social media strategy is essential to the 21st century charity and NFPs, do you have one? It should be both part of your marketing strategy but also your digital strategy. It should be based in quality.
There is the story of the group lost in a great forest, who come across someone in the forest who appears to know the forest very well and they adopt this person as their leader, because they think he will lead them out. However the reality is he just knows the paths not to go down, the paths with a wolf at the end, the ones whether the thorn bushes are or the ones with sweet water streams.
I see large organisations in the NFP sector with tens of thousands of followers on facebook or twitter, just autoposting a line and a link on a regular basis on twitter, or 3 lines of an article and link on facebook back to their website. Neither of these have so much as a very small picture, never mind some moving images. These posts have very little or no interaction. 1 heart no retweets, 2 to a maximum of 50 likes but no shares and that 50 likes will be on their share of an article from somewhere else. Oh yes and they don’t use Instagram, Tumblr or Linkedin.
These are organisations stuck in the idea that the internet is a publishing medium, not an interactive one.
Lets take a poor example but an interesting one. recently I published this article on LinkedIn about relaxing no one much was interested and then an old friend popped up and commented on it, it also happened to be his birthday which is the same as my daughters. His like and share bought my small article a new audience and others looked at it. Still not many have looked at at and it s had bit two shares, this means its popped up in other peoples time lines. So I wrote the article someone interacted with it I interacted with them, and so on. You’ll see on twitter and facebook, that the articles people truly engage with have thousands of likes, shares, retweets etc, all from this kind of interaction.
A word of warning, and that is the social media echo chamber. LinkedIn these days is full of people selling things, if you are selling and all your followers are salespeople, and they like your post or article, really you are just reaching more sales people, who are actually your competitors and will learn from your mistakes. You don’t need more sales people as followers, but maybe thats all the people you know. You see the same thing happen on twitter, its especially prevalent in politics, but might also said to be true of the charity sector. Charities follow charities, when as a charity you need donors and volunteers to follow you.
The most looked at article on this website is at the time of writing: 7 steps to a marketing strategy, this was aimed at charities and NFPs but it seems others are wondering about marketing. So I thought it worth putting together something on social media in the same vein.
This means that every post, comment, like, retweet, or reply should all be part of the plan of the ultimate social media marketing plan. This social media marketing plan needs need to be a channel within your marketing strategy So you have to take time to create an inclusive social media strategy.
1. Decide on your objectives
Destiny is not enough, its absolutely essential to know your destination. So you must know the end goal the objective of your social media strategy. e.g Is it to get more donations, is it to raise your profile, is it to help people understand your work, or to recruit or all of these and more? Whichever you need to decide and write this into your strategy.
2. Research your audience
I hope you already have a marketing strategy, if you do you probably then have an idea of who it is you are trying to reach and why, then you are able to take the concept of your organisation and communicate it to these group or perhaps numbers of groups. So it is with social media. social media is all about connection, its why its called social. Its greatest component is listening. I like to think of this connection as the opportunity to interact or discuss, so my shorthand is social media is a discussion medium. So who is your target audience: working parents, working adults, Uni students, professionals, disabled people, active retirees? Once you determine who you’re trying to reach, you will be be able to choose your platforms and make them targeted
So which of these platforms best suit your direct needs and which might suit needs in the future. For example you may think Instagram is predominantly for a younger generation, and you want active retirees as volunteers, what you may find is that after school volunteers might become just as useful. They say some social media platforms are geared for socializing (Facebook, LinkedIn), some for information (Twitter, Pinterest), and still others are designed for sharing your personal interests with the world (Tumblr, Instagram). Whatever your charity or NFP there is one if not all that will work for you But with limited resources you must ask
- Which social media platform is your audience most likely to use?
- Why do most people use that specific social media site?
- What is the platform’s overall tone?
You may already be set up or have moved to an organisation that has grown organically. Then lets make sure you analyse the data you have:
- Google Analytics– Top of the tree is Google analytics, hopefully its already running on your website. GA offers some valuable tools to help you identify location, interests, demographics, and even behaviors of the users who visits your site. This data can lead you to understand your desired audience.
- Audience Insights/Facebook Insights– Facebook is excellent for useful information on users that engage with your Facebook Page content, visit your blog or website, and connect to your page. Uploading an email list or installing a special Facebook link will help with some very useful data.
- LinkedIn Analytics– Its really not that brilliant, but it will gauge how well you are connecting peer to peer or B2B. In my experience not many charities know how to manage LinkedIn for their organisation as they ten to see it as a CV site. This is a niche that could well be worthwhile for the first to really work at it.
- Twitter Analytics– Using Twitter analytics can help you with comparison info where you compare your followers to your hoped for target audience.
- Instagram Analytics– Its not one I know a great deal about, but it will certainly help you understand your audience.
5. Measure it to Manage it
You won’t know if you’ve succeeded unless you have a way to measure your progress. So its really simple… How many likes are your posts getting? How many Shares/retweets. This should be a set objective in number 1
6. Engage with your audience.
Its on the picture associated with the marketing post, Engage your audience The purpose of your social media strategy is to connect, to create a discussion, a shared moment for others who share or like what you are saying. When someone reaches out to you, responds to a post, gets in touch you must, i repeat must respond with speed. social media is often the front line of customer service and customer interface, get it wrong and you can damage your brand. Its not a publish medium, its not a problem solving medium …you must encourage audience engagement with your content , your pictures, short movie clips, polls, and other things that may interest them.
It is said that organisations that innovate continually, have a constant improvement cycles are less likely to face major challenges or problems. Remember these are people you are trying to communicate with on social media. You must be ready to be flexible in your tactics and don’t be afraid to automate because social media is hard work. What you have to be careful of when automating social media publication is you don’t lose the quality of the posts you put out.