2 min Read
August 1, 2009

Do you have a social media policy?

Big Duck

Whether you are sparking discussion or others are discussing you, your organization has a presence in social media. Think about it. A program participant or client may have blogged or tweeted about you. A donor may research you on Google, Charity Navigator, or Facebook. Your colleagues have profiles on LinkedIn that list your organization as their employer. The tree is falling the woods — are you there to hear it?

Maybe your organization is a social media superstar, or maybe you’re still afraid to get your feet wet (check out Farra’s post on Big Duck’s blog about different attitudes toward social media in the nonprofit world). In any case, it’s likely time to develop a policy around your organization’s use (or non-use) of social media. Here are some things it might include:

  • Recap of your social media strategy. What are your goals? Are you trying to raise visibility or new dollars; further your mission; engage staff? Think about which of your audiences you want to connect with (or may already be connecting with) through social media. Consider the tone you want to use or what your organization’s voice will be. Get started with NTEN’s We Are Media project.
  • Share guidelines for how staff should “listen and respond.” Make note of the terms you have set for Google Alerts and/or TweetBeep notifications (for Twitter). Note the staff members that check your Facebook page and blog for comments and discussions — and how often they do. Explain how compelling stories are shared and who responds to topics or mentions. How will you handle critical or otherwise unwelcome comments? Remember — it is not just about posting content, but taking the time to monitor, comment back to any responses, and to share with friends and like-minded organizations. Check out this now famous example of assessing blog comments from the Air Force.
  • Consider how often and in what ways to use each tool. Which tools help you build relationships and meet your audience’s needs (not just yours)? Provide suggestions for how your organization might use each tool. For example, how often will you post new content on your Facebook page, update your Facebook status, respond to comments on your wall, send an announcement to Fans or Causes Supporters? Are there any suggestions for who to follow or block on Twitter? (Speaking of Twitter, check out this handy Twitter Guide Book from the good folks at Mashable.)
  • Think about how employees represent your organization. Are there any times when your staff should disclaim their own opinion versus those of the organization? It is important to be yourself in social media and common sense dictates how one might interact. The American Red Cross suggests that staff are “transparent, ethical and accurate” on all personal sites and blogs. They have set online communications guidelines for national and local affiliates that echo the organization’s values and mission. It is clear whom to contact for help, and they have a detailed set of FAQs to cover most common scenarios.