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How Nonprofit Leaders Avoid Social Media Burnout

Author:
Afrif running marathon

In 2009, I battled through an experience only 45,000 other people in the world can say they conquered that day—The Chicago Marathon. With five months of training, nearly a million people cheering us on, and runners who became my heroes, I finished the race and crossed it off my bucket list.

Many nonprofit leaders experience a different kind of marathon that is often referred to as social media management. Instead of shin splints, there’s higher chances of carpal tunnel. Instead of getting sweat in your eye, yours are just dried out from staring at the computer screen. Instead of losing your lunch like many marathoners do, you’re losing your temper because the friends who promised to like your Facebook page are too busy liking pictures of their pets. Don’t fret, you can learn from my running experience to avoid social media burnout.

Stay The Course

As excited as all the runners were to start, there were more than a few disqualifications during the race. These runners either decided they couldn’t finish the 26.2 miles like everyone else or were so delirious they ran through the barricades to finish at world-record pace. My assumption is they tried taking shortcuts because the task at hand seemed too daunting. And many social media managers go through the same thing. You’ll soon realize creating content that no one wants will do more harm than not creating any content at all. There are tens of thousands of reasons to browse the web. By showing conviction in your writing, videos and other media, you will begin to build a following. If you’re all over the place, how can you expect people to understand you message and what value you bring to their Internet experience?

You should do one thing and do it well. Once you’ve mastered that one thing you should feel confident to move on to another. For example, many nonprofits sign up for several social media sites and stretch themselves too thin to grow a loyal audience. By focusing on one or two platforms at a time, you can develop your voice, create a culture, and reward your audience in unique ways. When starting out, you should have time to respond to everyone’s comments and inquiries. Each one is an opportunity to strengthen ties and leverage partnerships.

Reward The Little Victories

The day of the marathon, I stood awestruck at the sheer magnitude of the event. When I started the race alongside 45,000 others, I felt like if I stopped no one would know or care but me and the few people who were cheering me on. I was so wrong! To my surprise, at mile 12, I reached a party of epic proportions. Music blasted, volunteers cheered us on as they offered us energy drinks, Powerbars, and most importantly a congratulations for getting that far. Obviously the end of the race is the ultimate goal, but them rewarding us with much needed goodies and support strengthened our collective resolve. The next mile—another raucous celebration of the human spirit. Each mile was an accomplishment and they wanted us to acknowledge that as well.

When it comes to social media, you should consider taking the same approach. Remember when you had 0 likes, 0 followers, 0 comments, and 0 page views? And you felt like the first few you got in each category didn’t count because your friends and family felt guilty for not getting on board sooner? But then came the day a stranger “favorited” your tweet or shared a link of your blog post. I hope you thanked that stranger profusely. He or she had so many other things they could have been doing but they decided to read your content, watch your video, and let their friends know that it was quality stuff. Do me a favor: the next time a stranger acknowledges your existence on the web with a share, retweet, follow, etc., send them a personal note. Give them a few sentences about what that little victory means to you. And I can assure you those little victories will turn into something grand.

Run Social Media, Don’t Let it Run You

I’m apprehensive about admitting this next part but it helps set the tone for those nearing a social media meltdown. Ego aside, there was a point I didn’t think I was going to finish the marathon. At mile 20, the pavement felt like quicksand, my shoes felt heavier than my first computer screen, and I felt like my arms had been hauling furniture all day. The marathon was beating me and I had no recourse for overcoming it.

My clients have felt the same way with their social media efforts. To give you a sense of what I tell them, you have to take control and take ownership of the social identity you’re creating. Inconsistent posts, boring videos, and tweets about how much @random_person doesn’t deserve to be as famous as they are will only add to the noise that already exists. Instead: Create value. Offer solutions. Build relationships. Gain respect. All this will come when you become a pro at media channels you utilize. One secret is to create a great piece of content and have it pushed to one or two platforms automatically. A website you’ve probably never heard of does exactly that. It’s called If This Then That. They do a much better job of explaining how their service works than I could, but once you’ve used it, please comment below on how it’s your new best friend when it comes to automating the content you produce.

Everyone’s a Winner

You don’t have to be the best at social media management to accomplish your goals. When I was running the marathon, I felt a sense of community. We were all pulling for each other. Not everyone can run like a star athlete and not everyone can be the Gary Vaynerchuk of social media. Everyone who finishes a marathon is a winner. And if you put your best foot forward in social media management, the same is true. People will ultimately recognize your commitment to the good cause you’re passionate about and will do something to help.

Realizing When Social Media Is Junk Food

Preparing for a marathon wasn’t just about running around the neighborhood a few days a week. The training was an entire lifestyle change. I had to be in top form and that included changing my eating habits to maximize my performance. I had never been on a diet before then; I love food too much for that. But I knew running the best I could would take discipline and a commitment to healthy living. Late night snacks and junk food can ruin your regimen and have a detrimental effect on race day. When social media becomes pervasive, listen to that same inner-voice when you enter a McDonald’s at 2am: You gotta get outta there! When social media language invades your real world conversations, “Hey dude, was it just me or did you all LOL throughout the entire movie. I’m sure you guys would agree that last scene was hashtag—epic! Right, Right? I’m definitely updating my status on the ride home.” Get outta there! When you’re following three times as many people as the Twitter followers you have…Get out! Get out! Get out!

Slow and Steady Wins The Race

I learned the hard way at mile 20 of the marathon but I ended up finishing with my hands raised like a champion. When it comes to social media, use it to incrementally build your brand and execute on a legacy that will take years to develop. Trying to bounce from social media craze to next one may leave you in the dust. So foster a quality community with quality content on your favorite social site(s). And when the time is right, take smooth strides towards the next logical platform. People can recognize authenticity from a mile away, so use it appropriately as new and old supporters cheer you on to the finish line.

Millennials Using Social Media for Social Good

Author:

The adoption of digital technology is one of the major distinctions Millennials have among previous generations. The age group in their late teens to early 30s can create a profile on the latest social network faster than you can say “smartphone.” Many might deem their ubiquitous love affair with social media quite trivial, but don’t discount all the good some of them are already doing with it. Millennials are pioneering ways to give back to their communities, sharing actionable solutions to social issues, and galvanizing others who believe real impact is sometimes only a send button away.

Social Networks Expanding Nonprofits’ Reach

Take IGNITEgood for instance, who has teamed up with The Huffington Post to give away $100,000 to 10 game changing ideas that move humanity forward. The competition dubbed “Millennial Impact Challenge,” will first select five existing nonprofit organizations/businesses that demonstrate scalable impact, viability of getting others involved, and a sense the applicants are uniquely qualified to champion their big idea. The IGNITE Team has corralled an impressive group of–you guessed it–Millennials as the selection committee to pick these winners. The second half of funding is reserved for five startup organizations or companies who get the most “likes” on Facebook during the voting phase. You see, socially-conscious Millennials are using the “like” button for something other than self-esteem boosters and virtual pats on the back.

A Houston darling of a nonprofit is also harnessing the social web to make a difference in their community. Mia’s Closet is barely a year old and is already making established nonprofits take notice with its online presence. Executive Director Chelsea Coffey founded the nonprofit to instill confidence and self-worth in students from kindergarten to high school by providing them with clothing through a personal shopping experience.

Seeing is believing in Coffey’s perspective so she tells the story of her organization through Instagram. The app allows Coffey and crew to showcase the lively atmosphere of pampering, personal styling, and all around family fun. What started out as a small project has blossomed into a steady growth in Facebook and Twitter fans, along with a full-fledged website using the easily-to-learn, WordPress platform. Quite fittingly, the 20-something founder now moonlights as fashion/social media editor for the same magazine that gave Mia’s Closet its early press coverage in March.

Social Entrepreneurs are The New Rockstars

From local zines to globally-recognized publications, Millennials are reported on as leaders in the surge of social entrepreneurship. One such brand is Forbes Magazine, which intends to bring these modern enterprises to a new audience. The magazine has publicized its search for 30 Awesome Social Entrepreneurs Under 30. Known for its lists of actors, rockstars, and  business moguls, Forbes is venturing into content that may add cachet to the young do-gooders of the world. Don’t go nominating your buddy who raised a wad of singles and loose change selling lemonade at the local block party, though. The staff is essentially searching for the dream team of altruistic innovators. The noble group who will help define this generation and their impact will most likely be fueled by Web 2.0.

One clear candidate deserving Forbes glory is Tristan Walker, who is adding value to the nonprofit sector via the social highway. The tech wunderkind Linkedin page looks more like Mashable.com’s top stories. Walker has worked for Twitter, JP Morgan, a major Boston-based consulting group and more recently served as Foursquare’s Director of Business Development (a relationship which he initiated with an email to the founders). Working 12 hour days to develop an investment portfolio so he can buy yachts, expensive champagne, and gold-plated toilet seats seem like the next steps for him, right?

On the contrary, the rising figure has opted to tackle a new venture that yields $0 in profits. Yes, Walker recently founded a nonprofit organization that is primed to give minorities a shot at taking on Silicon Valley’s biggest startups. The bold move has backing from some major players in the tech space, philanthropy powerhouses, and venture capital partners. Their inaugural class of fellows earned paid internships and gained insight from the who’s who of tech startups, as well as established companies.

Tammy Tibbetts is another under 30 community organizer crushing it at the intersection of social media and social change. Tibbetts had already scored a coveted job as Social Media Editor for Seventeen Magazine, which she reported as having the fastest growing Twitter presence in the magazine industry in 2011. She has since made the tough decision to leave that dream job to begin another as founder of She’s the First, a non-profit sponsoring girls’ education in developing countries.

Tibbetts takes social media best practices from her previous role to amplify the impact her organization makes. The site features “Map Your Impact” using Google Maps, as well as tweeting, Facebooking, and Tumbling calls-to-action that drive donors to its Razoo page. One of the most surprising, yet promising displays of support comes from its tie-dye cupcakes campaign, which has turned into social media tour de force. The video below is a taste of how sweet it is for college students to raise  thousands of dollars with a few days of baking and selling cupcakes on campus.

How Millennials Engage With Nonprofits

These new media-friendly founders help contextualize the bigger picture of how Millennials are working toward a greater good.  A valuable reference to these interactions is the often-cited 2012 Millennial Impact Report, which surveys Millennials’ relationships with existing nonprofits.

  • Connecting: The majority of Millennials surveyed stated they prefer to learn about nonprofits through their website and social media. 77% of them own smartphones, and they like having access to what an organization does, how to get involved, and shareable content, right at their fingertips. Nearly 70% of the participants have interacted with a nonprofit via Facebook. A staggering 87% of them follow nonprofits on Twitter, while 60% give compliments and retweet content from nonprofits they follow.
  • Involving: Not surprisingly, 81% of respondents prefer to learn about nonprofit volunteering opportunities through their peers. This finding warrants an added incentive for nonprofit leaders to create content people want to share, and display social network mechanisms for supporters to do so. Coming in at second and third are emails and a nonprofit’s website to learn about volunteer information. By a margin of more than two-to-one, Millennials who volunteer for nonprofits are more likely to make donations. That’s good news for organizations who can effectively engage with their audience via online and offline experiences.
  • Giving: Millennials overwhelmingly prefer to donate through the web, with 70% of respondents having made contributions through a nonprofit’s web page in the last year. This goes back to nonprofits needing to produce and feature inspiring content on their website in order to gain financial support. To encourage consistent giving, nonprofits should make it clear as to how donations will impact the organization, avoid telling donors how much to give, and stray from sending long letters in the mail for support. Millennials like to make contributions with ease and immediacy.

So there you have it. A look at innovative Millennials using social sites to make meaningful connections and bring change for the undeserved communities they’re passionate about. And a snapshot of overall trends that will ultimately drive new and interesting ways to solve human injustice and inequality. Comment below to share your story or tell us about a person you know who is using social media for social good. Even lemonade stand stories are welcomed here.

 

Live Painting & Auction to Benefit United Way LA #Art4Charity

Author:
unitedwaygla

As you may well know, we’ve got a great Cause Track this year at BlogWorld, and what I’m announcing here, is a way-cool addition to those with an appreciation for charity and beautiful art.

Natasha Wescoat has graciously offered to do a livepainting session in our New Media Lounge on Saturday, Nov 5th from 1230p-330p at BWELA, and will be auctioning off the painting with the proceeds going to The United Way of Greater Los Angeles!

The live painting will be open to the world to watch on Natasha’s Justin.TV channel, and the painting will be up for auction in her eBay store. (This will be clearly labeled in the auction title.)

We’d really love your help in spreading the word about this session, as the more word gets around, the more likely we can get a high bid on the piece and have a nice amount to give to The United Way LA! The official hashtag for this event is #Art4Charity, used in combination with the standard #BWELA hashtag.

Learn more about the United Way of Los Angeles:

HomeWalkLA
United Way LA on Facebook
United Way LA on Twitter

And learn more about Natasha Wescoat:

About Natasha
Natasha on Facebook
Natasha on Twitter

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