Social Media Police: The Nonprofit Edition | npENGAGE

Social Media Police: The Nonprofit Edition

By on Oct 3, 2013


The following article originally appeared in The NonProfit Times Live from bbcon newsletter. To subscribe to a future newsletter, visit

Putting QR codes on a billboard isn’t a good idea. So, don’t do it. In fact, pull over, because you’re getting a citation for even thinking about it.

Channeling Joan Rivers and E!’s Fashion Police, nonprofit social media authors Amy Sample Ward, Allyson Kapin, and Melanie Mathos shared the latest trends, campaigns and faux pas in the nonprofit social media world during bbcon 2013, Blackbaud’s Conference for Nonprofits in National Harbor, Md.

Highlighting #winning moves from organizations such as Human Rights Campaign, charity: water and the Preeclampsia Foundation along with some only-named-behind-closed-doors social media #fails, the panel shared some “teaching moments” for attendees to keep to guide their social media success:

  • Listen, don’t broadcast. Be aware of current events and what others are already saying so you become part of the conversation vs. becoming a victim of it.
  • Newsjack: Be prepared to take advantage of news moments (or adjust your messaging in light of them.)
  • Respond quickly to both positive and negative comments. Whatever you do, don’t go dark or you’ll lose momentum or even worse, inadvertently cause your community to revolt against you.
  • Create a movement by giving supporters the tools to spread your message.
  • Have fun doing it. Whether it’s creating a meme or a hashtag-centered campaign, engagement thrives on fun.
  • Measure, measure, measure. Set clear objectives that align with your organizational goals at the outset so you know what to measure, and the measurement part becomes easier.
  • Have a social media staff handbook. Providing clear guidelines of what is and isn’t acceptable will save you a lot of trouble in the long run and will empower employees to be brand ambassadors.
  • Have a plan in place to manage an online crisis so it doesn’t bubble up and implode. Getting everyone on board with a crisis communications plan before a crisis strikes will help you manage through it when it inevitably does.
  • Tailor content specifically for each social media channel as each one has its own tone, terminology, etc.
  • Learn from failures – both your own and those of others.








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