How charities use social media channels to market themselves, and how they should.
Rapid growth of social media and a dramatic increase in the number of Internet users in recent years has provided NPOs with access to a huge and ever-expanding market. Smaller charities have gotten a chance to reach greater number of people than ever on (relatively) equal footing with the bigger, richer organizations. Social media has one huge advantage over traditional ways of marketing and promotion: free access. It seems that marketing a charity had never been easier.
However, many charities apparently still fail to grasp the importance of social media and to approach these platforms with seriousness they deserve. They spam relentlessly, burying their fans and supporters with trivial messages every few minutes, somehow convinced that they can brute-force their way in. Brute force is not charming in any way and it can only be counterproductive. They message and post without a trace of personal touch, wondering why no one reacts to those bland, lifeless postings.
They show utter lack of understanding of social media channels, revealing that they don’t respect these platforms enough to make an effort in getting to know them or to at least mimic proven tactics employed by their more successful competition.
Understanding how each social media channel works is crucial in devising and deploying successful marketing strategies. On with some tips:
Create a Facebook page for your charity, not just a group. The page will allow you to publish updates directly in news feeds, which means you will have more options available. You will be able to communicate with people more directly via status updates, by posting videos, images and in various other ways.
Using Causes application is a great way of enabling your organization’s followers to contribute with just a couple of clicks, sharing your mutual goal and informing others in their network about it. Always try to make any point-and-click action as simple as possible. Though it may seem trivial in context of charity work, many people will simply lose their patience if they have to click a few more times than they are used to.
Use Facebook statistics to determine the best time to send updates or a new post. It is fairly easy to do so, as Facebook itself provides relevant statistics. If you do not time your updates properly, they will be lost under a pile of notifications and posts that every user is buried with.
Don’t just inform people, but take the time to converse with your charity’s fans and supporters. As said before, the importance of personal touch in inspiring affirmative action and engaging people cannot be overstated. Carefully track the quality and the quantity of the comments. If you notice many of your posts are not inspiring enough feedback, try a different approach.
Always try to use visual content and make updates simple and to the point. And always, aways use a CTA, or a call to action – something for your fans to do as a result of them seing the post – whether it is to like the post, comment on it, donate something or apply to volunteer on your next project.
A Facebook Donation box makes it easy for supporters to donate money, which makes it a necessary feature for every charity’s page.
The most famous micro-blogging social network in the world is an ideal platform for promoting a charity. First, be sure to create a custom background on Twitter. Making your page visually distinctive will make it more personal and recognizable. Of course, don’t stray from your organization’s branding too much, you want people to associate your online accounts with your “real world” presence.
It is essential to connect with similar organizations. Following other NGOs is invaluable in building connections and a supporter base. Try to engage in conversations with the those organizations and retweet their tweets to your fans.
Twitter is great for creating buzz. Connections can be of great help in such a venture, and Twitter, like most social networks, offers the possibility of feeding external content directly into it.
Don’t tweet just to promote. In fact, some estimate that the tweets containing useful information related to a charity’s cause should make at least ninety percent of all the tweets you post. Only a small part of your activity on Twitter should be promotional. Look up to Mohsin Hamid and do what he does!
Tweets are limited to 140 characters, but you can use direct messages (DMs) for communicating with your followers. DMs will allow you to send more text, which can prove very useful at times. However, use this feature carefully. Don’t get carried away and start sending full articles this way.
Don’t be afraid to ask for feedback from your followers. It won’t make you seem weak, in fact it will show that there is a human face behind the account, and will give your followers a chance to give something back. Learn how to ask effective questions that will drive engagement, and don’t disappear once you’ve asked the question, keep yourself in conversation with your followers.
Video is still considered the most powerful among the traditional, pre-digital media. It demands the use of several senses, which makes it superior to text or pictures. The fact that it commands the most attention among the traditional media is identified as the main factor in its domination over pictures or written text.
In other words – never underestimate the power of video, as it can have a big part in any cause you wish to advocate. This is especially evident when we realize that there is an unstoppable rise in the number of people watching online video.
Use annotations. Combining text with compelling video content can be a very powerful tool in the right hands. Annotations are mostly used for creating interactive commentary and linking to external sites.
Be sure to use the benefits that Google offers to NGOs through Youtube’s nonprofit program. You will have branding capabilities, bigger capacity for uploading your videos, and call-to-action (CTA) overlays at your disposal. CTAs enable nonprofits to implement sign-ups, donations and various other options requiring an action from the viewer, and you can do that straight from Youtube.
When creating videos either make ones that will show you and your organization as just normal, everyday people, or create videos that will play on peoples emotions. Think Kony - although the story was proved to be streched, to say the least, it is still great marketing!
Relative simplicity of blogs makes them seem strangely out of place in the company of very modern concepts such as social media platforms.
Nevertheless, they are a perfect venue for linking all of the other channels in one place that can serve as an anchor point in which you can share longer texts, or articles. Plus, you can use your blog as your central online place from where all your other online channels are linked to.
For some reason, most good blogs feel strangely private and personal, which is exactly what a good blog should be like.
Don’t forget to entice your readership and viewership to subscribe to your email list (which you should create), so you can send regular updates to them, preferably once a month.
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