Making the most of your nonprofit’s social media accounts

Making the most of your nonprofit’s social media accounts

March 15, 2024

When was the last time you evaluated your not-for-profit’s social media strategy? Are you using the right platforms in the most effective way, given your mission, audience, and staffing resources? Do you have controls to protect your nonprofit from reputation-damaging content?

These are important questions — and it’s critical you review them regularly. At the very least, you need a social media policy that sets some ground rules.

Annual reviews

As you know, the social media landscape changes quickly. The platform that’s hot today may be decidedly not hot tomorrow. So review your online presence at least once a year to help ensure you’re dedicating resources to the right spaces. Most nonprofits maintain a presence on Facebook and LinkedIn because that’s where likely donors tend to be. But if you’re an arts nonprofit or visually oriented, Instagram may be a better venue. And if your constituents are teenagers or young adults, you’re most likely to find them on TikTok.

In general, fresher, frequently updated accounts get more traffic and engagement. So try not to overextend your organization by posting on multiple platforms with only limited staff resources. Determine where you’ll get the most bang for your buck by surveying supporters and observing where peer nonprofits post.

Content monitoring

Social media is 24/7, and incidents can escalate quickly. So closely monitor your accounts, as well as conversations that refer to your nonprofit. A “social listening” tool that scans the web for your nonprofit’s name can be extremely helpful.

But the best defense against reputation-busting events is a formal social media policy. Your policy should set clear boundaries about the types of material that are and aren’t permissible on your nonprofit’s official accounts and those of staffers.

For example, it should prohibit employees, board members, and volunteers from discussing nonpublic information about your organization on their personal accounts. With organizational accounts, limit access to passwords and regularly check posts and comments. Content from your feeds can easily go viral and create controversy. Make sure your staff knows when to engage with visitors, particularly difficult ones, and maintains a zero-tolerance policy for offensive comments.

Crisis plan

Mistakes, or even intentionally damaging posts, can occur despite comprehensive policies. Create a formal response plan so you’ll be able to weather such events. The plan should assign responsibilities and include contact information for multiple spokespersons, such as your executive director and board president. Identify specific triggers and a menu of potential responses, such as issuing a press release or bringing in a crisis management expert. Be sure to include IP staffers or consultants on your list.

Hopefully, a crisis won’t occur. But if it does, you’ll want to sit down and review your plan’s effectiveness after the situation has been resolved.

Select and protect

These days, no nonprofit can afford to ignore social media. Just make sure you’re applying your time and effort to the right platforms and protecting your accounts from those who would harm your organization.

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