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Stay on Your Toes: Protecting Your Nonprofit Social Media from Spammers, Inflamers & Overzealous Posters

By on Monday, September 5, 2011

Today is Labor Day in the U.S., a traditional and paid holiday for millions of workers. But if you’re a consultant like me, the work has to get done whether it’s a holiday or not. And this morning I started my day not with an inspiring post to rally people to action but with a sigh and a move for the delete button.

One of the Facebook walls I manage for a client was spammed in the night by someone selling services for nonprofits, with the icky glaring marketing post right on their wall, inviting a call to their phone number and sign up for an account.

Needless to say, the post got deleted right away, but this is one of the many challenges we face in working in social media with nonprofits. To have real, authentic and open communication with our clients, supporters and staff through social media, we often set permission settings open on Facebook and other venues. It’s also a great example of why you always need to monitor and watch your nonprofit social media accounts – even on a holiday weekend.

We want the comments, questions and engagement in social media, but not the junk. Here’s a few tips to help you stay on your toes and keep your nonprofit’s information stream clear of clutter:

(1) Decide how your organization feels about openness. Make sure your organization understands the pluses and minuses of open permission settings. Open settings allow volunteers to post comments, supporters to share a note of praise, and for clients to ask questions or provide a testimonial.

(2) Designate someone at your nonprofit organization to manage your accounts. Understand that these people sleep, are not available 24-7 most likely, but can deal with spam and junk on the accounts in a timely way. If someone is going out of internet range for more than a day, designate someone else to handle social media curation duties.

(3) Make sure your settings send you an email when posts are made. Whether you are using Facebook, Twitter or YouTube, set the admin settings to send you an email when someone posts, mentions your Twitter name, tags you in a Facebook post, posts on your Facebook wall, or puts a comment on your YouTube channel or video. Does this result in a lot of email? If you are getting a lot of good comments, yes, it does. But it also helps you catch a lot of junk too and you can get rid of it quickly. This is one situation where the insurance is worth paying the premium.

(4) Remove spam and commercial solicitations quickly. Remove the post and if you can, ban the user if they seem to be pushing something out of line with your organization and its purpose. Your users want to know what your nonprofit is doing, not what people are trying to sell you. Usually I only ban people who are clearly pushing something that is completely not related to the organization and is clearly spam. Report anyone who is malicious or threatening or illegal.

(5) Deal with inadvertent overzealous posters. Occasionally, someone will come along who just posts over and over – it may be harmless, and may even be about your organization, but it may not be helpful to have your page feed spammed by this stuff all day – it will turn off your other users who want to know what else is going on with your nonproft. Or they tag your organization in posts and post on your wall. Ask them to do one or the other – since both show up in your page’s Facebook stream. Explain to these overzealous posters how often you think it’s appropriate to post, and ask them to stick to a schedule.

Everyone wants to know what you think.

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