Social media is still being treated like a magnetic sticker you just slap on the side of your car to advertise your newly minted business. In many respects, social media is talked about more than ever but still doesn’t have a legitimate seat at the strategy table.

What that means is there are a lot of social media consultants, speakers, writers, etc. who are not held accountable to true metrics of any kind. I’m not talking about metrics akin to a high school popularity contest such like “likes” and “follows.” I’m talking about metrics that demonstrate movement through the life cycle of engagement—whatever that looks like within your nonprofit, cause, or charity.

Seriously. Would you rather have the attention of 100 billionaires on Twitter or 1,000,000 people who couldn’t care less about what you do and the change you are trying to make in the world? (Just to be clear: I’m going with the billionaires.)

It’s not simply about building awareness; it’s about engaging the right people in ways that are consistent with their (not yours) native content consumption habits so you can help them achieve their biggest dreams through your organization offers.

So if you’re social media efforts just aren’t paying off and feels like it's broken, here are 10 reasons why and what you can do to get back on course:

1. You’re listening to the wrong people.

Course Correction: Social media is a tool, not an end in and of itself. Stop listening to people who believe popularity trumps engagement and action.

2. You’ve assigned social media to an intern instead of an experienced communicator.

Course Correction: Interns are good, and they can help you understand the unique characteristics to the medium. Just don’t entrust them—without accountability—with your strategy.

3. You’ve abuse the medium expecting a direct ROI instead of looking at it as an engagement tool that helps you stay connected in between “asks.”

Course Correction: Don’t "ask" every time you encounter a potential or existing donor. Use social media to engage your support base and keep them connected—efficiently and effecitely—in the ongoing impact of your organization. Empower them to take your message to their networks.

4. You’ve separated social media completely from your overall fundraising strategy instead of understanding how it works in concert with the other elements of your plan.

Course Correction: Social media shouldn't be running parallel to what you are doing; it should be deeply embedded within it. If not, you’ll never fully actualize the potential of the medium.

5. You’re not interesting.

Course Correction: If you’re boring, I don’t care what distribution channel you use. I’m out!

6. You don’t take advantage of the unique characteristics of each social channel. (Hint: Not all channels are the same.)

Course Correction: Each social channel has its own native language. For example: Pinterest and Facebook love images. Twitter is text-only. Don’t confuse the two.

7. You don’t adopt the “mind of the reader” when you create content.

Course Correction: Think (and talk) like your donor or supporter, not the organization.

8. You only distribute content once.

Course Correction: Social media is real-time. The length in which a post is “deliverable” and “discoverable” varies based on the channel. However, it is always shorter than you might expect. Use a tool to help you manage the distribution of content throughout the day (or campaign) such as Buffer or Hootsuite.

9. You want to check the box rather than move the organization forward.

Course Correction: If you don’t understand it, you’ll never integrate it into your nonprofit’s core messaging strategy. It will always remain “something you do,” and—as a result—will always fall short of expectations.

10. You’ve never stopped to consider that your target audience isn’t using social media.

Course Correction: Just because other people are on social media doesn’t justify you being on social media. Make sure at least one segment of your audience is actively engaging in the medium. If not, you’re having a conversation with yourself.

Social media should be one thread that is layered into your engagement and fundraising strategies. If it’s separate, isolated, not well understood, and led by the wrong people, you will never uncover how this medium can effectively help you advance your mission.

What needs to change about your posture and approach to social media?

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

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