Involving staff in your nonprofit’s social media strategy may be the extra boost you org needs to improve your its online presence.
See, sometimes when an organization decides to become more social online, it’s often done in a bit of a vacuum. One of two things usually happen:
- Someone in management or ownership creates the social presence, but fails to communicate that to employees.
- An employee is given permission to create the social presence, yet no one else pays attention.
The result of this is confusion; the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing. In both scenarios, social media isn’t given the importance it needs for success. And in some cases, employees may have fear of becoming involved with their organization online.
For one reason or another, most of the nonprofits engaging socially online are doing it piecemeal. And we really need to have a concerted effort that involves everyone in the organization.
Think of it this way: your staff, all of them, have a vested interest in the success of your organization. Hopefully the fact that they work there is enough to bring some of their friends into the fold. It’s all part of the word of mouth equation.
Your staff are among your best brand ambassadors. You need to make sure that all of your employees are aware of your activity online. They need to at least understand what your are doing with social media and why. The social media mindset needs to permeate the culture of your organization. But in addition to making them aware, you need to get them involved.
Here are 7 ways you can have your staff become a greater part of your online social presence:
1) Like Your Facebook Page
I use Facebook as the example, but what I really mean here is that they should connect with you on any platforms possible. Same goes for other platforms. I’m always surprised when an organization has a Facebook Page and their employees haven’t Liked it. Do they even know it’s there? Have you asked or encouraged them to Like it? An all-staff email or mention in a staff meeting might be all it takes.
Note: Sometimes staff avoid Liking their nonprofit’s page out of misplaced fear. I completely understand why employees and bosses might not want to connect as friends on Facebook, but this is different. Liking a business page gives no one, including your employers, any more access to your personal information than they already have. There is no need to worry.
2) Share Your Information
Teach your staff that social media is no different than what goes on in the brick and mortar walls of your nonprofit on a daily basis. If you introduce a new product or service, they will most likely be talking about it. Teach your staff that when you post that information on Facebook or Twitter, they can help by sharing, Liking, retweeting, pinning, etc.
Again, it’s word of mouth. Every social action adds up, and your staff should be proud to share what your cause is sharing. If you blog, have them use the +1 button, or share to other platforms. This is a very simple and quick way that they can help your organization.
Whether it’s on your nonprofit’s blog or social platforms, encourage your staff to comment . . . but sparingly. The most important thing is to be open about who they are. If they comment on your blog or Facebook, they should also reveal that they are employed by your organization. I hate when I see someone from a business commenting on their own Facebook page as if they are merely a satisfied customer. Just. Don’t. Do. It. It’s deceptive, and if someone finds out, you lose credibility.
4) Contribute Content
Perhaps your staff members have areas of expertise or different points of view that might make them valuable contributors to your blog. Identify which of your colleagues would be able to help create content. This has the added value of taking much of the burden off your shoulders.
And if they aren’t ready or willing to write blog posts for you, encourage them to come up with ideas. All of your staff see and hear things that could make for good content on Facebook or blog post. Encourage them to share those ideas with you, some of which might be the result of their interactions with donors or volunteers. They can also tell you about interesting events or articles which might be good content fodder to share on Facebook.
5) Read Your Blog
If your nonprofit has a blog, chances are that the only employees who read it are the ones involved with creating the content. Encourage all of your employees to read the content you produce. It will help them stay on top of what you are doing, and give them great conversation starters with your clients and donors. Some of those people might even be there as a result of your blog or social content, so your staff needs to be prepared to talk about it.
6) Talk it Up
One big mistake that nonprofits often make is that they create social spaces, and never tell anyone about them. There is no “if you build it, they will come” in social media. Whether you’re blogging, or using Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, or any other platform, do everything you can to let your supporters know. A big part of this is equipping your staff to talk about it. They should be telling people about your blog or Facebook Page.
7) Connect With One Another
As I mentioned earlier, I can understand why some employees and bosses might not want to connect “socially.” To a degree. But there are ways of connecting without actually becoming “friends.” I’m a big proponent of using Facebook Groups to create a private network for your staff. An informal Facebook group for your employees gives you a chance to connect with them at any time. You can use this as a great way to create a culture of collaboration, and allow your staff to offer their suggestions.
One final note: No matter how you go about this, or how many of these you choose to implement, you should make sure that you have a solid social media policy in place for your organization. This not only protects you and your staff, but offers sound guidelines while encouraging their participation. I’ll have more on that next week in this space.