Facing a social media silo? Learn how to break the cycle

The hub and spoke model can help nonprofits avoid creating social media silos.
Date Published
01/31/2014

Many organizations think they’ve done enough to improve nonprofit management simply by having a social media presence. The truth, however, is maintaining online channels like social networking sites requires a significant investment on the part of staff members and specific departments. In many cases, nonprofits ask dedicated groups of people to monitor and keep up with users on unique social networks like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. The potential problem with this approach is organizations run the risk of siloing information and outreach strategy. According to a recent article published by the U.K. newspaper The Guardian, this communications tactic – forming silos around social media content creation – can often result in fragmented and incoherent messaging.

Why make social media strategy a priority?
The margin for error is growing increasing thin, as an article for ZDNet emphasized a Gartner study finding that 80 percent of internal social networking strategies¬†are not likely to succeed. By that, Gartner means social networking efforts won’t bring about the results that organizations are expecting, largely due to gaps in leadership or an¬†overdependence on technology. Internal social networks, those aimed at connecting an organization’s employees, work in a similar way as those designed to engage external stakeholders, such as donors and volunteers. To this end, having a strategy in place that gives nonprofit personnel the capabilities to make social media outreach successful is extremely important. Instead of giving all social networking responsibilities to a single entity or department, many nonprofits are moving toward a model commonly referred to as “hub and spoke.”

Get the wheels turning
As this template would suggest, the way organizations structure their social media strategy resembles a bicycle wheel with a specified expert at the center of operations, wrote Nonprofit Quarterly. However, this individual doesn’t necessarily control all content distributed through sites like Facebook and Twitter, but would play the role of organizing information and input from various “spokes,” meaning other departments and resources. As a result, the membership department would interact with affiliates and work with the social media strategist to develop consistent content to distribute to individuals engaged on the organization’s social networking site. Another opportunity this model presents is giving the hub the responsibility to develop social media training for staff, Nonprofit Quarterly said. In this way, all personnel would have access to professional development that would ultimately improve the overall operations of the nonprofit.

Creating a coherent social media presence continues to be a challenge, but philanthropic groups have many resources available to make sure this aspect of donor management and communications functions as smoothly as possible.

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