LinkedIn for Nonprofits: It's Not (Just) Your Father's Social Media Platform
Donors, volunteers and staff are already logged in. So it only makes sense that nonprofits should be taking advantage of all LinkedIn has to offer. Unfortunately, not enough people or organizations understand the power of this social networking tool.
And many nonprofit organizations are leaving money on the table by not using LinkedIn. Especially with some of the most recent additions to the network’s functionality, this powerful tool can provide exposure to the organizations, as well as create an environment filled with important and beneficial connections—many of whom may not be on any other social network.
Nonprofits and LinkedIn
How many nonprofit organizations are well known by large segments of a community? Red Cross, United Way and the YMCA fall into this category. But most organizations struggle to get their message in front of the public. LinkedIn, as an online destination, is a great ready-made audience. By creating Company Pages, organizations are able to connect with this audience.
Following a nonprofit’s company page means that updates about the organization show up in people’s LinkedIn feed. Company Pages also have some really great features built in, including analytics and an option for individual recommendations. Additionally, LinkedIn provides a button you can add to your website to encourage people to follow your organization.
Another way organizations can promote themselves on LinkedIn is to encourage staff to include information about the organization on their profile. This means that the organization is not only listed on a person’s profile, but that the website is posted and blog posts from the organization are linked to the profile.
One of the most exciting additions to the options for profiles is Volunteer Experience and Causes. Volunteers, donors, board members and clients now have the option to include organizations on their LinkedIn profile, which when clicked, lead to organizations’ LinkedIn pages. Therefore, it is in the interest of organizations to mount strong campaigns encouraging their supporters to fill out this section of their profile.
Spreading Your Message
One of the challenges of any social media platform is to cut through the noise in order to be heard. Organizational staff posting regular status updates and creating groups are ways to ensure their message is reaching their audience. Status updates and groups can be used to promote upcoming events, recent blog posts, industry trends and other relevant information.
Status updates should be posted at least two times a week to help maintain a presence in people’s streams. Groups provide a more intimate setting where LinkedIn users can become acquainted. Both of these features allow your voice to be heard more clearly by your audience.
Using the Search Bar
The ultimate gem of LinkedIn for nonprofits, and anyone else for that matter, is the ability to use the network’s search function. Instead of relying on word of mouth, an organization looking for volunteers, board members, and especially, new potential employees, can take advantage of this feature to view countless profiles they might not otherwise know about. With the addition of Volunteer Experiences and Causes to profiles, search on LinkedIn opens up vast networks of people to nonprofit organizations.
LinkedIn may not have the innate appeal of Facebook or Twitter because of its primary business focus. However, when used correctly, the platform provides great exposure and can be used to meaningfully increase a nonprofit’s network of supporters. Organizations that explore LinkedIn with this understanding will begin to appreciate its value. The challenge is convincing organizations to use this important and effective tool.
How do you think LinkedIn and others can motivate nonprofit organizations to use it more?
Heidi Massey is a community builder who lives at the juncture of technology and nonprofits. She created Chicago Counts, an initiative to help nonprofits learn about and use free and-low cost technology resources. Massey is passionate about creating meaningful connections between people, as well as between people and ideas. You can find her on LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+ and her blog.