Social media- loathsome time-suck or incredible tool? Obviously, I’m biased, being a communications person in charge of an organisational account (@the_young_fdn). But nevertheless, social media will connect you with people you might never otherwise get the chance to talk to, build your customer base and it’s a great way to show your work to the world- if you do it right. I’ve helped out a number of social ventures, charities and think tanks set up their social media accounts. Here are the top five things you should keep in mind when setting out.
1. Map it out.
A little trail and error is to be expected at first, but don’t just go galloping out to the wide world of social media without a roadmap or a destination. Get everyone (or at least the key people) in a room and ask yourselves what you’re trying to achieve with your social media. Go round and talk through your questions, concerns, and what you’d like to try. You should already have an idea of your venture’s brand and unique offer- how will this be reflected online? Who’s in charge of posting content? Just sitting together and hashing this out often sorts out the common problem of the founder or director assuming everyone is already on the same page. The results of this conversation should be written down into a one-pager of social media guidelines, kept in a place where everyone can access them.
2. Consider your audience.
Are you mainly trying to reach investors, service users, procurement people, local government, or someone else entirely? You can write things that appeal to multiple audiences, but a targeted approach assures you aren’t trying (and failing) to be all things to all people. Once you’ve figured out who you want to talk to, think about things from their perspective. What are their interests? Where do they hang out online? How can you be useful to them?
3. Figure out where you want to be, and when.
Each social media platform has its own flavour- for example, Facebook tends to be more friendly and optimistic than Twitter, which is more about being the first to find something out. If your product or service has great visual appeal, experiment with Vine or YouTube. In order for your audience to consistently see what you’re posting, try to post it when you think they’ll be browsing. Use the trial version of SocialBro to get an idea of what the best hours to tweet are for your organisation. You don’t have to personally be on social media all hours of the day. Use a scheduling programme such as Hootsuite, Tweetdeck, or Buffer to compose and post tweets or Facebook posts for whenever you like.
4. Keep an eye on your analytics- they may surprise you.
Did you find your ideal social media management app? Great! Most come with the option for all sorts of reporting on which posts were successful and which ones weren’t. See what’s working for you, and try to produce content along similar lines. Of course, you should be linking back to your own website as much as possible, so set yourself up on Google Analytics as well to see where people are coming to your website from. If you’re getting lots of action from Facebook but not much from LinkedIn, maybe it’s time to think about where it’s worth spending your time.
5. Learn the rules.
Get to know internal rules that apply to whatever platforms you’re using. For example, the one I see most often misunderstood on Twitter is the @reply. If you want everyone to know about a great new resource, don’t start the tweet with their @username- hardly anyone will see it! To get around this, simply put a full stop in front of the initial @ (or any character really- that’s just the most common practice). Other good ones to the know about are the etiquette behind modified tweets (MT) and retweets (RT), how to namecheck other organisations or people in a Facebook post, and why it’s nice when you’re in a #ff.
Did I miss any major ones? Well actually, yes, I did. But I’ll be back soon with a few more advanced tips for once you’re up and running, including what to do when you run out of content and how to stay out of trouble. Until then, drop me a line in the comments below or tweet me at @the_young_fdn with any good ones I’ve left out here.