How can charities build a social media communications strategy?

By Patrick Nash

With social media transforming the way we communicate, I share my top tips for charities keen to make the most out of these online platforms.

Social media is a serious business these days. Platforms such as Facebook and Twitter are now key channels for charities to interact with their prospective volunteers, donors and supporters. Posting links to campaigns, fundraising ideas and results from successful events will increase the reach of your messages, boosting the impact of your charity’s work and your reputation.

In the past, charities have not fully embraced social media, either through lack of expertise or nervousness around associated risks. However, with user numbers growing daily, charities cannot afford to miss out on this cost-effective engagement tool.

However, for social media to be a useful tool for a charity over a longer period of time, a cohesive strategy should be the first starting point.

Here are my top tips for putting a strategy in place.

Outsourcing or training?

Key decisions need to be made such as whether social media should be done in-house or by an outsourced agency. If the choice is in-house, then will you either need to recruit or up-skill your existing employees? You cannot expect your employees and stakeholders to implement a new strategy without training and guidance. You must equip your workforce with the skills required to deliver exceptional customer service via social media channels.

If you’re going to outsource your social media management, carefully choose an organisation that understands your charity’s mission and ethos.

What are your audience saying and where?

To be effective you will need to establish what your charity’s audiences are saying, and where they are saying it. Checking out your competitor’s social media activity is also important. Learning from good social media practice can help you post the right content at the most effective times to boost engagement. It should also give you a good idea of the training that you need to develop for your staff.

Numerous accounts and channels

Charities must establish their goals for social media. Is it to reduce marketing costs, or to create a better user experience? You will need to decide whether all of the charity’s social media activity will be done in one place or over several platforms and accounts.

If you’re likely to get a high volume of Tweets or Facebook comments consider dedicated channels and accounts so your feeds don’t get clogged up with posts that aren’t relevant to the majority of your followers.

For example, Cancer Research UK has an entirely separate Twitter account for their Race for Life campaign. This gives supporters the opportunity to voice their achievements, which can be seen by their followers and increases the reach of campaign, giving the campaign a life of its own online.

Consistency

Decisions need to be made as to what extent the entire organisation will be involved with social media management. If social media is going to be manned across various departments then consistency is key, and it is important to plan how communication is achieved between teams.

A charity’s supporters will see the organisation as a whole. They will want to feel as if they are dealing with one team. Therefore, communications with supporters needs to be of equal standard over all platforms and a consistent tone of voice is vital in maintaining brand identity. Policies and guidelines should be set across all channels so that a consistent standard is maintained across the board.

Keeping track

Charities should also consider how they store their communication data with donors and supporters on social media. It is important that supporters are communicated with through the channels that they feel most comfortable. If they tweet you, tweet them back. If they call you, call them back. It’s that simple.

Final thoughts

If your charity carefully plans, trains its staff and sets a clear strategy with measurable targets and objectives, you have the best possible chance of succeeding in the fast-evolving world of social media. The opportunities are there to increase your charity’s reach. Invest time and effort upfront, and tangible benefits will be just around the corner.

One thought on “How can charities build a social media communications strategy?

  1. Pingback: Connect AssistHow charities can learn from the ‘Right Behind Gay Footballers’ campaign | Connect Assist

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