This is the fourth post of our new guest blog series Knack, highlighting purposeful and powerful, local voices exploring nonprofit ideas, feelings, and know-how.
Featured Guest Voice | Julie Grawe, Director of Digital and Senior Brand Strategist, Mission Minded
Living in a hyper-connected world can make us feel like we need to be “on” all the time. And that’s exhausting. The reality is that we — as individuals and as organizational representatives — can’t be at our best every waking (and unwaking) second.
Whether you’re using one social media platform or many, you likely have a steady following somewhere. Those followers, to some degree, shape what you think about and sometimes even how you feel.
But giving over that kind of control has a time and a place — and it isn’t every day.
We need to disconnect, at least temporarily, to reorient and revitalize.
The Disconnection Connection
To test my theory that occasional disconnection is an essential part of modern life, I recently unplugged from Facebook for an entire month. The first week was tricky; I was shocked at how often I would grab for my phone to check my newsfeed, only to remember I’d deleted my app.
For stimulus, I realized I’d have to look inward. My mind was (more) free to think and drift and relax. After five days clean, I became convinced that unplugging was key to living a happy life.
Now that my trial month is complete, I still haven’t fully reengaged with the Facebook world. I only log in once every few days and haven’t reinstalled the Facebook mobile app.
Here’s what I learned from the experience:
Being Missed Is a Good Thing
“To be missed is to be noticed.” Someone wise must have uttered those words, right?
While nonprofit organizations don’t want to keep their community in the dark — particularly during this age of engagement — it’s okay to be a little absent. Personally, I think each one of us should be more absent from social media more often.
For an organization, the key is to communicate why you’re disconnecting (a retreat, staffing change, closed office, etc.) and to help your followers anticipate your return. Consider a giveaway or a promotion when you come back online to re-engage your followers.
Pick Your Platforms
I don’t believe in broadcasting on every social media platform all the time, and I say that as the Director of Digital for Mission Minded!
Find the platform that works best for you, your organization, and your audiences. You’re not likely going to attract a huge following of teenagers on Facebook nor 50 year-old professionals on YouTube. Pinpoint the tools your people use and don’t feel compelled to spread your message across all channels.
As one example, take Canal Alliance, a wonderful nonprofit champion of immigrants. The organization — like many nonprofits — was challenged by a lack of resources and the unfamiliar social media environment but that didn’t stop them from mastering the “where to be and when” dilemma.
Their CEO, Omar Carrerra, became the voice of their Twitter account, sharing his leadership through that platform. Meanwhile, their Facebook page offers a steady flow of relevant, organization-specific events and updates.
Trust Your Tribe
Social media is as much about engaging with your current audiences as it is about attracting new fans to your flock. You need to be strategic about how and where to rally support — on- or off-line. And, you need to trust your tribe to find you.
Do what you do best — whether that’s serving children in the inner cities who lack access to quality childcare or advocating for animals who have been abused and neglected. When you master your passion or purpose, your tribe will find you. Use social media to share what you do and inspire others to join with you — don’t let social media be solely what your nonprofit organization does.
Let Your Network Lift You Up, Not Weigh You Down
My mother, a retired teacher, passed away on July 4th. To honor her, one of her former students set up a class challenge to raise money for an education fund in our hometown. He only used Facebook to promote the challenge. With videos and posts — and the power of an engaged network — more than 120 former students from 23 classes donated $8,205 in just a few weeks!
From fundraising to finding dog sitters, your social media network can be a huge asset in the right situations. Trying to use social media for everything, however, can pull you away from your mission and deplete your resources.
Unplug to Re-energize.
Social media shouldn’t rule your life. While your nonprofit needs to be online, it can do so without stretching itself too thin. And you can decide for yourself whether and when you want to engage personally with social media.
Less, it turns out, can be more.
For further insights into brand and digital strategy, join me and my colleague Abbey Meyers on Monday, October 21 from 9:15-10:45 am at the Colorado Nonprofit Conference. She’s a certified yoga instructor and brand and digital master. I’ve found my balance between leading a digital team and disconnecting — your nonprofit organization can as well.
Together, we'll help you find A Zen Approach to the Ever-Changing Digital World.