IMG_3007-001 (1)Last month, I was fortunate enough to attend the
Practising Law Institute’s program on Social Media for Non-Profits and Public Interest Organizations. The Practising Law Institute is a Bronze Sponsor of Pro Bono Net and we are very pleased to partner with them. Liz Keith, Program Director at Pro Bono Net, and a Faculty member at PLI spoke with attendees in San Francisco, CA and was also broadcast LIVE via webcast to over 350 registered participants! Liz was joined by the Executive Director of, Julia Wilson, and Pro Bono Net’s very own LawHelp Program Coordinator, Xander Karsten. The program offered three presentations meant to help non-profit organizations and public interest organizations start, maintain and grow their social media programs and campaigns. Below I’ve included a discussion on each presentation highlighting what my favorite pieces were within their presentations.


Julia Wilson – Social Media and

One Justice long

Julia Wilson is the Executive Director for, and offered participants a case study on her own organization’s social media work for the past two years. Along with many other pieces of advice and insights, she spoke of the planning that must go into a social media strategy before content should be generated.

The very first thing her organization did was define specific goals to be met by the social media strategy. Be it awareness and participation, or direct campaign contributions, an organization should be very clear about the purpose of their social media work and how they plan to accomplish that purpose.

Whenever there are goals, there must be a method of determining success Programs such as Google Analytics help measure certain statistics about social media pages and can easily be integrated with the social media sites an organization is using. However, some goals may not be measurable in such a statistical way. While the amount of involved users is important, measurement should also have a human component to gauge whether those who are being reached by this post are actually reacting in a positive way.

For example, wanted to encourage their constituency to get to know the employees. To do this, Julia and her employees brought in baby pictures and asked social media followers to guess which employee belonged to which picture. After all of the votes were in, they released the answers along with additional information about the work that employee performs for the organization.

This project didn’t directly generate donations, nor did focus on the direct work of the organization. Instead, it provided information in a fun and creative way that inspired participation while also offering information about the employees. A project like this takes a lot of planning and dedication, and clearly set goals with predetermined measurements of success.

Secondly, one must define their target audiences. An organization must determine their target audiences prior to creating content, so that the content can better resonate with the intended audiences. While organizations cannot reach everyone, this doesn’t mean that it cannot appeal to multiple audiences in multiple ways. This is why organizations have multiple platforms in which to engage their constituents. found that Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram worked really well for their needs.

Speaking of platforms, deciding on the target audiences will help an organization to choose which platforms and tools are right for their organization. As certain audiences like lawyers are most likely on LinkedIn, organizations with similar audience targets should have a LinkedIn page and find ways to engage on that platform. A student audience is more likely to be on Twitter or Instagram, so a nonprofit attempting to reach student audiences should consider interacting on those platforms.

Once your organization has clearly defined goals, audiences and tools, it is time to determine the organization’s voice on each platform. The social media tool may help to define a type or tone for the organization on that platform, but an organization still needs to determine a voice for itself. For example, LinkedIn is more of a professional social media platform and requires a more formal tone when speaking through that platform. However, the tonal quality isn’t simply defined by professional. What is the goal of your organization on LinkedIn? Are you speaking to colleagues or donors? All of these decisions must be made on each platform based not only on what that platform details, but also what your organization’s goal is for that platform. defined its overall voice and then pieced out what they needed for each platform. This offers some flexibility because there can be some overlap between the platforms. For example, while the organization wants to be seen as an expert on the issues on the LinkedIn platform, they do NOT want to have a professorial tone. They want to be a contributor to a conversation without being overly pretentious or condescending. By defining their overall voice and then choosing which attribute fits best on which platform, has both a defined strategy as well as flexibility to adapt in particular situations.

All of this strategizing will help an organization determine appropriate content for the various platforms they interact on, but in order to ensure that all employees are on the same page and all of the bases are covered, it is important for every organization to have their own social media policy. Tune in Monday to find out some key attributes of developing a social media policy from Xander Karsten!


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