You Must Be This Tall to Ride This Ride

by Elaina

Flickr image by user emilydickinsonridesabmx

I am sure that many of us have sad childhood memories of feeling left out because we weren’t yet big enough to ride the cooler rides at the fair or amusement park. The cartoon character on the height measurement sign was almost mocking us as we were turned away from the fun.

When I speak with nonprofits about social media, or read their job descriptions for community managers, I can’t help but see that same sadness and insecurity. I recently saw a posting for a part-time community manager that was going to be tasked with getting this small nonprofit 100,000 likes on Facebook. There was no mention of why they needed 100,000 likes or what they would do with it, but maybe they felt that they needed to be that big to play the game.

More often, people are just saying that they want “more” likes and followers, but I wonder what would happen if they actually got that wish. Would it end up like the movie “Big” when getting his wish left him overwhelmed and wanting to be small again?

Believe it or not, there’s no minimum number of followers and/or likes that you need to gather before you achieve social media success. Donors don’t give their money based on which nonprofit has the most Twitter followers, and volunteers will definitely work for nonprofits that only have a hundred Facebook likes. Until landlords start accepting Twitter followers and Facebook likes as our rent payment, it’s not going to be enough to have “get more likes and follows” as your sole measure of success.

Instead of focusing on numbers like follows as end-alls, we need to determine what your larger goals are for your communications – not just Twitter, but holistically look at social media, print communications, website, blog, email and your other avenues. Once we determine your goal(s), we’ll find out what the key target audience is for that goal and then research the best ways to reach them. You’ll also talk about your story, and what kinds of messages are most likely to resonate with your target audiences. While it sounds like a lot of work, it’s going to be key for your nonprofit to achieve social media results that are truly meaningful. There are many consultants and businesses that can help you with this task, me included, but you can also do a lot of this thinking on your own.

Hopefully this provides some food for thought as your nonprofit considers starting a social media campaign or enlarging your presence. Much like how those carnival rides feel better if you’re big enough to fit in the seats properly, by going through the process of building a strategy, you’ll be much better able to handle and enjoy success when you achieve it.


Have you worked for a nonprofit or business that was solely interested in likes and follows on social media? How well did they use their likes once they had them? Were you ever able to set a larger strategy? Does your nonprofit feel like you’ve achieved success without having a strategy?