The most recent installment of BC Social Work’s Winston Leadership Series, run by the BC Center for Social Innovation in partnership with the United Way, featured a new paradigm for the series by which attendees were able to learn from a leading nonprofit practitioner, apply what they learned in practice, report back, and revisit those learnings with the leader in a follow-up forum.
In this case, that leader was Rich Greif, Vice President of Marketing, Communications, and Community Relations at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Massachusetts Bay. In an initial meeting in March, Greif hosted an engaging workshop on how employees at all levels can help with an organization’s external communications and social media presence. In April, participants returned to report back on successes that they were able to integrate on the job.
Takeaways were varied. Following the completion of a social media audit suggested by Greif, one student and her supervisor noticed that their audience was limited to other nonprofits and foundations. With encouragement from Greif, they sought to find ways to “break out and reach new audiences.”
Another team underscored the risk of handing over social media responsibility to a student or intern, a common practice for understaffed agencies. Brand awareness matters even in the nonprofit world, and this team realized that there can be consequences attached to having someone who is not skilled in messaging take over social channels.
Greif provided targeted, actionable advice to those gathered. Among his suggestions:
- Tap into people’s emotions on social, or do something surprising, such as post an astonishing statistic.
- Developing a Content Marketing Strategy that is holistic, across channels of communication.
- Think about how you want to position your organization – are you a helpful friend, a trusted authority, an influential thinker, a reliable performer, an innovative changemaker – and then think about how to make your messages match with this self-characterization.
- Develop an action plan as to what you can do individually to make a difference on social media, and then sell this idea to your managers.
Event sponsor BCSSW’s Center for Social Innovation has taken Greif’s words to heart, already integrating his strategies into the job description for its next graduate assistant.
“Rich’s session underscored the importance of articulating what you want to get from your external communications,” said Olivia Mathews, Assistant Director at the Center. “We typically have a new graduate assistant each year who takes the lead on managing our social media accounts. Going forward, we will incorporate Rich’s recommendations and provide the new assistant with guidelines and goals to increase the effectiveness of our posts.”