More and more, nonprofits are utilizing social media to build awareness, develop deeper relations, and raise funds. These low-cost and creative tools allow conservancies to reach out to the community and engage in a dialogue or tap into audience groups otherwise unreached.
Tips for getting started:
Before you get started with some of the social networking tools, it is important to do some work ahead of time to ensure that the time spent on these tools is worthwhile.
Learn the Playing field
Research similar organizations and learn how they are using web-based tools. The National Wildlife Foundation is a great example.
These goals don’t have to momentous and suffocating, but there should be a general understanding of to what ends you are using these tools, even if it is merely to raise awareness and increase contacts.
Try Starting With a Blog
Blogs are often good starting point when an organization is new to social networking. Blogs allow conservancies to practice writing for the web while at the same time get important messages out to the public. Linking to other bloggers and articles will help develop an authentic and useful web presence.
Utilize Your Volunteers
Conservancies who do not have staff or time to dedicate to social networking should tap into their volunteer base, especially those close to universities to find people willing to use and comfortable with these tools.
Use Your Website
Always invite new contacts to visit your website, refer them to articles, other sites and resources where they can learn more. It is important to keep your website up to date and relevant, as you increase traffic.
Social Networking Glossary
eBlogger | www.blogger.com
A blog is an online journal that is usually updated frequently with full entries. Blogs represent the personality of the conservancy through voice and content, generating relationships with supporters, donors, landowners, and volunteers and advocates.
digg | http://digg.com
digg is a free social news website that allows users to share and discover content from the internet by collectively voting on the value of the content. Conservancies can put a digg icon in the and link to their website and or blog posts to make it easier for visitors to submit or vote up your entry, article, or link within your website.
Facebook | www.facebook.com
Facebook is a free social networking website. Users create profiles, add friends, send messages, and join networks organized by city, workplace, school and region to connect with others. Conservancies can create a page that reflects their work and search for fans using keywords related to your organization.
Twitter | http://twitter.com
Twitter is a free micro-blogging website that allows users to send and read others updates called tweets. Tweets are only up to 140 characters long and are used for short quick messages and short responses. Tweets are most successful when conservancies use links to connect to their website or out to relevant articles and resources.
Linked in| www.linkedin.com
Linked in is a free website that focuses on creating and maintaining professional relationships. Conservancies can use the site to touch base with former coworkers, find others employed in the nonprofit sector, and obtain professional references.
Flickr | www.flickr.com
Flickr is a website for photo storage and sharing, making photo sharing easy and collaborative. Users can comment on photos, tag photos, and post them on any blog. Flickr allows conservancies to get photos seen by the public, and is also useful to find local photographers and contacts.
YouTube is an online video community which allows users to upload video and share clips for free. Conservancies can upload video footage to increase awareness. Youtube is a great free option for conservancies whose website don’t have video capabilities.