Creating an integrated Social Media Strategy
I was recently invited to speak at the Institute of Fundraising Yorkshire conference on the topic of ‘Creating an integrated social media strategy’.
You can pick up the conversations, post-event, on Twitter using the hashtag #IoFYorksConf
Here I’m going to share with you some of the key points I covered in my talk. Although I was talking about social media for charities, this advice is relevant whatever sector you work in.
Social Media Strategy
When using social media, you have to be strategic. Whatever you post or are seen to do on social media sites should be relevant and for a reason.
One way to do this is to set yourself key goals or objectives against a time scale, so they can be easily measured. Constantly ask yourself questions to understand what you want to achieve.
- Do you simply want to raise awareness?
- What is the key message that you want to send to your followers/potential followers?
- Are you looking to fundraise or gather supporters?
- Do you want to inform followers about the work you, as a charity, carry out and who it benefits?
These examples show how you can quickly decide what direction your social media will move in. This is also a great way to start thinking about content.
Audience and Goals
Next, define some goals? To define goals, go back to your mission or look at your organisational objectives.
It is important to define your audiences and stakeholders – and you will probably have a few different groups.
- Stakeholders / Trustees
Then think about understanding your audience.
- Who are you aiming your online campaigns at?
- What do they read?
- Which websites do they visit most frequently?
- Who are they?
- What age are they?
- What are their hobbies?
- Where do they spend their time?
- Who do they identify with?
- What is the best way to reach them?
Social Media Platforms
You should then choose your platforms, not according to what your staff like to use, but according to where your audiences are.
In another blog soon, I’m going to look at some charities that use social media really well – and give examples of which they use and why (with some great campaign case studies). In the meantime, these are a few of the main ones:
Facebook is one of the largest social media platforms. Originally used to socialise and network with friends and family but it is now being used by charities in order to raise awareness and expand their online profile.
Many charities have their own Facebook pages, just like you or I do. It is used in a multitude of ways to interact with followers and donators.
Twitter is another social media site that has been utilised by charities to grow their support network and create a strong online community.
The format of Twitter means it is perfect for encouraging interaction with followers and also is an easy way to gain new followers. All it takes is for one follower to retweet a post to their followers and the tweet has been exposed to a whole other online community, greatly improving the chance that people who were not familiar with the charity soon will be.
Instagram and Pinterest
Instagram is all about the images! #hashtags are used to categorise pictures so people can easily search.
Pinterest is an interesting platform to use as a charity. The concept behind it is that you create a Pinboard full of images that you have seen and liked or your own images. Again, this social media platform is extremely visual, similar to Instagram.
The aim of Pinterest is that it encourages users to actively search for images that have been uploaded onto the site, the user then pins these images onto their home page.
Google Plus is a relatively new form of social media and so therefore there aren’t many charities that are using it. However it is still an excellent way to gain support and new followers. Google+ is:
- Social Network
- Content Sharing
- Business Directory
- Power tool for SEO
YouTube just had its 9 year birthday! It has this power to turn anyone into a viral movie star or director. Video also has immense power to connect and engage with audiences in a way that words alone cannot, as this powerful example shows:
Email marketing is also really important – and potentially where you can start. If you have a database of contacts, ask them to like you on Facebook , follow you on Twitter etc. See email marketing as another social media platform: use it to power social media, then use social media to power data capture for long term communications.
Vine is a social networking site that allows users to upload videos easily. Every user receives a home page and can then upload videos to followers as and when they want.
Again, this is a relatively new form of social networking and was actually created by Twitter. However, the key selling point is that videos are only 6 seconds long, encouraging users to think carefully about how they can create a video which does what they want in such a short amount of time.
Blogging should be used to create a deeper connection between charities and their stakeholders, press, followers, donors, fundraisers, volunteers and more!
A blog is a key part of charity web design. I’ll be covering blogging for charities in more detail in a future blog post.
LinkedIn is Facebook for business. I don’t believe charities understand the power of LinkedIn yet at all. Why LinkedIn?
- Business development and opportunity generation
- Because it’s where the people are
- Convenient tool to make and manage connections
- Handy way for me to stay in touch with my network
- Increases my knowledge
- Improves my search engine optimisation
- Oh I get 30% of my business from it!!
Key Messages and Content
Once you’ve identified your goals, audience and platforms, define your key messages. Use them to inform your content.
What content do you have inside your charity? Articles, news stories, videos, photos, interviews, staff bios….? We’ll come back to content in a moment. First, let’s consider search engine optimisation.
Content great for audiences but also for SEO. I believe good search engine optimisation or SEO techniques are the building blocks of a successful website, i.e. one that has a lot of visitors and a high conversion rate.
SEO is all about getting search engines to rank your website highly in search engine results when customers type in search terms that relate to your products or services.
- Create great content
- Ensure this content is accessible to search engines.
- Make pages unique and relevant
- Make the content popular
- Link to SEO blog
Content Planning – Editorial Calendars
How do you manage all this content on all these platforms? Create an editorial calendar.
An editorial calendar will help you to plan ahead, link blogs to seasons and events, and ensure you have a good variety of blog topics to appeal to all your customers and showcase your whole product range.
If you have more than one blogger, it also helps you to know who is writing what and to plan submission and posting dates.
Make the calendar work for you. Yours might include things like: season; theme; products featured; keywords; target reader segment; date etc. They don’t need to be fancy and detailed, though. There are two main advantages: planning and accountability.
There are loads of ways of creating one, but lets keep it simple!
Turn your blogs into social media content by:
- Using your blogs to:
- Pull out ‘how to’ and ‘top tips’ lists
- Create infographics
- Add photos and videos
Share this content through your social media channels, and you will drive traffic back to your e-commerce website.
I hope this has been a useful quick round up of the stages involved in creating a social media strategy. There’s a lot more to it, of course – but what you need to include depends on your organisational goals.
I’m always happy to talk through the possibilities with you. Just give me a call.
Jonny Ross is a regular social media speaker at conferences, workshops, seminars and events. If you’d like to book Jonny as a social media speaker for your event, contact jrc.agency
For more information and advice about charity web design and social media for charities, sign up to receive my blog (delivered straight to your inbox every week) or give me a call on 011 33 20 21 21.