6 Steps to Going Social Without Going Crazy

Integrating social media into your marketing mix can be daunting. So many options, so little time! In an effort to save you time and keep you sane, we’ve created the following six step process and actionable item checklists for the most popular tools.



Claxon’s 6 Step Process to Going Social Without Going Crazy

    1. Use IdealWare’s fantastically helpful workbook in their Nonprofit Social Media Decision Guide to figure out which tools make sense given your goals. (If you don’t know what your goals are, first do the 1, 2, 3 Marketing Tree.)
    2. Pick 1 or 2 tools. Most organizations don’t have the capacity to do more than two well enough to make it worth it.
    3. Find the accompanying checklist(s) below and decide which items you’ll tackle. Remember: it’s better to do a few things really well, than a bunch of things only so-so.
    4. Identify who will be in charge of each tool and have them block out the time needed each week to do it. (Even though the tools are free, it requires time to make them pay off!)
    5. Review your progress monthly.
    6. Assess strategy vis-a-vis goals annually.

Checklists by Tool


Expect to spend 2-4 hours per week, ideally with at least one post per day.

  • Create a Facebook Fan page and get a customized url for your fan page. John Haydon provides a great video with detailed instructions.
  • “Like” the nonprofits you partner with that also have Facebook pages. Engage with those organizations by commenting on their posts and engaging with their supporters.
  • Be consistent and commit to what you will post on Facebook.  It will help you to think about who you are trying to reach and what action you want them to take.
  • Use Ads to direct people to useful information on your Facebook Page or website.  (Don’t try to sell or fundraise with Facebook Ads.)
  • Repurpose content – post images, video, slides, etc. and drive people to take action such as signing up for your e-newsletter or visit your website.
  • Promote your Fan Page in your email signatures and on your other online outposts.
  • Create a “Facebook Fans Only” offer, do it to see who engages and make your Facebook fans feel special at the same time.


 Expect to spend 1.5-2 hours per week, ideally with at least one or two posts per day.

  • Use Twitter Search to find people to follow who are talking about your organization or topics related to your mission and aggregate into lists using free tools like Tweetdeck or Hootsuite.
  • Follow a number of people in your topic area and community and re-tweet their posts.
  • Create a list on Twitter of everyone that re-tweets your posts.  Then, promote your list to your other followers.
  • Repurpose your content such as your blog posts and Facebook posts.
  • Add link to your blog or website and customize with your logo.
  • Promote your Twitter account in your email signatures and through your other online mechanisms.
  • After you hold an event, help spread the word by creating a specific hashtag for your attendees to use.  For example, if you are hosting a speaker, put up a sign near the speaker that says, “If you are tweeting about this event, use #xyz.” (For an example of how we did this at a recent event, search for #NPlab.)


Expect to spend 4-8 hours per week, ideally with at least one post per week (the time per week includes not only the writing time, but time spent following other related blogs, generating comments and responding to comments)

  • Create a list of 5 influencers who are passionately blogging about your industry – regularly read and make thoughtful comments.  (Tip: Setup Google Reader as a listening station.)
  • Be consistent by having a clear strategy for what you’ll write about.  Start with 5 or 6 relevant categories and rotate through them.
  • Drive traffic to your blog by linking your blog to your website.
  • Search engines love blogs so figure out what people are searching for related to your organization’s mission and write about that.  Read this post to learn more about improving your nonprofit website’s search results.
  • Ask for comments and install share buttons such as a Facebook ‘Like’ button or a ‘Share This‘ to engage your readers.
  • Post customer case studies, educational pieces, and invite guest bloggers to write. This helps bring personality to your blog and can increase traffic to your site or store.  Here’s an example of a guest blogger on the Getting Attention! Blog.
  • Give your biggest fans another way to keep up with your blog or podcast feed by placing an email subscription form on your site with a service like Feedburner or Feedblitz.


Expect to spend 1-2 hours per week, ideally joining in at least one conversation per week.

  • Read this post explaining effective uses for nonprofits using Linkedin.
  • Look for groups or other organizations who are discussing your cause.  Sign-up for email updates and join the conversation.  As an alternative, you could also add relevant Linkedin Questions-Answers to your RSS Reader.
  • Post updates on your individual account to share relevant information with your supporters who are connected to you.  Note that Linkedin works with Twitter and vise versa.
  • Refer and make recommendations for past employees, volunteers, and board members.
  • Start a Linkedin Group, and encourage your organization’s key employees and board members to have their own profiles and join the group so that each member becomes an ambassador for your organization.
  • Use for prospect research and finding out who knows who. If you start a Linkedin Group, you will be able to see all the Linkedin contacts for each of your group members, making it easy see if there is anyone to whom you’d like an introduction.
  • Add your blog RSS feeds to your Linkedin Profile. Here’s one way to do it: How to Add a Blog to your LinkedIn Profile with BlogLink.

Flickr (or other photo sharing website)

Depending on your goals, time and frequency spent on photo sharing sites will vary.  For example, you may spend more time after an event or while trying to build a particular group of followers.

  • Tag your photos to let people easily find or submit photos.  If, for instance, you have an event, tell all your event attendees to upload their pictures on Flickr and tag with your selected tag.  Example:  O’Reilly Emerging Technologies conference in 2006.
  • Embed your Flickr account photos on your website and include a link to your website on your Flickr profile.
  • Use your photos to drive people to your website in your next e-newsletter.  For example, you could include a link to pictures from a recent event.
  • Look for cause-related groups and comment on existing photos to discover new partners and supporters.  For example if you are a organization focused on microfinance, try doing a search for other organizations posting on Flickr by searching for groups with “microfinance” in the description.
  • Search for keywords that include your organization name to see what people are saying about you.

Youtube (or other video sharing website)

Again, depending on your goals, time and frequency spent on photo sharing sites will vary.  However, it is a good idea to check-in at least a couple of times per week to read and respond to any comments.

  • Watch Youtube’s Basic Tips
  • Ask your supporters to share videos with their family and friends to spread your message.
  • Share, embed and link your Youtube videos on your other online portals.
  • Encourage your supporters to send in their own videos to build a repository about your cause.
  • Use your videos to tell stories and drive people to your website in your next e-newsletter.
  • Look for cause-related groups and comment on existing videos. For example, if you are an education focused nonprofit in Seattle, try doing a Youtube search for “education+seattle+nonprofit” to discover new partners and supporters.
  • If you are a larger organization like The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, search for keywords that include your organization name to see what people are saying about you.

Are we missing any key action items that have helped you maximize your use of the tools above?  Let us know!

Marketing-Fundraising: A Happy Continuum

We chose to focus on the Marketing-Fundraising Tango this month because so many of our nonprofit friends and colleagues voiced confusion, frustration or consternation at how this works (or more accurately doesn’t work) at their organizations. The amount of brow-furrowing over this is interesting to me since marketing and fundraising are simply different means to the very important end of engaging people with your cause.

Here’s perhaps a different (and hopefully helpful) way of thinking about this. Rather than thinking of these two functions separately, think of them as points along a relationship continuum. On one end, you have marketing and the other fundraising. On the marketing end of the continuum, you focus on attracting new supporters to the organization by reaching out to groups of individuals (otherwise known as target audiences). These are largely one-to-many activities such as advertising, community events, and PR.

As you slide further toward the fundraising end of the continuum, the activities become more tailored to an individual, rather than a collection of individuals. They are personalized activities meant to deepen a supporter’s relationship with your organization.

When you think of marketing and fundraising as a continuum, then you simply adjust your position to support your current goals and objectives. If you have had above-average attrition and need to attract new donors, you might settle on a spot closer to the marketing end of the continuum. If you have a solid donor base and want to increase the number of major donors you have, you’d likely slide over to the fundraising end.

Fun with Network Mapping

fallingFundraising and marketing teams often trip over each other’s feet when dancing the Marketing-Fundraising Tango. This can be especially true when it comes to managing relationships with individuals who engage in multiple ways, e.g. someone who volunteers, hosts a table at the annual auction and is a major donor.

An exercise called Network Mapping is a handy way to avoid those awkward missteps and deepen relationships with key supporters.

We learned about Network Mapping in Beth Kantor and Allison Fine’s excellent book, The Networked Nonprofit. The authors of the book, along with Danielle Bridiga and Marc Sirkin, gave a Care 2 Webinar on the Networked Nonprofit.   (Here’s a link to a summary and the recording over at the Care 2 Frogloop blog…great fodder for a rejuvenating lunch.)

In a recent blog post Beth Kantor summed up the questions you ask when doing Network Mapping, “When you map your network, it tells you a story.  Who is connected to whom?  How are they interacting?  Where are the clusters?   Who are the influencers? Who are the bridge builders between clusters? Who is in the edges?  Who isn’t connected? Who should I spend my time responding to and cultivating?   The analysis looks at frequency of interaction, relationship structure (two-way, one-way), and helps reveal structural similarities.”

See how handy it could be for fundraising and marketing teams to have a shared understanding of the answers to these questions?!

There are many ways to do Network Mapping, many of which are laid out in this blog post by Beth Kantor, the Network Mapping It Gal of our time. Our favorite approach for first-time mappers is to use low tech tools like crayons or post-it notes to map out your network.  Sounds old-school and it is–it also works really, really well.

Has your organization mapped its networks? Any success stories to share?

Dancing the Marketing-Fundraising Tango

Silhueta - Casal dançando TangoYou’ve undoubtedly heard the expression: It takes two to tango. What you might not have realized is that, if you do nonprofit marketing and/or fundraising, you’re part of a tango-ing twosome.

That’s right. As a nonprofiteer you are as passionate about your mission as Argentinian tango masters are about their lifts, twirls and sultry gazes. Unfortunately, the Marketing-Fundraising Tango often involves two dancers swirling around the dance floor on their own, rather than as a dynamic duo.

We all know that when marketing and fundraising coordinate their steps, it’s a sight to behold. Donors get a print newsletter with a hand-written note from their fav development officer. Volunteers are highlighted in a blog post that then gets forwarded to fans and friends. Donor profiles are so compelling they end up in Facebook posts all over the world wide web. And messaging is clear, consistent and compelling regardless of who wrote it, says it, or tweets it.

You might be rolling your eyes and thinking, “We dance more like Elaine from Seinfeld than [Argentinian tango legend] Mariana Mazzola!” Don’t worry–anyone can learn to tango. Really.

To get you started, here are three simple things you can do to dramatically improve your Marketing-Fundraising Tango:

  1. Write short n’ sweet job descriptions for your marketing and fundraising teams. If you write a job description, it becomes clear who is in charge of what. No two organizations are alike. In some organizations, the fundraising team handles the newsletter. In others, that’s up to the marketing team. Same with the website, annual report, blogs, events, etc. The point is to get clarity for your organization so you can dance in concert. The job descriptions shouldn’t be long or take long. Try to keep them to 2-3 sentences. Then share them with both teams and discuss at your next All Team Meeting (see #3 below).
  2. Once you’re clear on which team is in charge of what, have each team set their top 3 goals for the year. Then make sure everyone knows what they are. It sounds so obvious, but it’s shocking how little info-sharing happens between teams. It’s handy if you know where your partner is headed on the dance floor! [Note: Even if you are a team of 1, do #1 and #2. It’ll bring clarity and focus to your work, which is especially important if you’re  a super small shop!]
  3. Dancers get good because they practice. They learn to read the other person’s body language and adjust accordingly. So hold weekly All Team Meetings where everyone from marketing and fundraising gets to know what’s going on across both teams. Since most of us need an extra meeting as much as we need two left feet, think about merging existing team meetings or at least shortening them so you’re making the most of the time you’re already investing in meetings. By knowing what your partner is doing and thinking as a marketing-fundraising duo, you will naturally begin to think about how fundraising and marketing efforts can augment each other.  For example:  if your marketing department posts a great article, the development director could send the link to a donor to make sure they saw it. Or the development department could post a story highlighting a top donor once a month on the blog and the marketing department could then use the profiles in the quarterly newsletter. Over time, you will be able to anticipate each other’s steps and take full advantage of your partner’s fancy footwork.

With job descriptions, goals and weekly meetings, you’ll be doing the Marketing-Fundraising Tango in no time!

Do you communicate as effectively as you think?


Do you communicate as effectively as you think?