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You have a Facebook Page!  Now what?

If you are like most nonprofits today, you have taken steps to implement at least one form of social media communication. Recent research by the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Center for Marketing Research found that 98% of U.S. nonprofits use at least one social media site, with YouTube leading the way, followed by Facebook, then Twitter.

So how’s that working for you? I find the nonprofits I talk with often fail to hold their social media efforts to the same standards they employ for any of their other media efforts. When it comes to a creating successful social media strategy, the “Fails” stem from three issues:

1. Failure to determine target audiences

People who follow your social media expect to get “news they can use.” The best sties share useful information, engaging photos, and content that both educates and engages the followers. No single social media page can be all things to all people.

It’s good to outline your social media objectives by audience and to plan your posts with those objectives in mind. You may find that you need to create special pages for select groups, events, or campaigns.

Get Started: Take a look at your posts for the past 6 months, by media. How many are aimed at what your followers need and how many are focused on what you want? How many of your posts speak to the community at large? How many are aimed at your volunteers? Your clients (the beneficiaries of your services)? Your donors? Is what you want them to know and what you need from them clear? Are their posts that are not in alignment with your objectives?

2.Failure to define and limit key messages

Because Social Media is informal and frequent, it’s easy to fall into the habit of posting whatever seems to be the topic of the day. And while relevancy and news-worthiness are hallmarks of good social media, this alone does not build followers and create engagement that translates into results. Not having a longer-range plan for systematic and timely posts can cause your efforts to go off track and limit the return on the time you invest.

Start with a small set of the five to seven core messages your organization wants to share. Create headlines and factoids that tell the story. Add pictures that create a visual memory.

Research shows that posts with pictures get more views than those without, but finding the right picture is key. Choose pictures that are relevant to your story and create memorable content that is worth a reaction and/or a share. Which of your posts for the past 6 months had the most reactions? The most shares? What did those posts have in common and what can you learn from them?

I find it is useful to draft and schedule posts for the quarter. This allows you to create a story for your followers that stays consistent. Then, when there is breaking news you hadn't planned to cover, you can insert or add it to the stream.

Get Started: Which of your posts for the past 6 months had the most reactions? The most shares? What did those posts have in common and what can you learn from them? Do you have, or do you need to create, photos that tell your story?

3. Failure to measure the return on their investment

It may be difficult to create a direct link between your social media efforts and your bottom line, but it pays to try. If you can’t identify some ways that social media is helping you educate and engage the specific groups of people your organization or cause needs, you should second-guess your efforts.

Get Started: Growing your the number of "likes" or followers may seem like progress, but do you know who those represent? How do the demographics of your current audience compare to the ideal demographics for your cause?What stories and links can you use to reach more of those individuals?

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