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Q&A from Social Media Engagement for Non-profits webinar

Photo courtesy of QuoinMonkey via Flickr

Last week I presented Social Media Engagement for Non-profits, a free Cision Webinar, with Director of Media Research for North America, Valerie Lopez. We had so many fantastic questions asked during the webinar that we didn’t have time to answer them during our time limit. Instead, we’ll take them on here.


Blair: How well does social media work in rural communities?

Andrea: Approaching social media engagement in a rural community has the same considerations as any other group. If people aren’t using Twitter or Facebook in your rural area, it doesn’t make much sense to spend time and resources to build those online communities. This article talks about the basic principles laid out in the Cluetrain Manifesto, which essentially says that markets are conversations.  In rural communities, it might make more sense to gather friends (actual real friends, not the Facebook kind)  at the local café or ice cream shop to engage with them rather than spending hours trying to bulk up a Twitter feed with only a few followers. In short, know where your audience is and if it makes sense to have a social media presence, then do it. If not, find them another way.

Kerri: Would you repeat the names of the CEOs who participate in social media?

Val: Having a non-profit CEO involved in social media can have many advantages. They can offer unique viewpoints on the latest trends, can humanize and add personality to an organization and provide a behind-the-scenes look at not only the organization, but also their day-to-day life. With that said, it’s important that CEOs A) have the time to commit to social media B) are comfortable with the platform they choose to engage in C) are willing to give up control. Here are a few non-profit CEOs who are active on Twitter:

Nancy:  As a public TV station, we have several Facebook pages, one for each of our major programming blocks. Is it advisable to have just one major page to avoid any brand confusion?

Andrea: We tackled this question briefly during the webinar and gave the answer that no one wants to hear:  It depends. But we swear, this isn’t a cop out! Having multiple Facebook pages works for some and doesn’t for others. If you choose to have multiple Facebook pages, make sure that all the content and pages are accessible and intuitive for visitors. Furthermore, make sure there’s enough original content for each page that it still makes sense to keep them separate. Having one page assures that a larger group of people will see all the information and has the added bonus of exposing fans to information that they otherwise might not have seen if it was on a separate page.

Monica: Can you talk more about “mobile-friendly”? 

Val: iPads, iPhones, Blackberries, and Androids,…the list goes on. We’re a digital nation and more and more people are accessing news from mobile devices. With the instant nature of the social Web, it’s important to keep your content simple and easily accessible or risk losing your audience. Not sure if your corporate site or online newsroom is mobile-ready? Try loading it on your own smartphone. Does it take forever to load? Is the navigation overly complicated? Are you scrolling through pages and pages of text? If you answered yes to any of those questions, you’re not mobile-ready. For tips on how to make your site mobile-friendly, check out Cision Blogger Heidi Sullivan’s post, 5 easy ways to manage mobile media relations.

Caitlin: When you first enter social media, such as when you first set up a Facebook page for your non-profit, how do you get influential, engaged, passionate people to “like” your page? How do you build that audience initially?

Andrea:  Positioning yourself as an active and engaged voice within other established communities is a great place to start. Nobody is so fantastic at creating a Facebook page that they automatically have a group of people dying to become fans. (Maybe your parents your parents fit into this category – just maybe) I’d recommend finding the bloggers, Facbeook pages and Twitter handles of people who are already active in the non-profit world as well as your specific area. Start engaging with the community there and when appropriate, invite those same people to become a part of your social media strategy. Remember, it takes time and sustained effort to grow a social media community.

Sandra: How do you figure out where your audiences are?

Val: The first step is to listen/monitor for mentions of your organization, other non-profits in your space, events and other key words relevant to your organization. Where are a majority of these conversations taking place? Do you have presence there? Survey your employees, volunteers and board members. Social media is all about like-minded individuals engaging with one another. Why not tap into your advocates’ social networks? Find your audience offline. Attend industry events such as conferences, tweetups and luncheons. How many of us have actually said, “Facebook me.” Make friends, network and let the social invites grow organically.

Tiffany: Do you think it is worth having a social media budget? Facebook ads for example – Is it worth it? Or does this defeat the purpose of social media overall? What is out there that is worth the cost?

Andrea: I think one of the most attractive ways to prove the value of social media is to start with free tools, apps and platforms so it’s eventually easier to convince the C-suite to set aside funds in the budget. Once you discover you have an engaged network on Facebook and Twitter, it makes sense to start devoting money to advertising campaigns. Facebook advertising isn’t necessary but is a relatively easy (and affordable) way to start leveraging personal networks to encourage giving. The recently introduced Sponsored Stories feature on Facebook shows users if someone in their network liked a page, used an App, participated in Place check-ins and or posted something on a Page. In short, it’s leveraging someone’s participation in fan page on Facebook to act as an advertisement for that brand.

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Cision's research staff makes over 20,000 media updates to Cision's Media Database each day! For more updates and other thought leadership in the industry, follow @Media_Moves.

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