Social media is a great space for not-for-profits to connect with the audience but it's important that it's done properly with some strategy behind it. Here are so mistakes to avoid and the most out of your social media presence.
Too many times I've heard, "We have a Facebook Page but we don't know what to do with it." It's vital that you go into social media with the understanding that it's a simply a tool to help achieve your communication goals. You need to know what those goals are and how social media is going to help get you there.
Part of your strategy should be knowing where your audience is and how you're going to connect with them. Focus on the social media channels that fit best with your community and your goals, each one is different (e.g. LinkedIn for business leaders, Twitter for media connections).
I've heard many times that the appeal of social media is that it's a low-cost way to get a message out. But while setting up accounts may be free, you need the right resourcing internally. It's not enough to just set up a Page or a profile, you need to keep it up-to-date and active. If it’s not resourced properly, your social media strategy will fail.
More often than not, success from social media takes time. You need to grow your community and build their trust before calling them to action. If you’re just starting out, approach your social media presence in stages. The first stage should include a bit more exploration of the social media channel your community’s using and needs a good listening ear.
Social media’s a two-way street. While building your presence, there’s a lot to be learned by listening to what’s out there. Listening not only helps you understand your community better, but it can also be a valuable source of content to share.
It’s ok to share other people’s content. Whether it’s a news article, a blog post or an event, you should be sharing content that’s relevant to your community, whether it’s yours or not. Curating content is a powerful way to show your community that you understand them and that you’re not just in social media to talk about yourself.
If you’re trying to save time, a content calendar is really helpful. Plan when you’re going to post your own content and curated content, when you need to write that next blog post or get that quote from your CEO for the next media release.
If your not-for-profit is on a number of social networks or have a number of different accounts, a social media management tool can be used to bring all of your reporting, posting and engagement in one place. There are a lot of different options out there depending on what you’re looking for. One popular option is HootSuite who offer a 20% discount to not-for-profits for their Pro service (they also have a free service). It allows you to post to different accounts, schedule posts and adds a level of automation.
However, while there are ways to automate your social media accounts and save time by scheduling posts, you need to make sure you respect each social network. I always recommend against connecting Facebook and Twitter accounts because they’re two very different platforms. Even though Facebook now has hashtags, a retweet on Facebook looks wrong and so does a truncated Facebook post on Twitter. And don’t forget you still need to be there to respond.
Social media thrives on conversation and the sharing of content. If people are talking to you or engaging with what you’re sharing, thank them, talk to them and grow that social relationship. Make sure you have your notifications set up to match your workflow (e.g. via mobile or email) so you know when to respond. If you’re just there to promote or broadcast, you may as well buy advertising space.
Don’t simply be there to ask for donations. If you’re trying to build a relationship with someone, asking them for money at the start can be a real turn-off. While social media can help enhance your fundraising efforts, it’s not the best transactional space for finance. Social media is a lot more useful for raising awareness, rallying people around a cause, generating discussion, showing your appreciation of your volunteers and growing a community of people who are more invested in what you’re doing.
Over to you! Do you have a pet social media peeve or a common mistake you see being made? How would you solve it? Leave a comment below and fill in the blank!