How is your a non-profit organisation dealing with the constant new crop of social media platforms these days? How do you know if the current popular social channel is worth adding or simply deserves to be ignored?

In the world of social media, change is the only one certain thing. Social media is changing at such a rapid rate that sometimes it feels impossible to keep up.

By now, your non-profit likely has a Facebook Page and/or Twitter profile, perhaps even a Youtube account. Through the years, you’ve gained a loyal following as well as added a reasonable number of new followers to your base. Good job!

Even with a steady set of followers in the tried and true channels, it’s easy to get distracted (or confused) by the newest trendy options.

Should we or shouldn’t we? That is the question.

Periscope, Tumblr, Snapchatthey all look shiny and exciting but would they really work or add value to your organization?

Gaining awareness of what your non-profit does and how it helps is the goal but how does one separate the chaff from the wheat?

It’s a tough call to make especially when most non-profits have little or no resources when it comes to allocating time and energy to community management. With limited resources available, it’s important to focus on what works but remain open-minded and keep up with the trends in social channels. Striking the right the balance may seem difficult to achieve.

So how do you make the scary decision to add (or not) to your Social Media arsenal?

Here are a few questions to ask when exploring whether to add a new social media channel:

1- Are YOUR people there?

Chances are, if your volunteers, donors or potential donors don’t know what Snapchat is then that’s not where you will find them. For now. More about this below.

2- Do your supporters, donors, and volunteers use it?

If your volunteers, donors or potential donors use Instagram to share their photos and videos when they are at one of your events, then this might be a channel worth exploring. Being observant of your surroundings means you get first-hand knowledge of what platforms are captivating your audience.

3- What percentage of your audience is comprised of millennials?

If attracting or increasing your number of next generation of donors and volunteers is one of your non-profits top priorities, then knowing where they “are” makes this an important strategic consideration. How do you find out where “they” are? More on this below.

4- Do you have the bandwidth?

If you plan to integrate live video streaming like Vine or Periscope, the first thing you need to know is that all the videos you create will live on your servers, this means that it might be a good idea to see if your internet service plan can accommodate the increase in bandwidth. Unexpected charges to your monthly internet service plan is never a welcome surprise. We recommend contacting your internet service provider (ISP) before you plan to include any live video streaming platforms.

5- Do you have the time and resources to manage yet another social network?

The most important question of all! Your non-profit can sign up to every social media channel that trends but without a clear plan about why you should be there, you are setting yourself up for a very public online failure. Having a plan is crucial.

6- How will you add value?

If your organisation and this new platform are a match made in social media heaven, then you will certainly add value to you a whole new audience. However, if you plan to simply be “present” and not make the extra effort required (or have the resources) to play along with the spirit of the platform, then you may want to rethink expanding.

7- What will you share that’s useful or entertaining?

Every social channel has it’s own unique “personality” and “spirit” (Tumblr is a great example of this) and if you don’t play along, your content might be perceived as ordinary or irrelevant. A good understanding of the uniqueness of a platform directly relates to the perception of usefulness and its entertainment value by your audience. For example, if you share a grainy underexposed image without a relevant comment or any of the all important accompanying hashtags on your non-profit’s Instagram account, you will no doubt demonstrate a fundamental lack of understanding for the the channel and will not be useful or entertaining, to anyone.

How to measure and how to keep up with all those trends – Finally some answers!

Taking the time to listen and communicate with your volunteers and donors means more than paying attention to the social tools they use as well as to their social signals. It’s also a way to catch a glimpse of the up-and-coming social platform changes and/or trends.

Survey’s should be part of any communications strategy and the inclusion of an Annual Social Media survey is strongly recommended. This survey can be done via email and can be as short as three questions. If done annually, this survey can provide your non-profit with important cues and foresight.

As your stakeholders and donors change their social habits, your non-profit organisation should position itself to see the change happening rather than reacting to the change once it has already happened. That way you can plan for it well ahead of time and have a strategy in place to deal with it. (There’s that pesky “plan” word again!)

If you are interested in learning more about social media plans and strategies, Phil can help! Learn more about our Social Media services or drop us a line at info@phil.ca.