Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Who's in Charge Here?




Really - there's no hurry about getting your small nonprofit involved in social media - unless you've already got a built-in community. In which case, you could just monitor what's already being said and just participate.

If you don't have a social media presence though, don't rush into it as a lot of for-profits are doing. Think about it first; what do you hope to accomplish and how will it be handled?

Take Your Time

Above all, take your time in deciding what objectives a social media presence will meet. What will be your goals and how will you measure whether or not they have been achieved? And while you're considering those goals, consider this: how much power is your ED and the Board willing to give the community?

Social media communities take on a life of their own and this happens faster when discussion is about something the members feel strongly about - like your mission and what your agency is doing.

This is a Good Thing

It really is a good thing - a community passionate about your mission can be a dream come true ( or a nightmare, but that's a subject for another post). But the slow adoption of a social media strategy by small nonprofits is probably less about not knowing where to start and more about concern over how much power the staff and board might have to cede or - worse - might have wrested from them.

Who is in Charge?

The Executive Director and the Board spend a lot of time recruiting new board members and cultivating donors. They look for a good fit; sympathetic background and interests, community contacts. That's less easy to do with an online community where you don't have access to more information about a member unless they choose to provide it.

So it's important to ask what level of control will provide your nonprofit with the most comfort while allowing it to participate in social media networking. This will help you determine where your first forays into social media should be and how hands-on your moderation will be.

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