July 7, 2011

How to wade into the social media stream

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One solution: a one-minute video about the BroadCause platform for nonprofits.

Make your social voice heard by simplifying the process

Guest post by Dupe O. Ajayi
Taproot Foundation

Dupe O. AjayiLast month I attended the National Conference on Volunteering and Service in New Orleans and noticed a major trend. Workshop after workshop focused on social media for this, that and the other. Though these were very informative sessions, it was overwhelming, and many attendees left sessions more confused than when they entered.

Having worked with many nonprofit executives and managers who have plenty to do before adding social media into the mix, I’ve been thinking about how we can make social media work for us without experiencing the anxiety.

In honor of my colleagues the NPO Social Media Warriors, I offer the following tips:

Avoid social media overload: Don’t try to do it all

Twitter. Facebook. YouTube. Tumblr. LinkedIn. It can all be way too much, and you might feel like you have to do it all. You don’t!

In fact, it’s important to maximize the tools that your audience is most likely to use or already uses heavily and run like the wind.

Not sure what that is? A little bit of research can help you figure it out. For example, if you are trying to target donors who are 30 and older, head to Facebook for your fund-raising campaign, as over 75 percent of its users fall into this demographic.

K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple, Silly)

I am a fan of tools that help me get work done simply. But instead of trying to use multiple tools and platforms to try to manage multiple tasks, I recommend selecting a single platform that can do a bunch of things you need most.

Which tool to use?  Start by making a checklist of your top 5 main points and use the answers as a guide. From my conversations with different NPO executives, I’ve found that the top 5 to keep in mind are generally:

1. Tell your story

2. Post a video

3. Information on how to get involved

4. Upcoming events and

5. Donations.

As you can imagine, in my role at Taproot I see and get pitched a lot of platforms. But I love BroadCause because they make it so simple for nonprofits to manage all of our social pieces from one place — including all of the five pieces listed above. They’ve integrated a ticketing function (via Eventbrite), donations are easy to capture, you can manage your fundraising events, host your website and email, and they are connected to brands and willing to introduce nonprofits to them. Perhaps most important, it’s also simple to use — and free.

BroadCause, launched by Experience Project last October, takes no cut of donations made to a cause and allows donors to pony up a tip. Experience Project works alongside brands and companies of all sizes to create custom high-impact partnerships through campaigns that exceed 1.5 million impressions a day.

Test. Fail. Test

If you are like me as an NPO manager, the social media world isn’t your oyster. You have limited resources, time and you still have to be engaging. I have news for you: Some of your social media efforts might fail!

But don’t panic! That’s the beauty of this space. There’s room to test out different sites in order to find the one that is best for you and your organization. Be patient and know that social media is a great resource for nonprofits — it’s worth taking time to try out different sites to find the one that works best for you.

See it as an opportunity

We live in a time where resources that offer tools to spread your cause’s story abound.  What makes your cause different? What events and programs are you running that are unique to your purpose alone? Pinpoint your cause’s special qualities and make sure to highlight them on a regular basis.

I’m a social media junkie. I admit it! I love to try out new sites and tools to see first hand how they benefit individuals, companies and organizations. In fact, I sometimes have to remind myself to take a break. My final piece of advice?  Don’t let social media control your life or take up too much of your time. Your constituents will appreciate you more if your presence offline is just as solid as your presence on the Web. Pace yourself, take a breather! The Internet will be there when you get back.

What about you? How do you avoid social media overload?

Dupe O. Ajayi is manager of external affairs for the Taproot Foundation. Follow her on Twitter at @theayajieffect.
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