Over the past few weeks I’ve been writing about strategies that nonprofits can utilize to become a more effective presence in the world of social media. The first step to creating an effective presence is actually being present, and this can be scary to nonprofits because it involves not only being present as a whole organization, but also includes the personal profiles of your staff, clients, volunteers, etc. What if they say something that is misleading, or negative? What if their personal profiles reflect poorly on the organization? Sometimes these questions alone are enough to make nonprofits want to restrict their use of social media.
On the flip side, the personal profiles associated with your organization can be a very effective marketing tool. Friends of your employees or volunteers may see something interesting/fun/thought-provoking that your employee/volunteer posted and seek out more info on your organization.
The key to overcoming the fear factor is ensuring that you have open discussions and set clear expectations about the appropriate use of social media (and your brand) with your employees and volunteers. You can even set up a Social Media Policy if it makes you feel more comfortable.
Interestingly enough, this issue can be a generational one as well. Looking at it from that lens can also be helpful in understanding how to communicate the effective use of social media to your employees/volunteers. Millennials (and younger Gen Xers) have much less of a separation between their personal lives and their work. They’ve grown up using the internet and some have been using social media almost since its inception. They tend to be much more comfortable sharing their personal lives via social media. Therefore, they may need you to clearly outline your expectations about their use of the organization in their social media outlets. Remember that Millennials respond well to directness, so just let them know what you expect and 9 times out of 10 they will be cool with it. Older X’ers and Boomers will tend to draw a clearer line between their personal lives and their private lives and will not tend to share as much personal info online. They may need more of an explanation about why the organization is choosing to be more open with their use of social media and the benefits that it can bring.
I found a great blog posting about overcoming the fear of the unknown and embracing the positives that social media can bring to your organization. Read it here.
If you want more info about nonprofits and social media (and you live in or around Indianapolis), please join us for two interactive sessions: March 7 (Social Media 102) and April 1 (Social Media 201). Both trainings will be held at the English Foundation Building (615 N. Alabama Street, Indianapolis) from 9am to 11am. The cost is $10 per session. Email Kristin Clements-Effner for more information and/or to reserve your spot (firstname.lastname@example.org).