Social Media Tips!
My role as the social media coordinator has been defined by a series of trial and error. What I thought was just posting things to Facebook and Twitter evolved into a responsibility to communicate all things Youthprise to an audience of people that existed in an unfamiliar digital world. Social media is a growing form of communication between an organization and its audience. Social media has become the soapbox we stand on to assert our identity and authentically engage with real humans searching for information behind their computer screens.
With that being said, I am not an expert at social media. I do not have a degree in Facebook and I do not fluently speak the language of Twitter. However, I have learned best practices to communicate, engage audiences, and exchange information on online platforms to increase brand awareness and user engagement for the organization. Here are a few of my social media tips.
1. Understand Basic Social Media Rules
Okay, let’s start with the basics. You don’t have to be connected to every social media network that exists. Start with a Facebook, and then expand to Twitter followed by Instagram. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are the three basic networks I believe all nonprofit organizations should have. Feel free to expand to other social media networks, but beware – each platform requires specific attention. In other words, the more networks you manage, the more work you have to do.
Take time out to get the hang of one social media network before moving on to the next one. Social media networks are unique in how content is shared.
Facebook is a network to tell stories because posts do not have a character limit. Facebook posts should begin with an attention getter or a question followed by a short paragraph. Try to include images or videos in every post to attract users. Try not to include hashtags on your Facebook posts. Hashtags are links to nowhere on Facebook.
Example Facebook Post:
We have completed our 2016 YouthBank training!
Youthprise has brought YouthBank International to the U.S. YouthBank is a youth-centered philanthropy model where young people establish local grant making committees that are supported by host organizations. Launching 8 pilot sites in 2015, we are continuing our work in 2016 to position young people as leaders in their communities.
Learn more about YouthBank! https://youthprise.org/youthbank/
Twitter is a network for thought leadership. Because Twitter has a character limit, it is important to think of posts as headlines. Try to include hashtags in you twitter posts. 1-4 hashtags is the ballpark number for tweets.
Example Twitter Post:
We have completed our #Youthbank training for 2016! #YouthPhilanthropy #Grantmaking #YouthLeaders
Instagram is a photo and video-focused network/app used to create experiences. When your audience views your Instagram page, they get a sense of what your organization represents by glancing at the collection of photos you have posted. You can only post to Instagram on your phone or tablet. Try not to post blurry, poor quality photos on Instagram. Also, this network is the land of unlimited hashtags. Hashtag your heart out on Instagram.
Example Instagram Post:
We have completed our 2016 #Youthbank training! Learn more about Youthbank! Link in our bio. #Youthprise #youthbanktraining #YouthPhilanthropy #Grantmaking #YouthLeaders
What is a hashtag?
A hashtag is a like a keyword or a link. When you click on a hashtag, it links to a series of posts with the same hashtag. People interested in a topic can quickly find content on the same topic by searching for a hashtag.
2. Set Goals!
Before you share a post, ask yourself, “who am I talking to?” and, “who cares about what I am posting?” Establishing goals begins with identifying who your audience is and being realistic about it. Your audience cannot be everyone. You may want your posts to reach everyone from young people in high school to leaders of other nonprofit organizations. However, we all know content geared towards a 16-year-old student may not appeal to a 40-something professional. Identifying your audience will allow you to imagine who you are talking to when you are posting and will consequently determine the content and the language you use when you post. Keep in mind, saying that your target audience is nonprofit professionals, for example, does not mean you are excluding other people from participating with your organization online.
3. Share Good Content
When you are doing social media well, your audience looks to you as a resource. This means, when your audience clicks on your social media channel, they see updates about current initiatives. This can be achieved by sharing posts from your partners and sharing articles, images, and video relevant to your work.
Your partners are the organizations and people that you are following online. If an organization has a cool event happening, share it! Any content posted on a partner’s page is open to be shared. You are not stealing if you share something from another organization on your channel. On social media, shares and retweets are like saying, “hey, the work you’re doing is awesome, I want to tell my networks about it.”
On social media, a majority of your posts should be things you find online and share with your audience. Things like articles, podcasts, videos, and partner posts that you find interesting and relate to your work are things you should post. A small portion of your posts should be about the organization itself.
Talking about your organization all of the time on social media is like saying, “me, me, me, all I care about is me, me, me.” Of course, it is important to share exciting things that are happening in your organization. Your audience wants to know about upcoming events and interesting projects. But, don’t spend all of your social media time posting about just your organization – that’s why you have a website!
Think of social media as a conversation. You are talking to people, sharing interesting information, and keeping people engaged. How distasteful is it to talk to someone that only talks about his or her self, right? Your goal on social media is to be the cool person everyone wants to talk to because you have resources, information, and are in the know.
4. Build Relationships
In person, if you meet someone and have an interesting conversation, they may say, “wow you’re really great, can I have your card? I’d like to learn more about you.” Sharing on social media is like the conversation you have before people say, “wow this organization is great. Do you have a website? I’d like to learn more about you.”
When you’re posting online, it’s important not to think like a computer. Be personable and keep your target audience in mind. When people share your posts, “like” the shared post and comment, “thanks for sharing!” When people comment, respond! (Be careful responding to negative comments. Responding to negative comments breeds more negative comments on a public platform.)
Also, it is important to tag people in your posts when relevant. Typing “@” followed by the name of the organization will tag the network of that organization to your post. Tagging people in your posts is like a welcomed shout out or acknowledgment. It can also be like saying, “Hey you, look at this!” When an organization is tagged in your post, they get a notification. This makes it more likely that you will get likes and shares on your content.
Also, like and follow other organizations on social media!
5. Understand When to Post
Experiment! When I first started posting for Youthprise, I posted in the morning around 9 a.m. However, I’ve found that posting in the afternoon between 2 and 3 p.m. have worked best to get the most reactions from our audience. Why? I don’t know. Maybe, people are taking to social media after lunch and before returning to work. Your audience is unique to your organization. Experiment with times and see what works best for you.
At Youthprise, I post Monday through Friday, 3 to 5 times a week. I don’t post on the weekend or after I leave the office at 5 p.m.
I try to stick to daily themes when I post. For example, on Monday I post internal news about Youthprise programs, events, blog updates, and news. On Tuesday and Thursday, I share posts from our partners. On Wednesdays, I post articles and videos relevant to our work. On Fridays, I post fun photos from staff gatherings and meetings.
I don’t follow my daily themes verbatim. Instead I use them as a guide to organize the post suggestions that flood my email. If someone asks me to share an event or an article, I’ll pencil it into my social media calendar on the day indicated by the theme.
Social media is not a complicated science. It is a relationship between your organization and the audience. The more you build the relationship, the more you will learn and the easier it will be for you to engage effectively online. Once you get a good grip on the basics of social media and engagement, then you can move on to analytics!