ASU Lodestar Center Blog

Current nonprofit sector research and recommendations for effective day-to-day practice from ASU faculty, staff, students, and the nonprofit and philanthropic community.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011 - 12:42pm
posted by
Kayla L. McKinney
Project Specialist
ASU Lodestar Center

As a Project Specialist at the ASU Lodestar Center, I get to put my social media skills (and many hours spent facebooking…) to good use. With the explosion of micro-blogging, the nonprofit world has a fantastic new tool to connect with the public in exciting and creative ways. But what happens when bad tweets happen to good nonprofits?

A few days ago, as part of ASU Lodestar Center's promotion for our upcoming 13th Annual Forum on Nonprofit Effectiveness, we posed this scenario to our social media followers:

A nonprofit has a public scandal. How does it go about restoring credibility with existing funders and position itself with possible new funders to help "bring them back" and make the organization stronger than before?

Scandals have been all-too-common on twitter. Recently, the Red Cross faced this issue when a staff member accidentally posted a (very) personal tweet on the organization's (very) public twitter account. The organization maintained its cool and handled the PR nightmare well, though, and has been tweeting normally since the incident.

The Red Cross tweet mix up occurred because the staff member in charge of the account was unfamiliar with HootSuite, one of the many programs that allow users to access multiple twitter accounts from one dashboard. These programs, including TweetDeck and Seesmic, can be incredibly helpful for managing many of your nonprofit organization's social media outlets, but you'll want to make sure you spend time playing around with all of their various functions before you start sending out official tweets.

Have you ever had a social media nightmare? Tell us how you handled it in the comments section, or join us for our Spring Forum to discuss this scenario as well as many others!

(Psst! Click here to follow us on twitter!)



I'm always so nervous when I tweet or post something on Facebook. Will my message be misconstrued? Will my sense of humor show through? Will someone be offended? Will someone take it out of context? Agh!! That, for me, is a nightmare in and of itself. I solve the problem by being extra meticulous when I post, or by ending it with a winky face, somehow that takes some of the pressure off! ;)

I totally agree. I think it gets especially tough for nonprofit organizations when it comes to creating an online "personality." Trying to be professional and relatable at the same time isn't always easy, and it definitely takes a lot of time and practice to develop the perfect online persona to represent your organization.

Very thought-provoking post, Kayla. It is hard to create an organizational presence/persona with some of these tools, which are so inherently personal. Which is why I really like this blog, because it isn't just from "The ASU Lodestar Center," but is a mosaic of posts from the many people, staff, nonprofit professionals, students, keynote speakers, and others that comprise the diverse and multi-faceted work of the ASU Lodestar Center.

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