While social media is a "free" tool for your organization to use, it still consumes staff time. The question is, how should that staff time be allocated? Here's my recommendation for the top three activities that will get you the most mileage out of social media, especially when you have limited time to devote to it.
No matter how much time you have to devote to social media, plan to spend the bulk of it listening. Using keyword searches and feeds of related blog posts will help you find people who are passionate about your cause and are already talking about it - even if they're not mentioning your organization specifically. And by listening, you'll learn how to best...
When people respond to you, comment on your posts and retweet your content, write back. If applicable, thank them. Engage them in conversation. Likewise if you find people talking about your issue through the "listening" step above. Don't be afraid to join the conversation…just do it in an authentic, personable way. And when people say stuff that's really worthwhile...
Share what others are doing and saying related to your cause. The best way to make friends is to watch your feeds and those you follow for useful links and articles, good quotes, etc. and send them on, crediting the people who sent them originally.
Notice that none of the above say "promote your programs." I'm not saying that's not a worthwhile activity, but when it comes to social media an authentic, engaged presence is much more important.
How will you listen, engage and share today?