Getting started in social media? Enlist your supporters!

May 2, 2011

Today’s post comes from J.D. Lasica, Founder, is a great resource for nonprofits using social media for social good. NCVS is delighted that J.D. will join us in New Orleans. Don’t miss the Social Media for Social Good Bootcamp pre-conference session being offered on Sunday, June 5th from 2:00 – 5:00 p.m. Until then, here are a few words of advice for nonprofits getting started with social media...

Getting started in social media? Enlist your supporters!
Before starting out, you’ll want to gather a few of your key team members around a table to begin an organizational self-assessment. Raise some big questions that go to the heart of your organization’s mission: Why are you all here? What core values drive your organization? What change would you like to see in the world? Is there clarity about what your organization is trying to achieve? What are two or three ideas that people might be excited to spread? Ask each team member to each write down a strong, single sentence that summarizes your cause. Compare them and see what emerges – you may be surprised.

Set out some goals and pick a few social tools to help you get there. Don’t think of social media as just another marketing channel – it’s less about the tools than it is a mindset, a network-centric approach that should permeate the ethos of every department in your organization.

Social media is about conversation and community, so you’ll want to create a conversation hub where you can interact with your supporters and potential supporters. That might be your blog, your Facebook Page or a community site like WiserEarth. Don’t commit more than you can deliver, and don’t get overwhelmed!

Next, you’ll want to begin filling in the outlines of a social media program. That may sound daunting, but it’s really as simple as this:

• Identify influencers: Who on your team can set up a lightweight listening program, using tools like SocialMention and WeFollow? Within a week you’ll start to identify influencers in your sector whom you should engage with and slowly cultivate as potential evangelists and ambassadors for your brand.

• Create media content: No, not figuring out who’ll send press releases to the media. Rather, who on my team can go out and create media for us – photos, videos, text – and identify supporters to help with the task? In the era of social media, every nonprofit is a media organization, so create a plan that addresses who will be part of the editorial process.

• Find resources: At you’ll find 160 million photos that you can use for noncommercial or commercial use, including for your website, blog, newsletter, annual report, presentations, etc. At Socialbrite’s Sharing Center you’ll find hundreds of free tutorials and resources on how to strategically use Facebook, Twitter and social media for your organization. Locate the right resources and don’t be shy about taking advantage of what the community is offering you.

• Expand your smarts: Look around your community or region. Chances are there’s a Social Media Club event, PodCamp, BarCamp, WordCamp or other gathering where regular people come together to help each other out.

That should get you on your way. Hope to see you at an event soon!

J.D. Lasica is founder of, which provides social media consulting services for nonprofits as well as a sharing center with hundreds of free tutorials, articles and resources. Follow J.D. on Twitter @JDLasica and join him at NCVS for Social Media for Social Good Camp.

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