A friend of mine operates a small NPO with a staff of 5-7 dedicated talented folks. During lunch one afternoon he mentioned his intention to begin using social media tools more effectively….but admitted being overwhelmed by the growing multitude of social media platforms and how they work.
The essence of our conversation, captured below, revolved around finding answers to two obvious questions …..often leading to many not-so-obvious follow-up questions.
If you are in the same position and just beginning your forays into social media, my advice would be to start with a small group of creative, energetic people willing to learn about social media, share their ideas and take a few risks. Then get together and start by brainstorming the following questions.
Why are we doing this?
This is often the most important question and it can be the most difficult to answer. If you find the group getting stuck on platitudes below, try to ask follow-up probing questions.
- ‘Because others are doing it and we don’t want to be left behind’
- Is this a good reason to devote resources to a social media initiative?
- Why are others doing it?
- In what ways are we being ‘left behind’?
- ‘So more people know about us’
- Why do we want to reach more people? For funding? For more clients? More volunteers?
- What people need to know about us?
- What value does knowing about us provide to people who don’t know about us?
- ‘To save money’
- In particular, in what ways would we save money?
- Do the benefits (saving money) outweigh the costs (expended resources)?
- What other benefits/costs are hidden?
Scroll to the bottom of Mark Holmgren’s blog post entitled Social Media – What now? for some ideas to answer the question of Why.
Who are we trying to reach?
Different platforms will reach different groups of people for different reasons using different content. Be clear about whom you are trying to connect with. For example, an organization trying to attract more volunteers needs to be specific about the types of volunteers it is hoping to attract through the social media initiative. In particular, do you want to attract volunteers that:
- Are a certain age group?
- Speaks certain language?
- Possess certain skill sets?
- Come from a certain socio-economic group?
Answering the Why and Who will provide you with a solid foundation and establish a shared vision and purpose for the initiative on which to base future decisions about How, What and Where.