Walking On Social Sunshine: Identifying Your Nonprofit Association’s Social Footprint


I used to think maybe you loved me, now nonprofit I’m not sure
And I just can’t wait for the day when you ping my mobile galore
Now every time I visit my social networks, gotta hold myself down
Cos I just wait till you update me your coming around 

I’m walking on social sunshine, wooah
I’m walking on social sunshine, wooah
I’m walking on sunshine, wooah
and don’t it feel good!!
Paraphrase of Katrina and the Waves “Walking On Sunshine”

Is your organization walking on social sunshine?

What’s your organization’s online social footprint?  Not to be confused with your carbon footprint or environmental sustainability footprint.  I’m talking about your online informational social footprint. Does your social footprint make you feel good?

Three years ago, if you Googled your nonprofit organization, you might find a list of web pages and websites. If you Googled your organization today, you might find blog posts, comments, Facebook mentions, Foursquare and Gowalla check ins, LinkedIn profiles, mashup maps, podcasts, Slideshare presentations, Twitter tweets and YouTube videos. Or at least you should find your organization’s mentioned in those social networking sites.

As the social web has emerged, visits to traditional, static websites have declined. Social media use has increased.

If you think that your nonprofit association only needs a static website, you don’t understand Web 2.0, engagement and the social space. You need both.

Today, your members and stakeholders expect to find your organization’s presence in the social networks they frequent. You’re missing a valuable opportunity to engage with your members and potential members there.

So what does your social media footprint look like? Which of the following categories best describes your nonprofit organization’s social footprint?

1. Bueller? Bueller? Anyone there? You’re the equivalent of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.
Your organization’s social media presence is absent. It’s easier to find a four-leaf clover than your organization’s social media footprint.

Your organization, its members and stakeholders have nothing to share or say. The lack of an organization social footprint screams louder than its absence.

You’re sending a message that your organization is outdated, stale, old-guard, and embraces a top-down controlled philosophy. Your organization still advocates for corporate speak and the executive director is the only one allowed to say anything about your organization.

Most of the information from your organization is locked down behind a member fire wall. It’s as if the information there is the special, secret sauce, cleverly guarded and kept under password protection. The organization does not believe in allowing its members to share information or articles via social sharing. The mantra is “They will come to us because they always have and always will.”

2. You’re a 1980’s Tubular Hairdo In A 21st Century Connected World.
We’ve seen high school yearbook pictures that look better than your nonprofit’s social footprint. Yeah, you’re there but you are still waiting for your 1980’s style of social engagement to become, “Like totally rad” again in a nostalgic way. Can’t we return to the good ole days?

Your organization’s social media presence is light and updates are outdated. The organization has dabbled in some social media outposts with a sprinkling of updates on a Facebook Page, LinkedIn discussion group or a few tweets. Very few people have engaged with the organization in those social media networks. The message sent is that you’re on life support, barely breathing, outdated and ready to give up.

3. Hey you! Look at me! I said look at me!
You’re like an annoying three-year old who wants his parents, grandparents, relatives, and friends to watch everything he does. You want to be the center of attention because it’s all about your organization. No really, the sun does revolve around your nonprofit. Really!


Your nonprofit organization uses social media in the customary, traditional broadcast fashion.  Your social media footprint is like have bad gum stuck to your shoe. It’s annoying, time consuming and bottom line, feels like litter! Every piece of social media sharing screams “Me, me, me,” not “We, we, we.”

Your social sharing updates are reproduced in all of the major social networks including a Facebook Page, LinkedIn and Twitter. Rarely does your organization’s staff engage with others in the social space or customize messages for different social networks. All of the social media messages are one-way broadcasts about the organization’s articles, events, fundraising, offerings, programs and services.  And it all looks and feels like leftover redux.

4. How you doin? You’d make Wendy Williams proud with your social network engagement.
Your social media footprint is evident. Your member connections are obvious online. Your relationships with stakeholders and potential new members is like a comfortable pair of house shoes that provide an “Ah-h-h” feeling. You’re Caliente!

You trust your staff to engage with stakeholders and members in social networks just like you trust them to answer the phone or reply to an email. Your organization serves as a conduit connecting others to each other. It is a vibrant community hub and your social footprint is obvious, always being updated and refreshed.

You also use social media to listen to your members, your industry and monitor conversations. You have your ears near the heartbeat of your members and stakeholders. “How you doin” is your mantra.

So how did you rate your nonprofit association’s social footprint? What steps can you take to move from absent-nonprofit syndrome to a totally hot social footprint?

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  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Tom Megginson, Tom Megginson, Christina Coster, Christina Coster, Jenise Fryatt and others. Jenise Fryatt said: Walking on sunshine: Identifying your non-profit association's social footprint. By @JeffHurt http://ht.ly/1QKgD #eventprofs […]

  2. Hi Jeff. Nice posting. he non profit I am working at is number 3 and we are moving towards number 4. I dusted off my blog and am going to just speak from the heart and try to get as much feedback as I can.
    Last time I sent too much time trying to write what I thought would be popular and not enough about what was important. Not going to make that mistake again.

    Thanks for the posting and leadership. You two do good work!


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