"A journey of a thousand miles ..."

Six months ago, Twitter reported it had more than 100 million registered users with 300,000 more signing up each day. The chart to the right  illustrates this growth in terms of the number of tweets per day.

A recently released study from the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Center for Marketing Research indicates that the not-for-profit community has jumped whole-heartedly into the social media fray.

The study reports that 93% of the charities interviewed have a Facebook profile, 87% a Twitter presence and 65% have a blog. More than 90% of the organizations also said they monitored the Internet for mentions of their organization.

Granted, the study's sample was pulled from Forbes list of the largest 200 charities in the country.

Can smaller organizations keep up?

“I don’t even know where to begin,” a beleaguered communications director lamented recently. “Let alone get everything else done I need to do.”

So true. But how can an organization committed to building and maintaining relationships justify not participating in a tool perfectly suited for bringing like-minded people together. Building community. Engaging in conversation. Spreading the word.

The biggest challenge is often figuring out how to begin using social media in a realistic and meaningful way. 

A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.

Try breaking it down into specific applications. Like activating or coordinating volunteers. Or recognizing those contributions.

Providing updates on an upcoming event. And thanking attendees afterward.

Sharing success stories that give evidence of the good work you do (and asking advocates to help pass them on).

Retweeting affirmative comments. Responding to concerns. Linking to articles or reports about key issues or that illustrate the need.

And consider, instead of having a single individual take this on, coordinating the effort among several staff members. The volunteer director. Event coordinator. Executive director.

But ask the question. How do you make social media work for you?