In this ever-changing and progressing world of social media it can be overwhelming to “keep up with the Joneses”, so to speak. Let’s say you are a small or new organization just trying to get your roots planted. You see all of these other orgs using Twitter, Facebook, Digg, MySpace, YouTube, LinkedIn, Blogger and the list goes on….How do you make sure you are using the latest and greatest in new media that will effectively contribute to your movement? It’s all about filtering out the ones that may not fit your needs as well, finding some that do and going full speed ahead with those.
I recently had a friend tell me she was thinking about getting off of Facebook. I asked her why and she said she was tired of reading everyone’s posts about what they were eating for breakfast or other dribble that she didn’t care about. I told her to filter. If you haven’t seen Joe Schmoe in ten years and you hardly ever knew him in the first place, then delete him off the friend list or don’t accept the friend request in the first place. I told her to not just get rid of her Facebook account but instead to maximize her relationships on it with those that she is interested in hearing from and to filter out the ones that weren’t proving to be meaningful relationships. I gave her an example a Facebook friend that I recently had to let go. We went to high school together but we barely knew each other. I’d accepted the friend request and then started getting spammed. Every day I got several messages from this person about join this group or go see this band play and I just couldn’t take it anymore. My inbox was being filled with things that I just did not care about or have the time to care about. So, I decided to filter and my Facebooking days have been much more pleasant since because I get information from friends that I do want to hear from and I have more time now to cultivate those relationships. She said “Oh, I should try that.” This got me thinking about how non-profits can use social networking. I think so oftentimes we are fed all of this information about social networking and we think we’ve got to do it all. But, I don’t feel that is really the case. I think different social networking sites work better for different organizations and serve different purposes. And some, combined, can work great as well…it’s about finding the right combination and not letting yourself be so overwhelmed by the plethora of online media outlets that you want to just throw your hands in the air.
So, how do you find the right outlet(s) for your cause? The first step is to research. Take a look at them all and see what other organizations like yours are doing. What are they using and how? Does it seem to be working for them or do you think you can do it better? Think about what kind of content it is that you want to share with your audience. Do you have a lot of video to share? If so, you may want to set up a YouTube channel. Is your org all about getting the latest updates out quickly? You may want to give Twitter a try. Or, maybe you want to be able to fundraise directly through your social media outlet? Facebook may be the one for you. Let’s say you have a lot of editorial content to share. You may want to set up a blog and integrate a YouTube channel into that. The possibilities are pretty much endless these days. My best advice is to have an open mind, do your research and to just get online and play. Check out all of the various social media outlets you think you are interested in, give them a test drive and just have fun with it. And, if you try one on that you decide isn’t working for you do not stress about it because there will be one that does. If the shoe doesn’t fit, try a different shoe.