2.4 Developing a Social Media Presence for the VOPE


Social media is a cost-effective way of disseminating your content and creating increased visibility for your VOPE.  There are several types of social media to choose from, including blogs (e.g. WordPress), microblogging (e.g. Twitter, Weibo), social networks (most notably Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn), media/photo sharing (e.g. Youtube, Flickr, Pinterest; Instagram); social news (e.g. Reddit, Digg and Leakernet), mobile applications (e.g. WhatsApp), wikis (Wikipedia, Wikia), document repositories (e.g. Scribd, Doocu), online magazines (e.g. Paper.li, Issuu, Flipboard, Rebelmouse) and bookmarking sites (e.g. StumbleUpon; Delicious).

It is usually a good idea to start off with a social media platform that is easy to manage and not that resource intensive to maintain and then to progress towards media that require more time or funds to manage over time.  Most well developed VOPEs have a Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn presence to start off with. Depending on your VOPE’s needs, communications plan and resources (mostly a pair of hands to moderate and post content), any or all of these media can be used with great success and is more user friendly than you think.

Some things to consider:

The establishment of your VOPE’s social media identity (including VOPE logo) should not infringe on any international or local copyright or duplicate another entity;

  • Basic rules (Terms of Use or Terms of Service) are very important when operating in the social media space – make sure that you have some ground rules for platform’s content, membership and usage.  Your basic rules should be drafted before you create any social media profile for your VOPE and should be easily accessible to members of your groups/profiles, these rules can mature into a social media policy later on;
  • If you have a website, make  sure that you cross post content to your social media platforms and vice versa to save time and resources, a simple service like Hootsuite, Tweetdeck, Zapier or IFTTT can help you set up automatic shares across platforms;
  • It is advisable that at least two dependable individuals have access to your  VOPE’s social media usernames and passwords  – individuals tend to forget/misplace passwords;
  • When creating your VOPE’s group “identity” on platforms such as LinkedIn and Facebook, consider whether you want to form open (accessible to the general public) or closed (by invitation only) groups. Public profiles will give your VOPE more exposure but requires more work to manage and maintain, whereas closed groups limit your online presence but is relatively hassle-free. It is possible to use different “identities” on different platforms, though this should be clearly communicated to your users.
  • If you are unable to remove abusive users yourself, report any forms of abuse in violation with the Terms of Use/ Terms of Service to the site administrators immediately;
  • Keep content on social media platforms current – it is advisable to rather have two active profiles than ten semi-active and outdated ones; and
  • Prominently display your VOPE’s contact details where possible – donations and volunteerism is a great social media spinoff
  • When using paid services, e.g. web-hosting, mail hosting, premium paid social media options, etc. keep track of expiration dates of these services, whether they auto-renew and which payment details are linked to them.

Ideally, you would want to eventually move towards some form of automation if your VOPE is running multiple social media profiles; a social media dashboard which combines all of these different accounts in one place might be an option to consider and will lessen the workload considerably. Alternatively, you could opt to use volunteers or interns to manage your social media presence, but keep track of who has what type of right to post and alter your social media profiles.

To read more:

* TOP RESOURCE: The Nonprofit resource Center provides free access to the Nonprofit Toolkit in which how-to guides on various social media platforms are unpacked.  It also provides VOPEs with detailed instructions on how to develop and implement a social media strategy.  Although geared towards a US based audience, the universalism of technological concepts will require minimal customization. The Nonprofit Toolkit. Social Media Resources for Nonprofits. “How To” Guides for Using Social Media. Accessed online on 26 February 2014 at: http://www.oneoc.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/Social-Media-Resources-for-Nonprofits.pdf



Ramblers, a non-profit organization based in the UK, has put together a generic Social Media Toolkit which contains sections on how to moderate, engage with users and deal with negative and abusive comments – essential skills when managing your VOPE’s online presence. Social Media Toolkit. Accessed online on 26 February 2014 at:  http://www.ramblers.org.uk/volunteer-zone/volunteer-toolkits/social-media-toolkit.aspx

Hootsuite is a social media dashboard that allows you to manage/integrate different social media profiles and platforms (including mobile apps) from one convenient central location. It has a handy analytics feature that will help you customize your content to fit your audience’s needs.  The basic package is free of charge. Hootsuite Social Network Management. Accessed online on 26 February 2014 at:  https://hootsuite.com/features/social-networks alternatively http://www.searchenginejournal.com/top-10-tools-managing-social-media-accounts/87843/

* Confused by all the different forms of social media? Help is on the way in the form of a short  video: What is Social Media? In Simple English. Accessed online on 26 February 2014 at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jQ8J3IHhn8A

* The Legacy Foundation has put together a guide for creating a social media policy and takes you through key elements  of social media management. Nonprofit Social Media Policy Workbook. Accessed online on 26 February 2014 at:  http://www.legacyfdn.org/PDFs/Social%20Media%20Wkbk.pdf



Here are some examples that might come in handy in setting up your VOPE’s social media accounts:

  •  Terms of Service: WordPress has made their Terms of Service available for use by other organizations and requires a moderate level of customization.  WordPress Terms of Service. Accessed online on 26 February 2014 at: http://en.wordpress.com/tos/
  • Wikipedia:  The American Evaluation Association’s Wikipedia entry is a good example of typical VOPE related content that can be added to the site free of charge. American Evaluation Association Wikipedia Entry. Accessed online on 26 February 2014 at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Evaluation_Association




Ce guide présente les différents médias sociaux et la meilleure façon de les utiliser. Il expose également la nécessité d’une stratégie de médias sociaux et des exemples:

L’ABC des médias sociaux pour les organismes sans but lucratif

Ce document présente un aperçu des risques liés aux médias sociaux:

Gérer les risques des médias sociaux

Ce document présente la plupart des médias sociaux et d’identifier les meilleures pratiques liées à leur utilisation:

Tout ce que vous avez toujours voulu savoir sur les médias sociaux sans jamais oser le demander


Invitation to give Feedback

Have you used any of the resources recommended in this post? Tell others what you thought about it by leaving a comment below.

Acknowledgements, Licensing, Attributions

Full details about the acknowledgements, licensing and attributions of this content here.


Note that depending on the size, development phase and purpose of your VOPE, the material presented in this post may need to be contextualized for your specific purposes. Also take note of the full toolkit disclaimer here.



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