Using Social Media to Recruit Volunteers – Part 3

Turning Followers into Volunteers

“OK thanks for the social media tips, but how would a social media presence help my organization recruit volunteers?”

Social Media is just another tool in your toolkit. And it’s a very powerful one because studies have shown time and time again, word-of-mouth is the most effective way to attract new volunteers.

Social media networks like Facebook and Twitter make it easy for your supporters to share information about your organization with a greater number of people. The average number of friends for a Facebook user is 120, according to the Economist. If only a quarter of those friends read a post about your org, 30 is a larger number of impressions that traditional word-of-mouth (AKA in-person interaction) would garner. Someone would have to be pretty psyched to repeat the same story to 30 people but it happens every day online.

Thus, it is important that you engage your current supporters via social media because it 1) enables your supporters share your messaging with their friends, and 2) gives potential supporters a low risk way to get know your organization.

Recruiting volunteers via social media relies on the same techniques volunteer coordinators have used for years.

  • Make a clear request for help. Set appropriate expectations up front by stating what the volunteer would do, how it supports your mission, and what the time commitment is.
  • Target specific types of volunteers you want (students or working professionals, etc.) and craft messages that will appeal to them.
  • Explain the benefits of volunteering with your organization. Volunteers can benefit from service by developing new skills, meeting new people, expanding their professional network, and exploring new hobbies/career paths.

Last but not least, be sure to ask for help in 20% or less of your posts. It wouldn’t be fun to have a conversation with someone who only talks about himself; and it would be worse if he spent the whole time asking for help! Be sure to engage people in other topics related to your mission.

Using Social Media to Recruit Volunteers – Part 2

As I mentioned before, most who attended our “Using Social Media to Recruit Volunteers Training” on May 24th are new to using social media in a professional capacity. I’ve taught this topic several times in the last 18 months and have received a lot of “how to” type of questions. Herewith are answers to a few of the perennial favorites:

  1. What’s this vanity URL option on Facebook and how do I get one?
    After your page gains 25+ fans, you can register for one.
  2. What does ______ mean?
    Use this handy social media vocabulary guide to learn what #followfriday, retweet, and podcast mean. More buzz words here.
  3. How much time does it take to develop a community on Facebook or following on Twitter? What about YouTube?
    Beth Kanter
    answered this question a couple of years ago and her advice still rings true. It takes approximately 20 hours a week to cultivate a strong community on Facebook, 15+ hours/week for YouTube, and 5-10 hours/week for Twitter.
    Tactics, Tools and TimeSource: http://beth.typepad.com/beths_blog/2008/10/how-much-time-d.html

Using Social Media to Recruit Volunteers – Part 1

Yesterday I met with a terrific group of local volunteer managers from East Bay nonprofit organizations who attended our “Using Social Media to Recruit Volunteers Training.” As always, it was a great group of thoughtful, driven people who spend their days making our communities better. (Can you tell I *love* my nonprofit colleagues?)

Most in attendance were new to social media so we covered a lot of the basics. Here are a few key points about social media best practices.

  • Look before you leap. Listen to what others are saying about your organization, and pay close attention to what other organizations with similar missions are doing online. Learn from their mistakes and successes.
  • Start small. Try one new network at a time. Consider your primary audience and review research to find out where those folks are online and go there.
  • Set S.M.A.R.T. goals (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely).
    Examples: increase number of potential volunteers contacting your organization by 10% within six months OR increase unique site visitors to your website by 55% by engaging new supporters via social media by Jan. 2012.
  • Recruit help! Involve co-workers, volunteers and Board members in creating content. More voices, ideas and opinions increase the richness of what you have to offer to your fans and followers.

To learn more about social media from people who have a lot more experience (and success!) using it that we do, check out these resources:

Do you have resources to suggest? Please add them in the comments section below!