Submitted by Hildy Gottlieb, publisher of Creating the Future!
We hear it almost every day - another organization who is wildly successful on Facebook or Twitter or MySpace. Wanting that same success, organizational leaders sign up, spend a while getting the lay of the land, and start participating.
Soon they begin to doubt they will ever see the wild success that other organization experienced. Resigning themselves to paltry (if any results), they sigh, “We tried it, but Social Media is just not for us.”
They could not be farther from the truth.
Virtually every organization can successfully put Social Media to use. The first step towards that success is determining what exactly “success” will mean for you. From there, success simply requires a plan. As with most successful actions, the important part of the effort is not so much what you do, but the thinking that comes before the doing.
Sounds silly, of course - but that is really what we are asking when we ask, “What should I talk about on Twitter or Facebook or MySpace?”
Just like a telephone, Social Media is simply a tool (or more accurately a group of tools) that can help facilitate engagement.
And just as you do not need a separate plan for using your telephone or fax machine to facilitate successful engagement, you also do not need a separate Social Media Plan. What you do need is an overall Community Engagement Plan - a plan that will guide all the engagement activities of your whole organization, whether in person or over the internet.
Creating a Community Engagement Plan to Include Social Media
Community Engagement is the process of building relationships with community members who will work side-by-side with you as an ongoing partner, in any and every way imaginable, building an army of support for your mission and vision, with the end goal of making the community a better place to live.
You can begin to create a Community Engagement Plan by asking 3 simple questions:
What do you want engagement to accomplish for your organization? As you answer this question, avoid ever-meaningless catch phrases like "get the word out about us." Also, yes, put "money" on the list, but quickly get beyond that, too.
Dig deep to ask, "What could really be different / better if we engaged others in the various aspects of our work?" Make a separate list per project / program. And to be as successful as possible, make a separate list for each of your goals within each program.
For each goal, list every single group or type of individual that might help you reach that goal.
This question will lead you to a list of subjects to communicate (i.e. tweet about) that would interest your target audience in your work.
Using these three questions, you will now have far more than just a list of things to tweet about (or share on Facebook, etc.). You will have the beginnings of a hardcore Community Engagement Plan that can begin to help you “build relationships with community members who will work side-by-side with you as an ongoing partner, in any and every way imaginable, building an army of support for your mission and vision, with the end goal of making the community a better place to live.”
You don't need a consultant to flesh out a complete Community Engagement plan. Just use our step-by-step Community Engagement Action Kit
Original article by Hildy Gottlieb. Located in the Community Driven Instititute archives at http://www.help4nonprofits.com/UseItToday/UseItToday-Success_on_Facebook.htm:
Hildy Gottlieb is president of the Community-Driven Institute, whose mission is to make visionary community change practical and doable. She is also author of The Pollyanna Principles: Reinventing "Nonprofit Organizations" to Create the Future of Our World.