In an earlier post, I listed 10 key strategies that need consideration in the strategic plans of nonprofit organizations. The first strategy described in that post is “Embed capacity building into the fabric of your nonprofit". The second strategy is to "Build an exceptional board". The third strategy discussed in my last post is to engage in accelerated strategic thinking and planning. The fourth strategy is to "Forge partnerships, alliances and mergers to increase mission impact and sustainability". The fifth strategy is to "Develop board and staff succession plans". The sixth strategy is to "Build capacity for effective public policy and advocacy".
The 7th strategy is to master use of social media. Here's what some of the experts are telling us:
• First, we’re not in charge anymore. There was a time when we were more in control of communication about our nonprofit. We created the message and we decided who would and wouldn't get the message. Those days are gone. Witness the multimillion dollar ad campaigns of major corporations gone up in smoke as a result of someone mobilizing an army of consumers through use of Facebook and Twitter.
• Next, it's about engagement. Communication is no longer a one-way proposition. People are no longer content to be the passive recipients. People expect to respond. People expect to co-create content and knowledge with us.
• Integrated with an overall communications plan. Social media is a powerful tool, technique, medium that needs to be joined to the other marketing and communication tools in our arsenal.
• Define your desired outcomes. Like all communications planning, it starts with determining the desired outcomes of our efforts.
• Monitor and measure. This follows from the previous point. Once we figured out what it is we want to achieve, what is the message? Who is the audience? How can we engage them? How do we measure our success - and our mission related impact?
• Finally, social media is not a substitute for building personal relationships of trust and commitment between the organization and our various constituencies, supporters and stakeholders.
There has been so much written on the use of social media by nonprofits. The following is by no means a complete resource list but provides you with a starting point:
• Social Networking Guides and Resources for Nonprofits. Networking for Good has compiled an excellent collection of introductory articles and resources to help you determine whether or not online social networks including services like Facebook, MySpace, and blogs fit your needs, and if so, how to get started. You can access the collection at http://www.fundraising123.org/social-networking. A great place to start is the article entitled 10 Things You Need to Do Prior to Diving into Social Media‖. Go to: http://www.fundraising123.org/article.
• YouTube Nonprofit Program. Does your organization have a compelling story to tell? Do you want to connect with your supporters, volunteers, and donors but don't have the funds to launch expensive outreach campaigns? YouTube can help. Video is a powerful way to show your organization's impact and needs, and with a designated "Nonprofit" channel on YouTube, you can deliver your message to the world's largest online video community. Go to: http://www.youtube.com/nonprofits.
• Everything You Need to Know About Web 2.0. Web 2.0 is a category of new Internet tools and technologies that focuses on the idea that the people who consume media, access the Internet, and use the Web shouldn't passively absorb what's available -- rather, they should be active contributors, helping customize media and technology for their own purposes, as well as those of their communities. These new tools include, but are not limited to, blogs, social networking applications, RSS, social bookmarking, and wikis. This resource provided by Techsoup includes articles on a variety of Web 2.0 tools and technologies. Techsoup intends to update this page from time to time so you can check back to learn about the latest technologies for your organization. Go to: http://www.techsoup.org/toolkits/web2.
• Social Change Takes More Than Social Media. Go to: http://www.netsquared.org.
• The Power Formula for Linkedin Success: Kick-start Your Business, Brand, and Job Search by Wayne Breitbarth. This simple, user-friendly guide explains how you can access the full power of LinkedIn--including advice on making lasting business connections, building a unique personal brand, and generating significant business opportunities. Breitbarth demonstrates how you can take advantage of all the features of this professional networking platform. He shows you how to create a compelling profile, use keywords to improve your ability to find and be found by others, build a solid base of connections, solicit valuable recommendations, and much more. Go to: http://www.amazon.com.