Perhaps you wrote a social media policy several years ago when your not-for-profit set up a Facebook page. Since then, not only has your not-for-profit likely changed, but new social media platforms have emerged. At the very least, the sites you use have probably revised their terms of service. That’s why it’s time to revisit your policy.

The Basics
A social media policy helps ensure that staffers, board members and volunteers use online accounts to promote and enhance — not damage — your not-for-profit’s reputation and fundraising efforts. Without a policy, you risk confusing and offending stakeholders, inviting lawsuits and even incurring financial costs.

To prevent negative outcomes, your policy should address:

  • Which sites you’ll use,
  • Who in your organization has access to them,
  • What subjects they’re allowed to discuss, and
  • Whom they can “friend.”

Also specify whether staffers and board members can discuss their work on their personal social media accounts. If so, require them to post a disclaimer saying that their opinions about your organization are their own.

Evaluate Site Use
As you revisit your social media policy, consider the sites your not-for-profit currently uses and whether they still enable you to reach your target audience. Do your staffers post frequently enough to be effective? Is your follower base growing? If not, you may want to shift resources elsewhere.

Another consideration is whether the social media outlets you use have changed their terms of service. In the past couple of years, many sites have expanded their rights to share user account information with third parties. Such changes may raise privacy concerns within your organization.

Other Updates
Also review who has account access. In general, the fewer people with access, the less likely someone will post something damaging. But, if your not-for-profit is struggling to maintain a regular posting schedule, it might make sense to add new, enthusiastic staffers to the account.

Be sure that, whenever you remove a user from an account, you change the password. Social media sites increasingly are being hacked, so your policy should require longer, more difficult passwords.

Another issue that you can’t afford to ignore these days is intellectual property (IP) rights. Contrary to what some believe, not-for-profits aren’t immune from IP infringement lawsuits. Make sure you have permission from IP holders and properly credit them when you post third-party images, videos, music and text.

Fast-moving Target
These are only some of the many issues that may require you to revisit your social media policy. Social media changes quickly. To use it effectively, pay attention to evolving developments.

Many not-for-profits are adopting a marketing tactic called “social listening” that for-profit companies have used successfully in the past. Social listening costs relatively little and can give you valuable insight into issues that resonate with your supporters. This allows you to better tailor your communications.

Identify and engage

Social listening starts with monitoring social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram for mentions of your organization and related keywords. But to take full advantage of this strategy, you also must identify and engage with topics that interest your supporters and interact with “influencers,” who can extend your message by sharing it with their audiences.

Influencers don’t have to be celebrities with millions of followers. Connecting with a group of influencers who each have only several hundred followers can expand your reach exponentially. For example, a conservation organization might follow and interact with a popular rock climber or other outdoor enthusiasts to reach that person’s followers.

Listen in

To use social listening, develop a list of key terms related to your organization and its mission, programs, and campaigns. You’ll want to treat this as a “living document,” updating it as you launch new initiatives. Then “listen” for these terms on social media. Several free online tools are available to perform this monitoring, including Google Alerts, Twazzup, and Social Mention.

When your supporters or influencers use the terms, you can send them a targeted email with a call to action, such as a petition, donation solicitation or event announcement. Your call to action could be as simple as asking them to share your content.

You can also use trending hashtags (a keyword or phrase that’s currently popular on social media, such as #BostonMarathon or #TaxDay) to keep your communications relevant and leverage current events on a real-time basis. You might be able to find creative ways to join the conversation while promoting your organization or campaign.

Be savvy

Savvy nonprofits know they need to embrace and make the most of their social media profiles. You can cost-effectively improve your engagement efforts with social listening. Contact us for more information on growing your supporter base.

https://vimeo.com/149483118

Russ: This is the PKF Texas Entrepreneur’s Playbook. I’m Russ Capper, this week’s guest host, and I’m here once again with Chris Jones, Vice President at Pierpont Communications and head of their Energy in Crisis practices. Pierpont also plays a key role in the Profit and Peril Report. Chris, welcome back to the Playbook once again.

Chris: Thanks Russ, glad to be here.

Russ: You bet. Okay, so we’ve already talked about things that you need to do internally in your company to prepare for international expansion and then we talks about those things that you really need to be aware of in the destination country that you’re headed for. But are there aspects of going international that apply no matter where you’re moving too?

Chris: There certainly are. From a crisis management or planning perspective probably the best example that most everyone’s familiar with would be social media and the role it can play. Social media, as we know, it moves essentially at the speed of light; it can jump boundaries, it can cross time zones and it can really short circuit your crisis communications plans.

Russ: Okay, so what would one do to prepare for that?

Chris: What we like to do is begin monitoring before there’s ever a crisis. We like to have a background monitoring program in place so we understand the normal chatter and the normal sentiment. Then when and if a crisis incident comes along we’ve got a base of and we can see how severe is this incident, who are the influencers in the conversation that allows us to begin to address that.

Russ: Okay, sounds like an aspect of business these days that you have to pay attention to no matter what.

Chris: You cannot ignore that one.

Russ: All right Chris thanks so much.

Chris: Appreciate it.

Russ: You bet. For other international topics visit PKFTexas.com/internationaldesk. This has been another Thought Leader Production brought to you by PKF Texas Entrepreneur’s Playbook.

Russ: This is the PKF Texas Entrepreneur’s Playbook. I’m Russ Capper, this week’s guest host, and I’m here once again with Chris Jones, Vice President at Pierpont Communications and head of their Energy in Crisis practices. Pierpont also plays a key role in the Profit and Peril Report. Chris, welcome back to the Playbook once again.

Chris: Thanks Russ, glad to be here.

Russ: You bet. Okay, so we’ve already talked about things that you need to do internally in your company to prepare for international expansion and then we talk about those things that you really need to be aware of in the destination country that you’re headed for. But are there aspects of going international that apply no matter where you’re moving too?

Chris: There certainly are. From a crisis management or planning perspective probably the best example that most everyone’s familiar with would be social media and the role it can play. Social media, as we know, it moves essentially at the speed of light; it can jump boundaries, it can cross time zones and it can really short circuit your crisis communications plans.

Russ: Okay, so what would one do to prepare for that?

Chris: What we like to do is begin monitoring before there’s ever a crisis. We like to have a background monitoring program in place so we understand the normal chatter and the normal sentiment. Then when and if a crisis incident comes along we’ve got a base of and we can see how severe is this incident, who are the influencers in the conversation that allows us to begin to address that.

Russ: Okay, sounds like an aspect of business these days that you have to pay attention to no matter what.

Chris: You cannot ignore that one.

Russ: All right Chris thanks so much.

Chris: Appreciate it.

Russ: You bet. For other international topics visit PKFTexas.com/internationaldesk. This has been another Thought Leader Production brought to you by PKF Texas Entrepreneur’s Playbook.