5 Ways Nonprofit Blogs Can Prevent a Social Media Disaster

5 Ways Nonprofit Blogs Can Prevent a Social Media Disaster

When I was working on my English degree at Mississippi State, I quickly learned the importance of editing and multiple drafts. It always perturbed me when my professors would hand me a paper covered in red marks and tell me to try again. But as one professor told me, “Your first draft will always suck.”  You never know how people will respond to what you’ve written until you have someone else read it. It wasn’t until I became a copywriter that I realized how much that statement applied to writing nonprofit blogs.nonprofit blogs, social media disasterWhen a group of people start a nonprofit, it’s because they want to change the world in tangible ways. Nonprofits and their supporters are therefore very passionate about what they do. When a group of people are very passionate about something, they tend to form their own communities and develop a language around the thing they are passionate for. This is why word choice and diction are very important when writing for nonprofits. Nonprofits often deal with highly controversial or sensitive issues, so it’s important to be sensitive to the vocabulary of the specific community you’re writing for.

A nonprofit whose blog we follow found out the hard way what can happen if  you aren’t careful with language. A few months ago, they posted an update blog about an extremely  sensitive and some might say controversial subject on their nonprofit website and shared the blog on their social media accounts. The blog was well meaning, but it could have been worded very differently. As a result, the blog received some vehement responses. Readers left comments like “livid” and “disgusting.” This organization was on the verge of a full flegded assault from their own audience. They eventually had to pull down their entire website because of that one blog. Talk about worst case scenario!  

Often nonprofit organizations will have personal relationships with their supporters and know what is okay and what is not. They did, after all, start their nonprofit to help this community, but sometimes things just don’t work out the way we plan. We all make mistakes, but the problem with the internet is that it remembers EVERYTHING. That mistake can come back to haunt us if we’re not careful. It’s far easier to prevent these sorts of things from happening than it is to fix them.

As they say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, so here’s some things you can do to prevent a disaster.Create a list of acceptable and unacceptable language for anyone writing your  blogs, social media updates, etc. This will help everyone in your office know what your organization’s voice sounds like and is especially helpful if you have many people collaborating on your blog and social media. Establishing a set of guidelines can help reduce the number of mistakes that your organization makes and help keep everyone uniform.

If you make a mistake and someone leaves you a negative review, you don’t have to delete that bad review. Actually, we recommend that you don’t censure your negative online reviews. Show that the people in your organization are only human and acknowledge that you made a mistake. Simply apologize and try to make amends. (There are exceptions to  this if it could leave you liable in a legal case.See here.)(Another exception would be trolls. Don’t feed the trolls. They just want attention. Don’t acknowledge them. Don’t even look at them.)

Share. Don’t sell. It’s called social media for a reason. It’s a place where people communicate and share their everyday experiences. Listen to and engage with your followers and donors. You have to earn your way into their streams, and if  you’re not engaging them in a meaningful way, it doesn’t really matter how well designed your marketing strategy is. They won’t be paying attention if you’re not paying attention.  Don’t be the organization that blindly hops on a trending hashtag without knowing the conversation like Digiorno did that one time. I know they’re not a nonprofit but this still serves as a great lesson.DiGiorno Social Media Disaster

Require at least one additional set of eyes on everything before it goes out. We know that our nonprofit clients know their communities better than we do. When we take on a new nonprofit client, we let them know upfront that it will take us a few weeks to adjust our writing to their voice, because sometimes we simply don’t know the community’s language. This is why we make sure that at least two sets of eyes has seen every piece of content that we write for our clients. Then, once it has been approved in house, we sent it to the client and have them look over it again. Often this means multiple revisions are necessary, but we go through this process until our clients are happy with the final result.

Don’t get down and in the gutter and try to duke it out with the naysayers on your page. Some people want to provoke you into a public fight on Facebook, Twitter, or the comments section on your blog. Don’t give them the satisfaction. Take any heated debate offline as soon as possible and always keep your tone upbeat. If you have to, step away from the computer and get a cool headed co-worker to write out a calm and dignified response.

We love working with our nonprofits, because we know there’s meaning behind the work. It’s our job to help the right people find our organizations at the right time. In doing so, we feel like we throw the stone that starts the ripple effect. I’m glad my professors were so tough on me at State, because now I can use those writing skills to help nonprofits use blogging and social media to do what they do best; make tangible change in the world.{{cta(‘aa04b664-0099-45db-9a6d-0c99a3c63e89’)}}