Nonprofit PR has pulled together a simple list of mistakes groups often make as they wade into the social networking world. Here are the highlights:
Setting up your nonprofit’s Facebook account as a person instead of a page: This is of the most common mistakes made by nonprofits when they first begin using Facebook. Some do it on purpose for a variety of well-meaning reasons, while others simply don’t know any better. A nonprofit should always create a page and categorize it properly as a nonprofit organization. Ideally, nonprofits want to have thousands of supporters on Facebook, and personal accounts allow a maximum of 5,000 friends.
Not fully thinking through the name for your Facebook page: At a basic level, there are two primary branding components on a Facebook page: Your organization’s name and your profile image. While this seems simple, remember that once the Facebook page you created for your nonprofit has 100 fans, you can no longer change the page name (your image, on the other hand, can be changed as many times as you desire). There are currently two options to get around this rule if necessary: Either create a new page and ask your supports to “like” you there instead; or stay with the original name Regardless, when you initially create your page, be sure to take the name into close consideration.
Creating a Facebook page, but not monitoring it properly: There is a debate over whether or not nonprofits should delete Facebook posts or comments (which some equate to censorship). At the very least, nonprofits should monitor their pages for posts and comments that are inappropriate or that are spam. Don’t let anyone use your organization’s wall to promote their own products or agendas, and always monitor all comments for inappropriateness.
Signing up for Twitter when you really don’t have the time for Twitter: Twitter can be a great marketing communications tool for a nonprofit, but only if it is able to invest time on a regular basis. If your organization wants to get to know Twitter, first simply join as an individual and use it as an information consumer. It is a great time-saving tool for getting information from the organizations and causes that you care about. Start there and determine if it makes sense for your organization to make it a priority. If you don’t have time to do something on Twitter on a regular basis, you are better off not creating a profile for your nonprofit.
Using a logo, rather than a graphic icon, as a profile photo: Graphic icons in logos are making a very strong comeback as a response to the need for a strong social-media brand icon. The best branded nonprofit Facebook and Twitter users typically don’t use their organizations’ entire logos as their profile photo. Instead, they use the graphic icon (think red ribbon for AIDS awareness) as the profile photo. It is important to understand that most people will see your icon as a very small image, so make sure what you choose works. Take the time to think about what will work best to meet your organization’s brand guidelines and strategic goals.