Last week, I attended the LEAD conference at the Newseum, a conference that many of my fellow bloggers have already mentioned. It was put on by the HandsOn Network, and the University of Phoenix, and their goal was to empower “volunteer leaders to create impact using the latest Web-based technology as the face of volunteering evolves.”
The morning session I attended was called “How to Use Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to Mobilize People to Take Action.” It was given by Heather Mansfield, owner of DIOSA Communications and the brain behind the blog Nonprofit Tech 2.0: A Social Media Guide for Nonprofits.
This session was chock full of tips and strategies for making the most of your nonprofit’s social media efforts, and I learned about quite a few tools that I either had never heard of before, or had heard of but couldn’t figure out whether or not they were actually useful. One surprising thing I learned is that the most successful way to drive people back to your website isn’t Web 2.0: it’s through your email newsletter. Second best is through your blog, third, Twitter, and fourth Facebook.
So, how can nonprofits use this information?
1. Email Newsletter– First, make sure your email newsletter looks good, and can be read easily. This means making sure that your email can be read clearly in a text format or an HTML format. The best way to do this is through an email marketing service, since it can allow you to reuse templates, save and organize emails all in one place, and test to see how the email looks before you send it out to the world. Here at Volunteer Maryland we use Constant Contact, but there are many others to choose from as well. The WildApricot blog has a good post about the reasons you might want to use email marketing, and a comparison of some services .
2. Blogging– I’m aware of the redundancy of writing about blogging on a blog, so I’ll keep it brief 😛 A blog is a good place to spark discussion, tell your stories, and provide your community with a structured, yet open way to engage with your organization. But, if you can’t update it regularly then it could just be a waste of time. Do your research to see if a blog is right for your organization- the WildApricot blog , and Nancy Schwartz’s blog, “Getting Attention!” both have good posts on key things to think about before blogging.
3. Twitter– Heather talked about an article from Fast Company on “Nine Scientifically Proven Ways to Get Re-Tweeted on Twitter.” I’m not a huge numbers person, so the graphs really helped to drive home the point that you need to be putting only certain kinds of Tweets out from your nonprofit in order to get people to follow, listen, and share what you have to say. My favorite? Number four, “Don’t be Stupid.” It scientifically proves that spelling is important, which is one of my huge personal pet peeves with Twitter (and texting, for that matter). So, if you want your tweets to get noticed and shared, take the extra two characters to write “your” instead of “UR.” (I want you to know that I slightly shuddered just writing that :P)
4. Facebook– Heather had a lot of good tips about Facebook, but a lot of them involved learning HTML, something I know nothing about except that it’s an acronym for Hyper Text Markup Language. She said it’s relatively easy, and if you are interested it will probably take you about a day to learn, and allow you to do very cool things such as put an image on your wall that people can click on to go directly to a website. Heather writes a lot about Facebook, and all of these topics, on her blog, so check it out to learn more of the nitty gritty details about how to soup up your organization’s Facebook page , and other useful social media tips.