Behind the Tweets: Paul Day
Research and ongoing conversations with members of the Center for Nonprofit Advancement demonstrate that marketing and communications is an area of top concern for nonprofits across our region. Social media—from Facebook to Pinterest—is among the newest tools in the communications toolbox. How do organizations effectively integrate social media into their existing communications and fundraising strategies? How do staff stay active in online conversations while meeting offline needs within their organizations?
We’re going Behind the Tweets with Center member organizations to ask how they do it and share tips, strategies and advice from the staff supporting these effective social media efforts.
Name: Paul Day (Paul notes that he's not as "ridiculously serious" as he looks in his photo!)
Job title: Communications Manager
Organization: DC Central Kitchen
Q&A with Paul Day
Which social media channels do you use?
Facebook and Twitter. There are something over 40 social media properties owned by DC Central Kitchen/Campus Kitchens Project. There is also our website which is something of a blog (it’s Wordpress based) but we disabled comments. Blogs are really passé now and we’re finding less people are digesting content on the organization website and are just getting quick snippets from Facebook/Twitter.
Do others from your organization post or contribute content? If so, any tips for managing that process?
Yes, we have several staff persons contributing content and sometimes interns. Decentralization and a division of labor on a topical level seems to be the best policy for social media updates. Having an editorial agenda that guides content is essential, though surprisingly we don’t have one written out. Something else I need to do.
Is social media 100% of your job? If not, tell us a bit about your other responsibilities.
No. I also manage our media relations, website development, internal communications, e-mail marketing, branding, some print design and I contribute to our direct marketing efforts as well. It’s a lot of stuff, but I consider myself specialized in social.
How much of your day (or week or month) do you spend on social media?
Two-to-three hours per weekday but it really varies depending on what we are doing. Sometimes it’s all day, like today.
What do you find most challenging about social media?
Social media channels are very high maintenance and always keeping the channels fresh is a challenge for me given my other responsibilities, but I do have help. There is so much content to capture, so that’s another challenge – being the eyes and ears of our programs when you can’t be everywhere. Our standards are pretty high. We are a social media driven organization.
What’s been most rewarding about your use of social media?
Social media allows me to interact with the public on a daily basis. It used to be that an organization would only be able to interact with donors four times a year with each quarterly appeal, but now we’re hitting our supporters with content every day. So it’s rewarding to see them interact with that content, share it and sometimes they even donate. We can more easily measure what people are interested in through social media. It’s like instant gratification versus sending out a letter which people may sit on for days.
Can you share an example of how social media has helped your organization?
Innumerable ways. We always hear from donors that they are getting their news about us primarily through Facebook and Twitter, even if it’s not the main mechanism for giving. Volunteers are always giving us shouts out and we sell tickets to events primarily based on social media coverage. So this is all affecting our bottom line.
Any tips for other nonprofits on how to make social media work for you? Any tools you love to use?
Don’t be boring. Share lots of photos. Keep your topics diverse. Experiment. Get more than one person in your organization involved in contributing to social media. Don’t have restrictive social media policies. Post frequently and regularly, but be aware of the burn rate on channels especially Facebook. Use an analytics suite to measure your conversations. We use Sprout Social and Hoot Suite. I really like Sprout Social’s analytics functions.
Our thanks to Paul for sharing his time and expertise with us!