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How Your Organization can use Social Media for Social Change

by J.D. Lasica, Salsa Partner – Socialbrite

Interested in taking your social media outreach and fundraising to the next level? Salsa partner Socialbrite offers a world-class team of social media experts who specialize in developing custom social strategies to recruit and engage your nonprofit supporters.

SocialBrite founder, J.D. Lasica, has been blogging since 2001 and speaks often at conferences on the subject of how organizations can use social media for social change. He offers the following tips to help you with devising strategies for peace:

  • Begin with a strategy, not with the tools. Too many nonprofits begin with the tools when the tools should flow from the strategy, not the other way around. Create a Social Media Strategic Plan or communications document to serve as your blueprint – it’s the animating force that connects your goals to actions. Depending on how big your organization is, the plan needs to be cross-departmental and include development, fundraising and programming in the discussion alongside communications and marketing. A social media strategy should support the overall organization, not just a single department.
  • Get aligned. Social media should complement, not replace, your existing marketing and outreach efforts. Social media should support your email list and vice-versa. For example, each month the Hope Institute, a nonprofit in the Midwest, sends a direct mail appeal to 200,000 people, typically centered around the story of one of the children at Hope. On the day it arrives in people’s mailboxes, the story is posted on their blog and an e-newsletter goes out that points to it. By combining offline outreach with online tools, Hope is able to tell a much more powerful story with exponentially greater results: They’ve seen attendance at their fund-raising events grow by 20 percent.
  • Consider paid services. Use a suite of campaign tools, like Salsa, when it makes sense – and if you have the budget. Social fundraising tools worth exploring include give2gether, Fundly, Rally.org and Razoo, all of which take a small cut of the funds you raise but are worth it because they tap into the power of users’ social networks.
  • Be productive. Use a social media dashboard, like HootSuite, which saves you time by letting you schedule tweets or Facebook status updates. Don’t get overwhelmed by trying to do everything or play with every shiny new toy that comes along.

Finally, J.D. offers this advice on the major social media tools:

  • Twitter: Don’t use Twitter as a megaphone to blast out announcements. It’s a platform for conversation. Don’t make it all about you – retweet liberally and highlight what others are doing in your sector or in the peace movement.
  • Facebook: Whlie it’s best to send out lots of tweets every day, you don’t want to post more than one or two status updates per day to Facebook. Use Facebook Insights to see what kind of updates are resonating with your community: videos, photo albums, Facebook questions? Always include a photo. Try to be engaging and to spur a conversation. And remember, 95 percent of the people who see your updates will see them through their news feed, not on your Facebook page.
  • Google Plus: Don’t overlook the potential impact of Google+. If you’ve used it and haven’t gotten far in spurring conversation threads, it’s still valuable to do so for one reason: Your posts to Google Plus will turn up in some people’s Google search results.
  • Google and YouTube: If you’re a 501(c)(3), make sure you take 15 minutes and apply to be part of Google for nonprofits, which gets you access to YouTube for Nonprofits, Google Grants for Nonprofits and much more. Use YouTube to tell your organization’s story, though you’ll probably want to embed the video on your own blog rather than spend a lot of effort trying to foster conversations on the YouTube site.
  • LinkedIn: Make sure you have your organization page on LinkedIn up to date with current contact information. Spell out your cause or mission and sync up some of your other social media accounts, like Twitter, so people can see your latest tweets right from LinkedIn.

It’s OK if some of this seems daunting. Head over to Socialbrite.org for thousands of free resources to help you navigate the social Web, learn best practices and see the latest tools that can help advance your mission.

Topics: Marketing