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Collaborative knowledge by the Charity Labs members.

Social media for not-for-profits

The aim of nearly every association, no matter who they are or what industry they are in, is to effectively communicate with their members whilst reaching new ones. There has to be one thing said about social media, though it has many faults, is it’s a great way to connect with people at any time in any place. Here we will discuss several different points as a starting basis for any organisation wishing to communicate via the means of social media.

1. Social media has many faces, Twitter for on-the-go short blasts of information, Facebook for connecting with friends, sharing groups, polls and more and LinkedIn for the professionals out there. It is important to choose the medium on which you operate carefully.

Use LinkedIn to connect with professionals in the area of your association, not only can you connect with people, you can engage multiple people at once by creating a group. This can allow you to convey important news and information whilst giving members the chance to engage in their own discussions.

Facebook can be useful to reach a large number of users, people do not only sign up to connect with businesses; many people will have an account for social reasons. The applications within Facebook include events, groups, polls and a platform for people to comment and leave suggestions in the form of comments.

For a quick and easy way to engage users with a single sentence, Twitter can be invaluable. The tweeting platform allows users to send information including links, pictures and updates in a matter of seconds. Members can benefit by being able to see frequent updates and latest news related to their chosen industry.

2. Take advantage of built-in event applications on social media sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn. Not only does creating events in these applications allow you to reach a large amount of people, it also allows people to see who is attending the events and RSVPs, allowing for a greater reach of members and  non-members.

3. Social media is a great way for people to keep up-to-date with current affairs, news, events and just about anything that is happening within your organisation. You can share links, news, photos and, with the right marketing, can entice new members to join. This can be achieved by making daily (if possible) updates and let the power of ‘sharing’ do the rest.

4.  Nearly every company should have a blog and/or news section on their website – this allows you to engage members with handy tips, important information or just food for thought. Google has advanced to the point where it can rank you on the authorship of such blogs with AuthorRank. This allows a person or company to link their blogs to social media such as Twitter or Facebook, by linking back. Here are some ways you can increase your AuthorRank:

  • Tweet a link to your blog (use Bitly to shorten your URLs and keep track of how many people have clicked your link). Add a ‘tweet this’ button to your blogs to allow people to ‘retweet’ your blog on their Twitter feed.
  • Share your blog on Facebook; this will normally generate a view of your blog page which can be shared with friends and colleagues. You can also set up a ‘share’ or ‘like’ button on your blogs.
  • Link your blogs to Google Plus; you can also add a Google+ button onto your blogs, which allows members and viewers to share them on their Google Plus account.
  • LinkedIn also has a sharing option: this is helpful for aiming at professionals who check LinkedIn on a regular basis, more so than other social media platforms.

5. Train staff and members on how to use social media as many of them will have no idea. It may be the case that your staff are well-trained and clued up on social media sites, however, many members may not be and it would benefit them to hold a training or information event. The ease of use of certain social media platforms can make teaching it a simple process and once taught, can open up a whole new avenue of connection to members.

If you follow these simple steps social media may open up a whole new way of connecting your members, however, this should not be your only connection. Make sure you deploy a solid website and a member management system that can encompass social media, forums, blogs, events and news into one easy solution.

For more on social media watch the Charity Labs course on setting your social media strategy.