8 Tips on the Effective Use of Social Media for Social Good

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 non profit organization ideas

March 20, 2013;Impatient Optimists


Writing for the Impatient Optimists blog on the Bill & Melinda Gates foundation website, Jennifer James shares how she built an activist group. As the founder of Mom Bloggers for Social Good, she shares eight great ideas for creating positive change using social media.

  1. Gather advocates. How does one find and activate online advocates? Her suggestion is to start with where your donors are. This means you find out where your community and followers are, whether on Facebook or on Twitter or on Pinterest, and start with them.
  2. Allow ideas to develop. If the idea is smart, and you see gradual pick-up on social media, let the idea ride out for a while. Experiment to find out which content or what ideas work for your mission and your people.
  3. Forge an authentic voice. What is the social media voice of your organization? For example, is your organization voice more academic or advocacy, more local or more global? The article recommends that you have a conversational voice, and it should also be matched to your brand. The youth-focused @dosomething is cited for their skills at targeting a young demographic to entice them to get involved in social good.
  4. Create sustained conversations. For example, many nonprofits find success in hosting Twitter chats—scheduled Twitter conversations held on a regular basis with a hashtag unique to your organization or issue to talk about key issues. A specific example mentioned is #FundChat, a weekly Wednesday conversation about nonprofit fundraising and ideas about building community through social media.
  5. Be approachable. Social media is best used for two-way conversations, not simply to push content to followers. Retweet others’ tweets, share links to other nonprofits’ or organizations’ announcements, and highlight your volunteers and donors.
  6. Identify your core demographic. Go where your donors and advocates are. Some nonprofit organizations, like Save the Children, for example, use Pinterest to spread their messages.
  7. Don’t equate social media with dumbed-down conversation. Many advocacy-based nonprofits find Twitter brings in new followers and builds offline conversations. The World Food Programme is spotlighted for using Twitter to talk about providing food in combat zones.
  8. Be innovative in your approach.Vine is a new Twitter video app that explains why more nonprofits are using Twitter to share not only pictures, but also real-time videos.

In the comments section, post links to examples of your nonprofit social media channels, so that other readers can see what’s working. A great way to make improvements is to also watch what others are doing and learn from their example.—Jeanne Allen

  • Logan Harper, MPA@UNC Community Relations

    The UNC School of Government’s MPA@UNC program recently created an infographic on the topic of Social Media for Social Good. Check it out here: http://onlinempa.unc.edu/social-media-for-social-good-infographic/

  • Hillary

    WalkBoston has been working hard to develop our facebook and twitter profiles. Let us know what you think, http://www.facebook.com/pages/WalkBoston/ or @walkboston.

  • Steven Washburn

    8 Great Tips to take Rick Warren’s Purpose Driven Life writings to exponential application(s)! Thank you!