Last week, I was at a reception and someone asked me what I do. As most development professionals know, it’s not always a simple answer. The individual I had just met, having heard my somewhat inadequate description responded, “so I bet you are now using a lot of social media.” I was a little surprised by the response, but then quickly cringed about the need to update our corporate site and the ever present pressure to find new, interesting content. The next day I saw this blog post from Joanne Fritz, and was again reassured that while Social Media is an excellent tool it probably won’t be the deciding factor that leads our clients to the next seven-figure lead gift. This post offers an excellent perspective, one that we actually wrote about in a previous Fund-Raising Matters article.
Just as I was feeling overwhelmed by social media after a fast and furious year on the social networks, Julia Campbell sent me her guest post on that very topic. Julia is a social media expert who helps nonprofits get a handle on it all at J Campbell Social Marketing. Take these tips to heart as you look to the new year.
2013 was undoubtedly the year of social media. Facebook signed its 1 billionth user, over 400 million tweets are being sent per day on Twitter, LinkedIn boasts over 1.5 million active groups, 16 billion photos were uploaded to Instagram and YouTube claims over 1 billion unique monthly visitors.
Nonprofits joined right in the fray, posting, commenting, sharing, and tweeting; writing blog posts; creating content; sharing videos and more.
Of the nonprofits who actively participate in social media, the results were positive. A study conducted by Avectra found that 47% of online Americans have discovered a nonprofit or a cause via social media.
As we enter 2014, the vast potential of the social and mobile web for nonprofit fundraising and marketing appears unlimited.
However, there is a downside to all of this frenetic activity. With the unrelenting advancement of technology and the rapid proliferation of new online marketing and fundraising tools, nonprofit professionals may feel quite burned out. Sound like you? Here are my seven tips for nonprofits to avoid social media burnout and enter 2014 refreshed:
1. Remember what social media is good for (and what it’s not so good for). At the beginning of the year, your boss and your Board may have demanded a high return on investment from social media – in dollars raised. However, social media stinks for raising money, as well documented by nonprofit social media experts Claire Axelrad and John Haydon.
Social media is great for connecting with supporters, spreading the word about an event or program and raising awareness for a cause. It’s not as effective for raising cash fast, especially for small nonprofits without a dedicated social media department.
2. Go back to your goals. Review your Social Media Strategy and see what can be tweaked. Don’t have a Social Media Strategy? Consult with an expert or write your own using these tips and this resource
3. Use humor in your content. Let off some steam and don’t take yourself too seriously. Beth Kanter wrote recently about using humor in nonprofit communications; also check out the Non-Profit Humour blog for more inspiration.
4. Avoid discouragement. After your nonprofit has been using social media for awhile, the initial excitement will wear off. This is where you will be tested – do you get discouraged, or do you try even harder?
5. Remember why you do this work. Why are you tweeting and posting? To get people to learn more about your program and services, of course! Pretend that you are the donor. Play with the animals if you work in a shelter; visit the kids if you work at a school. Get out of the office and put your boots on the ground.
6. Revisit other channels. What has been effective for your nonprofit this year off line? In person events, breakfasts, print newsletters, direct mail appeals? Create a list of what worked well off line and brainstorm a bit how you can bring those tactics online, or integrate them into your social media efforts.
7. Take a social media vacation. Consider taking some dedicated time off from tweeting and posting. Schedule Facebook posts in advance or delegate the task to a co-worker or volunteer. Tools like HootSuite and Buffer are perfect for scheduling posts. Just make sure when using automation tools that an actual person is available to answer questions and provide feedback in real time.
Social media is an insatiable beast – it always needs to be fed and maintained. However, it is important to take some time off from online activity and refocus.