The social media sprint

When I was in business school, back in the days of rotary phones and bulky desktop computers, my professors shared a favorite anecdote: they’d tell us the average time to learn how to use a new software package is a year. The time it takes for that software to become obsolete? Also a  year.

Today the same phenomenon occurs at an increasingly rapid pace in the world of social media. People who know the ins and out of social media are busy keeping up with the latest app, so much so that the “on to the next one” mentality becomes standard. The tech-savvy generation is always waiting for the next update: the next snapchat filter, the next instagram photo editing tool, the new timeline structure on facebook.

Whether your nonprofit should be on social media is no longer a question- it is absolutely necessary to appeal to young donors. A better question is how does this evolving tech impact us as nonprofit leaders?  How can we use social media to our advantage and stay up-to-date when companies like Google and Facebook constantly update their algorithms? 

For example, two times in the past 13 months Google has put more pressure on organizations to optimize their websites for mobile devices by listing mobile-friendly sites higher in search results. When potential donors google “homelessness nonprofits in Boston,” having a site that appears towards the top of the page might be what gets you that donation.

The most recent issue we face is how to deal with this fact that, “The chronological timeline is officially over.” If that’s true what does it mean for our organizations?

The bottom line is, we have to stay informed and set our organizations up for success.

Organizations need to make posts/tweets relevant, and that means monitoring trends. Learning how to push content aimed at engagement is no small task, and one that evolves daily. We must now shift our focus on what content our audience wants to see and the organizations that adapt most quickly and effectively will reap the biggest rewards.

Hiring staff who are familiar with social media is a good first step, but familiarity doesn’t automatically translate into know-how. As with developing any other skill set, your staff need training, whether that means conferences, webinars, or online training like Hootsuite’s Podium.

Make sure everyone in the organization is (at the very least) familiar with the way the platforms you are using function, so they can pass along appropriate content to post. Some organizations choose to share social media managing responsibilities, which is great so long as everyone is properly trained and maintains a consistent voice.

Monitoring new trends and practices is a MUST. Jump on board a hashtag. The attention span on the social media world is short, so make your message succinct/relevant and you’ll keep donors coming back for more.


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