Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Non-profits using social media - taking things to the next level

I had the pleasure, a few days ago, of attending a workshop run by one of my social media heroes, Beth Kanter. I have been following and talking to Beth for some years. She is known for her expertise for using social media in the non-profit sector, and is the author of two books about non-profits and social media.

I had a fabulous time, learned heaps and generally got all excited again about how I can use social media in my job at the Australian College of Midwives. I have seen an exciting increase in the use of the ACM's Facebook Page. But my main reason for attending the workshop was to learn more about how I can use social media to mobilise the ACM membership for volunteer action.

If you're in a similar situation, here are some tips I learned from Beth.

1. Be strategic
At the Australian College of Midwives we're keen to use social media to engage our members and the wider midwifery community, but we're rather hap-hazard about it. There's a number of us who post to our Facebook page, but we have no plan about what we're doing, or how we're doing it. In fact, there are even times when I have no idea what other members of staff post on the page.

Beth believes that you have to develop a strategy for your social media activities, which includes how to engage the support of management and the rest of your staff. Here are some principles to consider, and here is a template that Beth has developed to help us develop a social media strategy: click here for template.

Part of a strategy is the development of a social media policy, which is a framework to underpin staff's use of social media. Here are some notes from Beth and a collection of various organizational policies. I'm keen to develop a policy for the ACM to make our use of social media more consistent across the organisation, and ensure we're more thoughtful about what we do.

2. Develop outcomes that can be measured
Part of developing a strategic plan is coming up with outcomes that you want social media to achieve.  This point really resonated with me because I have a vague idea that I want to use social media to increase engagement with midwives, but I don't really know how that looks. Beth advises that we develop SMART objectives: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely objectives.

It is the ability to measure outcomes that has got me really thinking - what do I want to achieve? I don't think that increasing the amount of "likes" on the ACM Facebook page has any meaning, but, say, increasing our membership because of Facebook is an outcome that we can measure and has importance to our organization.What has struck me is that not only do I need to plan "after" objectives, but I also need to know the state of play before we put our social media policy and strategy into place.

What is tricky to work out is what are reasonable expectations or objectives. How likely is it that the ACM will have an increase in membership because of our engagement with Facebook? What increase in volunteers can we expect? What is a reasonable expectation to have about increased engagement, keeping in mind the 1% rule about online interaction?

3. Plan your activity
I know from my own experience that the more organised I am about my blogging, the more hits, visits and followers I get. What I hadn't thought of before was using an editorial calender, which helps to plan where and when to post content. It allows you to be consistent, relevant and meet the aims of your strategy and objectives.

This leaves me with the question - when is the best time to post comments, posts and tweets, and how frequent/regular should the comments etc be?  The answers to these questions also need to go into your policy for staff to make note of. Here is a great handout of tips that Beth shared that answers a lot of these posting questions: social media posting tips

4. Regular review and evaluation
Need less to say, there is no point is doing all this work if you do not review your strategies, objectives and activities to make sure they are working, and to change tack if they are not effective. If nothing else, I have to be able to demonstrate the gain for the organisation against the time I spend to my boss ie the ROI - return on investment.

There are many tools that you can use to track and measure social media which  Beth recommends. What I am going to do over the next few months is pay more attention to our Facebook "likes", "talking about" and "reach" statistics to work out what resonates with our Facebook readers, and what doesn't do so well

5. Get started and get everyone involved
Before you get started, it's important to find out where your audience is and use the appropriate tools to reach them. It's no good the ACM spending all its resources on Twitter when the majority of midwives can be found on Facebook. Here is a list of tools that Beth has curated: tools.

Below is the slideshow that Beth used at the workshop, and here is the link to the wiki page that she developed for the workshop.

Are you responsible for your organization's social media? Has any of these points resonated with you? Do you have a strategy and policy? How do you measure your social media activity? What difference has social media made to your organization?


Beth Kanter said...

It was pleasure to finally meet you in person after all these years! Thanks for this lovely post - and may you get better results and more impact from your social media strategy!

Ben Teoh said...

Fantastic write up, Sarah. Thanks for sharing your thoughts from Connecting Up 2013. We had a blast having Beth over.

The Centre for Volunteering said...

This is such an amazing resource. THANK YOU SO MUCH!

Sarah Stewart said...

Beth: I'm doing a workshop for non-profits, here in Canberra, in a couple of weeks. I'll be sharing some of your stuff, so...once again...a big thank you.

Ben: thanks for bringing Beth over...the best value workshop I have been to for years.

Centre: all thanks to Beth!

Reach for Freedom said...

These are all great points, Sarah. But what really struck me was about being strategic. From the platform to the content to the scheduling, coming up with a social media strategy is important for any organization's online activities to yield a positive outcome. Generating interest for a business is easier when the content posted on social media is related to the type of service a company provides. Thank you for sharing!

Sarah Stewart said...

Reach: being more strategic is certainly the message I have taken away from Beth's workshop.