13 ways to save a dying social media program

Last week, I wrote about the top 20 ways to sabotage your nonprofit's social media efforts. But what do you do when you're flailing and want to make a comeback? Here are some tips to get you back in the game.

1. Try different platforms. If you feel like you've tried everything on a certain platform (i.e. Twitter, Facebook) and just aren't making a dent, maybe focusing on another platform would work better. (I don't recommend abandoning any particular platform entirely.) Look at how other nonprofits and companies are making use of some of the newer platforms (like Pinterest or Google+).



2. Adjust your expectations. If your existing strategy doesn't seem to be panning out, come up with a new strategy and a new set of expectations. Maybe you reached too high; maybe you reached too low; maybe you misunderstood the audience. It's OK! Now is the time to recalibrate.

3. Listen more. Maybe you're not posting things that people are interested in, because you're not tuned into the broader conversation around your cause. Maybe you're using the wrong tone (see point #8) for your audience. Maybe people are talking about your brand and you're missing opportunities to engage. The best way to resolve all these problems is to spend more time listening on social media. Listen for your brand name, relevant keywords, and hashtags related to your cause. (See also: Top three ways to get the most mileage out of social media.)

4. Find a better person to be in charge of the social media at your organization. Is your intern or a volunteer in charge of social media? Or IT? Or somebody who just doesn't have a passion for either the medium or your organization? Look at your organization and find someone who might be a better fit: someone who is deeply invested in the organization, communicates well, and is willing to learn.

5. Allocate more staff time to it. This is probably the toughest suggestion on the list to implement, but like anything else, you get out of social media what you put into it. There are awesome people who can cram a lot of great work into 30 minutes a day, but you have to use that time really, really well to pull it off.



6. Invest in tools, training and researching best practices. If you don't have the money to do this, there are free ebooks that can help you, as well as great blogs. There are free tools out there, too, that can make your life easier, though you must evaluate them carefully. Depending on the magnitude of your social media efforts, a paid tool might be a better solution for you.

7. Look at each platform strategically. What are you trying to accomplish? Does that align with your mission and greater communications strategies? Which social networks are worth your time? Asking these questions can help you determine where you should put the majority of your efforts.

8. Change your tone. Sometimes the way you express your brand on social media may not resonate with your audience. Does your posts sound a bit stiff? Are they difficult to read? Do you sound spammy at all? If so, consider taking some time to fine-tune things. Figure out a "voice" or tone for each social network where your organization has a presence. Here are some mistakes to avoid in that arena.



9. Give your profile a fresh coat of paint. Get a new profile photo to drive interest. Make sure your logo looks good (not blurry or cropped oddly). And make sure your "about" information is up-to-date across all platforms.

10. Stop asking. If your social channels are dominated by pleas for donations, volunteers, and more, without providing lots of additional value in the process, you might want to dial it back and reassess for a bit. Try not posting any "asks" for a month and see what happens.

11. Start measuring. It's hard to know what to change if you don't know what's working in the first place. Rather than focusing on the problems, try to find the "bright spots" and replicate them. Again, consider investing in a tool to help you do this: learn which types of posts garner the most interest (retweets and shares) and what times of day seem to be the best for posting.

12. Get to know your audience. It's also hard to know what your audience wants unless you ask them from time to time. If a casual question or poll on social media doesn't do the trick, consider sending a survey to your email list, asking what kinds of content interest them the most. If you don't get much of a response, here are some ideas to try.

13. Look at some best practices. Take a look at what organizations similar to yours are doing - or even just look at brands and organizations you think do social media well. You may be surprised at the ideas they'll generate!

What did I miss? Post your tips in the comments!

Photo credits: The Italian VoiceCambodia4KidsOrg and FormatBrain on Flickr