Getting strategic with your social media

An abstract bundle of wooden board game cubes that also spell out the word 'like'In our personal lives, getting more out of social media usually involves looking at cute photos of piglets, or watching videos of babies having hysterical laughing fits. But how should charities and other voluntary or community sector organisations be using social media? Is it simply a tool for publicising the work you do, or can it help you achieve your organisation’s strategic objectives? 

When you start using social media on behalf of your organisation, it’s easy to get caught up in ‘vanity’ metrics such as likes, comments, shares and retweets. And I think it’s important to focus on these at first, to get an idea of what kind of content your audience does and doesn’t like.

However, once you’ve reached the point where you can effectively manage your social media channels, metrics such as comments and shares can start to lose their meaning, and it’s hard to translate them into real benefits for your organisation.

A few young children walking through the park, with other children and families in the background

At this point, if you haven’t already, it’s often worth revisiting your organisation’s core purpose, as well as any strategic objectives set out by your leadership team, and seeing how social media can assist with these. This will help you to derive real value from your social media channels (beyond it being a place to post nice pictures – though that’s still part of it!)

With this in mind, here are three examples of how social media might help your organisation achieves its objectives:

  1. Volunteers – if your organisation relies on an active community of volunteers to carry out its activities, social media could be used to run recruitment campaigns to make sure you always have plenty of volunteers. You could also set up a Facebook Group to keep your current volunteers up to date on any news and activities and to celebrate their achievements, then measure if this has any impact on volunteer turnover
  2. Campaigns – this is one example where social media is a natural fit. If you want to make more members of the public aware of an issue (e.g. alcohol harm, sight loss, epilepsy), you can carry out social media campaigns to assist with this, and measure how many people saw or engaged with your content, and if they were members of your target audience. You might also use social media to contact MPs or MSPs and arrange visits to your organisation, to build political support for your cause
  3. Services – sometimes social media can be used to enhance or add to the range of services your organisation provides. For instance, if your organisation supports parents experiencing a perinatal mental illness, you could use Facebook Messenger to offer evening and weekend support to parents, staffed by trained volunteers able to give them advice and guidance.

So, those are just a few quick ideas of how charities and other voluntary or community sector organisations can use social media to help achieve their strategic objectives.

Hopefully you’ve found this blog useful! If you’d be interested in more social media tips on our blog, or if you have any of your own examples to share about using social media effectively for your organisation, let us know in the comments below!

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