Do You Enjoy Being Barked At or Listened To? Takeaways from Social Media for Nonprofits

Last Friday, I had the opportunity to attend the Social Media for Nonprofits conference in San Francisco thanks to a scholarship from Rally! The day was filled with amazing speakers, and this post is an amalgamation of quotes from different presentations. I can’t wait to apply some tips to the nonprofit I recently started, New Incentives, which facilitates conditional cash transfers to poor households around the world.

Use a “?” rather than a “.” as often as possible. You can increase your response rate up to 10 times by posting questions rather than statements. Don’t use social media to amplify your message, but to create a conversation. Use it as a forum to ask your community what they want, and how you can add value for them. Preserve the charm of social media by remembering it’s not a one-way street.

You can now treat $10 donors like $10,000 donors. Continuing the conversation with supporters is no longer about an organization’s size and budget. With the advent of social media, you can now stay in touch with your supporters without being confined to monthly newsletters and personal emails. Utilize the power of social media to celebrate your donors and volunteers in real time.

Information tells. Stories sell. It’s often easy to get stuck asking what tools should we be using as an organization, rather than how can we best tell our story? Sometimes, that might mean using one social media channel and doing it really well. Other times, it might mean using multiple channels to suit different types of content. A great tip from Chelsa Bocci, Community Marketing Director at Kiva, is to use Facebook surveys to drive blog content. This not only increases participation, but ensures you are putting out content that people actually care about. Chelsa also shared one of Kiva’s mantras, which is to “fail fast, but fail forward.”

Understand the impact of your efforts. Maintain focus when determining what to measure. An organization can’t possible measure everything. To start with, define and truly understand your goals. Then, design your measurement systems based upon those goals. Should an organization be measuring the number of Facebook likes it gets if its goal is related to the number of petitions signed each month? Align your social media goals with your organizational goals. Take the time to not only systematically review key performance indicators, but also learn from them and make subsequent changes.  Be open to failure and decrease barriers to sharing failure by making it enjoyable for staff to share. Clown costumes anyone?

Lastly, I think Craig Newmark, Co-founder of Craigslist, said it best: “Participate in small ways that mean something. Do them frequently. Share your experience.” Let’s all maximize opportunities in our organizations for people to do just that!

Svetha Janumpalli is the Founder & CEO of New Incentives, an organization that enables people to directly invest in individuals and households in the developing world, and then sustain those investments for free over time. Prior to founding New Incentives, Svetha spent time with the Grameen Bank and the Center of Evaluation for Global Action.

New Incentives is a member of RallyPad, a social venture incubator created by Rally to help entrepreneurs access the resources they need to change the world.