It can be hard to work through the many and sometimes conflicting messages we're hearing about the types of things nonprofits should post on social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook. Just be yourself! Be authentic! Be fun and witty! But don't be inane! Don't just post PR message points! But be relevant! Align your use of social networks around your organization's goals! But talk to what your audience is interested in!
These aren't easy to resolve. What if I'm authentically not very funny or witty? What if my goal is to communicate something that my audience doesn't yet know they should be interested in?
I've been thinking through this stuff a lot, and I wanted to propose a quadrant diagram (everyone loves a quadrant diagram, right?):
Down in the lower left corner, you've got irrelevant but robotic message points - the worst of all worlds. There's no virtue there; you are truly spamming people.
In the top left, you're posting things that are engaging, but not related the mission. You're eating a disgusting blueberry bagel, the office has just run out of paper clips for the third time this month, does anyone know a good dog sitter? Some of this can provide life and a human touch to the organization, but if you post nothing but these kind of trivialities, there's no real reason to follow what you're saying.
In the bottom right, you're posting the official and cleansed version of what's going on at your organization. You have an upcoming event, your ED was on Oprah, you're doing a new campaign. It's a news feed. There's nothing necessarily wrong with this - after all, supporters likely care at least a bit about what you're doing or they wouldn't be supporters - but it's not necessarily what folks expect from a social networking site. You risk looking a little staid and out of touch.
Which brings us to the top right - bringing a human voice into what's going on at your organization. Tidbits of stories from the field, a "backstage look" at your preparations for an event, request for thoughts on a next campaign, a look at what your staff actually does day-to-day to make all the magic happen. This is they type of authentic and engaging tone that most people strive for, though it's not always a trivial thing to achieve.
What do you think?