“Focus on how to be social, not on how to do social.”
- Jay Baer, Convince & Convert
Most of my free-time away from work is spent in the following ways: hanging with my son, volunteering, working with men in recovery and writing. Over the last year since I began working as a volunteer Social Media consultant with Phoenix of New Orleans (PNOLA), my passion for the power of social media marketing has blossomed.
I was asked explicitly to come into the organization to help re-launch the social media aspect which was sitting somewhat stagnant. That is the unfortunate aspect of the non-profit world, most organizations do not have a budget to hire high-priced marketing people, so they rely on people with some skills in the field and hearts full of passion to make change, regardless of how little. That is where I came in. My heart was full of love for the City of New Orleans and my head was full of creative ideas to get the organization’s identity back online.
Now, I pass these on to any non-profit volunteer groups who wants to try them with the hope that they will have an impact on the reach of your organizations into the communities that you serve. It would be great to hear how they work.
1. Make sure all electronic correspondence that goes out to anyone includes links or hot buttons to your social media channels. Like any type of communication on the Internet, it’s all a numbers game. The more people that see that your company is using Social Media, the greater the chances that they will click on your links.
2. At the beginning of each project when you are organizing volunteers into work groups and telling them about your organization, ask them the following simple questions. (A) Who has a Smartphone? Ask them to hold it up. (B) Then ask who is on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. (C) Make the ask that everyone who is not following on Facebook currently to take a few minutes to log on and “like” your organization. Let everyone know that following your organization on Facebook and Twitter is a form of electronic volunteering. By supporting the organization online, they are spreading their passion for volunteering with their friends and followers. Even if you get one person who adds you, that is one person you didn’t have before the ask.
3. Along with the ask to “like” your organization, get everyone to check-in on Facebook, Foursquare, Yelp or wherever, and lead the group by creating the title for the event that you would want them to check in under. If you were at MLK Middle School, tell them to use the title, “L.A. Works Day of Service at MLK Middle School.”
4. Encourage people to have fun and take lots of pictures. Also, tell them make sure they tag themselves. This will ensure that their friends will see them in volunteering action. Ask them to upload pictures to your organizations Facebook page. Hold a photo contest for the day and reward the winners with a t-shirt or other schwag. For the contest consider using Instagram. You can easily track the contest pictures by using an event specific hashtag. Check the hashtag before you assign it for the day to make sure that it isn’t already being used.
5. If your organization has a photographer, make sure in your closing pitch for the day, that you let everyone know that pictures from the day will be up on Facebook or the company Website within a certain time frame. Let everyone know that you will follow up the event with an email so they will know when this occurs so they can share links and tag themselves to share with their followers. Let the group know that you will create a group-specific album on Facebook for their pictures. This will make it easier for people to find what they are looking for and then share only their pictures with friends.
6. Use Twitter too! Twitter is probably the fasted medium to move messages and pictures around the world. As with Instagram, make sure you create an event specific hash tag. Make sure you have someone at your organization monitor all your social media aspects and interacting with the volunteers. Creating dialogue is not only fun, but it’s necessary. Tweet at and re-tweet, volunteer tweets. Twiddly-diddly-deet! Just had to throw that in.
7. Before the group leaves for the day, ask if there are any writers in the bunch. If so, or if not, ask one or two people if they would write a short two paragraph piece about their volunteering experience. This is a great way to get a positive story from someone who has probably just been emotionally moved by the event they took part in. You can post the piece to Facebook notes, Tumblr or your organization’s blog. Make sure you get the volunteer’s information and follow up. Follow up is key to all of these processes.
8. Make sure project leaders have sign up sheets. Ask for email addresses, Twitter handles and other information that your organization can use in the future to re-engage volunteers. Create a social community.
9. Always have a giveaway, a pen or sticker, with your company’s logo and all social media contact points on it or at least the most active.
10. Always have fun! Don’t be afraid to make these asks. The Internet is now a very important part of non-profit success.