First, You Need a Social Media Policy (Download a Template, Free!)
Photo credit: palebluerobot/flickr
Social media is an amazingly effective way to increase awareness of your nonprofit organization to those you normally wouldn’t be able to reach in a cost-effective way. Last week, we posted the Top 10 Do’s and Don’ts That Every Nonprofit Should Know for Facebook – and explained why setting up your social media accounts is actually the last thing that should be done. Before creating a Facebook Page, for example, creating a social media policy should be one of your first steps.
Nonprofits have specialized needs when it comes to marketing, donor retention and new donor acquisition – especially when it comes to social media marketing. A social media policy provides guidelines for your staff to follow from professional and personal accounts when posting on or interacting with your organization on social channels. All efforts will help keep your brand messaging consistent, avoid potential online reputation issues, and provide everyone with parameters for what’s acceptable, what’s not, and what the consequences are for violating the policy. It’s an invaluable document – and we’re doing the heavy lifting for you!
Identify Your Voice & Values
What your policy says and does depends on the specific needs of your organization. Use your policy to guide your staff towards posting with the personality of your organization that fits your brand and values. Consider that social media may be your brand’s first impression with stakeholders – how do you want them to view your organization? Go back to your organization’s mission statement. Create a list of values that support that mission and the work you do. This will establish a voice and vibe for your nonprofit that your staff will aim to convey with consistency on your social platforms.
Establish Who Does What
In your social media policy, define which positions are responsible for posting. Will one person be responsible or a small group? It’s easier to keep your social media content organized if roles are specific to an individual or group of people. Depending on your brand voice, maybe you want your employees to post as themselves or as the organization as a whole.
Content Creation and Sharing
Content is the most important aspect of your social media strategy; it is what expresses your values and voice to your followers. Creating and sharing content that supports your mission and fits your niche will help your organization find the right audience. Use your policy to identify the type of content that should and should not be posted on your platforms. Don’t forget about the 80/20 rule!
Interacting With Your Audience
Responding to questions, comments, criticism and praise will make your followers feel that you really care about them. Include how staff should respond to both positive and negative mentions about your organization. Develop a strategy for monitoring conversations – and joining in them. Practice hypothetical situations with your staff assigned to social media and create a response procedure as a section in your policy. This way, if and when an issue arises your organization can deal with it calmly and with confidence.
Address the legal issues that must be considered when posting and interacting on social media. When it comes to posting stories, pictures, articles, names – whose permission do you need? Privacy, copyright and other considerations should be a major part of your social media policy. Make sure your staff knows what rules to follow when it comes to reposting content from external sources or posting images or information about individuals. Check out the requirements in your state for online fundraising, event planning, political messages or collaborations.
Personal Social Media Use
Include rules or parameters for personal use of social media. Can your staff post personal opinions or major life events? Make sure they do not misrepresent your organization. In your policy, highlight the fact that your organization has complete ownership of specified social media accounts. How does your policy relate to your employees’ use of personal social media accounts? Are they allowed to tag your organization on their personal accounts? If so, you might consider asking them to indicate that whatever is posted on their personal social media accounts does not reflect the views of the organization.
Ensure that your organization gets the most from its social media efforts by creating a policy that will help your staff properly represent your brand and message, while avoiding the problems that may come up. Identify your team, define your values, make sure the appropriate stakeholder groups are represented, and consider all legal issues. Your policy shouldn’t just be about guidelines, but enforceable rules that are reasonable while still encouraging creativity.
Still unsure where to start? Download your free social media policy template below; your organization can use this draft as a foundation and tweak it accordingly.
Liqui-Site has numerous cause-minded clients across the country, and we assist them with strategy development, policies and guidelines – and of course, digital/social media marketing.
We can help you understand what you need to do in order to effectively use social media to benefit your brand. If you’d like to learn more about our services, comment below or contact us to schedule a consultation.