:: Special guest post from our friend Melissa:: This is part Two:: Part One is here::
“It’s crazy. Sometimes I’ll post something and there will be 100 comments by the time I got home from work,” Weinstein says.
While she says that catching up is relatively easy, it’s the writing process that is so timely. Gathering information and pictures to write stories for the blog and Facebook takes time, especially when it’s the product of volunteers.
With so much time spent updating and posting, Weinstein admits that thinking about evaluating the different social media is overwhelming.
Likewise, Neff agrees that time is the biggest challenge when adapting to social media. He currently works with various nonprofits at Ridgewood :: Ingenious Communications and claims that understanding various social media is not the problem.
“I think everybody gets it, it’s just a matter of fitting it in,” Neff says.
He points out that social media calls for a constant effort with replying to people and actively engaging, which is on top of everything else the organization does like running campaigns.
Replying to people is important to maintaining an active presence in social media. But how should nonprofits deal with the opposition they face?
Neff gives advice for handling negativity online and says the first step is to talk to the person. Talking will allow you to make an informed decision as to whether or not they are a “troll,” which he explains as internet slang for people who love to argue.
“If you can really tell that this person can’t be reasoned with, they’re a troll and you should probably just ignore them, and definitely don’t feed the trolls,” Neff says.
He admits that sometimes a valid point can be presented with statistics, but cautions against getting into an argument with the other person. It’s best to make your point and leave it at that.
As a monitor of APA’s Facebook page, Weinstein has experienced the danger of confrontation and understands the importance of dealing with it firsthand. She told me about a particular instance with frustration as she described a Facebook page she has reported multiple times.
The profile has a picture of the APA logo with a no-symbol through it. The person behind the account began messaging people from APA’s Facebook page, and one of the negative messages was re-posted to their wall by a recipient.
Weinstein deleted the post, explained to the woman why she did, and thanked her for bringing it to their attention. “We didn’t want our volunteers going to him and starting this online battle, we try to avoid that,” Weinstein says.
With all the constant monitoring, it’s easy to see how social media can be time consuming. As a result, the day-to-day of public relations practitioners like Weinstein have changed.
“Time that would normally be spent thinking about the bigger stories and overall public relations goals, I’m spending on the daily stuff,” Weinstein says. “So, sometimes we get so caught up in the daily things that a month later we’re like ‘wait we wanted to send this out’ about some story with a larger scope.”
Additionally, the way people send out press releases and communicate with media contacts have changed. The traditional communication process has been sped up by social media.
“I’m not calling people…instead I’m just doing mass e-mails, and sending the press releases, and following up in social media and tweeting them,” Neff says.
Weinstein and Neff agree that press releases are still important given the advent of social media, because they reach a different audience. Hence, it’s important for an organization to strike a balance between different media.
While it’s evident that social media should be a staple in any public relations programs, it’s increasingly important for organizations lacking social media to jump on the bandwagon.
Organizations struggling with social media need to find a way to implement it, and Weinstein recommends giving more responsibility to volunteers as a start. APA operates almost entirely off of volunteers, and Weinstein is a volunteer herself.
Additionally, Neff says that organizations without social media in their public relations programs are in trouble, and he encourages them to catch up soon as technology is moving quickly.
It’s doubtful that social media will become obsolete anytime soon, and Neff claims that video is the future for nonprofits as it is a powerful tool for calling people to action.
“The ability to sit down and watch this two minute clip that explains exactly what your mission is and what your nonprofit is doing is just revolutionary,” Neff says.