Today I ran a session for a group of women leaders in the charity and community sector. It was a really engaged, participatory session and I thoroughly enjoyed it – but it got me thinking about the journey people make when they start to think about social media. In every session I run, whatever the profession of the participants, I always hear the same concerns which can be pretty much summed up by these three questions:
1. Why do I need to be on social media?
There’s so many reasons it’s hard to know where to start – but basically it’s a great way to connect with your supporters, to help them hear the stories of your organisation, to make them feel more involved and part of your community. If someone told you ten years ago that there was a way you could instantly connect with your supporters, get your message in front of thought leaders and tell great stories simply and effectively- you would have leapt at the chance to use it wouldn’t you? This film by Erik Qualman makes a very compelling case for the fact that social media is here to stay – it’s where your audience is so you should be there too.
2. Won’t it take over my life? I don’t have time for it.
If you want to be very effective on social media, you need to put time into it. the more you put in, the more you get back, but it doesn’t have to take over your life. Set your notifications carefully on Twitter and Facebook so that you are not bombarded by emails every time someone shares one of your posts or retweets you.
On Twitter you can use Lists to make sure you only see what you want to see and what’s useful on your feed. This is a simple guide from Twitter on using lists
You can also explore all of the tools like Hootsuite and Tweetdeck that help you schedule Tweets or run a few accounts at the same time. In just half an hour a day, while you wait for the bus or make a coffee you can start to make a real impact on social media.
3. What if someone posts something negative/bad about me/my organisation/what if my staff post about the organisation?
This is always a concern for leaders of organisations and is probably the biggest worry charity staff have. There’s no guarantee that people won’t post negative comments about your organisation, but they may do that whether or not you are on social media yourself and the best thing you can do is respond quickly and positively to the comment.
Basically it all boils down to not panicking, thinking before you respond, but being genuine, sincere and positive in your response and showing you care about your community.
So – if some of your concerns are allayed now- here are some of my favourite resources to help you get started on social media.
1. This is a great guide for charity leaders on how to use social media effectively by Marketing and Communications consultant Zoe Amar and Matt Collins from Platypus Digital – its very clear with loads of useful tips.
2. One of the leading voices in this field is Heather Mansfield who runs Nonprofit Tech for Good, she’s well worth following and has lots of useful advice.
3. My third favourite guru is Andy Goodman- Social media is only as good as the content you put on it. Great stories will engage your followers and he is brilliant at highlighting examples of charities using stories well on their websites
Let me know if you have other worries about using social media -or tips and advice to do it well.