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

Opening Arguments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Result

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

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