Social media: Mission critical

If your nonprofit continues to ignore social media, your website (and maybe your organization) could become irrelevant in less than a year.

Why? Simply put, social media is the main way people are finding content on the web now. According to a recent San Francisco Chronicle article, Facebook has outstripped Google as the main traffic source for big sites like MSN and Yahoo!.

What does this mean for you and your organization? With people relying on their friends to recommend websites and articles, rather than going out and searching for them independently, it's more important than ever that you have a comprehensive, strategic plan for how your organization works with social media as a part of your overall communications, marketing, and web strategy.

In all likelihood, people are already talking about you on Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, and LinkedIn - shouldn't you be a part of the conversation? (And if people aren't talking about you on these sites, that's a problem you need to work on, too!)

In practical terms, if you're sinking resources into Search Engine Optimization for your website, for example, you should be investing at least as much money, time, thought and strategy into making your content easy for folks to share on Facebook, Twitter, etc. and creating a bold, comprehensive presence for yourself and your organization on these sites.

If you haven't already started doing this, you may already be losing potential web traffic, members, and donations. But the good news is, all of these things are quick and easy to set up. The sign up process for all the major social networking platforms takes only a few minutes. And the really good news is that the best first step to getting involved is to simply listen. Do some searching; see what people are saying about your organization and its key issues. Learn how people phrase things, what the language of each platform is, how people tell their stories...and then, when you're comfortable, join in the fray.

You can do it. It's easy. But you have to start now. Your organization's future depends on it.