Facebook. Twitter. YouTube. Instagram. Pinterest.
I won’t go into detail about what social media sites are because I’m sure you’re familiar with many of them already. Some would have you believe that in the last 5 years or so, social media has rewritten the marketing rulebook completely. It’s certainly changed the face of the internet and the way most of us use it. So how can you use it best for your small charity?
In a nutshell, one of the tenets of modern online marketing is that you should go to where your customers are, rather than expect them to come to you. ‘Where your customers are’ is Facebook. All 900 million of them.
Welcome to the Party
Your website will probably inhabit quite a lonely corner of the internet (certainly to begin with) but there’s a huge party down the road. Rather than just wait for people to stumble across your site, why not go to the party and talk to everyone there about what you’re doing and how they can get involved? The best bit is of course that there’s no cover charge, you’re already on the guest list, and you can go in your pyjamas if you want. In 5 minutes you can set up a Twitter account and a Facebook page and you can join in the conversation straight away.
Beware the social media guru
Luckily for you, social media is not an area bereft of expert advice. Unluckily though, the internet has more than its fair share of ‘gurus’ who like dispensing it to anyone who’ll listen. It won’t be long before you meet someone telling you that ‘it’s a conversation not a one-way marketing channel’. Ironically enough, many of them talk at you rather than to you whilst dispensing their words of wisdom. Everyone’s an expert on Twitter and Facebook – beware!
The SocialBrite website is a great resource of tips and advice on social media – you should check that out because it’s a rapidly changing environment and they’re always up to speed on the latest developments and techniques.
My advice would be to start with just Facebook and Twitter as they’re by far the biggest. On Facebook you need to set up a ‘Page’, not as a personal ‘Profile’. On Twitter they’re all the same thing. Utilising them properly can be a full time job – indeed many of the bigger charities employ staff whose entire remit is Facebook or Twitter. Be careful not to spend too much of your time on there though. Talking to people and making contacts is all very well, but you need to keep an eye on what return you’re actually getting for your investment of time. If it’s directly helping you hit your fundraising/donor/advocacy targets then great – but if you’re running a small charity then I daresay that you’ve got a lot else on your plate.
Keep it intern-al
It’s likely that your social media accounts will effectively become the ‘voice’ of your organisation. More people will hear that than will read your website or your annual report on a weekly basis. So think twice before giving it to an intern to look after – even if they’re under 25 and a digital native! Even worse – don’t even think about paying an agency to manage your social media accounts on your behalf.
Don’t fixate on followers
It’s easy to judge your success by the number of Likes/Followers you have – this is natural because they’re the most obvious metric. Don’t get too hung up on the numbers though – it’s all about quality not quantity. 100 engaged advocates are better than 1,000 ‘slacktivists’. I’ve built a supporter base of almost 30,000 Facebook fans and over 20,000 Twitter followers for a charity without spending any money on advertising within them. I’m not really sure that they contributed a lot to the fundraising or donations though. As I said earlier, you need to set yourself a clear goal of what you want all that time spent on Facebook and Twitter to achieve. ‘Brand-building’ is a bit too flaky an answer as it’s pretty imposible to measure.