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causemedia’s blog on social media for social good.

5 Tips for Avoiding Social Media Burnout

We live in a digital world. If you're like many Americans, you spend hours online – sharing, tweeting, retweeting, checking-in, posting, commenting, pinning, poking, friending, liking, and following, to the point where social networking consumes your life. And that's just for personal use. What if you’re also responsible for your organization's social media efforts?
 
The pressure to stay interesting, relevant, and active on social networks can wear down even the most experienced social media enthusiast. We can’t ignore the impact social media has on the way we communicate and do business, but we can manage our usage. Here are five tips to help you avoid social media burnout and keep your sanity.
  1. Don't get caught up in the hype.  Keeping up with the fast-paced world of social media can be stressful - especially when there are hundred of social networks for you to keep track of.  Remember why your organization is using social media.  Only join networks that meet your organization's goals.  Ask yourself- where's my audience?
  2. Focus on what works.  Figure out where you see results and focus on those platforms.  It's better to have a thriving presence on Twitter and Facebook than to have a mediocre presence on six different networks.  If you aren't seeing results, re-evaluate your strategy.
  3. Use a social media management tool.  Monitoring multiple social networks can be overwhelming. Free and low-cost monitoring tools such as HootSuite, TweetDeck, Ping.fm, and SproutSocial make social media less time-consuming by allowing you to monitor and manage multiple social networks from one dashboard. Some tools (like HootSuite) also allow you to analyze your social media efforts.
  4. Schedule time for social media.  Set limits on how much time you can spend on each social network and stick to them.
  5. Spend some time offline.  I know it’s hard to do – I am guilty of checking my Facebook and Twitter updates on my smartphone before I even get out of bed in the morning. However, spending time away from social media and participating in other activities can give you a fresh perspective.
Social media burnout can cause you to neglect social networks, which can be harmful to your organization’s social media presence. Have you ever suffered from social media burnout? Do you have any tips for avoiding social fatigue? Please post your comments below.

 

Pinterest: A Pin’s Worth a Thousand Words

Just when you thought you were up-to-date on all things social, there's a new network in the social media landscape. If you haven't heard of Pinterest yet, you will. Traffic to the invitation-only site has increased drastically in the past six months, making the site a top ten social network.
 
So, what exactly is Pinterest?  Pinterest is a visually-engaging social bookmarking site that connects people with similar tastes and interests. Social bookmarking isn’t new, but what makes this site different from other bookmarking sites is its visual aspect. On Pinterest, users (referred to as Pinners) “pin” images and videos on categorized themed boards (pinboards). Pins are beautiful, eye-catching, and organized. The site’s features allow content to be easily shared from the Internet. Pins can also be shared on Facebook and Twitter.
 
Popular themes include weddings & events, home decorating, fashion, do-it-yourself projects, and food recipes (the majority of users are women between the ages of 25 and 44). However, there are many different themes to choose from. Pinterest is a good social platform for nonprofits because every cause has a compelling story. Emotionally powerful pins can help paint a picture of your organization and inspire Pinners to become advocates for your cause. Some nonprofit organizations are already using Pinterest including Water.org, National Wildlife Federation and Amnesty International. Amnesty International uses the site to share inspiring quotes, reading lists, and facts related to human rights.
 
Thinking about signing up for Pinterest?  Here are some tips:
  1. Don't join Pinterest just because it’s the hottest social network right now. Think about how Pinterest would fit into your organization’s overall goals and social media strategy.
  2. Make sure your target audience is on Pinterest.
  3. Ensure you have interesting visuals to post that are inspiring.
  4. Pinterest is a secondary social network. Your organization’s Twitter and Facebook presence should be established (and thriving) first.
If you still think your nonprofit is ready to join Pinterest, pin away. Like any social network, Pinterest has its own community guidelines so read them before participating. One final word of advice – ask someone you know for an invite. There’s now a waiting list to join. Good luck and happy pinning!  
 
What are your thoughts on Pinterest? Do you think the site would be useful for your nonprofit’s cause?

 

How to Protect Your Nonprofit's Social Media Identity

Who owns your social media identity? A recent lawsuit between a mobile phone company and a former employee over Twitter followers brings this question to light. The line between personal and professional social media usage has become blurred. A social media policy is the clear solution to this problem. Simple steps can be taken to protect your nonprofit's social identity.

1. Create a clear social media policy for staff

A policy will set expectations and avoid lawsuits. Clear and consistent policies will be remembered and followed. You may want to include the following:
 
•  Who can post on the organization's official accounts
•  Topics and information that may be disseminated about the company and its products
•  Guidelines when mentioning the organization on personal accounts
•  Who can change the names of official accounts
•  Consequences if policies are violated
 
Figure out how your organization uses social media before setting a policy. Also, encourage staff to properly promote your organization on social networks. Passionate staff make the best advocates. There are many sample social media policies online that will help get you started or you can consult an attorney who specializes in this area.
 
2.  Establish ownership before an account is created
If a staff member manages your nonprofit's official social accounts, make sure a written agreement is in place. Many organizations encourage their staff to create unofficial accounts to extend their network. Make sure ownership is clear.
 
3. Have multiple account administrators (admins)
Having multiple admins prevents a disruption in your social media management in the event that someone leaves the organization. All account information should be kept in a centralized location and changed often.
 
Does your organization have a social media policy in place? Have you encountered any challenges in implementing your policy? We want to hear from you.

 

3 Social Media Predictions for 2012 that Nonprofits Shouldn’t Ignore

2012 promises to be an exciting year in social media. Facebook will be going public. Smartphones are changing how we access and share social content. Multimedia-based social networks such as Instagram and Pinterest are gaining popularity. It’ll be interesting to see how social media evolves in the coming year.

In the real-time, ever-changing world of social media, it’s important for nonprofits to be aware of new social platforms, trends, and technologies in order to maximize their visibility and reach.

Here are three social media predictions for 2012 that you shouldn’t ignore when developing your organization’s social media strategy.

1. Niche social networks will grow in popularity

Social media giants such as Facebook and Twitter will continue to dominate the social media landscape in 2012, but niche social networks like Quora, SlideShare, and Pinterest will steadily gain popularity. Since most niche social networks allow their members to share content through larger networks, niche networks offer additional opportunities for nonprofits to connect with their target audience in smaller, more focused communities. Your organization should have a presence on social platforms where you see results. Don’t count out niche social platforms just because they aren’t as large as Facebook or Twitter – this can be a good thing, especially if a large percentage of site members are in your target audience. Check out Care2, an online community that connects individuals, organizations, and responsible businesses passionate about making a difference.

Remember, each social network has its own personality. Spend some time paying attention to what content gets noticed by others and what appeals to you before posting your own content. First impressions are important in social media, especially in smaller communities. Jumping into the conversation without research can result in missed opportunities.  

2. Quality content will be even more important

In today’s age, social media users have more control over the content they see when they log onto social networks. With several for-profit and nonprofit companies all vying for attention, everyone will be under more pressure to create quality, authentic, and engaging content, or risk losing their audience. Boring and irrelevant content will not make the cut, so spend time developing engaging posts. If time is an issue, consider streamlining your social media processes to focus on creating buzzworthy content. If you’re still unable to create quality content consistently, consider outsourcing your content creation.

3.  Mobile will continue to go social

Close to 40 percent of social media users accessed social content from their mobile phone last year. Also, social networking apps were the third most-used apps among smartphone owners in the US. Don’t count on these numbers decreasing any time soon. How can your organization tap into this growing industry? First, make sure that your social content is tablet and mobile-friendly and can be viewed on different devices. For example, iPhones and iPads don’t support Adobe Flash. Creating content that’s viewable across different devices will ensure that it’s read by as many people as possible.

It’s easy to adopt an “I’ll deal with it as it comes” attitude when participating in social media. However, your nonprofit will benefit greatly by being prepared for what may come next.

What social media predictions do you have for 2012? What trends are you working into your organization’s social media strategy for this year?