Overcoming the Social Media Blues

I sit at my desk staring blankly at the screen, my fingers hovering over the keyboard, poised to type out a brilliant message in 140 characters or less.  Nothing is coming to mind.  I look over to the stack of files on my desk screaming for my attention.  If only I could think of something interesting or inspiring to say, I could move on to what I really need to get done today.  Think!

Can you relate to this scenario?  If you work for a non-profit or community organization, you’ve by now likely at least dabbled in the world of social media.  Some of us wade in the shallow waters of this world, while others are doing swan dives in the deep end.  Regardless of how skillful we’ve become at navigating the ‘net, maintaining a relevant and captivating social media presence can feel like a chore that’s never-ending.  We’re dealing with serious, real-life issues on the ground in our communities.  We’ve got clients to serve, budgets to prepare, staffs to manage.  Who has time to think up and write Facebook posts, tweets and blogs, let alone read them?

We get why nearly every organization needs a social media presence: because everybody’s doing it.  We might have held back for a while, expecting that this social media thing was just a fad for the young folks that would quickly pass, but now of course we realize that not only is it here to stay, but it plays a significant role in the way our society communicates.  If we refuse to engage this mode of communication, we risk disengaging with the people behind those computer screens and cell phones – which includes potential clients, volunteers, donors and funders.  But how exactly does one tweet on a continual basis in a way that’s relevant to the organization and its mission?  What can one post on Facebook that could possibly appeal to the average Internet surfer?  I might be passionate about the work I’m doing, but how do I translate that in a meaningful way to the digital realm?

As with any organizational task, the most effective approach is to assign the task to someone who is most enthusiastic about it.  If there is no one on your staff who’s excited about social media, consider bringing in an intern or volunteer to do the posting (assuming, of course, he or she can be trusted to represent your organization online).  But if it’s you – the multitasking executive or the dedicated foot soldier – who is responsible for posting, tweeting and/or blogging about your organization, take heart.  It is possible to master this social media machine.  Start by following other organizations to get a feel for what they’re doing.  Consider your mission and what message you want others to receive about your organization and the work you’re doing.  And then simply be yourself.  Harness those traits that make you good at your job and then run with it.  Is humor your thing?  Do you like telling stories?  Are you a numbers person?  There is a place for these and many other perspectives in the world of social media. 

You don’t have to be a brilliant writer or orator to win at the social media game.  You just have to start talking.  Sometimes it’s as simple as reflecting on the challenge of thinking of something brilliant to say.  Who can’t relate to that?

Like this blog post – which, I might add, you took the time to read.  See?  You can do it.

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