Whether you are just starting out with social media or if you are ready for more advanced tips, we have you covered.

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Social media may be free, fast and far-reaching, but it still takes time to master. No matter the network, begin like this:

Be a person.

If you can, dip your toes into a social networking site as a person first, then later establish an official presence for your nonprofit. Why? It’s difficult to jump into a social network and represent your nonprofit without knowing the lay of the land. What do people post? How do they interact? What’s the special etiquette for this network?

Need to establish your nonprofit’s presence right away? Try lurking first - i.e. follow, like or subscribe, and read, scan and watch.

Open the right kind of account.

Always check if there’s a business-type account on the social network. For example, Facebook has Facebook pages, YouTube has a Nonprofits on YouTube program, and Pinterest has Pinterest Business accounts. These accounts usually come with features nonprofits need, like analytics and apps.

Fill out your profile.

Nothing says, “No one’s home!” like a default profile icon and an empty “About” section. Upload a photo (your logo, a detail of your logo, or other relevant photo or graphic) and write a good profile. Use keywords and give people a reason to follow you.

Build your connections

  • Most social networks let you upload a file (csv, txt or Excel) with email addresses, or connect to a webmail account (Gmail, Yahoo), to show you people on the social network you already know. Do this first - it’s your low-lying fruit!
  • Search for people and keywords. Check out advanced search options in FacebookTwitterLinkedIn and YouTube.
  • Many social networks will suggest people to follow, and these suggestions get better the more people/accounts you follow. Check them out.
  • Follow the leader - find an influencer in your space and look through his or her account - who do they follow, what kind of lists have they made.

Engage. Converse. Socialize!

  • Post your content (blog posts, photos, videos, resources, commentary).
  • Post other people’s content.
  • How you balance your content with others depends on the social network and the nature of your nonprofit. It’s like learning to ride a bike -- you’ll only find that balance by getting on the bike and feeling it for yourself.
  • Learn how to tag people. It gets their attention and is a great way to thank, inquire, notify or recruit.
  • Get to know hashtags and hashtag etiquette in each network. For example, it’s OK to use many hashtags on an Instagram or Google+ post, but don’t do that on Facebook!

Promote your presence.

  • Add social sharing buttons (like ShareThis or Shareaholic) to your content like blog posts and relevant web pages.
  • Add social network follow buttons in a prominent place on your website. Usually this is near your email sign-up.
  • Add follow buttons to your print newsletter, signage, stationery and other marketing materials.

Create a Social Media Policy

A social media policy is more than a document. It’s a process, a practice, a code of behavior that shapes a nonprofit’s presence on social networks. It answers essential questions like who can post what, and what to do when the trolls come. Just google “nonprofit social media policy” for workbooks, examples, etc. The sooner you engage in the process to create this policy, the more sure-footed your social media efforts will be.

Create a Social Media Strategy

What do you want to achieve with social networks? Fundraising? Volunteer recruitment? Advocacy? All of the above? A social media strategy anchors your social networking actions and activities to SMART goals (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, time-based). It measures, analyzes and refines. No nonprofit achieves long-term success without one.

Try some apps.

Name the network, and there’s an app for that. Apps add functionality, process donations, run contests, reveal insight, extend your presence, and so much more. Google “Facebook apps nonprofit” or “Pinterest apps nonprofit” to explore how free and paid apps can help your nonprofit boost results on social networks.

FREE DOWNLOAD:

How to Use Hashtags to Promote Your Cause

You may have heard of hashtags (how could you not?!?), but do you know how to use them to get attention for your cause?

This 4-page paper shows you how with hashtags you should use, hashtags you should follow, and tools you can use to keep it all organized.