The Do’s and Don’ts of Social Media

ImageAs we delve into the world of social media, a world that can be both monumental in terms of reaching a large audience while also incredibly confusing, there are certain guidelines to follow. This is particularly true when using social media to market for a non-profit organization. It’s important to find the right balance between staying professional and finding a voice that comes off as personable to all viewers. Since this can be a struggle, I’ve compiled the top 5 Do’s and Don’ts utilizing social media sites to market for your non-profit.

Do’s:

  1. Engage with your audience. By giving the option to respond to posts on your social media site, people who visit your sites can contribute to a conversation about important issues and spark others’ interests in the org.
  2. Receive constructive criticism and respond. Not only can viewers start a conversation, but also provide helpful feedback about your org and express their wants in terms of social media. In addition, responding positively to the feedback shows that you’re willing to go the extra mile.
  3. Construct a social media policy. While it’s important for everyone who is posting from your org’s social media sites to have their own voice, it’s also necessary to have guidelines for everyone to follow in order to stay on track with your org’s core values.
  4. Don’t be afraid to show your personality. People respond better to a friendly, personable voice rather than generic social media posts. Express why your passionate about the org and the work that it does through the posts on your sites.
  5. Use social media to reach out to other organizations. Social media is a great way to reach a large number of people, including organizations who have similar interests. By connecting with these groups of people, you’re able to expand your social capital.

Don’ts:

  1. Appeal to one group of people. Many different types of people will have access to the social media sites, so it’s important to have posts that will attract a wide variety of followers.
  2. Promote your org 100% of the time. Mix up the types of posts that are on your org’s site. Instead of asking for donations constantly, provide pictures, updates, and stories that pertain to your org.
  3. Post pictures or stories without gaining consent from the people involved. Keep in mind that while you may think that a picture or story pertaining to your org may be perfect for one of your social media sites, the people involved may have a different opinion. Since social media is a very public domain, privacy is an issue that must be addresses when posting.
  4. Reveal too much personal information. While it’s beneficial to have a unique voice, it’s also important to remain professional and stay focused on the organization’s goals. Even though connecting with people through social media sites may help them to feel more welcomed, it can also be a turn off if you provide too many personal details that do not align with the org.
  5. Be afraid to ask for help. There are plenty of other organizations out there with similar interests and values who would be happy to help your org with a cause, as long as you reach out to them. Ultimately, this is what social media is for!

With the right guidelines, social media sites can be a great place to expand your org’s following and connect with large quantities of people at once. With some practice, you’ll be an expert in no time!

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4 thoughts on “The Do’s and Don’ts of Social Media

  1. Hi Nicolette,
    First of all, I want to say that I like the theme of your blog. It has a very positive and bright color of blue that makes me as a reader easy to read!
    I thought your blog post about the do’s and don’ts of social media was well written adding your own opinion and voice to each points. It was a simple and effective list that serves as a good reminder for not only the organization but for bloggers writing for nonprofit organizations. You pointed out that the organization needs to have a social media policy that everyone could follow as a guideline, and I think this list of do’s and don’ts could also be a guideline/policy that could be used to keep things consistent and focus on their core values.
    Another one that stood out to me among the DO list was to “not be afraid to show your personality.” I think a lot of the times organizations forget that an organization could also have a character. In fact, I think it’s one of the most important things that they should keep in mind when they are trying to publicize their organization. It is really their “personality” or character that readers, sponsors, volunteers, and the community look at and are attracted to. Essentially, they need to make a good first impression through their website or social media in order to make known that they exist. The first step is to have a strong and interesting image embedded in the readers’ head, I think.
    I’m glad you decided to work with the Canterbury House pairing up with their social media intern. I hope you could make good use of this list you made and improve their use of social media and website! Good luck!

  2. Great post! I think Mansfield points out that numbered lists always get lots of attention on social media–and your list here is just as good as many professional ones I’ve read.

  3. Hi Nicolette,

    Firstly, I wanted to mention that I really enjoyed the direction in which you took this blog post. Lists are often some of the most read pieces of content on various media websites. They are easy to read, and the information is not hidden with the text. While I do enjoy reading the occasional list that is common on Buzzfeed and starting to enter more mainstream media, I hope that these forms of media do not completely replace more traditional forms of writing.
    The big takeaway points I gleaned from your post were the importance of having a social media policy, and engaging with the audience. As we learned from Nikki Sunstrum, it is vital to have a plan in social media that relates to the overall communications plan of an organization. Simply having accounts on various social media platforms is not enough. You must think about it in terms of “what can the organization gain” from maintaining these accounts. If the time being put into maintaing the accounts does not produce results, the policy is failing and you are wasting your time. Secondly, I agree that it is very important to engage the audience and not just push your own content on the viewer 100% of the time. This relates to one of your “don’t” points, which I have seen many organizations succumb to. It is important to remember to vary the content to keep viewers interested.

  4. An element that I noticed you took note of in your Do’s & Don’t’s of Social Media is the utilization of personality. We’ve discussed in class how effective a relatable voice is within social media, such as Facebook posts, tweets, twitter conversations, Instagram etc. This includes such examples as large brand names that use humor and photo posts to stimulate traffic, gain attention and personify a brand to create likability and of course more consumers. Seemingly, this idea can be translated through non-profit organizations and their social media as well, in hopes of attaining these same effects.

    From my own experience, I have been increasingly more drawn to missions, organizations and companies that relay ideas and messages that sound personal rather than robotic. Posts that utilize relevant trends or youthful language encourage me to click on the post and further investigate the cause, the mission or the piece they choose to share. A key component to successfully developing personality in a social media campaign is to truly understand your target audience and how flexible your campaign can be in relation to age range, interest range, expectations etc. A variation of posts that can relate to all sorts of potential supporters is crucial to the growth and understanding of an organization in the non-profit sector.

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