Posted by Jay Wilkinson

I’ve made it pretty clear, both here and in my webinars, that I believe most nonprofits should think twice about investing heavily in social media.

For some organizations, building a big presence on social networks makes sense—especially for those that have a strong base of supporters and followers who engage consistently on social media. If your cause is one that gets people posting and talking frequently, then go for it. But honestly, that’s true for only about 20% of nonprofits on the planet.

The other 80% of you would do well to establish a solid presence on the major social networks, but not worry about investing a great deal of time and resources.

Why? Because social media is leased land. Facebook is someone else’s property, and you’re just staking out a little corner of it. Twitter can modify the rules of engagement at any time. The way that people interact on Google+ can change next month. That’s why it’s really important that we keep our websites at the center of our universe.

That said, I do believe that having some sort of presence on the major social networks is worthwhile, so I’m going to pass along a few social media power tips over the next few week. These suggestions will help you build a solid presence (if you haven’t already) on the three major networks in 2014—Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

Let’s start with the biggest giant in the room. Here are four ways for your organization to get the most out of Facebook in the coming new year.

  1. Secure your username, or your vanity URL. Once 25 people like your organization on Facebook, you’re able to register for a unique name. This makes it easier for people to find you via search engines.
  2. Consider running a Facebook ad. For most nonprofits, I’m not a huge proponent of using Facebook as a marketing tool. However, the upside of using Facebook ads is they’re highly targeted. You can say, “I want this ad to show up only to females aged 25-40 and this particular zip code area.” And it will. You can be really specific, which means the ads can be really effective.
  3. Update your cover photo frequently. Not every week—updating it every few months should suffice. Just remember that activity shows people that someone’s home. A completely static cover photo may make your Facebook page feel like a ghost town.
  4. Configure your Facebook settings to allow more participation. In other words, don’t set your privacy settings too tight. You want to open up the gates of communication and let people post and comment on your wall.  That’s what Facebook is there for—to foster engagement. You might not have a chatty audience, so if your posts are met with the sound of crickets chirping, then don’t invest a lot of time into posting frequently. But at least open up your settings to allow users to engage if they would like to.

These tips will get you set up nicely on Facebook and allow you to establish a presence and connect with followers who want that. Check back next week—I’ll talk about important power tips for Twitter.