There’s already lots of info in cyberspace about how to be successful at using social media in non-profits.
But before we can be successful, there’s still a major hurdle to get over.
The idea that we can control what’s out there about our organizations is one that’s come and gone.
Here’s why we need to let go:
Try searching for your organization and the word ‘sucks’ or ‘hate’. Or just searching for your organization’s name or mission.
The BAD STUFF IS ALREADY OUT THERE.
So, what will you do with this info?
Will you use this as an opportunity to accept feedback and make change? Will you reach out to the offended customer and ask for another chance? Maybe, you’ll use this to implement what I call the ‘turtle assignment’–like asking the first-grader who’s out of control to be the one to take care of the classroom turtle, turning those negative energies into a positive contribution.
There are some strategies to protect our brands, though:
Have a goal so success can be measured. Measurements can be used over time to make the case to the powers-that-be that, yes, social media can be helpful in communicating.
Create a policy–but not one that’s any different in principle or practice from your regular communication policy!
WildApricot’s blog gives you lots of ideas for social media policy.
At this year’s NTEN conference, keynoter Clay Shirky, (author of Here Comes Everybody reviewed here), gave his thoughts about what’s out there: “When bad things happen with your brand (and they probably already have), people no longer blame your organization. Control has already been lost.”
And from one of the conference sessions on managing tech change (BTW, one of the co-presenters joined in via Skype!) come these notes about addressing your social media strategy internally:
Who of your various staff are early adopters vs. laggards? The nay-sayers can sabotage new technology adoption.
Why tech projects fail: lack of executive support, lack of user involvement, inexperienced project management, unclear business objectives, too large of a scope…..(The results of this survey, done every year since 2001, has never fundamentally changed.) People are obviously very critical to change!
People not only want information, they want to be involved. Understand that change naturally creates anxiety; your people need a warning system and a grieving process for the old system.
Tie your change to your mission. Not everyone thinks technology is cool; be sure you’re not implementing technology for fun. How will this tool help you magnify your impact, and by how much? You need a leader (buy-in necessary from the top level, but your champion can be someone else). Get engagement from all levels.
And learn about getting started with some basic good practics from Deb over at CommunityOrganizer2.0:
* Set up “listening posts” to monitor online conversations about your organization.
* Buy your domain name, those related to your organization, and potential common domain name misspellings.
* Create a blog so that your organization has a platform from which to issue its own stories.
* Pick two social networking sites to join where your stakeholders hang out, and begin to converse with people there.
* Create an organizational social profile on a handful of social networking sites. You don’t have to be active on them, but you’re ready to be if need be, and it will help increase your organization’s search engine rankings.