The Hume-Moreland Volunteer Coordinators’ Network is a bi-monthly forum specifically designed for volunteer coordinators and managers for organisations within the Cities of Hume and Moreland. The forum covers a range of topics that are relevant to not-for-profit organisations, including associations that are entirely operated by volunteers.
I was invited by Hume City Council to be the keynote speaker for today’s session, where I discussed the use of social media for recruiting volunteers and promoting organisations. While the usage of social media is increasing, the outcomes are not always consistent within the context of an overall marketing strategy.
The discussion highlighted the importance of utilising social media to complement existing marketing activities. This approach ensures that an organisation is achieving its marketing objectives and is able to measure the impact of social media.
The forum was designed to be interactive and there was a lot of discussion on several of the social media tools, including Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Computers were provided to each participant, enabling attendees to see live examples of branded Facebook pages, Twitter profiles and LinkedIn.
Like any form of media, there is always the potential of adverse publicity through social media. Organisations should have a Media and Communications Policy that covers interaction with media, including the designation of an official spokesperson. Social media should also be covered by this policy and an official spokesperson should be authorized to access the organisation’s social media services.
While board, staff and volunteers should be encouraged to use social media to promote the organisation, only the spokesperson should have authority over official accounts. Formal announcements should be made through the official social media accounts to ensure credibility.
The spokesperson should also be utilized if negative comments occur on social media. This helps prevent escalating situations and helps board members, volunteers and staff avoid negative situations. While some organisations take the approach of restricting access to social media, a more effective approach is often achieved by ensuring members utilize social media in a positive manner.
For example, social media can be effective in recruiting volunteers. Sharing content via social media is the online equivalent of word-of-mouth recommendations and this can be an effective tool in promoting volunteer experiences. Research undertaken by the Australian Bureau of Statistics indicates that 35% of people become volunteers because they were asked, while 29% knew someone involved. Organisations are able to reach prospective volunteers through social media by utilizing the experiences and networks of their existing volunteer base.
It is imperative that organisation’s take part in the discussion that occurs within social media, rather than simply trying to ignore this dialogue. Social media can be effective in promoting your organisation’s and objectives if it complements existing marketing activities, such as newsletters, websites, leaflets and media releases.
The Hume-Moreland Volunteer Coordinators’ Network is a valuable forum for not-for-profit organisations. I will be delivering a similar presentation to not-for-profit organisations in Warrnambool next month.