End Your Social Media Embarassment Now

I know you get kind of embarrassed about it. You know, the fact that your organization has no social media presence.

Well, I’m here to tell you to hold your head up and be counted. There are still lots of organizations like yours out there.

You were smart to wait and see how certain strategies and platforms shook out. (My Space, anyone?)

And you were smart to tell people that social media is not free and that it actually takes time to get it right.

And you were smart to realize it’s better not to do it at all than to do it wrong. (There’s nothing like unanswered postings from your followers to get them questioning your organization’s responsiveness.)

So now we’ve established that you’re smart, I’m happy to tell you that now is the time to jump in. (Or others will start to talk about you.) But do it in a smart way, of course. So you need to think about the following:

  1. What are your business objectives? Or why the heck are you doing this anyway? Are you trying to increase donors and funding, membership recruitment or retention, program attendance or participation, or product sales? Is it all of the above? Before talking tactics and platforms, have your goals in mind. It not only gives your campaign a direction but also helps identify the metrics you should use to measure your campaign’s effectiveness. Don’t start a social media campaign just because everyone else is doing it. I know your mother didn’t raise you that way.

  2. How will your social media campaign complement or be integrated with your other communications and marketing efforts? Will you be duplicating or complementing some of your more traditional activities? Answer these questions and you will save lots of time and money. A couple of examples…in PR you can use social media to enhance your media relations efforts by tracking and pitching journalists. How will that work with your other media outreach efforts? Does that mean you will be doing a lot less of the old-fashioned telephone pitching? With marketing, you can connect with potential attendees for a meeting, for example. Well, what does that mean for your direct mail or advertising campaigns? Integrating your social media program with your other communications and marketing strategies is a breeze if you are a smaller organization. Not necessarily so if you are bigger or work in those grain holders, er, silos.

  3. Are you really prepared to move into a glass building? And I’m not talking about one of those shiny boxes with no windows. I’m saying that being engaged in the social media world makes your business practices and services visible for the whole world to see. For most organizations that’s a good thing because they do good work. But are you one of those organizations? If not, get your customer service house in order. Make sure you can respond to the increased interaction and deliver what you promise. And speaking of glass houses, you will need to be able to take the inevitable public flogging that happens online every now and then. You need to know how to respond, or not to respond in some cases. And don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Everybody out there is making ‘em. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Everybody is learning and adapting.

  4. Are you ready to tell a compelling story or brand yourself in a way that people will care about? Will you be bringing value to the social media space by providing information or services that your target audiences will appreciate? You are not getting out there only to sell your organization and products are you? Leave that for your direct mail or ad campaigns. The social media world is about engaging in a conversation, listening and sharing and building your brand. The sales will come naturally if you take care of your brand first.

  5. Are you ready to invest people and time to the process? Setting up a Facebook page and sending out some tweets are just the first few steps to set things in motion. Maintenance is the mantra in the social media world. If you think a dated website looks sad, you will not be able to bear a Twitter handle that has not been used in months. It’s just way too sad. I really don’t want to talk about it, frankly.

  6. Are you ready to use “Metrics that Matter.” I’m not talking about how many Twitter followers or Facebook fans you have, although that may impress in a singles bar (but I really wouldn’t know about that). We are partial to campaigns that include calls to action that drive purchases, meeting registrations, memberships, and downloads, just to name a few measurements. Don’t let anyone use metrics that don’t have dollar signs in front of them. Not literally, but you get what I mean. If you’re an organization that is in the business of gathering donations for the needy, for example, the number of donations certainly counts. Or if you’re an advocacy organization, you can consider how many Congressional touches your followers generate. It’s about compelling people to action. Otherwise, you are wasting your time and money.

And for you people out there who already jumped in and are learning like the rest of us, is there anything you want to add? Please comment below (or I’m the one who will be embarrassed!)

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