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Social Media for NGOs..4 Starters to Get You Moving

social media for NGOs

social media for NGOs

Organizations need a variety of online supporters. They need customers who buy their products, evangelists who promote their brand, mavens who add intellectual value, their own employees who speak out and increase the goodwill towards the brand and a silent audience of undecideds who fall in none of these categories. Large organizations are blessed with followers and fans instantly. Their timelines and fan pages are bombarded with complaints, compliments and a lot of spam. Small organizations need to work harder and smarter to achieve their social media objectives. But what about NGOs? How does one leverage social media for NGOs?

Traditionally, a commercial enterprise like, say, Starbucks would look at engaging with its customers and looking to improve their overall experience at their outlets. NGOs on the other hand have the unenviable task of converting their followers and fans into donators or volunteers. No value offered besides educating a girl in Zaire or feeding a family in Cambodia. Listed below are a few steps which we @iridiuminter think can help you meet your social media goals. But before you start, a word of advice. Do go through our previous posts about building your social media presence. You need a certain stand with your number of online connections and quality of tweets/posts/links before you attempt these. Running any of these ideas with a fan page of 6 and a twitter timeline of 50 isn’t going to get you anywhere close to your goals. If you are serious about using social media for your NGO, be patient and be prepared.

#1 Build your audience

Your potential supporters are scattered all over the internet. Twitter, Linkedin, Facebook all have a plethora of individuals who could be of extreme value to you. You could drill down and find networking sites catering to niche audiences and create strategies to engage them. Mind, the word engage in the social world means not to bombard but to politely involve followers and followees into conversations they are interested in. You are involving yourselves in a conversation so be nice and keep at it. Post interesting stuff on your blog, related to your mission, and see how you can keep this relevant to the world in general. Keep your tone positive if you can, gritty if you must and cynical never. Be consistent, be patient and your audience WILL grow.

#2 Connect with Influencers

Influencers are those people who figure on thousands maybe millions of lists and whose words and actions have the highest chance of being replicated by others. Now, connecting with them is a bit like getting to hang out with the cool gang in school. Your NGO thus needs to be at a certain social media standing (x no. of followers, fantastic blog, gazillion fans etc) before you approach them and involve them in your conversations. You should, obviously, be doing great work in your field. Engage them again and work towards building a relationship where you could count on them to help you socially. Approach them with a plan where they could tangibly help you, hope they agree and then hold on to your seat as you see your campaign take off. Continue engaging.

#3 Innovate

If you have that respectable presence on the social media sphere and are connected to several influencers, it is time to innovate. As part of your NGOs social media efforts you could : Create contests if you can offer something exciting, start a donation countdown with a real time view to donors as to where their money is being spent, start a donor marathon with your influencers pledging to support you with x amount of money or resource or commodity, anything in fact. You never know what may click. And continue engaging.

#4 Tell a Story

All great, big or small mission work starts and ends with a story. No matter how much we overdose on technology, humans remain humans. We feel connected with a story. Social networking sites offer you a perfect place to connect with humans who could be interested in stories such as yours.There is a 3 x higher probability to be accepted as part of the social community, engage and influence your audience, when you share authentic, real-time stories with them. You will be surprised when you see who begins to rally behind your NGO and how quickly you can expand your mission reach. So stay real and tell stories just as they happen.

This process and the ideas mentioned are definitely not exhaustive. What thoughts do you have for NGOs trying to use social media?

Image source: UNHCR on flickr
Follow us on @iridiuminter or my personal twitter @sbharatam.



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