Mug image for blog post: How to convince your boss about using social mediaEvery week or so, I get a question like I did last night. It was basically, “How do you convince your boss to let me use social media?

So being a social media geek, I immediately posted the question on LinkedIn’s “Answers” tool. You can see the question and the answers here:

Three basic approaches

The answers are boiling down to three basic categories:

  1. If they need to be convinced, they’re too stupid/old/out-of-touch,
  2. Ask for forgiveness rather than permission, or
  3. Show them results

I was honestly shocked to see people answering in the tone of #1. Weird. Insulting your boss or your nonprofit board isn’t very productive. And let’s face it, social media can be an incredible time suck. It takes time to learn anything worth learning.

My answer was inline with the #2 group. Just start doing it. Begin personally so you get to know the platforms without dragging your nonprofit’s brand into it. But just get out there and do it.

But I loved the #3 group. My favorite so far is from Todd Buker:

From the viewpoint as an ED in my own organization, social media sold me on two points: 1) Amplification/reach and 2) SM’s impact on SEO.

Granted, we were late getting into it (less than one year ago). However, we have had two big events since we began seriously implementing consistent SM (Facebook, Twitter, Vimeo/YouTube and WordPress), and both events have seen noticeably higher attendance and dollars raised. Not to mention our web traffic has improved dramatically, most of it coming from Facebook. There are no lingering doubts!

Show them results

So jump and and create results. Or show them studies like Blackbaud’s annual survey.

Here’s an idea of how you might get buy in:

  1. Start yourself: Social media is social. It is virtually impossible to be “successful” on social media without having a personality. Practice being a person before you get your organization on there.
  2. Look for interesting people to follow: Follow people interesting to you, not necessarily people you feel you should be interested. Definitely follow people in your cause space to see how they are using the tools. But if you have an interest in bocci ball, follow them too. Social media is much easier to learn when you enjoy the people you follow.
  3. Set goals: You need to know how to measure success. Define it. Tip: Do not anticipate raising much money with social media. It’s possible. But it’s far more helpful to set engagement goals. Or attendance at events. Use a link shortener like so you can measure how many people click on your link. If you have access to your own site analytics, use those too. also helps you see what posts get shared the most.
  4. Don’t be “that guy”: Resist the urge to be incessantly telling people how incredibly cool you or your organization is. Instead be interesting. How do you know if you’re interesting? People will start following you. And retweeting you. And +1’ing your posts. And liking your updates.

Do that and you’ll be off to a great start!

How do YOU convince people?

Tell us how you convince people! Leave a comment here or over at:

For a step by step guide to using social media for nonprofits, check out my book

21 Ways for Board Members to Engage with their Nonprofit's Fundraising book image

You'll discover the 21 ways each board member can help their nonprofit's fundraising - even if they don't like to ask for money!

As a bonus, you'll get free fundraising tips every other week too!

Help your board fundraise for nonprofit with this FREE ebook

We take your privacy very seriously and will never sell, rent, or share your email address.