Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Before You Go Social, Check Your Site

There is considerable pressure for nonprofits to engage with social media. Too often, however, the accounts gets opened, a flurry of activity ensues, and then atrophy sets in as the presence becomes anything but fresh. Rushing to be part of Web 2.0 without forethought can do more harm than good for your nonprofit.

Before you go social, get your Web in order. A prime benefit of social media is driving users to your Web site. If your current site has the oomph of a wet mop, spend time refining its content before talking it up on Twitter and LinkedIn. If you want in on Web 2.0, make sure your site is easy to use and gives people a reason to come back.

//Map Your Content
A well-planned information map that considers your audience is essential. Build the map for the future of your site, not just for today. It makes incorporating social media (and other whistles) easier down the road.

// Link Your Brand
The experience someone has at your site should reflect the connection you want them to have when they are thinking about giving of their time, talent and/or treasure. Carefully consider your colors, select your imagery and write your copy to motivate your visitor. And, be consistent.

// Analyze Your Visits
Get some treasured stats to help make your case, monitor your progress, tout your success and retool your approach over time. Consider incorporating Google Analytics to get started.

// Enlist Your Friends or Insider Constituents
Sometimes you're just too close to the project. Ask friends or others who know you well to take a spin through your site and tell you a few things they liked and would want to change about their experience.

A solid online presence is the platform from which your social media efforts can spring. Start with your Web, then explore your e-mail power and then make a plan for how you might branch out into other avenues, what you want to accomplish in each avenue and how many resources you're ready to put behind it. With a purpose and a plan, you're ready to grow.
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