Sharing social media learnings for foundations

Posted on August 12, 2011 by Roxanne Joffe, MagnifyGood

By Roxanne Joffe, The Patterson Foundation Strategic Communications Partner

The Patterson Foundation has embraced social media strategies to both build awareness about the foundation’s mission and vision and establish connections and relationships.

As a piece of the foundation's strategic communications plan, TPF uses Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and a blog network to share information and learn from others.

Beyond a marketing and potential fundraising tool for some organizations, foundations can think of social media as a way to listen, engage, connect and communicate. In other words, build connective tissue with online communities, expand networks and engage thought leaders in collaborative opportunities.

According to the Communications Network's "State of the Practice" digital communications survey of foundation communicators, 60 percent of respondents cited increasing digital communications capacity as a high internal priority.

Here are some things we've learned that may be helpful to you:

1. Engaging in one-way communication is just one small way to use social media. Keeping people engaged means forging two-way conversations. Need feedback? Try asking questions - you never know what valuable information you may gain.

2. Using a consistent voice is good, but vary the conversation and refrain from using too much internal jargon in your responses.

3. Respond to your audience’s comments, compliments and feedback quickly and appropriately. Be professional, but allow your organization’s personality to show through. It makes the organization more human and down-to-earth.

4. It is often better to respond to negative feedback than ignore it. However, don’t let your emotions take over when responding.

5. Create an internal social media process or calendar and follow through. Enlist employees or staff who enjoy participating in social media and use them as social media ambassadors or trainers to encourage others to participate.

The most important takeaway is this: once you decide to engage in social media, make sure you have the desire, commitment and staff to follow through consistently. Creating a social media account just to say you have a social media presence is not to be confused with using social media strategically and engaging those you want to reach.

About The Patterson Foundation Communications Lens

As The Patterson Foundation’s strategic communications partner, the communications lens provides strategic consultation and ensures all communications are consistent with TPF’s mission and values. The strategic communications partner also works with TPF, its initiatives and lenses to leverage and build relationships for the greatest impact.


  • Learn about these and other concepts used in TPF's approach to philanthropy.


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