I must admit when I first began to use social media it made me a little nervous. I was frequently worried that I would say something that would be damaging to my organization. Let’s face it if you follow me on twitter or IG you will know that at times I post some pretty goofy stuff. Some of our staff embrace social media and are excited about its potential for our organization, some of our staff are terrified of it and are fearful it will damage our credibility or we will not be able to control the messaging about our organization. It is fairly likely that whether you are excited or fearful, people in your community are already likely talking about your charity somewhere on social media.
If your organization’s CEO is having a hard time being convinced that social media is important to your cause, Caroline Avakian, has some good advice;” Set up Google Alerts and TweetBeep (email alerts for Twitter mentions) for your CEO so she can see that there are already many discussions happening on social about your nonprofit. Once this is apparent, two things are likely to happen. First, it will become clear that your organization no longer controls your message and what people are saying about you online. Second, once engagement is revealed to key stakeholders, it will be apparent how valuable it is to join those conversations online – which is what social engagement is all about. Often resistance or apprehension comes from not actually experiencing the conversations and engagement in real time. “
It seems that often fear comes from not understanding a situation, condition or phenomena. Often I think people fear that if they say something on social media it is a permanent record and you can never take it back. If you spell someone’s name wrong or make a grammatical error it is a permanent record of how inept you or your charity is. Once you push something out their it is sort of permanent –but be real – how much attention do you think the world is paying attention to you. You will have to work fairly consistently to get noticed. Mansfield (2012) suggests;” The lifespan of a tweet is about 90 minutes. Most people browse only tweets in their timeline in real time. It’s rare that a tweet you posted last week gets traction.” If you tweet something out ,that is ,misspelt or grammatically incorrect pick yourself up and move on. You have not done your organization irreparable damage. If no one comments on it in an hour and a half-relax no one but you noticed the error.
I think the reality is that you have to work consistently and persistently to get noticed amongst a very crowded digital space. That probably means that making a few mistakes will likely go partially unnoticed and you will have to work a little harder and longer to get that good following that is very interested in what you are saying about your cause. In saying this by no means would I suggest that it is not worth the effort. Alex Swallow says it quite well on his blog: “I think that there are a number of important reasons why social media can be particularly powerful for small charities. The first is that I think social media, if used properly, is a way to start leveling the playing field. I can see lots of small charities who punch above their weight on social media in a way that their budgets would never allow them through traditional advertising and communications.”
Avakian, C (2014) Getting your board on board with social media: website SocialBrite Social Solutions for
Nonprofits; as retrieved from: http://www.socialbrite.org/2014/02/24/getting-your-board-on-board-with-social-media/
Mansfield, H (2012) Social Media for Social Good: A how to guide for Nonprofits: New York: McGraw
Swallow, A (2014) How small charities can get big benefits from social media- 5 tips from me: blogpost