Many companies from large corporations to small businesses dedicate significant resources to social media. Money. Man hours. Expertise. So how can your charity compete? And if you want to, how do you learn?
The charity world recently saw the release of the Charity Social Media Toolkit by Skills Platform (which you can find here). This guide features big names, such as Zoe Amar and Beth Kanter offering a single and complete guide for any non-profit organisations looking for social media help.
As CaSE Insurance’s digital marketer, I enjoyed a thorough read (and re-read) of the document and think it’s superb. Inspired by the toolkit, here are my 3 top tips for charities, non-profits and faith organisations thinking of using social media.
Charities and Social Media
First and foremost, though, let’s dispel that myth that you must have a large pot of money put aside to compete for your share of voice in social media. Commercial organisations do indeed pour resource into social media, but charities, voluntary and faith organisations can still enjoy the benefits of being digitally social, without any outlay. So where do you start?
If you’re not on social media, I would recommend appointing a social champion within your organisation whose responsibility it is to help manage this new area. Your champion should be happy to lead, discuss, negotiate, present, review and implement.
If they know social media well, then great, you’re good to go after a quick read of the guide; if they’re new to this form of communication then don’t worry, read the guide and check out the useful links below and you’ll be ready to go very soon.
Top Tip 1: Support your organisation’s goals
Before you send that first tweet or post that first image, think about what your organisation wants to achieve through social media. Are you looking for increased awareness of your brand or your cause? How about more donations or volunteer sign-ups? Your organisation should already have some idea of what your goals are and how you’re going to achieve them – your job is to make social media complement that strategy.
Top Tip 2: Know your audience and your channels
The Charity Social Media Toolkit rightly highlights the importance of knowing your audience. Work out your ideal audience and build a detailed picture – demographics, interests and personas – then refine this by involving more and more stakeholders; eventually, you should have a great idea of who you want to be talking to online.
But don’t neglect your channels. They require as much attention as your audience unless you want all that audience research to go to waste. You have free rein to decide on which channels you want to be active – there are no set rules to follow, so do what works for you.
If you want some tips on this: don’t stretch yourself by creating a profile on every social media site under the sun; start with the basics, perhaps Twitter and Facebook and perhaps one other if you think it may suit your charity. Keep an eye on your engagement over a period of time and put your efforts into the most successful channel(s).
Top Tip 3: Be personal
This isn’t mentioned too much in the guide but, for smaller charities in particular, being personable and approachable is a great way to encourage your followers to engage with you and help in sharing your message.
Having an overly corporate persona on social media is not necessarily a bad thing, but should be reserved for corporations! Your charity, non-profit or faith organisation is doing good in the world, so show people this in an appropriately friendly manner and they will appreciate it.
The Toolkit can be found here.
Some other links that you may find useful are:
How to develop a Social Media strategy for your organisation from NCVO can be found here.
Also, Social Media Help & Advice from Small Charities Coalition is here.
And finally, 10 things your charity needs to know about social media from a Guardian Q&A is here.