Net Tuesday Toronto: Tales & Tips From Our First "Social Media Surgery"

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This post was originally published on TechSoup Canada and is written by Kristen Scott.

As the (new) saying goes, when it comes to social media “if you’re an expert today, you won’t be an expert tomorrow.”

That’s why at last week’s Toronto Net Tuesday we tried something a little different. Started in the United Kingdom, Social Media Surgeries (or the more Canadian title “Social Media Clinic”) bring together “surgeons” and “patients” to discuss specific and pressing challenges facing nonprofits when it comes to using social media.

Tuesday’s group was made up of a people with varying levels of experience using social media, from TechSoup Canada’s very own experts to absolute beginners - or, as one attendee observed, those looking for the “intensive care unit.”

Participants at the social media surgery

The informal format of the evening allowed participants to move from table to table, popping into conversations that were of the most interest, and discussing everything from Tumblr to Pinterest to LinkedIn.

Here are some of the questions and answers I heard over the course of the evening:

Blogging

Question: Should I start a blog?

Answer: There are a few things to consider before starting a blog. To begin with, decide what your blog is going to be about and determine whether or not you have a clear enough vision to be able to consistently post interesting content. If you do, great! If not, take a step back and ask yourself why you want to blog. Don’t start a blog just for the sake of starting a blog.

Question: What blogging platform should I use?

Answer: There are a ton of blogging platforms out there - each with their own benefits and drawbacks.  The most popular blogging platforms are: Blogger, Tumblr and Wordpress. All three are useful for different things.  Before you decide on which to use, take a minute to read reviews of each platform, then look at blogs that you enjoy reading and see which platform they use. 

For more expert tips on blogging see this post by The Case Foundation.

Francois talks about social mediaTwitter

Question: How often should I tweet?

Answer: The age old question, asked by nonprofit office coordinators/marketing managers/development directors everywhere. The simple answer is - not too much, and not too little.

Deciding how often to tweet depends on a lot of different factors - Who is your audience? What do they expect from your organization?  Do you have a dedicated community manager/social media expert? What is your capacity for managing social media? Ultimately, the most important thing to keep in mind is the quality of the content. If you tweet pictures of cats to your followers 20 times a day, that is less useful and engaging than if you share one piece of information that is relevant to your cause. So, if that means you tweet once or twice a day, that’s great.

Facebook

Question: What should nonprofits use Facebook for? What are its limitations?

Answer: Some benefits to using Facebook are: 1) it’s quick and easy to set up 2) it’s useful for promoting events 3) it provides a great platform for sharing photos and other visuals.

Some limitations of Facebook for nonprofits (especially small nonprofits) are: 1) it’s not the best way to find new followers or reach a new audience 2) it’s most useful to organizations that already have an established supporter base.

Want to delve more deeply into Facebook for nonprofits? Check out this post by social media maven, Beth Kanter. Although it’s a little bit old (by social media standards) the basic concepts still apply.

Do you have your own social media questions? Be sure to attend TechSoup Canada’s next Toronto Net Tuesday event and stay tuned for information on future Social Media Surgeries!