But what exactly is social media, and how can foundations harness its power to advance their mission, while simultaneously dodging some pitfalls?
Cary Walski, technology education and outreach coordinator at MAP for Nonprofits and owner of SocialGood.us, led foundation communicators on a Social Media Safari to tackle these and other thorny social media questions.
First, what makes media “social”? It’s:
- Two-way or interaction based
- Sharable to public groups
Second, what are the building blocks that your organization should have in place before diving into the social media pool?
- IT infrastructure (hardware to house the media and internet access)
- Website (backbone of social media)
- Email marketing (distribution system to send messages to supporters, grantees, etc. It still matters!)
Third, you need to educate your management and staff on the why’s and how’s of social media and determine how it aligns with the organizational mission and staff capacity. Once there’s agreement on the path to take, you can then implement your social media strategy. If you skip any of these steps, your social media strategy will be housed on shaky ground.
How much time should my organization spend on social media?
In Idealware’s Nonprofit Social Media Decision Guide (PDF), they recommend spending a minimum of two hours, per medium (Facebook, Twitter, etc.), per week. The more time spent, the better the result, but only up to a point. After a “breaking point” of four to seven hours per week per medium, the return on investment levels off.
For good ideas on how MCF members and other local foundations are making good use of social media, check out these examples:
- Facebook: Women’s Foundation of Minnesota
- Twitter: The McKnight Foundation and Northwest Area Foundation
- LinkedIn: Gallagher Foundation
- Blog: Bush Foundation
- Video Sharing: Minnesota Philanthropy Partners
How is your organization putting social media to good use? Let us know!
-Megan Sullivan, MCF operations and publications coordinator