Cover of The Fly [Blu-ray]When I was in high-tech I was a technical writer/editor, project manager and (often) software tester. Because of this background, I have a habit of thinking that the place to start with stakeholder engagement is with education. If I just do the right job of educating the stakeholders on the challenges,they'll be better prepared to support the team's efforts. When I started using social media on behalf of small nonprofits, I applied similar thinking. But I couldn't have been more wrong if I'd been trying to sell fly-flavored Popsicles to iguanas.
What do you want from your stakeholders? Support.
How Do You Get Support? By Giving It
Your social media communication mission should always be to show that your nonprofit understands what the stakeholders came to you for. If they're looking for green-manufactured flyswatters, you give them information and more information and more information. You ask their opinion on the best flyswatters and you highlight the conversation and you give recognition to their feedback.
When the flyswatter community feels that you get them, they'll work at getting you, too. They will listen to you and your story and want to support you the way that you are supporting them. You can start educating them in your answers and information: "one half of our internal flyswatter budget goes to free-trade flyswatter producers and our goal is to bring that up to 75% by the end of the calendar year."
Support Builds Influence
But it's a two-sided flyswatter. Your nonprofit is one side and your stakeholders - your community - is the other. Together you can do a lot for truth, justice and a fly-free Fourth of July picnic and you can use social media to build that better flyswatter. You may then attract flyswatter fans from around the world, and those of us with one eye on the potato salad will thank you.