Your Organization May Not Be Ready for Social Media

— 2 Comments

NO signIf you have visited my blog before, then you know I am extremely committed to helping nonprofits engage with their communities through social media. However, I sometimes encounter organizations that I know are not ready for social media, and so I advise them not to tweet a word.

The lack of social media readiness is usually due to one or more of these:

An unwillingness to be transparent. This is the organization that doesn’t like to “show all their cards.” If a nonprofit feels that followers should never see behind the scenes, or the less polished moments, or the faces of employees, then social media is not the place to put up a pretense.

An avoidance of conversation. Social media is just that…social. If your organization wants to run a never ending monologue by only posting self-promoting content, then expect people to do what they always do in one-sided conversations – tune you out! In social media people “talk back” – mostly positive but sometimes negative. If your organization plans on ignoring the voice of followers or just doesn’t have the bandwidth to engage with them, then it’s best to stay off social media.

An overbearing tone. I often have to help churches realize it’s best to drop the “pulpit voice” in your social media. I realize that tweets and posts with a “read it and weep” tone get retweeted and liked, but if you watch who is doing the liking it’s the same repeat followers. A “like it or leave it” approach with social media will keep your organization from engaging with the broader community. (tweetable)

A cruise-control mindset. Many organizations know they should be on social media, but they don’t want to BE on social media. They want to “set it and forget it.” When I see organizations simultaneously posting the same content on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, I know they have set their cruise control.┬áIt’s important to monitor each social media channel and use them in content-specific ways.

Every organization fights resistance to change, but if the culture of your organization is entrenched in one or more of these four behaviors, then it’s best to wait before diving into social media. You might consider running a pilot program within a single department, in hopes of creating a culture change within the rest of the organization.

What other signs have you found in organizations that indicate a lack of social media readiness?

Share Button
  • Meredith Gould

    Big “yes,” especially for #2 and #3, with extra underlining for your point about conversation. I spend a significant amount of time during workshops and talks explaining the key importance of establishing and sustaining what I call a “culture of conversation.”

    Interesting to me (because I’m a sociologist?) is how willingness to engage maps across denominations. I’m also fascinated by how social media has changed social norms and cultural dynamics to the point that even the least “open” denomination is being forced/compelled to deal with current realities.

    • Thanks for your comments, Meredith. Yes, I love that social media is removing the denominal “gatekeepers” that guarded against openness. It has allowed us to better democratize listening across denominations. Love it!