Yesterday I gave a presentation in Minneapolis about Prospecting in a Social Media World. It was great seeing so many clients and friends of thedatabank in attendance, along with many new faces in the crowd. Since not everyone who would have liked to come could attend, I’ve put together a brief recap of the information I presented this morning.

Prospecting in a Social Media World

I’ve broken down prospecting through social media into three steps:

Step 1: Understand your current supporters’ social media activity

You need to know who is talking about you online and what they are saying. Which channels (Facebook, Twitter, Google+…) have the most activity? There are a few ways you can find out this information. You can do searches on each individual site for your organization to see what and who comes up, you can ask your supporters to tell you how they communicate about you, or you can use a Social CRM.

Step 2: Build your social media properties

Be realistic. You can’t just jump in to everything at once and expect great results. Start where you’ll have the greatest leverage. Are most of your supporters active on Facebook? Start there. Do your supporters not understand or ignore Twitter? Then that’s probably not a good place to devote a lot of time to.

Social Media isn’t free. Sure, you can create an account for free – but it takes time and money to manage it effectively.

The most important part of your social media properties is having content of value for those looking at it. This includes your website! Make sure you’re posting useful information – don’t post just for the sake of posting.

Step 3: Build your network

Spend time every day managing your networks. It takes time and effort to build a community; if you don’t have a commitment to be online, it will be hard to stay connected with your strongest supporters. Building a strong network, or online community, doesn’t happen overnight. Find your strongest social influencers and leverage them to help you spread your message.

Respond as soon as possible. You don’t have to sit on social media channels all day – have notifications emailed to you so you can reply quickly to their needs.

Set goals and track activity. There are many different kinds of technology out there to help you do this, from simple analytics from each individual property to a robust Social CRM.

Don’t forget your other communication channels

Social Media isn’t a replacement for your other ways of communicating with your supporters, it’s an addition. You don’t want to lose current supporters who aren’t using social media yet. Keep doing email, direct mail, and other forms of prospecting to reach all of your supporters.

The time to start social media is now.

In closing, I want to remind people that the social media world is fluid, and always evolving. It’s active and responsive, and can even be fun. It’s everywhere, which can be intimidating. Even though it’s big, you can still find what you’re looking for – whether it’s more supporters, advocacy or just building community.

Thanks again to everyone who attended today. What other suggestions do you have for prospecting in a social media world?

Share your suggestions in the comments, I’d be happy to discuss them with you.