Do’s and Don’ts for Making Sense of Social Media


It goes without saying, the days of web 1.0 where information was a one-way street are over. Now, we live in a world where communication happens in the blink of an eye – from a tweet to a post and the “like”. So how should non-profits start to make sense of all the social media tools out there?


  1. Stop thinking that social media is a trend: Social media, whatever medium it may be, is here to stay.
  2. Determine if you have internal capacity to develop and maintain your social media tools and campaign: Just to get an idea of the time and resources needed, according to Mansfield’s “Social Media for Social Good”, the “big 3” Facebook, Twitter and YouTube require a minimum of 15 hours weekly, while blogging takes 10 hours weekly.  Add a fundraising component and that takes an addition 5-10 hours weekly.
  3. Create a job description for a Social Media Manager or Coordinator that hits on the following skills: At least 1-2 years of experience in publishing written content for online communications including e-newsletters, blogs, and online campaigns; Maintains their skill set by keeping abreast of Social Media Blogs and Mobile Technology and webinars; Demonstrates analytical skills to create brand strategy; and is a quick learner.


  1. Leave your social media to just anyone: Your social media activities is your voice on the web.  Don’t just give it to anyone.  In the best case scenario, hire someone. In an environment where resources may be limited, it may be tempting to just give it to a volunteer or intern. If you do, make sure to supervise, provide them with training and get all passwords/logins to help transition during turnovers.
  2. Leave your audiences waiting or spam them with multiple messaging:  It is important to think about each social media tool and their applicability to the needs of your organization.  Create a plan on the types and frequency of messages you will publish on each tool.
  3. Don’t be afraid to experiment:   Although the days of web 1.0 are over, there is still so much to learn about how to use social media in concert.  Create profiles on at least the “big 3” social media tools and start following other similar organizations to help guide your social media strategy.

Resources for hiring a social media manager:


 Photo credit: Stuart Davidson


5 thoughts on “Do’s and Don’ts for Making Sense of Social Media

  1. Your post was a good one for me to read. You’ve addressed a lot of the questions I’ve had all week about how social media can and should not be used for health information. Your first point is spot on. Great post.

  2. Hi Jennifer,
    You did a great job in your post hitting on some of the key points for nonprofits. I think your don’ts are really important especially the leaving social media to just anyone. I think this is crucial. Many nonprofits (and some for profits too) do not know the value in these skills. Throwing any young person into this role can be a huge mistake. My agency started exploring and expanding our presence on social media seriously about 3 years ago. This is way late in the game. It wasn’t until we hired someone with actual skills like you mention above, did we our social media efforts have any impact. The posts we now have are much more focused and engaging.

  3. Agree, that was my favorite learning piece this week. Social media manager? I want that job, is like a creative psychologist protected behind a screen posting knowledge. Those memes always crack me up, why were they not invented before!

  4. Jennifer,
    This is just great! i think your first point is probably the one that has taken me the longest to internalize. For so long I dismissed Facebook, Twitter, and others as some flash in the pan. How silly am I? I may not always know which trend will be lasting (can we all say a collective thank you that QR codes are gone?), but I now realize I need to be much more open to experimenting. I may not become a fervent follower of Google+ or FourSquare, but I can’t afford to be a professional (trying to get word out about health issues i care about) and not know how to engage with social media generally.

  5. “stop thinking social media is a trend” is such a powerful concept. I looooove FB — but I was resistant at first. I had AsianAvenue –> MySpace, but those were both really short-lived. I never imagined FB would survive and prosper as long as it has! Your point is so concise and accurate: it’s here to stay, it’s here to grow!

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