Wednesday, 2 February 2011

A blog about social media

I wrote this for my work blog originally but have decided to post it here instead on advice from @ericbratislava

A helping hand with social media

Social media is a fantastic channel for marketing campaigns and a handy way to check out what that mean kid from school is up to these days. However increasingly we are finding it’s a vital tool when spreading the word about not-for-profit, charity and voluntary groups.

Why? Well, because it’s easy to set up a social media profile for a start. It’s also cheap (people hours aside). And, perhaps best of all, it has that grass rootsy feel where people can feel that they are getting involved with, contributing to, and being part of a cause they are passionate about.

So, where should a not-for-profit or voluntary organisation start when it comes to social media?

Firstly, set up a Facebook page. If you are a small and local organisation, then a Facebook page can be an even more valuable resource than a website. With, of course, the extra bonus of being free. After all, it allows you to share content, encourage and engage with members, organise events and make connections.

Use your Facebook page as a hub of information about the issues your group cares about. For example, if you see an article in the news, or on a blog, then put a link and share it on the wall. If you hear of events happening across the country, link to them. And encourage members of related groups to get involved with your page. They may be able to share info that you might have missed.

It’s also perfect for advertising and promoting any events your group may be running. Once the event is created, attendees can invite their own friends and connections, thereby widening the net and encouraging new people to get involved. It’s quick, easy and instantly gives you a big reach. 

Integrating Twitter and a blog is a great way to encourage greater reach for your organisation. When you create new content for your blog, pop the links on Twitter. It’s far easier to reach people this way, instantly, than to rely on your blog followers checking their updates. Just as with Facebook, use Twitter to share content from other sources that relate to your group, and post links to events and campaign pages. Your followers will then share this content, and encourage more people to get involved.

Social media works by being a channel with which to create, share and discuss content. If you set up a Facebook page or Twitter account for your group, and then leave it to ‘form itself’ then you won’t have much success. It needs to be nurtured, filled with fascinating and relevant content that positions you as an expert and advocate of your field.

The beauty of using social media as a voluntary organisation is that the members of your group are empowered to contribute to your cause. From attending the events that you create on Facebook, to leaving comments and links on your wall, to RT-ing tweets and sharing blog posts. The relationship between you and your members becomes equal, based on a shared love or belief in a cause, making you much stronger.

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