Revised with new information as of April
Daily, Mandatory, Minimal Tasks for
Nonprofits on Facebook & Twitter
There are a lot of nonprofits using Facebook and Twitter just to post to
press releases. And if that's how your nonprofit, NGO or government agency
is using social media, then your organization is missing out on most
of the benefits you could gain from such. Facebook, Twitter and other
social media are all about engagement.
Social media is NOT one-way
communication; you want people and organizations to read your information,
but you also want them to respond to it. And they want YOU to respond to
what THEY are saying.
Let me be blunt: if your organization or program's Facebook page and
Twitter account are pretty much just announcements of new items for sale
through your organization, requests for donations, and the usual, boring
press releases, your social media activities are NOT worth following!
There are certain things that a nonprofit, NGO, government agency or
other mission-based organization should be doing every day on social media
to make using such worthwhile: to attract more volunteers and financial
donors, to keep your current volunteers and financial donors, to attract
media attention, and to ensure your organization is seen as relevant and
credible by elected officials and the general public.
Note: the term "every day" used here means every week day; it excludes
weekends and holidays.
I broke these must-do tasks down into the most simple, basic list as
possible - these tasks take minutes, not hours, a day.
- Tag any person mentioned in a Facebook status update you create if
that person is on Facebook, especially if that person is an employee, a
volunteer, an elected official, or some other person you want to be
aware of what you have written. You do that by putting an @ symbol at
the start of a person's name and, once you've spelled out their name
completely, Facebook should automatically show if he or she is on
Facebook. Make sure you are tagging the right person - a lot of people
on Facebook have the same name.
- Tag any organization (nonprofit, university, NGO, CSO, government
agency, etc.) mentioned in a Facebook status update you create if such
is on Facebook. Put a @ symbol at the start of the organization's name
and, usually, once you finish typing out the name, it will show if that
organization is on Facebook or not. Make sure you are tagging the right
organization (many organizations and programs have the same name - many
towns and cities in the USA have the same names).
- Tag any person shown in a Facebook photo shared by your organization
(and if it is a volunteer, make sure that volunteer knows you will be
posting the photo; you should already have a photo-release permission
agreement signed by each volunteer on file, so that you don't have to
ask for prior permission before publishing).
- Tag any organization (nonprofit, university, NGO, CSO, government
agency, etc.) shown in a Facebook photo shared by your organization.
- Put a description on EVERY photo you share on Facebook (not just the
album; EACH photo should have a description. It can be the same
description, over and over.) This is so that if someone clicks on just
one photo, rather than the album, they will know what they are looking
at. It also gives you an opportunity to tag more people (if different
people are in different photos).
- Every day, take 10 full minutes to look at the pages of your partner
organizations, organizations you really want to partner with, the page
of your national headquarters or other state affiliates, etc., and like
their status updates. This will lets those organizations know you are
reading their information, and it encourages them to look at, and like,
your status updates.
- Every day, like every
comment made on your organization's Facebook status update unless it is
hateful (that includes liking statements that might be slightly critical
– liking a critical comment does not mean you are agreeing with them,
merely showing you are reading/listening).
- Reply to any question made on your organization's Facebook status
update, unless it is rhetorical criticism.
- Post a "thank you" comment to comments made on your Facebook status
- Delete completely off-topic comments promptly.
- Never have Facebook status updates automatically post to Twitter.
NEVER. That's because Twitter will cut off the message after about 100
characters, often rendering your Facebook message incoherent on Twitter.
- Check the "Notifications" link EVERY day and (1) post a tweet that
tags and thanks those who retreated any of your tweets recently (2)
favorite any tweet that mentions your organization and is positive and
(3) answer any questions promptly (reply to the tweet – your reply will
- Tag any person, organization or government or company you are
mentioning in a tweet status update if they are on Twitter. For
instance, for UNDP Ukraine, this is a recommendation I made for a tweet
for a photo that featured the Deputy Resident Representative:
UNDP Ukraine Dep. Res Rep @InitaGE makes a
presentation re: gender equality ---linktophoto---
Don't just post press releases and official announcements. Also post
messages or photos that are informal, that show the human side of your
organization. For instance:
That's the minimal your organization needs to be doing on Facebook and
Twitter. There is so much more you could be doing to use social media to
better engage with current and potential volunteers and supporters, clients,
the press, partner organizations, etc., but this is the minimal.
- when staff members are particularly moved or challenged by their work
- when staff are working well past official working hours
- when volunteers have done something particularly outstanding, or just
been a lot of fun
- when staff or volunteers have had to dig out from mounds of snow so
your office can be open that day
- your IT staff surrounded (overwhelmed?) by newly-arrived IT equipment
- staff or volunteers at a training workshop
- staff or volunteers eating at their desks because they don't have time
to go out
- staff or volunteers arriving or leaving work by bicycle
Follow me on Twitter
for more advice and examples of how to use social media. Also see this blog
I wrote about what
nonprofits I think do a great job with Facebook.
Online Activities: Online Action Should Create & Support Offline
Hundreds of "friends" on an online social networking site. Thousands of
subscribers to an email newsletter. Dozens of attendees to a virtual
event. Those are impressive numbers on the surface, but if they don't
translate into more volunteers, repeat volunteers, new donors, repeat
donors, more clients, repeat clients, legislation, or public pressure,
they are just that: numbers. For online activities to translate into
something tangible, online action must create and support action. What
could this look like? This resource can help organizations plan
strategically about online activities so that they lead to something
tangible - not just numbers.
- How to handle online criticism of your
Potential Power for Social Good – with REAL examples.
- Nonprofit Organizations and Online Social
Networking (OSN): Advice and Commentary.
- Stages of Maturity in Nonprofit Orgs Using
- How Not-for-Profit and Public Sector Agencies
REALLY Use Online Technologies
This provides real-life examples of what agencies are using the Internet
for, and links to other resources offering even more advice and
examples. Includes information about online solicitations and fund-raising.
- Basic Press Outreach for Mission-Based
Like fund-raising, press relations is an ongoing cultivation process.
Your agency strategy for press coverage needs to go beyond trying to
land one big story -- you want the press to know that you are THE agency
to contact whenever they are doing a story on a subject that relates to
your mission. These are basic, low-cost/no cost things you can do to
generate positive attention from the media.
- What are good blog topics for mission-based
The word "blog" is short for "web log", and means keeping a journal or
diary online. Blogging is NOT a new concept -- people have been doing it
long before it had a snazzy media label. The appeal of blogging for an
online audience is that it's more personal and less formal than other
information on a web site. Readers who want to connect with an
organization on a more personal level, or who are more intensely
interested in an organization than the perhaps general public as a
whole, love blogs. Blogs can come from your Executive Director, other
staff members, volunteers, and even those you serve. Content options are
many, and this list reviews some of
- For Nonprofits Considering Their Own
Podcasts: Why It's Worth Exploring, and Content Considerations
(includes my own podcast)
- How folklore, rumors and
urban myths interfere with development and aid/relief efforts and
how to prevent or address such.
- THE CLUETRAIN MANIFESTO
"We appreciate your efforts in spreading this important sedition." A
project from 1999 that is still completely relevant today (and shows why
the Internet has ALWAYS been "online social networking" and there's
nothing at all really all that new about sites like FaceBook). It's a
challenge to companies to quit thinking that they can control the
Internet and online culture and shape it to fit their outdated PR and
marketing dreams, and to quit fearing its "open" nature and, instead,
realize that this open system can actually be a good thing in the quest
to meet customer needs and move products and messages.
Virtual Volunteering Guidebook
for purchase as a paperback & an ebook from Energize,
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