Social Media: everybody uses it, but how do you know when you’re using it right? We decided to delve into some social media research and find out the current ‘best practices’ to help you and your non-profit connect to your followers and build your platform.
Quality over quantity.
This simple rule stood out above all others. There is so much content on the internet and it would take multiple lifetimes to see it all. That’s why when you do post, you want to make sure it counts. Social media efforts should go towards curating quality, meaningful content. Tweets are meant to be retweeted and Facebook posts should be shared, you don’t want to post things that will be skimmed over and lost in someone’s archives. Quality, original posts should also be research driven to inform followers about your cause.
Specificity and understanding your followers.
One of the characteristics of a quality post is understanding who is going to see it. Your followers are interested in whatever cause you are promoting and they are following you to stay updated in that field. Quality content should be relevant and specific to your goals as an organization.
Another way to understand your followers is to realize that Twitter and Facebook are very different platforms. Twitter is short and sweet, and tweets go by quickly. Whereas Facebook give a lot more options for the type of media you can share. Understanding the nuances and the difference between various forms of social media can help you differentiate between posts that should be relegated to Twitter instead of Facebook and vice verse.
Overall Facebook is a good platform for original content (i.e. links to blog posts, videos, photos, etc) and can be used for a longer post. Twitter is used to keep followers up to date with real-time media, and to directly engage in conversation with followers (including addressing both positive and negative feedback). Twitter is also a great platform for branding, and using 1-2 consistent, branded hashtags with each tweet.
Engagement and reciprocity
Although already mentioned, even the biggest companies try to engage with their followers as much as possible, and when trying to build a platform that is even more important for smaller companies. The goal of social media is not to shout into a void, it is to start a conversation between your company and the people you want to connect to. That means retweeting other companies and followers, as well as responding to tweets that mention you and building an online community. This also includes targeting influential and relevant figures and engaging them over social media. When you share content from other people they are more likely to return the favor.
Caring and sharing.
Finally, the goal of social media is to use the platform to connect to people, and the best way to connect is to get your name and your cause out there. All your media should have the ultimate goal of being sharable, you’re trying to tell a story that people want to hear. You want to tell the kind of story that people repeat to their friends-- the story that gets retweeted and shared. This is a good way to test your social media strategies, and gauge your audience. If your current social media strategy is not leading to increased engagement, something needs to change. Make sure you keep track of the analytic softwares that Twitter and Facebook provide to understand what works best for your audience to make sure they care about what you have to say and share it with their friends.