If you haven’t seen it already, I’d encourage you to check out ‘About That First Tweet,’ a guide to social media for small to medium sized charities and social enterprises. It’s produced by Social Misfits Media and Unity Trust Bank and is crammed full of interesting research, ideas and tips about making the most of social media. You can read more about it on The Guardian Voluntary Sector Network or download the guide here.
What struck me about the research was that, whilst many of the organisations who took part in the research were already using social media, many of them lacked the time required to devote to it. For example, 75% receive only occasional support to update their platforms, i.e. when someone has some spare time. This will come as no surprise to those of us who work in charity communications or technology, as it’s something we hear often.
The time issue is about money and squeezed resources, but it also shows how social media is still sometimes viewed as a bolt-on, rather than integrated as part of organisational comms and fundraising strategies. The truth is that if your organisation doesn’t make time for it for it, no-one else will, and it’s up to you to build a business case that demonstrates why everyone you work with, from trustees to volunteers, needs to get behind it.
The good news is that this should become easier as more decision makers in charities start to use social media themselves. I’m already sensing that the tide is turning on this, and anecdotally I’m both seeing and hearing that an increasing number of charity CEOS and directors are active LinkedIn and Twitter users. A director of a well-known national charity recently told me that Twitter had been a godsend to her, as it was ‘the quickest way to keep up with everything.’ I’d support that view; I couldn’t do my job without social media, as I’ve blogged about before. Perhaps that’s the way we need to start talking about social media in the third sector, focusing on what we can gain from it, not the resources that it takes.