social mediaCreating an online presence isn’t a fast process; it takes time, work, and attention. Whether you’re a social entrepreneur, a nonprofit, or a grant-making foundation, getting online is a critical and money-saving step to significantly increase your promotional efforts and public relations profile.

But How Do I Get Good at Social Marketing?
Social marketing is best done by employing copious amounts of extroversion and diligence! That said, here are a few tips for those starting out (and a few reminders for those who are already in the mix).

  • Dedicate Resources: Even though there are enough anecdotal statistics these days showing that an online presence is worth spending time and money to create, many nonprofits and foundations are unwilling to dedicate resources to continued online efforts.

    Guess what. You have to. It’s not a question of whether you need to get online, it’s a question of how soon you’ll be left behind. Some of the greatest available wealth is sitting in the pockets of a very young generation — and this generation is looking online to figure out where to distribute that wealth. Any resources you give to creating an online presence for your organization or product will be paid back in spades — financially and/or via public relations — in the next 10 years.

    Find someone on staff who’s energetic, outgoing, able to maintain and monitor relationships, and knows his or her way around a computer. Carve out 50% of this person’s time and dedicate it to building and maintaining an online presence.

  • Figure Out An Online Message: Spend a week figuring out what your main online message will be. Your mission statement is fine, but you can’t fit it into 140 characters on twitter. Continue reading →

The Philanthropy411 blog posted yesterday twitter links to 90 Foundations that Tweet, along with 16 philanthropy professionals who have their own twitter accounts.

This is a great resource for any philanthropist or non-profit entity — whether solo or part of a larger organization — as reading tweets gives rare insight into real-time discussions and foci in those organizations. It also offers an unparalleled opportunity to learn from and collaborate with one another — something that happens too little in the philanthropy arena but is beginning to be recognized as a benefit to both foundation and grantee.

Here’s why tweeting is a mode of community communication you’re going to have to get on board with, at least for a while:

1. Tweeting is informal. One of the greatest breakdowns between a non-profit entity and a philanthropic body is cultural inequality. With twitter, everyone (more or less) is on the same class-level.

2. Tweeting is broadcasting. You never know who could be reading, so tweets need to be comprehensible to anyone and everyone. This means there’s very little room for specific audience manipulation.

3. Tweeting is non-committal. Twitter is a forum for discussion. People tend to finalize deals over more traditional communication streams like email, snail mail, phone, and face-to-face meetings. Whereas twitter is considered a place where you can show interest without committing yourself to a deal. This is the place to learn more, ask questions, and then take it to the next level (usually email) if necessary.

4. (At least for now) Tweeting circumvents bureaucratic barriers like calendar scheduling and gatekeepers. If you have a good idea, tweet it @ the person you think would find it interesting; no need to get time on their calendar. I strongly believe that, as the service becomes more widely used, VIPs will continue to institute stronger barricades. But, while it’s new and fun, you can often reach them directly.

Twitter remains a means to an end, but it can be a mode of conversation providing exposure to new ideas and connections without the weight of commitment.