Nonprofit Organizations and Social Media

Nonprofit organizations can benefit tremendously from social media.  It's a simple way for you to to gather followers and friends who have the same goal and mission.  Here are our steps to create a social media campaign for your company:

  • Know your audience - Interact with the group of people with your common vision.  Find out who shows an interest in your cause by using a social media management platform's listening tool and find out who's using keywords that pertain to your nonprofit or mission.  Introduce yourself (always make a good first impression) and show them that you have a common goal - your target audience can help spread the word about the cause and create buzz in their own networks of friends and acquaintances.
  • Make your mission statement clear - This is a MUST for all nonprofits!  No one will donate or volunteer for a cause they don't have that much information about.  We've all heard about donation schemes that turn out to be scams - you're not one of them!  Make sure your cause and mission statement are searchable and present in all of your organization's pages.
  • Show some action - To prove that your nonprofit isn't a scam, post media and articles about how you're changing your world.  Post videos volunteers, success stories, pictures of benefactors - potential volunteers want to see what the job consists of and who they'll be helping, and media can help emotionally engage people to get involved.  It can also help people relate to the problem and actually uncover a problem that needs to be solved in their community and in the world.
  • Thank your sponsors - "Please" and "Thank-you" are the magic words - I can't remember how many times I was told this when growing up.  A small thank you can make someone feel very special.  Thank your sponsors, volunteers, donators publicly - it's a simple way to say you're appreciative, and a simple way to put a smile on someone's face.
  • Make information accessible - If people want to find out more about the company, or how they can lend a hand, give them the information.  Volunteers are already devoting time to helping out - don't make them spend more time looking for all the logistics.  Make information easy to find on your company's website and fan pages.  Also, make it easy to donate to the cause - many nonprofits have already enlisted the text to give mobile option, and some have even included a donation button on their sites.

I personally believe there are so many great nonprofit organizations out there that need more social media coverage to shed some light on a great cause.  Everyone has the opportunity to change their communities, cities, and even the world.  Social media gives nonprofits the opportunity of connecting volunteers with a cause.

[Photo Courtesy of Office Clipart]

What Does Social Media mean to a Budding Entrepreneur?

Remember our interview with one of Social Defender’s interns?  As we sent this summer intern back to school, she told us about her experience with social media from a business perspective.  Well, we thought it was very insightful and representative of what many companies who embark on the social media adventure believe.  Here are her words of wisdom:

“Social media is like an uninhabited, mysterious island – like the ones you always watch in movies and tv shows.  There’s something about it that’s so alluring and intriguing, yet there’s always danger.  This danger is always there, but once you have the skills and knowledge, it isn’t as threatening as it seems.  The beauty of a mysterious island always outweighs the dangers.  Social media is just like that – it can be so helpful and contribute greatly to a company’s success, yet sometimes social media slips can endanger a company’s reputation.  However, that should not prevent companies from enlisting social media as part of their customer relations efforts.  As I’ve worked with Social Defender, I have become more aware of just how much impact social media gives for a company, and this knowledge is crucial for many new entrepreneurs that are my age.  Social media is very promising, and learning how to manage it will be a key to success for any company.”

It’s a Scary (Social Media) World Out There! Part 4: What Social Media Knows About You (For Businesses)

Just as consumers have to be wary about their social media ventures, businesses also have to take precautions.  Employees must be informed about the company policy (what? you don’t have a company policy? well, that’s step one!) and companies have to be strict in this area.  It’s easy for employees to make mistakes without realizing it, so here are our tips for making sure you have social media rules beforehand so you can prevent some security slips.

1.  Make sure employees are always informed – Many times, the source of social media mistakes is poorly informed (or not informed at all) employees.  Write out an actual set of rules concerning social media, and make it a part of employee orientation.  Also give out friendly reminders during the year, and encourage employees to ask questions about what they can post – better safe, than sorry!

2.  Don’t let your employees get too excited – It’s great that your company has a new, secret product that will change the world, but don’t let your employees be the ones to make the announcement.  In order to keep company activities a secret (especially from competitors), make sure there is a rule concerning social media quotes about products that have yet to be revealed.  It also may be better that this company information isn’t revealed to all employees – only to those who are directly related to the project should be informed.

3.  Never mix personal with professional – It’s so easy for people to post pictures or write comments that can ruin their reputation and their company’s reputation instantly.  Posts that can negatively affect the company or an employee’s future employer should be left for private use.

4.  Beware of hackers – Social media has made hacking even easier, as many users don’t utilize privacy controls, and display the hacker’s dream (their name, location, phone number, birthday.)  Business sensitive information can be tapped into if the security to those accounts/computers is loose.  Use an encrypted file storage for all important files, and encourage your users to change passwords and to be wary of sites that seem suspicious or too good to be true.

However, we aren’t saying social media is taboo at work – a study by Robert Half Technologies showed that 70 percent of employees who are allowed access social media at work are more productive those who don’t have access.  Businesses shouldn’t completely prohibit employees from accessing social media, but there should be a clear set of policies.

[Photo: Courtesy of Phillip Martin]

Interview: Why Isn’t Social Media Taught in Business 101?

We had a chance this week to pull aside one of our interns and ask her a few questions about the internet and social media, and to get a fresh outlook on online networking for businesses.  We were surprised to hear some of Stephanie’s answers:

Social Defender: Thanks for taking some of your time for this interview.

Stephanie: No problem, it’s been a fun experience as well as a learning one so far, and I’m glad I get the chance to share about it.

SD: First question, you’re a young, college kid – how does social media play a part in your and your peers’ lives?

S: It’s SO important for us!  Everyone’s on Facebook and Twitter on campus – we wake up, check our Facebook, we get back from class and send out a tweet (some of us are even on social media in class!), and before we go to sleep, we have to get our friends’ updates.  It’s pretty bad actually.  I know a lot of college kids who have to deactivate their accounts or ask a friend to change their password for a while so they can study.

SD: So you would say social media is an important mode of communication for your age group?

S: Yes, definitely.

SD: Then what about businesses?  Do they need social media to communicate?

S: Of course – businesses are made up of people too, so it makes sense that they engage with their customers through online media.

SD: Tell us about the topic of social media in your classes…you’re a business major, right?  Social media had to have come up in your business classes, correct?

S:  Yes, I am a business major, but social media never came up in any of my “business 101” courses.  I don’t know if professors don’t think social media can’t play a part in the business-sphere, but even at my university, which I hate to brag but is one of the top universities in the US, professors barely mentioned online networking.  Maybe it’s because I haven’t taken upper division classes since I’m still an underclassmen, but social media is so important, it should at least be mentioned in the intro courses!

SD:  You’re our marketing intern here at Social Defender.  Tell us about your first experience when you started working with our company.

S: Well, I knew about the marketing aspects of my job, but I had no idea that businesses use social media!  Before this job, when I imagined social media, I thought of it as Farmville (which was really popular when I first got Facebook) and as a way to connect with your friends who went to different colleges.  I am honestly really grateful that I’m learning all of this – now I can throw around terms such as SEO and social media ROI and sound really smart in class (laughs).

SD: So you think that this is a problem, that your peers aren’t as updated on the latest business tactics as you are?

S: Of course I am – college kids are the next entrepreneurs.  I’m glad I have the experience and upper hand now, but kids should take the information they learn in college and apply it to their jobs once they enter the job market – that’s what an education is for!  So if graduates don’t have this background or don’t figure it out by the time they enter the job market, they’ll be at a big disadvantage in our competitive world.

SD:  Thanks so much for your input, Stephanie.  And thanks for taking the time to answer our questions.

S: No problem, my pleasure.

And there you have it.  Why aren’t colleges (and even high schools!) teaching kids about social media?  We think social media is more than a fad – it makes sense that communication follows our innovations and new technology.  Businesses thrive on communication – so why aren’t our future entrepreneurs learning about the newest, most effective way to engage with customers?

Tell us what you think – should schools teach social media management?  We’d love to hear your feedback!