Earlier this week, Jeff Cutler and I met with people from the Greater Boston Food Bank and brainstormed ideas to help them better use social media. It was a great conversation, and one that I have with many nonprofits that I work with. In an effort to help more organizations, I’ve listed below five quick strategies to get moving with social media today:
Probably the quickest, most painless — and often most helpful — way to use social media, “listening” means monitoring the social web for mentions of your organization or area of expertise. There are a variety of technologies available, both free and paid, but here are two free methods you can start using today:
- Google Alerts - Enter the term you want to search (ex: your organization name), then select “Comprehensive” for the type and feed for the delivery method (you need to be logged into your Google account to access the feed option). This will automatically add your alerts to your (free) Google Reader account. You’re now tracking every time Google finds a mention of your term.
- Twitter Search – Enter the term you want to search, then hit “search”. On the right hand of the results screen, click “Feed for this query.” A page of code will appear. Copy the URL and add it to your Google Reader account. You’re tracking every time there’s a mention of your term on Twitter.
What will you listen for? Surely you’ll want to find any mentions of your organization name, but also the area that you operate in. Listen for what people are saying about you. Listen Listen for opportunities for your organization to help, as well as chances where you can be helped.
Who knows what you do better than you? Whether it’s the environment, early childhood education, or historic preservation, you’re the ones that are in the trenches every day. Share what you know, using simple tools like blogging, Twitter, Facebook, or online video. Handheld cameras — like those from Flip or Kodak — are super-easy to use and cost less than $200.
The more you share, connect with supporters, those who you can help, and others in the nonprofit world, you’ll be building awareness for your organization’s brand. And not just within your local area either, but nationally (or internationally).
Sure, people know about you, but what do they think about you? By addressing things you uncover — both good and bad — from listening, by sharing your knowledge, and being generally helpful to those you connect with, you will increase people’s opinions of your organization. After all, it’s all about winning hearts and minds, right?
This is the part that takes the longest to cultivate. After you’ve won the hearts and minds, you can then begin to promote yourself. Whether it’s for donation or volunteers, people will always be more willing once they’re fully aware of the good that your doing.
Of course, this is just a quick list. There are a variety of tools and strategies you can use to going in social media. Have a suggestion? What did I miss?