Six Dos and Six Don'ts with Social Media

Are you sick of people telling you a hundred things your nonprofit should be doing with social media? (We are.) Wouldn't it be nicer to be told what NOT to do so that you can feel good about not doing it?

For a change of pace, we talked with Kaitlyn Trigger, Marketing Director at Rally, a startup developing online tools for fundraising. Her unconventional tips:

Ultimately, understanding yourself and your audience is more central to a successful social media presence than mastering the minutiae of Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. Nevertheless, there are a few guidelines that can help you maintain good social media "hygiene" and avoid shiny new distractions:

1. Facebook tabs

Don't: Spend time developing fancy content for Facebook tabs. People rarely visit them, because they're too busy hanging out in their newsfeed.

Instead: Try using Facebook tabs for quick, simple sweepstakes. You'll get your fans' email addresses, allowing you to contact them directly.

2. Questions

Don't: Assume that anything with a question mark will get your fans sharing. Conversations on Facebook and Twitter are more like elevator chitchat than dinner party debates.

Instead: Ask questions that people can answer in less than 20 seconds. Use "what" and "when," rather than "why" or "how."

3. Live events in social media

Don't: Spend time and money doing live events on Facebook or YouTube. They seldom pay off, because people (correctly) assume they can just watch the footage later.

Instead: Make use of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) by making promotions and opportunities available for a limited period of time.

4. Hashtags

Don't: Over-use or misuse hashtags on Twitter. They make your tweets look like spam.

Instead: Stick to no more than one hashtag per tweet, and make sure it's tied to an existing conversation on Twitter (e.g. #nptech) or an event (e.g. #sm4np).

5. Content creation

Don't: Stress out about writing a new blog post or shooting a new video every time you need something to share with your followers.

Instead: Intersperse original material with links to good articles or videos from other people. Pair each link with a sentence describing how it's relevant to your audience and your organization.

6. New social media platforms

Don't: Be lured by the siren call of every new social media platform. It's good to experiment, but remember that a "dead" social media presence is worse than none at all.

Instead: Only start using the latest social media gizmo if you can commit to logging in and responding to your fans there. Your nonprofit has a valuable brand, which you can damage by being absent or by posting messages that are inauthentic.

Bonus tip: Do you have 5 minutes today to work on social media? Use it to respond to comments posted on your Facebook page or on your website. Let people know you are listening and responding.

Bonus tip #2: Think about this: how can we turn our fans into fundraisers and make social media work harder for our bottom line? (Hint: we at hope our future products will help you do this. Couldn't resist sneaking in this plug.)

Before joining Rally, Kaitlyn Trigger (right) led social media strategy for clients like Target and Nike at advertising agency AKQA. Her most recent personal donation was to charity:water's September campaign. She has 755 friends on Facebook, whom she hopes will "like" this article!

See also in Blue Avocado:

Comments (9)

  • I don't even know what a Facebook tab is. But I appreciate the pushback about all the things we "have" to be doing with social media.

    Sep 21, 2011
  • Anonymous

    Blue Avocado, always giving solutions...thanks! I know social media has it pros and cons. It's just that I keep getting such pressure from my board. They think it's the magic wand they have hope for all these years. Facebook is a just a tool -- a pretty nifty tool -- but just a tool. you still need strategy, purpose and goals.

    Sep 21, 2011
  • I really loved this article. I think it is especially helpful for those new to the social media arena. There are so many "tips" and suggestions out there--everyone telling you what you HAVE to do to be successful, it's refreshing to hear about what doesn't really matter and what doesn't work. Social Media can be time consuming, so this was a breath of fresh air. Thanks! Twitter: Dara_Laine

    Sep 22, 2011
  • Anonymous

    REALLY appreciate the "What" and "When" tips. So often my FB stream is full of inane questions that are supposed to "engage" me. Two that have been astronomically affective are the questions asked by the Holland page (all about Holland) and the well worded and not overwhelming updates from the Sierra Club. And it's true I never go to a site's FB page, just read stream, like, or comment.

    Sep 23, 2011
  • I don't do much marketing, from a consumer's point of view, I think these tips are great and ring very true! -MT

    Sep 23, 2011
  • Anonymous

    this is very helpful. thanks for posting : )

    Sep 26, 2011
  • Thanks for this great set of do's and don'ts for social media. I agree with every one except the advice on hashtags. I agree that you don't want to overuse hashtags but I find that new people notice/follow and retweet when you use hashtags because some peope do checkout twitter by searching on favorite hashtags. I do this myself sometimes. A new "easy" do on socia media is to add your volunteer experience (that includes Board service) to your linkedIn profie. It is a new section. Here's the link to my artice on this subject: Marion

    Oct 01, 2011
  • Anonymous

    thanks kaitlyn for an informative piece! i share facebook post duties with another.. always think her posts are too long and wordy. today tried to keep it short with a quick post, photo and a "what" question for a prize. got two new friends just to get the hat. people love tchotckes!

    Oct 06, 2011
  • thanks for this spread of dos and donts. was very informative,

    Jun 13, 2018

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