Board Leadership, a national professional journal for members of both corporate and nonprofit boards, published a byline by Kristin Dyak, Cyphers Digital Marketing Director, on using social media to raise the visibility of and promote the mission of their organization.
Here’s the full byline:
Over the roughly 150 years that boards have existed, the func- tions and responsibilities required of their members have grown in both number and diversity. And though they certainly vary from corporation to cor- poration and nonprofit to nonprofit, all share the essential need to establish, update, and implement their organization’s mission.
Although perhaps not top of mind, one of the best ways to do this is by efficiently and effectively leveraging the power of social media—both as an organization as a whole and as individual board members. As a current member of two boards, those of the Chesapeake Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) and Broadway Crew, a promotional staffing resource for Broadway-related brands and events, I’ve helped implement social media initiatives and seen firsthand how powerful a board’s focus on this area can be.
With that in mind, here are my top recommendations for boards and board members seeking to amplify their message through social media.
How Boards Can Ensure their Organization Is Using Social Media to Advance their Mission
Before you can determine where you’re going, you must establish a starting point.
To this end, it’s essential to take the time to carry out a deep-dive audit of your current social media accounts. This includes taking stock of post frequency, content categories and subject balance, engagement rate, and internal participation. These metrics will create a baseline for your growth moving forward and will also assist in dictating your social media strategy per platform.
This done, you should then turn to your content and prioritize two things: developing and consistently posting the type of content that advances your organization’s mission and, equally important, tailoring it to each platform and audience. For example, your audience on LinkedIn and Twit- ter may primarily consist of industry professionals, meaning that standard content categories for the network are mission-focused industry news, event promotions, and content from attendees. Your Instagram and Face- book followers, on the other hand, are likely consumers of or general fans of your brand/mission, for whom posts that feature company culture and new product announcements are better suited. Overall, your content should appeal to your organization’s fans in addition to employees, industry thought leaders, and board members alike.
But reaching your audience doesn’t necessarily mean creating a one-
way bulletin board of information, as engagement can expand beyond simply liking, commenting, and sharing a post. For example, at PRSA we created a contest on its Facebook page in which chapter members who engaged with the post were entered into a drawing for a chance to receive a free registration to a virtual industry summit. This type of promotion not only encourages interaction with the content, but also shows that the organization values involvement in industry events.
It’s also important to remember that your social media channels are not simply megaphones for promoting your content. If done properly, you can utilize social media listening to increase engagement within your online communities; there are several listening tools available that aggregate content based on search terms and relative hashtags. This can also be done manually by searching terms and hashtags, but I recommend using a tool that encompasses the whole conversation and alerts you to real-time trends. It’s valuable to participate in these discussions from your organization’s accounts not only to express your stance on certain topics that you and your constituents care about, but also because liking someone’s comment may result in a retweet coming your way given that engagement is give-and-take.
In a more narrow scope, it’s worth- while to follow, monitor, and engage with content posted by your stakeholders, employees, and industry partners. An efficient way to do this on Twitter is to create lists for each category. Scan the list during your regularly scheduled monitoring to sift through your main news feed and interact with a specified group of accounts. On the other social media platforms, I recommend either saving links to notable accounts in a document or as bookmarks in your web browser. That way they’re accessible and easy to click through when browsing for engaging content. Encouraging your stakeholders, employees, and industry partners to tag you in their content, when appropriate, can also be a very helpful way to ensure that you receive a notification and are able to engage right away. This level of engagement tightens the digital community by showcasing a unified front with a parallel message.
How Board Members Can Promote Mission Themselves
Board members can serve as an extension of an organization’s or brand’s presence and mission them- selves, acting as top-level ambassadors by establishing and maintaining a thought leadership role that’s prevalent on all channels. Given this, it’s valuable to periodically conduct a self-assessment of your digital activity just as you do with that of your organization.
For starters, the lowest-hanging fruit is likely adding your involvement to your LinkedIn profile. This is a great way to display your connection with the organization because it may not be your place of employment and can be incorporated under “Experience,” “Volunteer Experience,” or “Accomplishments,” depending on which category best suits how the board role fits into your professional profile.
As for content, it’s important to “go beyond the like” and give the content posted by the organization whose board you’re on more than
a mere mouse-click. This means sharing it with a comment about
its importance, sharing additional content related to the cause, and tagging the organization, and the like—essentially, using your personal content to promote your organization’s mission in any way you can.
This not only broadens the content’s reach, but creates content for your page and showcases the pride you take in your involvement. Your net- work of followers will see that you’ve interacted with the post, which will generate more impressions, and ultimately, an increase in engagement, continuing the web effect of exposure. For example, although I do not work in the Broadway industry, I follow and share content from not just Broadway Crew itself, but also high-level industry media outlets and popular shows. This has a two-pronged result: It increases engagement for like-minded content that’s related to Broadway Crew and connects the dots of my involvement with the organization.
When engaging, it’s key to portray a clear tone and stance on topics relating to your mission and be mindful of the sources you’re sharing and citing so that your content aligns well with both your intention and that of the organization. And, similar to the organization’s content strategy, it’s also important to tailor your posts to each platform. If you’re sharing a photo of board members at Happy Hour, for example, Facebook or Instagram would be an appropriate medium, whereas an initiative announcement would perform best on Twitter and LinkedIn.
There’s clearly a lot to consider when it comes to the ever-changing world
of social media, but the importance of a digital presence is something that boards—and board members—both big and small can’t ignore. It’s always valuable to remind yourself that you joined the board because you believed in what the organization does, and putting a renewed focus on in its
social media presence—whether on an internal level or by working with professionals with expertise in the digital world—will likely be well worth the investment.