This week’s post comes to us from guest blogger Caroline Anderson, Public Relations and Advocacy Coordinator at Meta House.
Meta House recently ran a successful fundraising and awareness campaign on twitter, as Clear Verve blogged about earlier. Afterwards, we were asked to participate in a seminar on ‘Social Media Strategies for Nonprofits’ at the BizTech Conference & Expo on Thursday, April 29. Our panel of four discussed various ways that nonprofits use social media like facebook, twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, etc. and the audience seemed to appreciate hearing about our different approaches.
Clear Verve invited Meta House to guest blog and share our facebook strategy. Without claiming to know it all (especially because social media is always evolving…and no one likes a self-proclaimed expert anyway) here is the general approach that Meta House uses on Facebook. We hope that this blog will help other nonprofit organizations as they navigate social media!
Background on the organization: “Meta House helps women struggling with drug and alcohol addiction reclaim their lives and rebuild their families. Its model program meets the unique needs of women and their children, ending the generational cycle of substance abuse.” This is important to know, because unlike an organization that works with cute puppies or something else with easy crowd appeal, we are working against a stigmatized conception of drug addicts. By sharing their stories of recovery and the benefits of treatment, we help fight this stigma and increase support for our mission.
Frequency: We usually update our Facebook page about 4 times per week. If stretching to find news for an update, better to post nothing. If time is an issue because of other obligations one week, that’s ok. Conversely, if lots of exciting things are happening then we might post more…but we don’t want to flood News Feeds.
Audience: We have a diverse group of “fans” (now that we “like” pages, is the noun still “fan”?) including: Meta House clients, graduates, staff, volunteers, donors, sponsors, and new supporters of the organization. Some fans know a lot about us, and some may just have a general interest in women’s issues or addiction and treatment.
Content of updates: We try to post items that will be interesting for everyone, which isn’t always easy. We share about both big and small happenings going on in the various programs at Meta House – from a healthy baby being born to a topic discussed in one of our treatment classes. Our women and their children go on outings around Milwaukee, so we like to share about the fun places they visit, especially because most of it happens for free! Sometimes we put out timely requests if we need something specific, like diapers in large sizes or volunteers to help with a project.
Sharing other media: If we are featured somewhere else online, we share a link to it. After an event, we post photos and encourage people to tag themselves and friends. We have videos on YouTube featuring some of our graduates’ stories, and we post them in the hopes that viewers will gain a greater understanding and empathy for the women we serve.
Applications: We have a Causes page and have raised some money through that application, mostly during “America’s Giving Challenge” and when a supporter makes us the focus of their Birthday Wish. We tried to win on Chase Community Giving, but there was too much competition.
The person behind the updates: Remember how we said that we don’t know it all? Meta House was unsure of how to move forward with social media, as full-time staff didn’t have enough time and interns were too temporary. When I (Caroline) began working at Meta House part-time in September 2009, it was clear that it would be me or no one. I was hesitant because I had just spent three years with the Peace Corps in Cameroon, Central Africa and felt pretty disconnected from the fast-moving online world. However, I began learning by observing other nonprofits in action, attending trainings and webinars on the subject, and talking to new contacts. Christina Steder of Clear Verve also volunteered her advice! Slowly, I began to tweet and update the Meta House fan page. I’ve learned a lot from our followers- their responses are the best indication of what to adjust in your strategy.
We’ll end with a shameless request: please “like” us and suggest us to your friends as well! Thanks for reading.