In recognition of World Social Media Day, June 30, we offer some guidance to nonprofits on ways to safeguard and leverage social media for greater impact.
Social media is a great way to tell your organization’s story and create a connection with engaged audiences and potential donors. Whether you’re establishing a social media presence or you already have a community in place, it’s important to create a safe space for dialogue. No matter which platform you use (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tik Tok, LinkedIn), taking the following important steps will help you safeguard discussion and maximize engagement with your followers.
1. Create a Blocklist
A blocklist is a list of keywords that are inappropriate for conversations within your social community. Blocklists typically include profanity, vulgar words, derogatory names and hate speech, among other things. Cultivating a safe environment online is vital to protect the community your nonprofit serves. Unfortunately, you may encounter online “trolls” who enjoy interrupting discussions and attacking your group’s views for seemingly no reason. By implementing a keyword blocklist, you can ensure that comments with inappropriate words are blocked from public view.
2. Moderate Comments
Even with a blocklist in place, some comments will inevitably slip through the filters. That’s why it’s important to check comments regularly to stay on top of inappropriate dialog and minimize its reach. By enabling notifications for all your social media platforms, you can quickly respond if the wrong message gains traction.
3. Publish a Posting Policy
It’s important to set the tone within your social spaces. By publishing a posting policy, you set clear procedures for acceptable language, images, fonts, memes and more. You also establish the consequences if members of your community violate your posting policy. When violations happen, you can and should ban those users from your community to prevent any ongoing interaction. Each social platform has different instructions for how to do this, but it’s important to know you have the ability to restrict who can communicate within your community.
4. Develop an Escalation Plan
Always prepare for the worst. If a situation on your social media escalates to a critical level, you need a solid response plan. If, for example, a physical threat is posted publicly on your social media channel or privately through direct messages, you want to be ready to act immediately. If a threat of legal action surfaces, you need clear steps on how to proceed. Your escalation plan should include priority contacts, including your organization’s leadership, legal counsel and non-emergency police.
5. Manage Responses Actively
Your followers are interested in your organization and engaged in your mission. By fostering a relationship with this community, you can build deeper engagement and advocacy for your work. When your followers engage with you on social media, it’s important to make it a two-way conversation. Answer questions, respond with gratitude to volunteers or ask your community to participate in a survey. Review comments for meaningful quotes you can share more broadly with your community. Engage with people who post comments about your organization’s positive impact. By reviewing comments and responding publicly, you’ll strengthen relationships with followers who are more likely to support your mission through volunteering and donations.
No doubt, effective social media management requires time and energy. But a solid strategy will help you mitigate risks and foster meaningful relationships to maximize impact on the communities you serve.