501cTECH is a unique organization-we are a nonprofit and are therefore sensitive to the needs of our nonprofit client partners. We also provide a service to nonprofit organizations in the DC-area by providing low-cost technology advice and support.
Because organizations pay for our services, we do a lot of community and sales outreach-from making phone calls, to advertising through Google AdWords, to speaking at conferences and community events. We believe that we provide the best service at an affordable price for our clients, but to spread that message takes a concentrated outreach effort.
One important part of our marketing and outreach strategy is our social media strategy. Using social media-such as Facebook, Twitter and Google+ allows us to respond quickly to requests and questions. During recruitment for our annual Technology Innovation Award, we were able to answer questions in real time from applicants. Despite the social media outreach, there was still a lot of individual emails being sent and phone calls being made to marketing partners, advertising partners and potential applicants.
Social media is an important part of your marketing strategy, but it is by no means the answer to your prayers or a silver bullet. Some of your target audience still likes to read your weekly or monthly emails. Another segment of your audience prefers your direct mail. Another group likes to read your tweets, Facebook or blog posts.
When you're planning to address how to reach these individual audiences, it's important to consider a few questions:
• Who are you trying to reach? What do they look like? How old are they?
• How does your target audience like to receive information?
If you're looking for resources about who is using what kind of social media, we highly recommend the Pew Internet & American Life Project, which offers a wealth of research on the subject.
As far as your organization's social media strategy, we like to advocate a pragmatic approach. There are several social media sites-from Facebook to Twitter to Pinterest to Instagram-how can your organization choose what's right? And how do you know if you have enough time and energy to devote to them?
If you have limited staff time to devote to social media or a limited budget to learn how to best use the technology, we think you should keep it simple. Pick one social media site and learn how to use it. If you take lots of pictures at events, you could create an Instagram account. Or post them on your Facebook timeline. Perhaps you want to provide soundbites from your conference appearances-Twitter is a great tool to do that.
Trying to use all social media services at once may cause undue stress or overwhelm your communications person. If you pick one, you can build a following or build a reputation before expanding elsewhere. In the past 2 months, we've been exploring some of the social media sites that we use at 501cTECH.
Read here to learn about some of the pros and cons of each site and think about how you can make social media work for your organization:
We think social media is necessary as part your marketing and outreach strategy-whether you're trying to recruit or stay in touch with volunteers, reach more donors or reach clients. Is your organization using social media to reach your audience? Or are you struggling to find a way to make it work for you?
Join us at the next Technology for Nonprofits Discussion on September 27 to discuss issues like this one with other nonprofit professionals!
Sarah Morgan is the Communications & Development Coordinator at 501cTECH.