Two women chat over coffee, a photo by Drew HerronStill wary of the social media bandwagon? Your caution isn’t without reason; for all the success stories there are more failures and people who just don’t get it.

However, while it may be an overused buzzword, social media is not a fad — and it’s not going away any time soon.

It’s all about being social

Social media is really just a fancy way to describe online communication. Tools like Facebook and Twitter let you connect quickly and broadly with groups of people who are interested in your cause. That doesn’t mean you should scrap what you’re already doing; instead, build on it.

Get to know your fans. The great thing about online communication is that you only have to tune in if you want to. That means anyone who has chosen to connect with you stepped up to say, “Yes, I want to know more.”

Start a conversation. Social media tools make it easier for you to build relationships by sharing information, connecting with new resources, and getting feedback.

Measure what works. Once you’ve figured out which metrics work best for your organization, you can track results that are timely, specific and help identify new opportunities.

Why your non-profit should care

There are many arguments against social media and definitely things to consider before you sign up. However, there are also good reasons to get past those issues:

Competition. If you’re not talking to your donors somebody else is. You are always competing with other charities, and the one with the strongest relationship will win.

Relationships. Connections made online are just as real, impactful, and beneficial as the ones you make in person – and they increasingly overlap.

Awareness and participation. Your supporters are talking about you; choosing not to participate just leaves you out of the loop, unable to respond, and unaware when things go wrong.

At a workshop several years ago, a member of the audience stood and said he simply didn’t want to be on Facebook. One of the panelists replied, “Oh – you’re on Facebook.” You can choose not to participate, but ultimately there is no way to opt out.

Have your social media plans hit any roadblocks?
Please share your experience in the comments!