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Social Media for Nonprofits

July 26, 2011

Social Media for Nonprofits

Last month, I attended Social Media for Nonprofits in San Francisco, a conference series taking place in cities across the country. The conferences bring together social media experts and nonprofit leaders to share what's working in fundraising, marketing, and advocacy. I learned about several social media tools and tips relevant for the AIDS community.

Guy Kawasaki
, author of Enchantment, gave the keynote presentation and emphasized how to maintain your social media presence by answering (fast, flat, frequent), disclosing, thanking, repeating, and commenting. In the HIV community, there are opportunities to participate on Twitter with hashtags (like #30Years for the conversation on 30 years of AIDS, or the CDC's National Observances Web Community on Ning. As a non-profit, joining the social media conversation is an opportunity to contribute to the larger conversation of your cause, create partnerships in that community, and give yourself visibility.

Comments on Facebook for Facing AIDS

Meet your audiences where they are.
Guy also talked about how each social medium is unique, and how it's important to take advantage of each medium. For example, Twitter and Facebook have different purposes and audiences -- a few speakers advised not posting Foursquare check-ins on your Twitter feed or using selective tweets on your Facebook page. Guy emphasized that the Twitter economy is based on linking (to other sites, articles, blog posts, event information) while Facebook is great for posting photos. We saw powerful responses from Facebook users when we posted photos and messages of people Facing AIDS for World AIDS Day 2010.

Facebook question about HIV testing

Create or curate.
Charles Porch from Facebook had many examples of using Facebook for good to create content and engage your audience. Make your supporters the stars. Feature personal storytelling. Use visuals. Ask questions. Get creative with features, like Facebook groups and places. One feature we used recently on Facebook was Facebook questions. We posted two polls on our Facebook page about HIV testing and the National HIV/AIDS Strategy, and saw a larger response to these questions than we do for an average Facebook post.

If you've run out of things to say, Susan Tenby of TechSoup recommended curating content. Retweet, reply to conversations by using hashtags, and share widely. Stay on top of your cause by following related blogs and social media spaces.


There are some great tools out there to gauge how your audience is responding and to guide your social media strategy. A few presentations mentioned Twitter dashboards like Tweetdeck and Hootsuite, which can help monitor the conversation on Twitter, schedule tweets, or even create analytics reports. There are also tools that can create customized alerts (Tweetbeep, Social Mention) and show you where you rank (TweetStats, Klout). Many URL shortners, such as, let you see how many clicks a link receives, and Facebook and YouTube Insights are other useful free tools.

Leverage existing resources.
If you're from a nonprofit in the HIV community, remember that there are free resources out there, such as the conference presentations, this list from Socialbrite, and the new media toolkit. Beth Kantor, author of The Networked Nonprofit, talked to the audience about etiquette between nonprofits and free agents, another resource to leverage (read her blog post about the conference).

It's not too late to register for Social Media for Nonprofits in some cities, and the conference is scheduled to make its way back through some cities, dates TBA. Also mark your calendar for the 2012 Nonprofit Technology Conference, April 3-5 in San Francisco. They're currently accepting proposals.

If you're just getting started with social media, make a strategy (here's ours). If you are a nonprofit working in HIV, what are your tips and tricks for success? How do you manage your social media?

Mindy Nichamin is the new media coordinator.

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