Leveraging Social Media


1. Pick an Existing Goal to Pursue.
Identify something your organization wants to accomplish. Many organizations find that social media provides good support for:

  • building cause awareness
  • connecting with new supporters
  • soliciting online gifts
  • cultivating supporter relationships

If you are just starting, pick one of these to focus on and let that objective guide you every step of the way.

2. Make Success Someone’s Job.
Or at least make it an explicit part of someone’s job! Treat social media like you would your other communication channels: Figure out where responsibility for your social media programs should reside in your organization and assign responsibility. Making an overt assignment (like you probably do with direct mail, email, telemarketing, public relations, and advertising) will let a person or group of people on your staff develop the focus, comprehensive view, and skills needed to leverage these new techniques effectively.

3. Listen.
With your team identified and your initial goal in mind, you might be tempted to start doing something. Resist, at least until you have two more pieces in place. The first is your ability to listen in the social media channels. There are at least three reasons for this:

  • Social media is a two-way channel; as politeness prescribes, you need to be ready to listen before you add to the conversation.
  • Organizations like yours are already participating; seeing what they’ve done will give you inspiration, cautionary information, and a sense of what you need to do to differentiate your organization.
  • Once you do start to contribute content, the disciplined framework for listening you’ve put in place will be used to measure the reach and impact of your initiatives.

Some starting points for regular monitoring include:

  • Use the flexible automated alerts through Google® to receive periodic emails listing mentions of your
    organization across a variety of different types of web content: www.google.com/alerts.
  • Search for your organization’s name (or topic words) being used in the micro-blogging world with
    the search portal on Twitter®: www.search.twitter.com.
  • Track the number of times a blog mentions your organization or related topics at
  • Track the number of mentions for your organization name, your staff, and events you are currently running in each of these mechanisms. This will help measure your organization’s current social media footprint and prepare you to measure the reach of your future initiatives.

4. Establish a Baseline Social Media Presence.
After establishing your organization’s ability to “listen” in the social media channel, the second step is to establish a baseline presence that you can use as a foundation for your subsequent social media campaigns. Remember the places you choose to engage should be places that make sense based on your objective.

  • Create an Organization Facebook® Page This will provide an outlet for any of the more than 200 million Facebook® users who would already like to connect with your organization on Facebook® in a simple way. The first version of your page can be very simple, and you can launch it in minutes. To get started, it doesn’t need to do much more than greet your supporters and provide a link back to your website.
  • Create a Twitter® account This will give your organization a voice to speak with in the micro-blogging world. To get started, send out updates about newly available web resources, events, or programs your supporters will be interested in. Include links to the root content on your website.

5. Evolve.
Now you have an objective, dedicated staff, a way to listen and to measure results, as well as a foundational presence in the social media landscape. Reflect on what you’ve learned in your first few weeks of watchful monitoring and formulate the plan for your first social media campaign. Your supporters are out there waiting to engage.

Ready? Go!

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