Cincinnati’s Social Media Nonprofit Symposium: What Is Preventing You From Using Social Media?

Bottom Shape


Jun 04 2012

As we discussed in the first entry about the Nonprofit Symposium, social media can be used in numerous ways by nonprofits to improve and benefit their organization. When we did the post-it activity at the Nonprofit Symposium and had attendees answer 4 questions on how social media relates to their nonprofit (see Question #1), it was clear that most of the representatives wanted to use social media to promote their organization, spread awareness, and increase fundraising and donations. There was no question that the Nonprofit Symposium attendees were ready to use social media in any way possible.

The next question to focus on, therefore, was “What is preventing you from using social media?” Some answers included:

  • lack of training
  • lack of structure or of a plan
  • inability to find people willing to talk to us
  • a specific audience that has not yet embraced social media
  • organization’s reluctance to engage in dialogue

But the answer that was plastered all over the white board was plain and simple: time. Whether the answer was phrased as “time and resources” or “generating content” the message was clear: people don’t understand how easy and responsive social media can be. Attendees were worried that it would take up too much of the staff’s time that they didn’t have to give, or that they didn’t have time to educate themselves on how to use social media.

In Ehren Foss’s presentation, however, he breaks down the amount of time needed for a general social media campaign in a nonprofit, and shows that it is not nearly as time-consuming as people think. According to his calculations, all the time needed is about 6 hours over 6 weeks, which comes to about one hour a week – that’s probably a lot less than you thought, yeah?

  • 1 hour to brainstorm what kind of campaign is necessary for your organization and the supports you need
  • 1 hour to invite your stakeholders and discuss said campaign with them
  • 30 minutes to write a blog post that can cultivate excitement and interest
  • 2 hours to monitor your presence on various social media networking sites (like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Pinterest)
  • 1 hour to look at your results, download your reports, and upload them into your supporter database

So there you have it – the formula for establishing a positive and effective media presence online. A maximum of 6 hours over a period of 6 weeks doesn’t seem like too much of a time issue anymore, does it?

It’s also important to remember that you don’t have to spend hours a day trying to become an expert on every social networking site. As Krista says, choose one site, and focus solely on that until you have a respectable presence. Once you’ve mastered it, you can move on to another site. It’s a case of quality over quantity, so instead of worrying about how to factor in hours and hours to devote to your entire online presence, spend a few half hour segments a week building up your Facebook, or your Twitter. Once you feel you are comfortable and have built a solid base, then you can conquer the next site on your list.

Time is always going to be an issue, no matter what project you are trying to conquer. But that’s the great thing about social media – you can accomplish your goal and use social media by simply putting aside a couple half hour segments a week, and before you know it, you’ll have volunteers beginning to help you and donators banging down your door!

Be sure to check back in a few days for the next question and blog post from the post-it activity at the Nonprofit Symposium! In the meantime, please share what’s holding you back from using social media?



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