Too Many Choices, What is the Right Network for Me?

Developing Social Media for Small and Really Small Non-Profits  Commoo11 Blog 3 Sept 2016

Choose the right network

I am continuing to review the steps in In A Strategic Guide to Social Media for Non-profits. This step would have been way easier a few years ago. It seems like every week I am hearing about some new something that is better than the last one and the old one is on its way out.  Remember how Facebook was going to die just two years ago?  Now it’s making record profits.  Instead the new whatever is just another communications tool to have to add to the list of sites that I have to figure out what is best for me.

In a 2014 Hubspot Survey of Non-Profits  (unfortunately I can’t find a Canadian equivalent),  they  found the top 10 social networks used by non-profits:

  1. Facebook (98%)
  2. Twitter (~70%)
  3. LinkedIn (~55%)
  4. YouTube (~45%)
  5. Pinterest (~25%)
  6. Instagram (~15%)
  7. Google+ (~15%)
  8. Flickr (~10%)
  9. Tumblr (~5%)
  10. SlideShare (<5%)

I would say in my experience, I would agree with this list. I know there are lots more social networks out there that I can research, and that this list or the order may have changed but I will concentrate on this list to determine my best networks.  I can always trade up if my Grace Place network starts to change.


Everyone knows Facebook, it’s the stuff of movies.  But why is it so popular with small non-profits.  There are some really small non-profits who are only on Facebook.  Part of the reason is that it is free, part because it was the first and everyone is on it.  You can link up everything you need to it, website, twitter, you can upload pictures and videos from your phone.  You can even add a “donate now” button if you are a non-profit. Facebook is the perfect place for fostering donor loyalty and soliciting donations. Facebook can do everything a website can do, just quicker and easier. When you update your Facebook page all of your followers are notified.  Not too many people notice when I update my website.  In a quick search, not surprisingly, my bigger, better organized groups are on Facebookthumbs-up, my smaller groups are not.  If I have outreach on Facebook, I can connect all my bigger groups, and I can give my  smaller groups who have no outreach some public presence.  Doesn’t look like my main funders are on, but that doesn’t mean that some of their employees aren’t.  I guess that’s a “like” for the Facebook page.


Or what I like to call a bunch of twits.  Not a fan.  I just don’t get the point, but let us proceed to figure out why I should consider using Twitter for Grace Place.  On 4aGoodCause Ronald Pruitt states that because it is less of a “commitment” then Facebook, people are willing to follow organizations that look interesting, they will also re-tweet the content because they appreciate it.  But don’t I only want people who are committed to what we do?  I move on.  Then he states because it is simple and not a big commitment, that it is a great way to build brand awareness and build new connections (ding, ding, ding – now you have my attention).  So how would I use it?

I need to #Use Different Hashtags, to do this I need to think of my relevant words such as #GracePlace, #AABrampton, #NABrampton, #CABrampton and follow already established hashtags such as #@RegenBrampton, #@VitaCentre etc.  Since I can use two hashtags in one tweet, I would think I should always have Grace Place along with the other subject I am sending.  I definitely want to put my logo in the tweet to make it more recognized.  Then I want to outreach the same way I determined my target audience, funders, media etc to expand the reach.  If what I am trying to do is create brand awareness, then I need to focus on the people who I need in my circle.  If people are successful then I will start to see people coming to me.  And yes everything I read says this is a long, slow process to build up a following.

Next I need to Mention People.  In my case, this will mean more along of the organizations, rather than individual people.  That being said, if I am given permission, I have no problem tweeting about someone celebrating a milestone on sobriety, just a first name or first initial.   The easiest way to get to get someone to notice you is to mention their name.   The best way to do this is start as a follower, get their attention then start creating some content.

Use images:

There is a reason that everyone agrees a picture is worth a thousand words. Everyone likes to look at pictures, whether it is someone happy and you want to get the message out that your support matters, or someone in distress and the message is we need your help, an image can sometimes convey the message better than anyone can describe it.  This is especially true when you are limited to 140 characters.   It is one of the best ways to send out statistics.  Sending out a colourful infographic  is much twitter-bird-singingmore likely to be re-tweeted than a few lines of statistics that bore people.

I’m not quite singing for Twitter yet, but I’ve decided it is definitely worth signing up.  


LinkedIn became popular as an online connection for people in business.  Post a mini-resume, link up with people in the same field, area of interest etc and then link away.  Then you would get endorsements, the business word for likes, and if someone was interested in you, your product or service then they could contact you.   As LinkedIn became more robust, it allowed for groups and postings so you could have more than just a person’s information, you can now upload presentations, photos, available jobs.  I looked up some of my target market.  I can’t find them as groups, but I do see people associated with those organizations.  So I think for Grace Place, it may not be the most productive investment in time.  If management software like Hootsuite can help, then I should link up my page to it, but I won’t invest too much energy into it yet.

YouTube and Photo Sharing Sites:  snoopy-celebrate-the-little-things

YouTube is the video site that has costs us all untold hours with  nothing to show for it.  Are you sitting down?  I have actually uploaded content to YouTube.

Just a few videos of the rooms we have available, so I understand the benefit.  I have watched how-to videos to learn, and wasted hours and hours  just de-stressing.  Because of the privacy that many of our guests expect here, uploading a lot of personal content may be tricky.  Many people don’t want their bosses to know they are addicts; some of the homeless don’t want their friends and family to see them (for a variety of reasons).   I also don’t want people to not come because they think they may need to be in pictures or videos.   Because of these reasons, YouTube and other photo sharing type sites may have limited use for us.  As part of developing my Social Media Plan, I will research other organizations like ours and see how they balance outreach and privacy.

So in reviewing at least the top four networks that non-profits use, I’ve come to the conclusion, Facebook, yes, Twitter, probably, LinkedIn, maybe, YouTube and photo sharing sites, sometimes. Considering where I started from, this is a HUGE leap in progress, and there are still five steps to go!


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