Nonprofits have become more and more immersed in the world of social media and, as I wrote in 2013 Nonprofit Fundraising and Social Media Outlook and 2012 Results, they intend on continuing to develop social media marketing strategies. I began a Social Media Series that specifically focused on news, tips and trends to optimize nonprofit fundraising and engagement opportunities. Although many nonprofits realize the importance of maintaining a presence on the platforms they are active on, smaller to medium sized organizations still face the challenge of not having the financial and human resources to dedicate to growing their online communities. Perhaps the solution does not lie in having it be the sole responsibility of dedicated resources but rather sharing it with staff and volunteers and expanding your reach in the process.
Staff and volunteers at all levels are ambassadors for your charity and champions of your cause. They have an involvement with your organization because at the most basic level they should know and believe in the mission and are therefore the ideal participants in your social media initiatives. Plus most everyone has a strong comfort level with social media from personal network management on various platforms. Taking staff and volunteer involvement into consideration, the following 5 tips will help engage them to grow your social media communities:
Create Awareness – Your team needs to be aware of the social media initiatives and objectives of your organization. It’s important that they are aware and feel involved in the process to help inspire and encourage them to collectively take action and move your initiatives forward. Communicating your plans and community growth either through regular in-person meetings or email updates will keep everyone updated and motivated to continue to actively participating.
Establish a Policy – Despite a team’s best intentions you may come across incidents where an online interaction or behaviour is undesirable. It’s important to still maintain control over conversations and content that is being created, posted and shared by your staff and volunteers. Ultimately they are representing your organization and you want to ensure that they are projecting an image that is in-keeping with your mission, vision and values. Establishing a detailed social media policy and reviewing it with participating team members will ensure that expectations and guidelines are clear from the onset.
Assign Tasks – Depending on the size of your team and on individual team member skill-set, it’s important to assign tasks based on existing strengths and interests. Perhaps some team members are proficient writers that can contribute to writing fresh content for your blog, or others may be better in creating attention grabbing quips in less than 140 characters to tweet, or photo-bugs that can snap great pictures for Pinterest or Instagram. Whichever their strengths, divide the responsibility amongst team members involving all of the organization’s active social media platforms to ensure you are increasing your organizations visibility.
Sharing is Caring – Simply having staff create and post content across the organization’s social media platforms will not generate growth or expand your reach to engage new supporters. Encouraging your staff and volunteers to read and share the content your organization is producing with their own social media networks will help stimulate the desired growth. Whether it is ‘Liking’ the organization’s page and sharing posts on Facebook, to re-tweeting Tweets or forwarding your newsletter to their contacts, if your team consistently work to share your posts/updates it will expand your social media reach and community.
Encourage Feedback – Take advantage of having a group of people actively promoting your organization and interacting with (potential) supporters in their own personal networks and ask them for feedback or suggestions. You never know where the next great idea or social media star is lurking.
Ultimately, it’s important to have a team of staff and volunteers that are committed to and care about the organization they are working for. Nonprofits that employ staff that genuinely care for the cause are more engaged and demonstrate more loyalty and commitment to their day-to-day work which will net overall stronger results on a variety of levels. Involve your team in your social media marketing strategies and you will be sure to grow your online communities.