How to Integrate Social Media Into Non-Profit Businesses

No matter if you are a business, non-profit or individual, social media is a must for survival.

Many organizations want to be on Facebook, Twitter and other social networks, but aren’t certain where to begin. Here are a few easy steps to take to get started:

Choose a social media coordinator. Organizations should have one person coordinate all social media activities. This is incredibly helpful for consistency online. This person will set up and maintain accounts on social networks, submit news releases to online sites, offer online content like videos and blog posts to reporters and guest blog on sites with similar missions. Keep a detailed record of user names and passwords.

Develop an approval process. Online networking is proactive – and fast-paced. You cannot have 10 people approve content over a two-week period – especially if you are trying to piggyback your message on breaking news. Your social media coordinator must be able to react immediately to online news. Set up a policy with clear perimeters – but do not set up so many rules that posting is nearly impossible. Allow the social media coordinator broad posting abilities. Have only one supervisor who approves any questionable content to streamline the process.

Start a blog. Blogs are a must for any organization serious about online networking. Blog content should be informal and friendly. For non-profits, sharing personal stories that tug at the heartstrings are extremely important to gather support. Most popular platforms are WordPress, Typepad and Blogger. All offer free blogs. Test out these platforms and see which one is the best fit for your social media coordinator. Typepad is incredibly popular with businesses and non-profits, and also offers a Tip Jar widget where readers can donate.

Pick social networks. With the plethora of social networks available, it can seem daunting to pick just a few for an online presence. Some organizations try to be on each one. That simply doesn’t work. It is way too much to manage. Pick a few networks where you can reach your target audience. Twitter and Facebook are extremely popular for a wide variety of audiences. Start accounts on these and see which are the most effective for your organization.

Share photos and videos. Pictures are incredibly popular for storytelling online. Start a photo album on sites like Picasa or Photobucket, or share them on Twitter via TweetPhoto, TwitPic or Facebook. Create a YouTube channel where you can share videos from events, important meetings and more. Think you cannot afford it because of the cost of equipment? Think again. Online networking enthusiasts don’t expect perfection. Camera phone photos and videos work well many times. The Flip Mino is a low-cost option for video. See this interview with videographer Jessica Kizorek about how non-profits can use video to their advantage.

Evolve. Social media changes by the day. Keep up with new trends and networks. Be ready to change your plan at a moment’s notice.

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