This Thanksgiving-shortened week's posts all spring from something I'm thankful for: two recent social media strategy training presentations for non-profit organizations. Based on incredible turnouts for both social media training presentations, non-profit social media strategy must be a hot topic! One question from both sessions was on social media tactics for building your non-profit organization's audience. These 16 social media tactics across 3 different areas should aid non-profits in growing a social media audience as much as they do other types of businesses and individuals as well:

Be a Good Social Media Participant

1. Be human and socially intriguing - This tactic applies both visually (depict a person in your avatar) and in interactions (demonstrate personality and let people know WHO they're interacting with online).

2. Interact with people - Engage with people on relevant topics. Talk, respond, and initiate conversations.

3. Regularly share strong, intriguing content, especially news & interesting links - It's easy to say, "Don't be boring." Work hard to make sure it's also easy for your audience to see you really follow the advice. And don't think you can share content once and then stop! Be consistent in your presence and sharing.

4. Share content from intriguing people - If you struggle generating enough rich content on your own, at least share and link to rich content others are creating.

5. Don’t over-promote yourself - Nobody likes an aggressive salesperson in real life or online. Cool the sales pitch and attract followers at their pace.

6. Follow first & manage your list actively - It's okay and advisable to follow other people in your audience groups first. It's also okay to weed out people who aren't active. It's especially good for organizations to have written guidelines on how and why they're making these decisions.

7. Have a place to point people for deeper understanding - That means a blog or website that's "your property," as opposed to a Facebook presence subject to what Facebook decides to do.

8. Publicize your social media identity – Include links to your social media presence wherever you are online, particularly links to your home page.

Individual and Topic-Based Opportunities

9. Ask for and incent connections - Request that people connect with you by liking, following, and linking to you - whichever is appropriate for the particular social network. Also ask your current followers who they think you should be linked to in their social networks.

10. Follow back relevant followers - If someone has taken time to seek you out and isn't a spammer, follow them back if they fit your target profile (then engage them to solidify the potential relationship).

11. Identify strong people on topics of interest and follow who they follow - If there are key influencers or experts in your audience, it's a good practice to follow the people they follow (i.e., the people influencing their content and thinking).

12. Run searches on relevant topics and follow tweeters - Always have searches running on people active in social media talking about the topics relevant to your organization and take the opportunity to follow them. For Twitter, you can run the searches inside Twitter, do them at (whether you are on Twitter or not), or have them going in a program such as Tweetdeck or Hootsuite.

13. List your organization on popular directories under related topics - Wefollow & similar directories are structured by informational topics so others active in the same topics can find you. Similarly follow others listed in relevant categories on these same directories.

Take Advantage of Live Interactions

14. Solicit social media identities from customers and prospects - Whenever your organization touches a target audience member, request other ways to stay in touch with them.

15. Follow all attendees at events or using your organization's Twitter hashtags - If other people are involved in events you sponsor or share the content you create, be sure to follow them.

16. Participate in live tweeting to gain disproportionate attention - Participating in Twitter chats or live event social media efforts is a great way to grow your followers among others with similar interests and needs.

These are all diligent, steady ways to build a follower and fan base.

There are certainly automated, program-based ways to build followers as well, but quite frankly, I'm a "diligent, steady" kind of guy and like growing followers organically vs. through a purely automated online program.

But if you've seen success with these programs or other audience-building techniques, what's been working for you? Mike Brown

The Brainzooming Group helps make smart organizations more successful by rapidly expanding their strategic options and creating innovative plans they can efficiently implement. Email us at or call 816-509-5320 to learn how we’ve developed  integrated social media strategy for other brands and can do the same for yours.