Rob Dyson, Whizz-Kidz
The single biggest barrier is possibly that it’s thought of as “waste of time” or not on a par with “traditional media”…I don’t know about anyone else but with a smaller resource for PR, I find soc med / digital incredibly helpful because of it’s viral capacity. Isnt this after all how the Daily Mail get so many of us all worked up about it’s latest column? Leak a url onTwitter and get it passed around by hundreds of people.
I think getting small, under the radar wins is good at first – prove its worth, show bosses its impact. Use it in your own time first….slowly. catchy. monkey. Don’t rely on others’ examples – build your own.
I started to measure our social media output in terms of a numbers game, but I’ve begun to value the richness of the conversation (and hopefully conversion) a little more. retweets are good as it’s virally spreading out the message, and I also like seeing numbers of comments on Facebook posts – levels of engagement. Most tools have their own analytics (Facebook, Youtube, Flickr) and Twitter Search is very good. Also try putting your brand’s name into Samepoint.
I’ve used Twitter and Facebook to have an open discussion around issues…I’d rather it be out in the open. Others may be having the same issues and you can address it together.
What we’ve *also* found is public defenders come forward in your honour – it’s not just you Vs The World. Remember there are people who have wonderful experiences through your charity, so let their voices come forward too. But I would not try and fake glowing comments! Don’t be fake – encourage….
Jamie Sport, Social media officer; British Red Cross
There are lots of great tips and guides out there but I think one of the most important things to do when starting out with (or reviewing) a social strategy is to ensure that you’ve identified what you want out of it and that the person/people publishing content are plugged into as many existing comms channels in your org as possible. They can’t tweet if they don’t know what’s happening on a daily basis.
A link I found handy when writing BRC’s social strategy:
It’s the International Red Cross’ social media guidelines, geared towards Red Cross but many of the principles are the same for most orgs.
I think it’s a good idea to look at your organisation from an outsider’s point of view and question which parts can benefit from distinct presences on multiple accounts. It can be easy to fall into the trap of reflecting internal structure instead of how real people perceive you – to that end, I don’t think a fundraising specific twitter account (for instance) is generally a good idea because every day people see fundraising as part of your core brand. On the other hand, there may be value in setting in different accounts where messaging is specific, niche and different from the majority of your updates. For example, the Red Cross provide a huge variety of different things so we might split out education messaging from our main news feed. Think about the audience rather than the organisation of your charity.
Negative comments are A Good Thing. The way we treat critical comments on blog posts, Twitter, FB etc is “We’d far rather have these comments in our environment where we can engage than off our radar where things can spiral out of control” As Rob said, you’ll also find supporters pile in and advocate on your behalf if you allow or encourage debate.
It will happen anyway; it’s a question of whether you want to pretend it won’t or listen.
Madeleine Sugden, KnowHow NonProfit,
About getting responses on Twitter. It can be hard. I think you have to pick the right question and give methods of responding that people want to use. Also need to think why you’re asking a question and how you’ll use the responses.
At KnowHow we don’t do many of the ‘topical debates’ that we used to as people just didn’t want to use the site to talk that way for lots of different reasons. People just don’t have time, don’t want to register, don’t want to be the first to share an opinion etc. There are other sites where this works better but our site is more for sharing work experiences and problems. So this is what we concentrate on and use our social media for.
We often ask questions on Twitter and point people to our forums but get messages back via Twitter which we then ourselves post to the forum so others can see. It’s a bit labour-intensive but worth it.
I think it takes time to build your twitter voice so you are listening and sharing in the right balance. I think you have to respond to other people in equal measures to build up the trust. And just try different things out. See what works for your audience.
Kim Townsend, Community Outreach Manager, Media Trust
I always recommend to the groups I support that they attend their local social media surgery. These are great volunteer lead workshops where charities and communities can get one to one support with social media. They’re held regularly so the groups can keep going back and taking further steps with developing their social media presence.
Media Trust recently had a Communications for Fundraising conference. We’ve put up some of the resources online.
One of the tips that came out of it was not to over-emphasise the asks for giving. Spend 90% of your messaging on interesting content and 10% on asks. That way you build up the relationship too.
Also, think creatively about how you ask.
Alison Morris, Media Trust
@Media_Trust’s twitter account started as a channel to engage media professionals who wanted to volunteer their time, so we could match them with charities’ comms questions, projects and advice requests through our media matching service http://www.mediatrust.org/get-support/free-professional-support/
Just by being quite open we tapped into existing networks, got RTs, recommendations and volunteer responses coming back in… it’s been quite successful for us as we were targeting quite a socially networked audience.
As charities have become more active in social media we’ve then expanded our twitter remit (kept one account for multiple audiences, so they can connect themselves) to tips and messages for charities too
Measurement’s got to be more than followers or RTs, so tweetreach is quite an interesting tool to see how many people your conversation reached, although it doesn’t tell you much re quality.
I am a bit of a numbers geek, but I like to keep an eye on clickthroughs on links, spikes in visits to particular web pages, downloads, volunteers or bookings, and compare that with tweets and other comms activity. We connect cotweet to bitly, for example, and getting a handle on google analytics has been essential.
It is a bit of work, but one that you might already be doing as part of your regular marketing KPIs? Depends on your social media activity goals… Are they defined and SMART?
Martin Keane, Third Sector Lab
I am a strong believer that supporters want to be part of every section of the journey with you, involve them with the issues. Maybe start a blog which talks about dealing with funding issues and how they can help by volunteering, donating and so on.
I 100% believe that supporters do want to help, if they know a charity has issues, they will rally round. Create a real community around the issue and take advantage of the amazing enthusiasm they have for the cause.
I am absolutely loath to recommend big long policies being written, there is very little value to be had there and they just put people off. I think that allowing people to be natural is great. We simply note the person by initials, people can check the bio to see who they are conversing with. I think people have come to expect different personalities coming through, which keeps it fresh.
In terms of maintaining the brand, it should not be a problem in most cases. Most people are swinging from the same hymn sheet in terms of their org and by allowing freedom to engage in social media, we can really seem them flourish.
In terms of doing it right. I love Oxfam Scotland. They get it so right, they really show me that they care about supporters and want to get involved in a discussion. They have the perfect blend of staff and volunteers, demonstrating that supporters are at the very heart of their social media presence. They have a great Citizen Journalism blog as well, which regularly features fascinating and thought provoking content. Smashing stuff all round really. I feel like they add something to the discussion too, which is crucial.
Rachel Beer, beautiful world
One of the ways to understand the value is to make sure you join your activity up with whatever web analytics package you use – commonly Google Analytics – as this gives you some great insights into whether your social media activity drives traffic to your other presences online and how people engage further there (e.g. do people click through to read your blog or specific content on your website from Twitter? Does any of the traffic result in donations or other types of engagement/support?).
Using tools like bit.ly can also tell you a lot about how many times your links are clicked and by whom, as well as whether they are passed on – even in which country – and you’ll get an awful lot of insight into which messages are interesting people, which are generating conversation, what works really well and what not so much. Facebook analytics also tell you a fair bit about engagement on your page, which helps inform future activity.
Warren Puckett, Provokateur
If I were to give any advice to an organisation who is developing their social media strategy, I would stress how important it is to A) Be authentic – because if you aren’t you won’t build trust and B) Have something of value to say (content). Many people filter out anything that doesn’t satisfy both these elements. At the end of the day social media is not the message, but the method. Now that the novelty is wearing off, it is becoming part of the framework of daily communications.