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Skagit Valley Hospital

Social Media: Where to Begin

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Okay, you get it; social media is intriguing and may be useful for your organization. But where do you start? Deciding on your personal participation is different from an organization choosing how to enter this new brave world. Below is a sequence of steps to walk through with your organization before jumping headfirst.

1. Ask: What are you doing online currently, if anything? How are you organizing yourself online? Ensure that your quest for new territory online isn’t duplicating what has already been done.

Once you know where you are, decide where it is you want to be – what are you trying to accomplish with a social media presence? The best place to start this question is to look at your strategic, campaign, or communications plan. Within those plans are there goals you can address using social media? Perhaps your organization wants to reach out to the Millenials – focus on the goals other than revenue generation.

2. Identify: Who is in your immediate network? This is where you begin to segment your supporters by constituency. It’s different for everyone. Once you have identified these constituencies, decide what you need most from each one of them. Then flip the question: what are your supporters most interested in doing? The goal is to find that balance of offering interesting ways to be involved through social media in a way that your supporters can and want to do. Will they contact their congressional representative to advocate for health care? Will they become and recommended to their friends to become a fan of your organization on Facebook?

3. Examine: What is your current brand identity? What image is your organization projecting? If you currently have an online presence, ask yourself how that presence reflects your brand. If you are creating a new presence on social media, you will want to be clear as to what kind of image you want to portray. Then examine how that brand matches (or doesn’t) those of the supporters you are trying to reach.

4. Link: The next step is to begin! Begin integrating new social media tools within your existing activities such as event planning, meeting coordination, giving clubs, partner networks, etc. Create volunteer opportunities to increase involvement such as targeted advocacy efforts, forwarding emails and articles, and tagging pictures. Don’t forget to involve the supporters that are most interested in helping you succeed in this effort. Ask for help in expanding your online presence and tools for interaction

5. Track: Knowing whether social media is helping your organization requires you to evaluate and measure your efforts. This is important to ensure you are being efficient with your time and effective with your efforts. It takes time to get results, but begin looking at metrics such as response rates, number of actions taken by a supporter, number of subscribers/friends, and number of comments/posts. Determine what measurements work best to help meet your goal.

And have fun! Social networking is about creating relationships, sharing interests, and mobilizing action. For development professionals, that’s practically second nature! Enjoy the new frontier…

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