Award-winning writer Kathy Widenhouse has helped hundreds of nonprofits and writers produce successful content and has gained 600K+ views for her writing tutorials. She is the author of 9 books. See more of Kathy’s content here.
Intimidated or wholeheartedly enthusiastic: which describes how you use social media as a part of your marketing mix?
Every six months, new social media tools spring up on the Web, while current tools undergo a major tweak. If you have any kind of social media presence, there's usually a learning curve.
For ultra-techies out there, you love the evolution. For those with overwhelming amounts of extra time to invest in regularly learning and re-learning technology, new social media gives you an activity to fill your excess hours.
But for intimidated copywriters, nonprofit leaders, and small business owners, all the changes spell F-E-A-R or P-A-N-I-C. That’s why most choose one of two common approaches to the continual social media revolution.
A natural response is to dodge participation altogether. If you’re not already connected with these platforms, the very thought of entering the fray is overwhelming, especially since the experienced find it daunting to merely keep up.
"Everybody's doing it" is normally not a good reason to do most things. But in this case, it doesn't make sense NOT to go with the crowd. Social media is fast becoming a key avenue for getting your message out.
So if you find yourself in the “avoidance” camp, go ahead and dip your toe in. The cost is free (apart from managing and posting on your sites.) You can start small. If you’re confused and have no idea where to start, the solution is very simple: find a teenager to help you. Seriously. They understand social media.
Another approach is for a nonprofit to create a Facebook page, Twitter account, blog, or new online newsletter – or several all at once – without a strategy to stick with them long-term. In this scenario, your nonprofit approaches the social media landscape with a burst of energy you’re not able to sustain. Recent data released by our friends at MDG Marketing shows nonprofits are jumping onto the social media wagon without restraint. Try 98% on Facebook on for size.
This approach – plunging in without a plan – is equally ineffective as avoidance. Readers need to see regular comments, tweets, and posts or they start to think you’re “not doing anything.” Social media is not a one-shot deal. It’s an ongoing dialogue with others, and your platforms become your voice (Hence the term “social.”)
The solution to “peaking and fizzling” is the same as avoidance. Start small. Try one media outlet at a time. Work with your staff to cultivate a presence. Once you’ve integrated one platform as part of your regular communications mix, then add another.
When it comes to nonprofits and small businesses engaging in social media, here's the key thought that has made the difference for many.
It's social media. (Not social media.)
In the end, it's not about having the latest bells and whistles. It's not about keeping up with other organizations by launching several different social media sites without having a purpose for any of them. It's not about "being seen" on a dozen different platforms (although if you can pull that off well, that would be incredible.)
For writers and leaders and communicators, the human-to-human element is what has made social media so powerful.
When it comes different kinds of "media" in social media, they are just a means to an end. The "social" is what it's about. People.
So jump in! But do it in a way that shows you care about the people you serve.
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