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The dos and don’ts of social media

DON’T post fake news.

Social media is a powerful tool every NFP can use, and should, but it can be confusing, overwhelming and often painful, especially when there are so many platforms to be on and so little time to spend managing each account.

Social media can also be dangerous for an organisation’s credibility: with one bad tweet you could bring the whole reputation of the organisation into question. But it is essential for the success of any NFP, and if used correctly can effectively get the right message through to the targeted audience to raise money, and build up the reputation and credibility of the organisation.

Here are my “dos and don’ts” for your NFP’s approach to social media…

DO

Pick the right platform

Not all social-media platforms are right for every NFP. Organisations need to decide which channels they need, and how to effectively use all the tools and resources at their disposal.

For example, Facebook is great for generating engagement whereas Twitter is better for thought leadership, while Instagram is all about the visual aspects of your organisation. Look into what each platform offers, chose the one you think will be most helpful for achieving your goals, and spend more time building up a presence on that particular platform.

Know your audience and how to reach it

Your organisation has a higher chance of success if you know, listen to and engage with your supporters. All social-media websites should be treated as different entities, and organisations should take time to understand their audience on each channel so as to post content that is appropriate.

Engage with your followers by asking questions, posting information that would interest them, posting different content such as videos and photos, and answering their questions and queries promptly.

Use social-media scheduling tools

Social media can be time consuming, so I recommend using an online social-media scheduler. This way you can sit down for 30 minutes at the start of the week and schedule the bulk of your social-media posts across all your channels. Scheduling tools like Buffer, Hootsuite or TweetDeck will save you a whole lot of time and energy.

Develop a strategy

If you use social media without a purpose or strategy, you will waste a lot of time. This usually occurs when you spend hours looking through your social-media accounts, unsure what to post or comment on. Your strategy will help you define what to post, when to post it, who will be in charge of posting, how to reply to comments and how to measure your engagement.

Share! Share! Share!

When you read a news article online that might be interesting for your audience, look for the social-media sharing buttons and share. If you are already logged in to your social-media accounts, like LinkedIn, you can automatically share the link for the article with your connections, and even add comment.

Monitor your social media

Facebook and Twitter analytics are great tools that can help you monitor how successful your posts have been. They will indicate what type of content is popular, and which are the best times for posting.

Avoid controversy

Touchy topics like politics and religion can trigger unwanted attention. Stay away from these unless they are part of what your organisation does. The point of using social media is to get people on your side, not rallying against your views on the latest political controversy.

Formulate a crisis-management plan

While you do your best to ensure a crisis never affects your organisation, it doesn’t hurt to be prepared for such an eventuality. You can hire specialised social-media and PR experts who can create a crisis-communications plan for you, which they can also adapt and implement as required. It is just like failing to pack an umbrella when there is not a cloud in the sky. Failing to plan is planning to fail.

DON’T

Buy followers

Buying followers to make you look more popular online has become conveniently easy. However, social media is not a popularity contest – the quality of your followers is more important than the quantity.

The best way to gain new followers is organically. This is done by sharing interesting content, having online conversations, having content that adds value, and following influencers in your field.

Post fake reviews

Posting fake reviews is ethically wrong and creates false assumptions about a brand. If your NFP is caught out, its reputation will be damaged. Combat negative reviews by responding to the comments and try to reverse the situation. A polite response can help resolve the issue.

Post photos without permission

If you want to post a photo with people in it, be sure you have their full permission first. It can be wise to have them sign a release form showing that they give permission for their image to be used on your social-media sites. This can avoid potential liabilities.

Link or share inappropriate content

Link or share only articles pertaining to your organisation. While you may think a certain article interesting, do not share it without first thinking about what the article might say about your organisation, and whether your organisation shares the same values.

Social media for your NFP can really be a full-time job in itself. However, it is essential for boosting the credibility and reputation of your organisation.

This article was originally in Third Sector’s print magazine- click here for more info. 

Catriona Pollard, CEO, CP Communications; author, From Unknown to Expert.

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