Taming the Social Media Monster

Posted by on Oct 25, 2011 in Communication, Featured | Comments Off on Taming the Social Media Monster

Taming the Social Media Monster

In a recent blog by Nancy Schwartz, Getting Attention Blog, she outlines seven guidelines for “taming the social media monster”. Good, solid communications stuff here. Her guidelines and my comments related to land trusts follow:

  1. Be crystal clear on why you’re using social media. Most land trusts that I work with are engaged in social media because they think they have to. Take a step back. Define more general communications goals for your land trust, and identify a piece of that structure for social media. Common goals are to generate increasing community awareness of the LT, engage members more significantly in the mission, and/or drive attention to the website. Whatever your particular goals are, make sure you regularly measure results and adapt as needed. Linked-In drives more traffic to my website than almost any other search engine – that tells me something.
  2. Know where your target audiences are, and focus your social media energies there. Are your major donors on Facebook? Do your members with families attend a nature walk based on what you tweeted? Does your blog generate social “conversations”?
  3. Focus on doing it right, not doing it a lot. Contrary to some popular opinion, quality and regularity are as important, if not more so, than frequency. Be predictable and be engaging first. Post as often as you can reasonably sustain.
  4. Consider starting with a single, time-limited campaign that’s very specific. This is pretty good advice. Tie your blog, Facebook posts, and/or tweets to a single topic (phenological events for example, or a work party or other volunteer event) over a specific, limited period of time.
  5. Allocate the right time, focus and skills to enable success. Despite what you may hear, social media is not free and not easy. Put the time aside on a regular basis, and then treat that time like a serious appointment, even getting out of the office if needed. I research and write my blogs on Sunday mornings, and I carve out that time to do nothing else.
  6. Be prepared to manage the cultural shift usually necessary for real social media participation. Others in your office will not just pick up something new without pushback. The business writer Peter Drucker quips that “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” Nancy Schwartz puts it this way: “Conversation is a different way of communicating for most organizations, and you’ll have to explain, train and share examples to move this shift along. Encouraging all-staff participation and developing a clear and consistent policy are key strategies.”
  7. Measure results to focus your social media energies on what works, or fine-tune what’s not working so well. Metrics for social media are difficult and much is anecdotal. “Eyeball” measures, such as hits and likes, are useful to measure exposure, but need to be paired with “Engagement” measures such as renewal rates, participation in events, and volunteering.

The big take-home from all this is that you need to start with a communications plan. Identify audiences, voices, messaging, and branding. Then mold your social media strategy to your specific goals. Not the other way around.

Got some good examples to share? Your comments and questions are welcomed here, or by email at fundraisinghelp@sbcglobal.net.

 

-da