Charities Should Use Social Media Too
Social media is a useful way for charities to engage in two-way communication and engage with supporters.
Social media is an increasingly effective strategy for charities that want to connect with supporters. A recent survey showed that UK charitable organisations have doubled their supporters on key social media channels in the past year. Yet, for many charities, the vastness of the social media landscape is too daunting to venture into.
As David Lawrence of The Clare Foundation says, they encourage tenants at their Buckinghamshire charity centre to take advantage of all the opportunities that social media channels offer. Their approach is to encourage charitable organisations to bring established commercial methods, business expertise and entrepreneurism to the voluntary sector. Maximising the effectiveness of social media is one area in which many charities need to catch up with commercial businesses.
Charities rely on public support and so need to find new ways to reach their supporters, potential donors and volunteers. Social media can be one of the most effective ways for charities to build supporters, boost donations, share success stories, network with like-minded organisations, encourage people to sign up to campaigns, recruit volunteers, or demonstrate the impact of their work.
With 80% of 18 to 24-year-olds and 73% of 25 to 34-year-olds using Facebook and Twitter respectively, these platforms are especially relevant to charities keen to engage with a younger generation of supporters.
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. For example, LinkedIn is a professional tool, whereas Facebook tends to target a broader and younger audience. While it’s tempting to throw yourself in and sign up to as many free accounts as you can, be aware that you will need to interact if you want supporters to view your social media stream as a reliable way to communicate with you. Keep your social media moving – introduce news, provide usable content, stay active and regularly update your information. Nobody is going to interact with an account that’s been dormant for six months, so stay relevant and topical where possible.
Unfortunately, the attitude that “We’re fine with what we’ve got” is blinding many charities to the possibilities that social media activity can offer. Charities don’t have to stop using traditional media to drive their campaigns – websites, print, magazines, direct mail and PR remain important ways to reach supporters – but social media can offer advantages that other channels can’t.
In addition, social media gives your charity the chance to make emotional connections. Text on a page can be great for getting information across, but images, videos and human reactions are what really bring the scope of your charity work to life. Potential volunteers are more likely to get involved if they can picture the people they will help. Donations will be more forthcoming if people can identify with the human angle – the idea that it could help somebody just like them/their mum/their child/their pet/their friend. Human stories make charity work real and help forge deeper, more emotional connections with supporters. It’s useful if you want to boost donations, publicise your targets and show what donations will do in real-life terms. Use case studies to bring the work you do to life.
Social media has the power to personalise your work. It will also personalise your supporters. Encourage supporters to “like”, re-tweet, send links, write blogs about fundraising events they’ve been involved with and upload photos and videos to personalise involvement. Users of social media like to connect with their peers and be part of an online community. Maximise this by having those that support you tell their peers about how and why they do. Their endorsement of your work will be far more powerful and valuable than anything that comes from the larger organisation.
There’s no doubt that taking your first steps into social media is an intimidating proposition, 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. After all, social media is designed to be fun, straightforward and easy to use and, with millions of potential supporters accessible online, it’s too good an opportunity to miss.
Source: The GuardianTags: Facebook, Linkedin, social media, charities
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