10 Steps to Building a Successful Social Media Strategy

Post by Chris Tuttle - 4.14.2010 - Follow me on Twitter

In my work with non-profit organizations across the country I’m often asked one of two questions regarding social media; “Should we be using social media?,” and “How do we use social media successfully?


Getting Started with Social MediaTo answer the first question, ask yourself:

  1. Do your constituents and organizational partners use social media?

  2. Do you want to build better relationships with your constituents and organizational partners?

  3. Do you want to increase your organization’s brand or name recognition?

  4. Do you want to increase the number of people who know about your cause and organization’s mission?

  5. Do you want to increase the number of your organization’s prospects, volunteers and donors?

If you answered yes to 2 more of these questions, then your answer is also, yes!—you should be using social media! In fact, where as a website became an organizational necessity in the 90’s, I would suggest a social media strategy is quickly becoming the necessity of today. 


So let’s get started with the “how” you can best do that in 10 easy steps:

Step 1 – Sign-Up!

Even if you’re not ready to use each social network, it’s a good idea to register your organization’s name or acronym before someone else does—at least with the major networks, Facebook (Pages) and Twitter, and also consider some of the additional 250+ social networks. Even if you’re not immediately putting it to use, it’s also a good idea to register your organization’s name upon hearing about a rising social network. And, don’t forget to maintain a list of these.

Step 2 – Prioritize & Goal Setting

Choose one or two social networks to get started with, most likely Facebook and/or Twitter. You’ll need to determine where your constituents are active. You can do this by researching demographics, checking website statistics for traffic, asking your most engaged volunteers or even conducting a poll or survey for constituents. This is also a great time to determine what exactly your organization’s social media goals are. Use the questions at the beginning of this blog post to get started, and prioritize three.

Step 3 – You Need a Leader

Determine who will be updating your account. Many organizations may not have the staff to dedicate one person, so consider having a few people with access to update. Of course, who has experience and is comfortable with the social network(s) you are prioritizing is also a consideration.

Step 4 – Create a Plan

How often will you update? Will you focus on announcements or conversations? How will you measure success? How will relate your new social media strategy to your organization’s larger communication’s strategy? The answers to these questions will vary for each organization, but are best determined by internal conversations with key stakeholders, the resources you have available, your social media goals

Step 5 – Getting Started

Of course, the two most important reasons for using social media are to better engage your constituents and gain new constituents. Start doing this by asking your existing constituents to get involved. Create announcements, add icons on your homepage, add to both print and email newsletters, add to the staff email signatures and voicemail greetings, and ask your most engaged volunteers, donors and constituents to help spread the word by asking their friends! In addition, some social networks have tools to help you find people your organization already has a relationship with, such as importing an email list.

Step 6 – Integrate Social Media Online

Ensure your website has tools to more easily promote social media usage among your constituents. A simple tool such as AddThis can allow your website visits to quickly share website pages to their social networks. And by creating a free account with AddThis you can customize the website widget to promote the social networks you most want, customize the integration (such as ensuring Twitter includes a mention to your org’s Twitter account), and also gain valuable analytics reporting regarding usage and return clicks.

Step 7 – Track Statistics

Keep track of weekly or monthly statistics on the number of updates, followers/fans, mentions, AddThis usage and significant actions you took during each timeframe.

Step 8 – Build a Social Media Strategy

Good news is, you’ve already started with Steps 1-7. Next, review your organization’s communications plan and ensure tie-in’s everywhere appropriate, such as issuing press releases, highlighting new resources, articles or blog posts, responding to news, action alerts and current events.

Step 9 – Engage Your Constituents

Regularly watch, search for and respond to mentions about your organization and mission. Ask constituents and partners, especially your most engaged, to share important messages with their networks, and add you to their lists. 

Step 10 – Commit to Learn, Track & Test!

There is no exact science to social media strategy, or else everyone would be doing it. Different constituents act and use the internet differently, social n networks rise and fall (who remembers Friendster?) and the internet is forever changing—and so must we.   The best way to ensure success is to dedicate 30-60 minutes a month to studying statistics, testing different strategies and learning more about social media.


Last, but not least, share what you’ve learned and network with others using social media. In fact, now is the perfect chance for you to get started! How about adding a comment below to what you like or would add to this post and even use the AddThis tool above to share this article to your existing social network.

Photo by jorbasa


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