Social media is a quickly expanding area in business. Many have adopted social media as part of their communications plan, many of which are doing it successfully. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about most non-profits. They often lack the manpower, resources and skills to properly use social media.
Social media was pretty much made for non-profits. Its services are almost always free which makes it a perfect communications and marketing match for non-profits. The problem is most organizations are not taking advantage of these services.
Of the organizations that actually have a Facebook page, for example, many don’t list any information. No contact, no website, no events; nothing. According to a 2006 study, (PR and facebook.pdf), almost all of the organizations studied listed its administrators on its Facebook page. However, few listed the organizations goals, mission statements or history.
Now, isn’t the point of social media to be social? If you aren’t facilitating conversation, what’s the point of using social media? They are just merely there because they are told they ought to be.
Non-profit organizations, much like for-profit organizations who are just starting out using social media, are often afraid of social networks. They also don’t know how to use them. One of the biggest fears is the thought of inviting negative comments and feedback. Although this may be true, it is not always a bad thing. It will give you a change to implement your awesome PR skills and make the negative situation better. WIN!
To better use social media, on of the first things non-profits should do is find an expert, whether that be a volunteer or an intern. Having someone to help who has experience using social media will be a huge asset to have. But, by far, the most important thing to do is communicate. Like stated before, without communication and conversation, why would anyone want to become a fan of your organization. About.com has an excellent list of 12 tips to help non-profits get into social media.
This may be a scary and overwhelming time for those just beginning, but stick with it and seek help and it could be a great success with a huge ROI.