I was doing some research on a future blog (“A Social Media Succession Plan”) when I encountered an interesting set of circumstances. This concerns a nonprofit with a Twitter presence. In fact, a split personality. You see, they have two Twitter profiles. Intrigued, I looked at each on a very basic level.
Profile 1 is the profile that has the newer logo. This newer twitter profile/handle was launched in 2013, and has 455 followers. They have had only 7 tweets in the past 6 months, all of which were retweets with no original content. The most recent tweet or retweet was back in October 2014.
Profile 2 has a profile picture that features part of an old logo and is the older of the two, being launched in 2010. It has 425 followers. However, it seems to continue as the more active of the two, with the most recent tweets being this month. Still, they have had only 62 tweets in the past 6 months, most of which were links to Facebook pages, and relatively few that were retweeted or designated as favorites.
Now, here is the kicker. The twitter button on their website (and it is a reasonably well designed website) directs people to the profile with the newer logo, but that is also the profile that has not had any tweets at all in four months. Meaning there is no reinforcement of their newer branding. Apparently, no one bothered to tell the person handling social media to use this newer handle.
They also have a website menu tab directing website visitors to their blog. That blog was started in November 2013, and has had only 14 articles in the past 2 years. The last blog entry was in April of last year. Honestly, the blogging seems more like an occasional bulletin board that has now fallen into complete disuse.
In addition, the LinkedIn company profile, that also has a button on this nonprofit’s website, has not had a single update in 10 months. That profile has less than 100 followers. (I know: such a surprise.)
How does this happen? My guess (and I will find out) is that there are too many cooks in the social media kitchen. This is when no one in particular is responsible for social media – no Executive Chef. That circumstance is usually accompanied by the lack of a social media strategy, plan, or even goals. It can also sometimes be caused by transition of personnel, especially if social media is being relegated to the work of an intern.
One of the side-effects of this is that postings only take place by accident, when someone occasionally thinks of posting something somewhere and just does it. That, or someone in a meeting mentions: “shouldn’t this go out on Twitter”. Not understanding what that means, it is posted . . . by someone . . . one time . . . on one day. This is a little bit like the equivalent of creating a single flyer and distributing it by placing it inside a book in the middle of the stacks of your local library. Regardless of the quality of the design or content, the chances of people seeing this single post is slim to none.
Which leads us to the other side effect. Ultimately, the organization and their staff simply allows social media to go dormant. The LinkedIn profile stops being updated at all, no one writes any content for the blog, and their primary Twitter feed with the new logo and with the website button has no tweets for months. Why? Because, in the eyes of the staff of that organization, social media isn’t working for them. It's no longer worth the time. And guess what? They’re right. It isn’t working . . . not when it is being substantially ignored.
Perhaps saddest of all, this is an excellent nonprofit organization. They deserve to have their stories told and disseminated better than is happening at present. They deserve to have more visibility to prospective volunteers and donors and other supporters.
But to make use of social media as a tool for branding and marketing, it takes more than deserving it. If you are this nonprofit, or one like it, at a minimum start here:
Evaluate your social media marketing as it is currently being either implemented or ignored.
Establish a Social Media component as part of your overall Marketing Strategy.
Have clarity as to who is responsible for managing and creating content for social media.
Schedule social media training of your staff if such training is needed (and it probably is).
And if your resources are limited, and you need someone external to help you with this, find an independent contractor or agency that will lead you through this process as a collaborative partner.