I’m the only social media consultant in the world who will give you the following advice: don’t outsource your social media operations.

Your organization’s presence on social media is the most visible and vital reflection of your brand. With very few exceptions, managing your social media must be done by a stakeholder within your organization (a staff member, an engaged board member, a team of passionate volunteers), as opposed to a third-party contractor.

Your constituents have an intimate relationship with your brand on social media. It’s an arena defined by immediacy in communications, and two-way discussion.

If you’re truly taking advantage of what Facebook, Twitter and the like have to offer, you’re having a conversation with your constituents, not just broadcasting messages to them. This back-and-forth discussion requires your social media manager to have the authority to speak for your brand.

Your social media posts (if you’re doing them right) will lead to questions from your followers. The person managing your social media must be able to offer answers in a timely way and keep the conversation moving forward (without posting awkward responses like, “I’m not sure…let me check with our Executive Director and get back to you!”).

So, what can social media consultants offer nonprofits?

  • Creating an overall plan (or editorial calendar) for your social media platforms
  • Designing a specific social media fundraising or awareness campaign
  • Training your staff and volunteers in social media best practices
  • Analyzing your results
  • Auditing your past social media activity and making recommendations for improvements
  • Creating content (images, video, blog posts) to be used on social media
  • Working as part of a team in the day-to-day management of social media
  • Integrating your social media into your other communications

Too many nonprofit professionals get frustrated and think, “Let’s outsource our social media.” But social media management entails a number of tasks—some of which are best handled by stakeholders within the organization. Realizing which tasks can and cannot be outsourced is the key to maximizing the value of social media consultants.