Julie Lubinsky, Manger of Web Production and Social Media for the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation, explains the “Best part of social media is the immediate reaction to the various posts. From the amount of "likes" to the in-depth comments about the posts, the feedback gives us an indication if we're on target with the subject matter our users want to read about and discuss.”
While social media seems like a simple thing, open a Facebook or Twitter account and watch the number of followers or friends climb, it is a little more complicated than that. The most important thing explains Julie, is to keep the focus on the user “When it comes to Facebook, Twitter and our daily blog, we always keep the user in mind when deciding on what to post.”
In order to keep the focus on the user “You must have a plan“, says Jennifer Bement from Guidedogs.org, “You don’t want to direct people to your social media sites only to have them find nothing there.” Jennifer encourages non-profits to “Have a singular voice”. It is important that the person in charge of the social media account “knows the organization’s mission” and it is critical that “they check the properties faithfully.” Responding to posts is how you let your followers know that their comment is important.
Jennifer also advises other non-profits to make social media management a specific job for one individual in the organization, someone who is vested in the company, “Don’t hand off the social media to an intern or volunteer” Elise Rose of American Corporate Partners agrees her organization understands it is important to have a plan in place to manage all social media. She says, “Currently we manage each account separately and often share our posts between sites. We maintain a content calendar that dictates the themes for each week's posts and the timing of posts for all sites.”That type of planning and dedication helped Jennifer from Guidedogs.org grow their Facebook site. Over the course of two years they doubled their number of followers.
Of course, there are other social media sites besides Twitter and Facebook. It is up to the organization to choose the one that best fits their organization. According to Elise Rose from American Corporate Partners, the best way to reach their audience is LinkedIn. Elise says, “LinkedIn has proven to be a useful tool for ACP, because our community is very business-oriented. Over time we have found that ACP's Mentors and Veteran Protégés interact with our LinkedIn page more frequently than our Facebook or Twitter. Also, the discussions on LinkedIn often resemble the questions asked on ACP AdvisorNet, so we find that we are able to direct traffic to our new Q&A site through LinkedIn discussions.”
For the Reeve Foundation, social media is a valuable tool to get information to users in a manner that is both discreet and easy to access. Julie Lubinsky, from the Reeve Foundations, explains how the organization “is fortunate to be able to also support a privately-branded online community. Our paralysis information specialists are active in this forum, which adds another line of communication to ask questions sensitive to having a spinal cord injury that a person wouldn't want to post in an otherwise public social sharing site.”
Recently, Google announced its own social media site, Google+. While Google+ is just starting, Jennifer from Guidedogs.org believes it has wonderful potential. Casey Golden from Small Acts also thinks Google+ has great potential once it builds a user base. Right now, he views it, as a mid point between Linked In and Facebook It is a little less business then Linkedin but less personal then Facebook. He believes it is a great place to share ideas with like-minded people. As Jennifer from Guidedogs.org says, “Social media need not be scary” for organizations, it is simply a matter of planning your strategy and keeping your users engaged.