Social Media 101: Why It’s Worth Your Time

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Social Media 101: Why It’s Worth Your Time


We welcome Annie Lynsen, director of awesomeness at Small Act (yes! that’s really her title!), who is offering tips about social media and why you should get started today. Annie will also be doing a follow-up webinar for us next week from 2 to 3 p.m. EDT on October 30, titled “Prospect Research: Diving Deeper with Social Data.” The webinar is free, and you can register here.

annieLast week, I had the pleasure of presenting a webinar for Good360 called, “Social Media 101: Why Is It Worth My Time? How Can I Get Started?” It was aimed at smaller nonprofits (though larger ones could certainly benefit, too) who are just dipping their toes into social media.

The slide deck is below, and some of the key points from the presentation follow.

Social Media 101: Why Is It Worth My Time? How Can I Get Started? (Good360) from Annie Lynsen

You can’t afford to ignore social media.


Social media is more than just a new way to communicate; it’s a cultural revolution. A large part of the cultural revolution is based on the pervasiveness of mobile devices. For example, did you know:

More people in the world own a mobile phone than a toothbrush?

78% of daily Facebook users access the network via mobile?


And lest you think Facebook is just for kids, or is a fad…

There are 1.15 billion Facebook users today, 699 million of whom check it DAILY.

22% of people use social networking sites SEVERAL TIMES PER DAY.

The fastest growing segment in social media is 45-54 year olds.


People are sharing more than ever.

10 percent of all photos in history were taken in the past year.

Facebook users have uploaded 250 BILLION photos since launch.


Social media has changed the way people and brands communicate. Whereas the old model of traditional media can be likened to a megaphone – one-way communication, like ads or PR – social media gives everyone a seat at the table. People can now interact publicly with brands in a way they never could before.

Social media, therefore, presents tremendous opportunities for your nonprofit to engage in conversation with the people who are – or could become – passionate about your cause. Given how many people check social media daily, having an effective presence on social media gives you the opportunity to find your donors/members/prospects where they spend the most time (compared to other media channels). It also gives you the opportunity to humanize your brand and give your donors/members a sense of ownership and power within the movement.


Still can’t wrap your head around how social media is different and how you can approach it?

This Rocky Horror Picture Show analogy may be helpful to you.

What’s Twitter? How do you use it?

Check out this blog post for the quick and dirty.

What’s Facebook? How do you use it?

Check out this blog post for the quick and dirty.

What about all these other networks, like Pinterest and YouTube?

We’ve got some bite-sized strategies for those as well.

Before you begin…

Ask yourself:

What do we want to get out of this?

Who is our audience?

What stories resonate for our audience?

What/who do we need in place to start?



Listen: Diving in with both feet is great, but I recommend you set up a personal account on each network first and figure out how other people and brands express themselves. What kind of content interests you? What kind of phrasing? Do short messages or longer messages resonate better?
Engage: Try a few posts. Ask questions. See what people like and respond to (bear in mind responses will come very slowly at first).
Test: Try new things. Experiment with message length, time of day, different types of messages, and so on.

Wash, rinse, repeat: You’re always going to be in this cycle. Test things, engage with people, continue to listen…all these things will help you be more effective in your work. And it doesn’t have to take your entire day, either.

Listen, be nice, and measure

Promote others and engage others in conversation more than you promote yourself and ask for donations. Consider a 10 or 12 to 1 ratio for the number of tweets about others or asking for others’ input vs. asking a favor or blasting information about your organization. This will vary depending on your organization’s needs and approach, but keep that in mind.

Be sure to measure at least a few key things as you go along. Facebook has built-in analytics and Twitter is getting some, too, and there are other tools that can help you with this (including Small Act’s Thrive software). See which of the links you post are getting clicked most often. Learn which posts get the most shares/retweets, comments, and Likes/favorites. Analyze not only for content, but also for the time of day and type of message you’re posting, when determining what gets good results.

From there, replicate your successes, avoid repeating failures, and continue experimenting.

Recommended reading

During the presentation, I mentioned a couple of books that can be helpful:

Personality Not Included: Why Companies Lose Their Authenticity And How Great Brands Get it Back by Rohit Bhargava

Trust Agents: Using the Web to Build Influence, Improve Reputation, and Earn Trust by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith

The Whuffie Factor: Using the Power of Social Networks to Build Your Business by Tara Hunt


And here are some others you might want to check out as well:

The Networked Nonprofit: Connecting with Social Media to Drive Change by Beth Kanter and Allison Fine

Facebook Marketing for Dummies by John Haydon

Social Change Anytime Everywhere: How to Implement Online Multichannel Strategies to Spark Advocacy, Raise Money, and Engage your Community by Allyson Kapin and Amy Sample Ward

Nonprofit Social Media: A beginner’s guide to nurturing relationships from your desk by Marc A. Pitman

The Future of Nonprofits: Innovate and Thrive in the Digital Age by David J. Neff and Randal C. Moss

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