Social media engagement is like casting a pebble in a pond: Networks grow in concentric circles. For a nonprofit organization looking to build its online network and presence, the networking must begin from within. Whether you’re looking to populate your Facebook page or jump-start a LinkedIn Group, the place to begin should always be with your staff and volunteer leadership.
Enlisting your staff to be part of the conversation has a number of advantages. It allows you to tap into their networks and synergize ongoing conversations to help project your brand and amplify your message. It will also serve to bolster internal communications and an organization-wide sense of empowerment and ownership.
Consider holding one or more “lunch and learn” sessions to discuss the organization’s social media strategy (including its social media policy). Share and discuss your objectives as well as the key messages you want to convey. Invite staff to contribute ideas on how the organization can grow its social media influence and invite them to join your existing networks.
Reaching out to your volunteer leadership is the next step.
In most non profits, the volunteer head of the organization and its senior staff person share media spokesperson responsibilities. Effective social media engagement requires a more horizontal, less hierarchical, and more trusting approach to external communication. Part of this approach involves bringing your volunteer leadership–Board of Directors, Executive–into the social fold.
While in the past organizations embraced a tightly controlling spokesperson policy in the name of message discipline, today’s real-time social environment requires investing in engagement and conversations.
The reality is that just as people in volunteer leadership positions will from time to time speak out to traditional media on issues that concern the organization, those active on social media will engage online on those same issues with much greater frequency. It is therefore critical that volunteer directors be brought into a non profit’s social media tent at the outset.
Just as with staff, engaging your leadership involves sharing your social media and overall communications objectives, tactics and messaging.
In addition to helping to maintain message discipline and unity, internal engagement will allow the organization to leverage its all of its networks, further amplify its message and extend its reach.