Creating a Social Media Policy for Your Nonprofit
We live in an age where information can be shared in less than a blink of an eye. Social media has made it possible to share photos, videos, and updates from anywhere. While this can be an exciting time and social networking can be fun, it is important to make sure there are guidelines in place for your nonprofit when it comes to participation in social media. Today we are going to take a look at questions to ask yourself when forming your social media policy for your organization.
There are two parts to forming a social media policy:
- Managing your organization’s social media presence
- Guidelines for employees’ personal use of social media and its reflection on your agency
When it comes to writing the first part of your social media policy, keep in mind the following questions:
- Who on your staff is allowed to update social networks on behalf of your organization? Is it just one person? Is it a team of people? What skills should the person/people responsible for social media updates have?
- In which social networks should your organization participate? Every network might not be right for your organization. Take some time to do some research and find out which networks are the most important in which to be involved. If your agency is already established on certain social media sites already reflect on if the community is active on this site and if it is worth maintaining. If in your agency doesn’t participate in a site is important to claim a log in on the network to so that no one else claims your organization’s voice on that network.
- What type of updates are allowed? Nonprofit information can be highly sensitive. Deciding what information can and cannot be shared is critical. This includes deciding who can be included in photos and videos.
- When can information be shared? Beyond what information can be shared, when it can be shared is also important to think about as well. For example, when can you announce an upcoming special event? Or announce a staff change?
- What email should be used to set up accounts? You may want to consider creating a firstname.lastname@example.org type email address to use by staff when creating new social media profiles for your organizations. This will maintain consistency even if the staff responsible for updating the network changes.
- Do updates need to be approved before posting? If so, creating a content calendar might be helpful to help plan out updates to get approved.
When creating a social media personal use policy for your organizations staff, keep these questions in mind:
- If an employee is listed as working for your organization anywhere online are there certain things about your organization that this employee can or cannot say? It is important for the employee to understand that they are a reflection on the organization and if they are caught saying certain things will there be consequences?
- Are your employees allowed to use their own personal social media profiles on behalf of the organization and interact with supporters? If so, are there guidelines?
- Can employees share photos from events or from within the office on their personal social media sites? If so, are there any restrictions?
These are just a few questions to keep in mind when forming a social media policy. As you can imagine it can be quite a project to undertake, but once you have one in place, your nonprofit’s social media presence can thrive under the guidelines you put in place. It is important to note that policies like this might have to be approved by a Board of Directors or overseen by an attorney. Also as a disclaimer, I am not an attorney, so please just take my questions as suggestions and a starting point when forming a social media policy. If you are looking for examples of social media policies, you can check out this site.
Have you put together a social media policy for your organization? What were some best practices you can share with DonorDreams readers? We’d love to hear from you in the comment section below!
What to do When the Internet Breaks
Last week, Amazon Web Services, which many companies use for their web hosting service, was down for a day. This effected many major websites such as Reddit and Imgur. It reminded me that while living life in “the cloud” can be a good thing, it is also important to have a backup plan.
Furthermore, as you read this you have probably already read many updates about The East Coast and how they are preparing for Hurricane Sandy. With many businesses (including webhosts) based out of that part of the country, it is important to remember that things might not work as smoothly as you are used to for the next few days. Today, I thought we could spend some time to take a look at what you can do when part of the internet that your agency depends on, day in and day out, breaks.
When websites went down last week, it was easy to know what was happening because of alternate methods of communication. For example, I was able to see what was going on with Reddit because I saw a tweet from them explaining the situation. I even received an email from a company apologizing for any interruption in services due to the Amazon outage.
This highlighted the importance of communication to supporters when technology malfunctions. In order to make sure that people are aware of where to go when looking for news if some thing like your website crashes, it is important to have a strong following on various social networks. We live in an age of instant gratification where the instant is getting shorter and shorter. Making sure that you have a strong community on social networks and keeping communication active on these channels is important.
Don’t forget about other methods of communication as well. Sending out an email to your mailing list is not a bad idea when your website is down. Also, don’t forget that some people actually still use the telephone, so it might be beneficial depending on the severity of the outage, to update your voicemail message with updates for people who might call.
You don’t want to risk loosing a donor, volunteer or supporter to your agency due to poor communication.
Have a Back Up Plan
Putting all of your eggs in the same basket isn’t always a good idea. Only having one copy of anything isn’t a good idea either. We talked about backing up data many times on DonorDreams before, but I felt it important to bring up again. If your web server ever goes down it is possible that you might not be able to recover your site. Having a local copy can make uploading it to an new server much easier. Always make sure you have things backed up.
Outages happen. Planning for them can make them easier to deal with. Sit down with your team and discuss what happens when technology fails. This conversation should go beyond just internet related things. Talk about what happens when the power goes out, the internet service goes down, or hardware breaks. After the meeting make sure that everyone is aware of the procedures discussed during the meeting and update them as things change. Ensuring that everyone is on the same page will minimize the stress if something goes wrong.
I hope today’s post has brought to light a few situations that people might not have thought about before. I hope that after reading this post, everyone has a better idea of what to do if part of the internet that their agency depends on doesn’t work. Have you experienced a technological failure that has impacted how your organization does business? How did you deal with it? Share your tips and tricks in the comments!
To all of our readers on the East Coast, stay safe out there! We’re thinking of you!
Posted in Mondays with Marissa, nonprofit, technology
Tags: Amazon, Amazon Web Service, nonprofit, nonprofit tech, outage, Social network, technology, website
How Nonprofits Can Maximize LinkedIn to Grow Their Community
I don’t know about you, but I’ve always thought that LinkedIn was the grownup Facebook. When it first started, I didn’t think much of it, but over the years, LinkedIn has become a powerful networking tool, not only for job-searchers, but for everyone in a professional community. Today let’s take a look at a few things that you can do to maximize your and your organization’s presence on LinkedIn.
Complete Your Profile
When starting out on LinkedIn, completing your organization’s profile is important. This is because the heart of LinkedIn is connecting people. The more information it has about you, the better it can serve as a networking resource for you and
your organization. Take some time to think about 10 to 15 keywords that you think would best describe your agency and their mission. Using the right keywords will attract the right people to your page.
Not only is an organization profile important, but it is important that everyone connected to your organization has complete profile as well. Make sure employees, volunteers and board members take the time to fill their profiles completely. There is a “Volunteer and Causes” section that can be added to personal profiles where supporters can list your organization.
Companies as Donors
If you are looking to find a company to sponsor an event or make a donation, LinkedIn would be a great place to start. Many companies will list in their profiles if they give to charitable causes or not. If you cannot find info on their profile, see who is connected to that company and reach out to people in your network.
I am not an advocate for stalking, except for in the case of LinkedIn. The more connections you have, the better your network, so follow people you know and people you don’t know. Having a connection can help you along the way, when it comes to
gaining volunteers, finding new donors, hiring a new employee, or finding a new board member.
One of the most dynamic sections to LinkedIn is their groups. There are groups focused on just about everything. Join as many as you can or have your organization start one tailored to discussions about your mission. People expect to start conversations in LinkedIn and groups can be a great way to create new connections.
Keep People Up to Date
LinkedIn is just like every other social media site; as in it works best when you update it frequently. So share news and blog updates with your community there too. Also, LinkedIn does a good job of of aggregating news that is important to you. It is a great place to find new articles to share with your followers as well.
Find Your Next Board Member
LinkedIn just released a new, exciting tool for nonprofits called LinkedIn Board Connect. This allows nonprofit organizations to use LinkedIn to find people who might be a good fit to be the next member of your board. For more information on this new service, take a look at LinkedIn’s announcement. Also, they are having a webinar on Wednesday, October 10, 2012 to explain what Board Connect can do. I suggest joining in to see if this is a tool that would be beneficial to your organization.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: finding the right social network for your organization is key to your social media success. LinkedIn can be a powerful tool to find people and grow your community. How does your organization use LinkedIn? What are some of the things that work best on this social network for you? I’d love to talk about it in comments!
Is Reddit an Online Community for your Nonprofit?
It seems as though a new social network is pops up every day. Finding the right one for your nonprofit can be critical to reaching to the right community for your mission.
We’ve talked about how your social media strategy starts with your website. After you’ve spent some time to establish your site, sharing your content is the next step. Let’s take a look at Reddit and how it might be the place for your organization.
What is Reddit?
Reddit is known as “the front page of the internet”. It lists links in order of popularity for users. Users can then upvote or downvote the link moving it up or down the page for the rest of the viewers. Users can also comment on the link. Reddit is known as a place for discussion and reading the comments can sometimes give a person more information than the link originally posted.
What makes Reddit a little different than just a list of links, is the fact that they allow users to create their own communities known as subreddits. Subreddits are lists of links that are associated with a certain topic. Topics range from TVshows to political parties to geographic locations.
How can my nonprofit use Reddit?
Reddit is a great place to share content from your organization’s website. By posting links to your site in the appropriate subreddits you might be able to expose your work to a different community and gain more support for your mission. The key here is to post in multiple subreddits to see which place ends up being the right place for you. When posting make sure to read the rules posted on side bar on the right side of the page. Different subreddits have different rules.
You can start and moderate your own subreddit. If your organization needs to inform people about your mission, reddit is a great place to do so. Not only could you post content from your site, but you can link to news articles related to your mission to generate discussion.
The Reddit community is also known for being able to raise money for charities in a short amount of time. Remember that story Erik shared about a bus monitor who was bullied? The fundraising efforts behind that story happened on Reddit. Reddit was also a major tool used by Stephen Colbert to raise money for Donors Choose. Reddit users are responsible for a lot of good. There is even redditdonate.com where redditors can donate, and subreddit moderators and nonprofit organizations can create campaigns.
The Reddit community also participates in meetups and days of service. If you can get your organization involved in one of those that could me a number of new volunteers for your agency.
The internet is a big place. Finding the right spot for your organization might take some time, but once you find it you’ll be set. Maybe Reddit is the place for you.
Are you an organization that has used Reddit in the past or are currently active reddit users? What works best with this community? I’d love to talk about it more in comments!
Is Instagram the Social Network for Your Nonprofit?
Finding the right social network for your organization is important in ensuring that your message is finding the right people. Photos can sometimes communicate more than words can which is why Instagram might be just the place for your organization.
If you are unfamiliar with Instagram, here are the basics. Instagram allows users to take photos and apply different filters on them. A photo of your friends can suddenly look like a Polaroid photo from the 70s in less than a second. These photos are then put into your feed or shared to your preferred social network for your friends to see. Friends can like or comment on your photos. One thing to keep in mind is that photos must be taken on your phone and cannot be uploaded from a computer.
Seems simple, right? That’s just it. It’s so simple that it has become one of the largest social networks around. What makes Instagram a vital player in the social network wars is the the size of their user base and how active the community is. According to their website, there are 80 million plus users, 4 billion photos uploaded, 5 million plus photos uploaded per day, 575 likes per second, and 81 comments per second. That’s a lot of photos and a lot of activity. Seems like a great place for your organization to get involved.
So you’ve created your Instagram account and now are wondering what type of things to share – don’t worry, here are some ideas.
- Behind the scenes – people love to feel like they are being let in on secret. Show them what goes on behind the curtain.
- Event coverage – document the party as it happens!
- Your mission in action – show how your organization is achieving it’s goals
- Volunteer spotlight – take a photo of your best volunteer and share it
- Project updates – are you building a new facility? share with others how things are going.
While you can share any of the photos you take on Instagram, keeping some of them specifically on Instagram will encourage people to follow you.
Also, you can easily create a community on Instagram by getting your followers involved. Interactions on Instagram follow the same format as Twitter where as users can mention others by using @ and users can create hashtags. Say you are having a special event focused on summer. You can ask followers to post photos of what summer means to them and mention you in them or tag them with a specific hashtag.
One more thing, if you use MailChimp for your email newsletter, there is an application called Instachimp that will integrate your Instagram photos into your newsletters.
For more examples on how to best use Instagram for your organization, take a look at this article on Mashable.
I hope that you now have a better idea of how Instagram can help your organization reach out to a wider audience. Are already using Instagram? What do you find successful? Let’s talk about it in comments!