2b or not 2b

by Jini Stolk

That is certainly one of the questions. How casual is too cas on Twitter? Would your donor followers be upset 2c that your company’s tweets are heavy with Twitter-speak?

How do you handle criticisms on Facebook? We all know that some companies promptly remove any negative comments about a show. What about criticisms of box office service or treatment by front of house/volunteers? Would these also be removed? You wouldn’t be making many new friends by doing so: social media is meant to start conversations, not stifle them.

The professional use of social media requires discussion, thought and – ultimately – policy guidelines about who speaks for your company and what they say. I’m not suggesting that you put a stranglehold on staff, requiring that all posts and tweets go through multiple layers of approval. But it’s important to know that your presence on social media reflects your organization’s values and purpose; that you know who’s posting and why; and that you decide how to turn critics into supporters.

Idealware, a nonprofit that provides information to other nonprofits about software and technology, says that any organization can create a useful policy and staff guide simply by thinking about how it wants to make use of social media. Their workbook contains a simple set of tools and questions to help create basic policy guidelines.

Their companion guide, the Nonprofit Social Media Decision Guide, is designed to help determine what results and benefits you should expect from social media, and how to identify the right channels for different goals. It’s research based, and quite helpful.

We’ve recently been talking about using social media to divert a crisis, or turn it around. This post is a good study of how The Smithsonian responded to a PR nightmare and many thousands of negative comments with a clear Q&A response. Here are more social media tips for dealing with a PR crisis and negative comments. It definitely doesn’t recommend just removing them, unless they’re nasty or obscene.

There are many other helpful resources on the web, including from my favorite Nonprofit Tech 2.0. But we also have some terrific social media users within our own community. I’d be interested in seeing their social media policies if they’re willing to share with colleagues.


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