Social Media – Confusing Tools with Strategy
Oftentimes smaller organizations, and nonprofits especially, confuse using a tool with crafting a strategy. As it relates to social media especially, nonprofits have a tendency to believe that they need a separate strategy for each tool or platform they use, instead of folding social media into larger goals and ideas. Social media must be integrated with other organizational outcomes to truly have an impact, and to effectively build social media into a larger strategy, it is important to focus on the following key elements.
The first step in any solid strategy is to identify what, specifically, your organization hopes to accomplish by embarking on this new project or campaign. From a social media perspective, this should be broken down not only into the metrics most specifically related to the tool or platform you are using (Likes, Follows, Shares, Views), but to specific organizational goals you are hoping to accomplish. How can more likes help affect your community impact? Perhaps it is through educating your audience to advocate on your behalf; maybe you are looking for them to share your content with their own friends and family to increase potential volunteers; or maybe by tying in views of your content with registration numbers for an upcoming event.
Regardless of your organizational goal, it is exceptionally important that your social media goals are not just tied to your tool of choice, but rather to a broader goal for your nonprofit.
Targeting an Audience
Trying to reach everyone on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, or any number of social media platforms is likely going to prove to be unsuccessful. Despite how amazing your cause is, as you have likely seen throughout your work, it just isn’t accessible to everyone. But if there is an audience that you are trying to reach, but are struggling to connect with through other avenues of outreach, social media is a tool that should be integrated into your larger strategy.
Certain audiences tend to use some social media platforms more than others; additionally, people tend to use these tools to receive information in different ways. Facebook is oftentimes used to create a community; Twitter a source of information or news; what this ultimately breaks down to is – who does your organization most want to reach? What do you want to tell them? What is your call-to-action? By narrowing your focus to a target audience, one that specifically can have an impact on your larger organizational goals, you’ll be more likely to create a successful strategy, regardless of your social media tool.
Focus on Content
Last, as has been said numerous times before, content is king. No matter how important your cause, effective your organization, or timely your messaging, if your content isn’t compelling, it won’t work, no matter the tool you use. Your audience, whether they are on social media or not, don’t want to hear about you. Content creation for social media platforms should not exist in a vacuum – it should be integrated with all other areas of your nonprofit’s organizational strategy.
Crafting quality and engaging content takes time, and isn’t easy. But to truly succeed using these tools, your content needs to touch on why your audience is important.
Social media tools are immensely plentiful – everywhere you look, there is a new service, a new gimmick, or a new idea floating around tempting your nonprofit to use its precious resources. But by focusing on integrating these tools into a larger strategy, instead of considering the idea of using a tool as a strategy, your nonprofit will see greater returns on your investment in these new technological areas.