Your nonprofit or association has mastered the process of engaging your constituency using a message board, and now you’re ready to take a dive into the social media messaging pool.

Your budget hasn’t changed, and the board is wary as ever of approving additional expenditures, so you’re looking for the most cost-effective means to get your social message out. And, the number of hands available to keep that message fresh is also limited. So, where to start?

A good place to begin would be to discover:

  • What types of social media is your constituency currently using or most comfortable using?
  • What are your social media goals?
  • Does your core constituency prefer to read printed content or view videos?
  • How often would you have to refresh your postings to keep your constituency engaged?
  • What existing content do you have available to share?

The most common social media portals widely in use – Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn – are a good place to start. Their wide acceptance makes it likely that your constituency is familiar with and comfortable using these platforms. And, this starting place may help you define your social media goals. For example, if part of your nonprofit or association goals is donor or member recruitment, consider maintaining a presence on LinkedIn for professional engagement and visibility.

On the other hand, if you have a constituency that prefers pictures or video content, then consider posting your relevant content to YouTube or Pinterest. This may take a bit more work upfront, but remember that once the content is created, it can be shared across other types of social media. For instance, share your YouTube or Vimeo videos on your Facebook page.

More importantly, keeping your constituency engaged will depend on updating your social media content on a regular basis. Consider getting started by creating a backlog of postings using content you already have. Perhaps you have some blog, newsletter, or website content that could be reused to create a social media presence while you also begin to brainstorm new content for future postings.

And, there are always third-party suppliers who would be more than happy to help you get your social presence up and running, because, of course – there’s an app for that. Just be sure, in some cases, to control who can view or download certain kinds of content.

And finally, to avoid any social awkwardness, keep clear of some of the gotchas that make up navigating the oft-rocky terrain of social media and its trolls hiding under the bridges of the information superhighway. Be sure to designate who controls your nonprofit’s or association’s social media output, so you’re communicating a consistent message that fairly represents the ideals and mission of your organization.

And, don’t forget to have fun! After all, while it may be virtual, it’s still a social gathering. Keeping your content upbeat, cheerful, and optimistic may just be the catalyst needed to get your content, if not to go viral, at least to be favorably viewed.