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10 Tips on Social Media Marketing for Third Sector & Charities

5 June, 2013

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A recent survey showed that UK charitable organisations have doubled their supporters on key social media channels in the past year. It’s therefore no surprise that social media is an increasingly popular and essential part of the strategic plan when marketing for third sector, enabling charities to connect directly with supporters.

When marketing for causes, social media for third sector can be one of the most effective ways for charities to build supporters, recruit volunteers, share success stories, boost donations, encourage people to sign up to campaigns, network with like-minded organisations or demonstrate the impact of their work.

When planning your social media campaign, think carefully about what you want to achieve and who you want to engage with, then choose your channels based on who you want to reach. Facebook and Twitter tend to target a broader and younger audience, while LinkedIn is more of a professional tool for business networking.

If you’re considering social media for causes, it may be tempting to have a ‘scatter gun’ approach, throwing yourself in and signing up to as many free accounts as you can. But be aware that once these accounts have been activated, you will need to interact regularly. Having an inactive account is often worse than not having an account at all.

Unlike print or direct mail, social media allows your supporters to engage in two-way communication and on a one-to-one basis. Comment boards, forums, Facebook comments and tweets give you the chance to engage proactively with those who support your work.

In addition, social media gives the chance to make emotional connections, which can really help when marketing for causes. Text on a page can be great for getting information across, but videos, images and human reactions are what really bring the scope of your charity work to life.

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Marketing for Causes: Top Tips on Social Media for Third Sector Organisations

 (1) Become an expert

Create useful resources that underline your reputation as an expert in your area and a leader in your field. Make top tip lists and articles that are useful to your supporters, and give them away for free.

(2) Measure success

Decide what you want to achieve and which metrics will demonstrate success – or otherwise. Use tools like MentionMap, Facebook Insights and The Archivist to measure how successful your social media activity is and interpret the data to make it useful to you, amending your activities to improve your results.

(3) Raise money

Join Justgiving and register for JustTextGiving so your supporters can raise money for you online. When cause marketing, share your service users’ stories and build positive relationships to convert the casual follower to the committed fundraiser or volunteer.

(4) Extend reach

Select a social network and maximise your reach. That is, don’t just set up a profile or page. Create a group as well and attract more supporters that way. On Facebook, for instance, you can set up a group. Just make sure you understand the rules of the site.

(5) Prepare to lose control

There is no way you can vet every word of every person who wants to be your friend or join your social networking group. You can set up an approval process for comments that people post, but if you go this route make sure the approval process is reasonable and fast.

(6) First impressions count

Try to ‘wow’ your social media followers right from the beginning. Make your profile or page look good. Control what your organisation will look like on other people’s friends lists and upload a great photo and use a title that will get noticed.

(7) Post edgy viral content

Social networks are at their best when people are passing content around, and they will only pass yours around if it is creative. Come up with engaging and creative profile/page names, use video and lots of photos.

(8) Utilise supporters already on social media

Survey your members and find out who is active on social media. Send them an e-mail inviting them to become your friend, join your group, or like your page. Incorporate links to your social media in all of your communications such as email newsletters.

(9) Communicate frequently

Update your social media pages with new content daily. Get the word out on important issues and drive people back to your website. Setting up a blog on your website that is updated frequently can be a big boost to your social media. It’s easy to set up automatic reposting of your blog content to your social media.

(10) Activate your social network followers

Eventually you will want to start turning your friends and followers into activists, donors, and volunteers. Make sure your social networking pages always feature lots of opportunities to get involved. Also include donation opportunities on your social networking pages.

There’s no doubt that taking your first steps into social media can feel a little intimidating, but as you establish yourself, understand the demands and gradually build your followers. Be patient – it does take time – then you’ll soon discover it’s not quite as daunting as you imagine.

Do you work for a charity that has recently engaged in social media, leading to positive results, or is social media something you’re considering but are not quite sure how to go about it? Let me know.

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