Making the most of social media

Posted on Aug 24, 2011

Making the most of social media News Post Image

Making the most of Social Media

Guest post by Laura Hampton of Zabisco

Social media is all about engaging with the target audience and creating an online profile for your charity. In this blog, we take a look at some examples from Pimp My Cause and give our advice on making the most of social media.

With resource and budget a key concern for many of the causes on Pimp My Cause, it’s not surprise to see requests for social media on a shoestring.

But budget social media does not mean ineffective social media. The real value of social media marketing is in the doors it opens for interaction and engagement with your end user. It’s about creating the opportunities to have conversations with your customers so you can better understand them and they can let you know how they feel. It helps us as businesses to better tailor our services to the needs and motivations of our target audience.

One way to think of your social media campaign is as a dinner party. Be the ‘host with the most’ and your users are sure to come back for more.

1. Know your guests

If you want to engage with your target audience, it’s important to understand who they are and what they are interested in – and what you have to offer that will appeal to these needs. This should be the basis of your ‘dinner party’ plans and will guide the rest of your decisions.

For Garden Organic, the vast amount of information they have to offer on their site is by no means a disadvantage. What is holding them back, however, is the lack of clear messaging – and this is because the organic growing organisation appears to lack audience focus.

This is apparent from their current use of social media. The charity is using a wide range of media, including Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Flickr, but no one of these media has a clear strategy. Instead, Garden Organic broadcasts messages and updates, lacking in any real engagement because there is no defined reason to interact.

Garden Organic’s social media activity

Garden Organic, and other charities, can improve their audience targeting by gaining a better understanding of who they are trying to target and how best to do so. They can then invest their time and money into these areas.

2. Consider the party location

If all your friends lived in Edinburgh, you wouldn’t hold a party for them in London because it would make it really difficult for them to attend. In the same way, you should engage in social media where your audience is already active – bringing the party to them and making it easy for them to attend and get involved.

As an example, consider where Garden Organic’s audience would be active. This audience may benefit from a mobile presence; they are, after all, gardening and are therefore less likely to be by their computers when they need advice. A mobile app which gives them quick and easy access to organic gardening advice could be a great way for Garden Organic to raise their profile and encourage organic gardening.

3. Meet the dietary needs

Just as you wouldn’t serve meat to a vegetarian, you want to be sure that what you say and offer on social media is actually attractive and useful to the audience you wish to engage.

A cause which may benefit from more targeting would be Feed the Hungry UK. As they attempt to spread their campaign “Take Away Hunger”, what might their audience be looking for? This type of campaign lends itself to targets and updates as the audience follows what their contribution is doing and how much food is being provided, as well as seeing the effect the food is having through videos, blogs and photos. So how about creating a Facebook page where people can follow the campaign?

Feed the Hungry UK has the website but could benefit with web pages and social media solely dedicated to the Take Away Hunger campaign.

Facebook also works well for charities because the audience typically wants to be seen to be helping. Creating a Page that people can like allows them to say to their friends “look, I’m helping”.

(An important point to remember when using Facebook is that you must set up a Page for your organisation and not a personal profile as any organisation found to be using a personal profile will be banned).

Whatever medium you use, think ‘what does my audience want?’ and ‘how can I provide it to them in the most engaging way?’.

4. Be a good host

You’re the host of your party so you need to make sure your guests are comfortable and having a good time. Guide the conversation but don’t talk at them – your party is about conversation and everyone should be able to get involved.

That means listening as well as broadcasting. So join in with conversations on social networks outside of your own pages and groups to find out what your audience is talking about and how can you get involved.

An example of this can be found in Basic Needs. With little activity on social networks, they rely solely on their website to promote their cause. But, with so much information on their website, it’s difficult to see what the key messages are and what the intent on the site is – they are, essentially, simply broadcasting information and not really accounting for what the audience wants.

This could be improved upon with a reduction in text on the site and a more refined and restructured navigation and page layout, drawing audiences to the most important points. The vast amount of information they have on the site could work very well around social networks or in Wiki style pages.

Basic Needs would benefit from a content restructuring and more clarity of key messages, which can then be spread through social networks.

5. Keep in touch after the party

Be available to your audience beyond your social media interaction – ensure there are ways for people to get in touch and find out more via your website.

Consider email marketing campaigns. They can be set up really easily via clients such as Mailchimp and can be a great way of keeping in touch with your audience and the media. Use it to promote your latest news and let people know what you’re up to and what effect their donations are having.

Also think about the sharing potential of your content. If it’s of a high quality and genuinely useful to your audience, they may choose to share it with their friends and contacts. So make social share easy by including things like ‘tweet’ and ‘like’ buttons on your site and your email campaigns.

There are plenty of social share buttons to choose from and these can easily be added to your website.

Don’t just jump on the social media band wagon because ‘everyone else is’ – make sure you’re making the most of your time and your investment. Treat your social media like a dinner party – keep your guests happy and provide them information of quality and value and you’ll find your efforts go a lot further than you’d expect.

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