Social media is a source of anxiety for many charities and businesses. Many don’t know if they need it, how to use it and much more importantly, how to utilise it to make an impact and get the results they want.
In short, yes you need it. In modern society, sites like Facebook and YouTube have become a major part of our daily lives and how we can communicate, so if you are not utilising these channels, you are effectively not communicating with your audience.
Social media can be very difficult to grasp, but with this basic step-to-step guide, you should be off to a much better start and hopefully feel less anxious about it moving forward.
Think about your audience
Just like your offline marketing methods, you need to know as much as you can about your target audience before you can develop your marketing strategy. With online methods, this means finding out who your current audience and potential audience are, which social channels they are using (if any at all) and which ones will be the most effective ones for you to use to reach them.
Most people will be on Facebook and/or Twitter with many people watching videos on YouTube and having professional profiles on LinkedIn, so how do you know where to focus your efforts? By using a service like SurveyMonkey, you can poll your current supporters to find out where they spend most of their time online. You can then use this information to utilise these channels to gain more supporters like you already have or you can use it to reach out to different demographics and broaden your supporter base.
Who is best to run your social media?
A big mistake that a lot of organisations make is thinking “social media is easy, it’ll be cheaper if we get someone in-house to do that.” In some cases, if there is someone who knows what they are doing and is willing to do it then great. However, in most cases, these people already have an essential job to do so they often end up compromising the quality of doing both jobs. You need to think about this when deciding who will be in charge of your social media.
It might be a case of trial and error, so you need to see what is best for your organisation. Whether that is a staff member that knows social media or who you will train, a volunteer or outsourcing it to an expert, you will only know once you try.
Will your channels be representative or individual?
Most charities have social media channels where every post, regardless of who is posting, comes under the charity name. This is an effective way of running social media, however, in some cases, you can make your channels more personal which may be more beneficial. For example, some charities have team members that post as themselves and this helps to bring a personality to the charity and its brand. While this may not be appropriate for every charity, it does help to build trust among your supporters and, therefore, stronger relationships and engagement with your organisation.
Decide whether your channels will be representative or individual based on what will work best for you.
Develop your own social media policy and share it with your staff
Although not completely necessary, it is useful to create your own social media policy so that all members of your organisation know how you want to run your social channels. By outlining your aims with social media, your views on confidentiality with your organisation’s information, what not to post or share, and online behaviour, you can be sure that your charity is on brand and has no online issues.
Plan your content and make sure you are consistent
Nothing is worse than a potential supporter coming across your social channels and seeing that you haven’t posted anything since a year ago. This suggests that your charity has no activities going on or anything of interest to talk about. By planning your content in advance, you can be sure that you always have posts that are regularly going up. The planning doesn’t even have to be comprehensive, just make a simple list of what you can educate people on (e.g charity vision, mission, fundraising events that will be going on) and write some posts that you can schedule to go out. You’ll find that a lot of content will come from topics and activities that come up, but by having these informative posts scheduled beforehand, you can be covered if nothing does.
Make sure to mix the types of posts that you have. Social media is a conversation, a place where people can engage with your organisation and communicate with you. You can advertise your charity events and request for help, support and donations, just don’t forget to add in posts that will help you foster relationships and build a network of followers. The best way to do this is to use real experiences. Use images and talk about the work that you’ve done, fundraising events that have been a success, examples of the good that the money people are donating is doing. You can even get really personal and thank certain groups or individuals for helping you raise a certain amount of money. All of these kinds of posts go down really well and make your channels much more personal, so mix up your content and benefit in more ways than one.
Support is key so measure your success
Once you know the aims of your social media, you can then see how you can measure its success. If it’s simply about increasing social media engagement or your number of supporters, you can easily see the figures on the social media channels themselves. If it is something more specific, such as conversions, you need to delve deeper and look at other ways to track this success such as GoogleAds and link tracking. Only when you can be sure your efforts are a success can you continue to stress the importance of using social media.
Social media is still an area of organisations that needs to be pushed. Many don’t understand the value of it and need to be convinced which is crazy because there are thousands of people using it every day. By tracking and measuring the success of each social media channel, you can show your senior management the value of its use so that you can gain their support. If you don’t have their support, you can be sure that the budget and/or resources for this will be one of the first areas to be cut.
Do I need social media?
Put simply, YES, and here are the reasons why:
- It is an essential part of a charity’s marketing and communications strategy
- It helps to build relationships with your supporters
- It is a cost-effective way to campaign
- It keeps you up-to-date with hot topics and what your audience cares about
- It allows you to compete with your competitors and not get left behind
Whether you just want to do the bare minimum or you give your social channels a real go, you can be sure that having your charity on social media will be worth the time and effort. You need to be where your audience is to build trust and lasting relationships, so take a look at your current channels or create new ones and start to engage with your supporters and reach out to new potentials.