a little more.

Being a Part of a Community Feels Good

Canadians from coast to coast packed pubs and bars as early as 4 a.m. to watch the nation’s men’s hockey team play for gold. Why did they do such a thing? While the one-day loosening of liquor laws was a factor, the main reason was that Canadians felt like they belonged to something bigger than themselves. They felt like they belonged to a community.

Creating a similar community online for your organization and its members will help yield similar results. Giving your staff, volunteers, members, donors, etc., an opportunity to get involved and be part of an experience will help generate pride, passion and ultimately a loyal and engaged community. Conducting a Twitter chat about a recent event, offering a chance to contribute an article for your blog or giving an opportunity to share a song on your organization’s Spotify playlist are all ways to use social media include your customers and build a community.

Handle Mistakes With Care

The first images of Sochi were not of picturesque mountains or triumphant athletes, but rather horrible hotel rooms and undrinkable water. These pictures, made famous by reporters, spread through social media. Instead of addressing these problems, Games’ Organizer Dmitry Chernyshenko responded by telling journalists to “turn back and look at the mountains.”

Social media comes with greater interactions and greater transparency, but this also opens your organization up to greater scrutiny and potentially greater criticism. The best way to handle this criticism is to face it head on. Have a plan in place to address mistakes made or complaints received. Don’t be confrontational or flippant. Find a solution quickly and use social media to improve your organization, turning a displeased customer into a loyal community member.

Gold Medals Don’t Always Define Greatness

Canadian snowboarder Mark McMorris won bronze in the slopestyle competition, but in a post-event interview he had this to say about the third-place finish, “It feels like a gold medal to me.” Considering McMorris had broken his ribs just a month before Sochi, a bronze medal was a tremendous achievement for him.

Many organizations, not just non-profits and associations, can get caught up in getting a ‘gold medal’ in social media, i.e. a large number of followers/fans/etc., and lose focus on other important indicators of success. Measuring social media ROI success is based on many factors and indicators, including how big your organization is, how new the organization is to social media and how many interactions the account is receiving. The most important thing to keep in mind is to build on recent successes to increase not just the quantity of engagement, but the quality as well.

The Olympics have come and gone for another year. The lessons that the world-class athletes have taught us can be applied to our everyday lives. What transpired in Sochi can especially be applied to non-profits and associations on social media. Remembering that community, transparency and patience can often be the best tools for success is important.  All are characteristics that will take your organization to the next level.

What do you think organizations can learn from the Olympics? Let us know in the comments! And remember, stay social!

Top of the Crop: Social Media Highlights for Non-Profits

These last five weeks have been a whirlwind of social media news and analysis, a diverse and very exciting whirlwind! We decided to compact our last five posts into our favourite five points. From a big birthday to an intriguing new mobile app, it’s a good time to be a non-profit on social media and this recap goes a long to proving that. Enjoy!

Don’t Print The Blog’s Gravestone Just Yet! 

Blogs aren’t dead, they’ve just crawled in a cocoon and emerged different in the last few years. Diversity, creativity, consistency and quality all go into making a great blog that will help the community and your members.

Home is Where the Heart Is

Twitter’s mobile app-in-testing, Nearby, could be a huge advantage for non-profits and associations. However, the app is just the beginning. It’s all about using the local to appeal to and serve members and the wider community. Utilizing local platforms or features on social media can connect your organization to its members’ problems and their solutions in a more efficient, engaging way.

The Slacktivist Handbook

Slacktivism doesn’t need to be a dirty word. Your organization can harness the power and momentum of slacktivism to create long-lasting, win-win relationships with the community or members. It does, however, take patience, consistency and persistence.

One Small Step…For Everyone

Making your social media efforts accessible to everyone is important to spreading your message and setting your organization apart from the crowd. One great tool to make this possible is Storify. Storify helps you create an engaging archive of conversations or postings on several social media platforms. This archive is available and easy to access to everyone from social media whizzes to internet newcomers.

Make A Wish

Facebook turned 10 a couple weeks ago and we marked its birthday by jotting down 10 ways the social media giant has benefited non-profits. Out of this set, the “Donate Now” button has been a revelation to many non-profits, large and small. The ease with which people can contribute to a cause has meant more opportunity for non-profits to engage those that are passionate about growing and strengthening an organization.

There’s plenty more to come as non-profits are one of the biggest benefactors, and innovators, in social media. Let us know what your favourite post was. And remember, keep it social!

Facebook Is 10: Why the Social Network is Still Near the Top of the Class

In social media circles, Facebook just became a senior citizen.

Facebook turned 10-years-old last Tuesday, a monumental milestone for the social media giant. Facebook has paved the way for a new wave of networking platforms and has changed the way companies, organizations and individuals connect to others in its decade-long reign as one of the internet’s titans.

Amidst all of Facebook’s past triumphs are recent questions about the site. Many are wondering if Facebook is in a permanent decline and the social network is fending off attack after attack on its future.

We still think Facebook can be a great tool for non-profit organizations to connect with the community, build relationships and grow. So in honor of Facebook’s 10th birthday, we’re bringing you 10 ways the platform can benefit organizations.

1. Photo Albums

Images can inspire many emotions and effectively send important messages. Both of these are beneficial to non-profits who want to draw new connections and serve current ones. Facebook gives a lot of flexibility when it comes to posting photos, allowing users to upload whole albums, tag people, caption the photo (including hashtags), share them and set the location. Numerous studies also show that Facebook posts generate the most engagement and click-through rate.

2. Contests

Contests can be an interesting and engaging way to connect with members, donors, volunteers and the community and increase awareness. Facebook is a great platform to launch social media contests, especially with its new rules, instated last year, that make competitions easier, cheaper and more effective.

3. Mobile Capability

Mobile usage has exploded in the last couple years and it only keeps growing. More than 50 per cent of mobile users use their mobile device as their primary internet source. Appealing to mobile users is, or should be, a big consideration for organizations.

Facebook has a strong presence on mobile with an easy-to-use app. The social network also develops and releases new apps often. This makes the social experience even easier and more engaging for users and more important for organizations looking to build connections.

4. Videos

Videos are a great way to tell stories and the popularity of Vine, Instagram and YouTube underline how important they are to social networking.

Facebook allows organizations to upload videos to their page, capitalizing on the effectiveness of the medium. Combined with the ease with which connections can comment and share on posts, Facebook’s video capabilities measure up quite well against those of other platforms.

5. “Donate Now” Button

Facebook introduced its “Donate Now” button almost two months ago, making it easier for people to give to non-profits and charities. Online giving increased by over 20 per cent in the last year and it continues to trend upward. The “Donate Now” Button helps organizations capitalize on this trend, makes giving easier, and strengthens relationships between non-profits and the community.

6. Event Planning

Getting the word out and coordinating the details of an event can be difficult. That is why Facebook’s event feature is so effective. It enables organizations to plan gatherings and convey information quickly and simply. It also allows attendees to spread the word themselves, helping initiatives grow and thrive. Last, but not least, Facebook’s event feature is unique among social media platforms. No such thing exists on Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, etc.

7. Hashtags

Hashtags help organizations appeal to a wider audience and gather great content to share to members and their other connections. While Facebook hashtags took a little while longer to catch on than their Twitter cousins, they are seeing wider acceptance in recent months. Facebook hashtags also keep them level with other social networks that also use hashtags.

8. Networking

Having a space to network with others is the big reason for people to be on social media. Giving people that space will draw people to your organization. Facebook is one of the best platforms to achieve this. Conversations on your organization’s page can be vibrant and sharing the contributions of others can be done in various, engaging ways. At the end of the day, your organization isn’t the only one who will be gaining new friends on Facebook, so will your members.

9. Turning Negative to Positive

Sooner or later, your organization is going to receive some negative feedback. Whether it’s blunt or thinly veiled, criticism is a way of life on social media. The real key is knowing how to deal with negative criticism. Facebook provides a great space to turn that negative into a positive. Other platforms are limited in the amount of characters or the medium you can use and this often limits an organization’s response. Facebook has very few limits and thus provides a forum to turn that frown upside down.

10. Promote Other Platforms

Many non-profits have a multi-faceted approach to social media, using several platforms to serve the community or members. Facebook is a great way to let others know about these other platforms. Promoting your blog, Twitter feed or an infographic you pin on Pinterest is just a click away on Facebook.

Facebook may be getting up there in years, but the social network hasn’t lost its appeal or its effectiveness for non-profits. Happy belated birthday Facebook!

What do you like about Facebook? What non-profits use the platform best? Let us know in the comments!

Three Ways for Non-Profits to Make Social Media Accessible

The world is smaller than it’s ever been and it keeps on shrinking.

Social media has played no small part in bringing the global community closer together. It seems everyone and their uncle is tweeting, posting on Facebook, reading blogs, pinning photos and creating Vines. And for good reason. Learning, networking, giving, sharing, talking, progressing; all are done easier and more engaging on these platforms.

But there are some missing out on this tech revolution. Although it may seem like everyone is signed up and tuned in to social media (and a great many are), there are those who either have no interest in it or do not consider themselves tech-savvy enough to start up an account.

These are the people in your organization, members, donors, volunteers, staff, etc., that are missing out on some of the initiatives your non-profit or association can make happen on social media. So how do you make your efforts accessible to more people and keep your community in the loop? Here are three ways to do just that.


Storify is a social network that lets the user create archives of conversations had on other social platforms, such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. By threading together comments, posts or pictures on a certain topic, Storify enables you to create an informative, interesting and coherent story for those reading it.

Storify doesn’t require a log in or a sign up, so it is easy and requires no set up for those who are social media-adverse. Put together a Storify stream after a Twitter chat or if you’ve documented an event and let your members or community where they can find it. It will allow members who may not have Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc., to get a recap of important conversations and participate in your organization’s initiatives.


If your members can access a website, they can read a blog. It’s that easy.

A blog is an easy, no-fuss way to share lots of quality content with your members. Blogs are versatile and can switch from news bulletins to conference updates and in-depth analyses of issues affecting a cause or an industry.

The best part about blogs is their accessibility. Adding a blog to your organization’s website it simple and makes a big impact. Having a blog on your website drives traffic to other parts of your online HQ and promotes conversation between members. But it also gives members who don’t quite have the hang of social media a chance to keep up to date on your content sharing, keeping them just as engaged as the rest of your organization’s community.

Live-Tweet at Events

Some of your members may not have Twitter, but it doesn’t mean they need to miss out on some great tweets during an event.

Hooking up monitors in the room(s) holding your event and setting it to your Twitter feed will expose all attendees to your updates. This low-maintenance strategy, for both your members and your organization, is eye-catching, info-packed and engaging for all in attendance. It may also encourage those who may not use Twitter to get on board with the platform. Don’t be surprised if your organization’s Twitter account has more than a few new followers the next day.

Social media makes information accessible to your association or non-profit’s members or community. But none of this matters if your social media channels are not accessible to all your members. Using the strategies above will help to ensure your whole community is aware of all your efforts online and build connections with those who make your organization thrive.

What tools do you use to make social media accessible? Let us know in the comments! And remember to stay social!