Several associates have joined the Project Partners team in recent years, in part to extend Project Partners' capacity to assist our clients with social media solutions. Social media can be an excellent component of a comprehensive fundraising and community engagement strategy, and with more than one billion users on Facebook alone, it is no wonder that our clients seek to leverage this tool to advance their missions.
Just this winter, when on assignment with an organization serving the homeless, our primary advice revolved around the potential of using social media to build active, ongoing relationships with large numbers of people. Like with any good relationship, though, it takes work:
Inform. Tell the public how you want them to engage with your organization through your social media initiatives. Consistently post icons that link to your social media pages. Create a page on your website that lists and links your social media outlets and explains how readers should use them to experience your mission in a personally meaningful way.
Engage. Think about creating relationships with your social media friends just as you would any other volunteer or donor of your organization. Share interesting stories and photos that will endear them to your cause, ask questions, and seek feedback. Most social media users do not want to be "talked at". They want to be part of a dialogue.
Return the favor. Show your appreciation when your social media followers interact with you. "Like" their comment, tweet them back, pick a "Fan of the Week". Consider this cultivation and stewardship as critical. Relationships are a two-way street.