The advent of social media has resulted in charities trying new ways of fundraising but, before you go down the route of using social media, there are a few things you need to consider:
1. Work out what you are trying to achieve. It may seem as though everyone is on Twitter but does that mean you should be? That said it’s an effective way to get your message across in bite size chunks but think about why you are doing it before you start. Are you trying to drive people to your website? Or perhaps change perceptions about your charity? Maybe you want to reach a new audience? Whatever the reasons, what matters most is that you know why you’re getting into social media in the first place.
2. Be consistent. Don’t be tempted to change the central message of your charity. You may communicate differently (and you shouldn’t just regurgitate other marketing materials online) but whatever you say should still be in tune with your core message. Do be creative though, using video, podcasts and blogs to enrich your message.
3. Decide who is responsible for social media in your organisation. You may have different people tweeting and blogging on your behalf but you should have a policy that everyone adheres to which sets out clear objectives for your social media activity. And these objectives must be communicated to those using social media on behalf of your organisation. There are benefits in asking others to contribute, adding value and different perspectives to your messages – as long as they are consistent. And please, please make sure that personal social media activity isn’t confused with that carried out in your charity’s name.
4. Encourage your Board to use their online networks to your advantage. We all ask trustees or board members to network on our behalf offline, so why not online? This isn’t an area that has been hugely exploited but it’s bound to become of increasing importance in the future. Ask your Board to use Linked In to promote their involvement with your charity. And if you know that they are on Twitter perhaps they can be encouraged to tweet to their followers on your behalf?
5. Use social media as part of your overall communication strategy. Social media is part of a good communications strategy. Used well it will drive traffic to your site, raise awareness of your campaigns and help to reach new audiences – but it isn’t the only method of communication that you should use, even if it is good value for money. For example, a successful direct mail campaign shouldn’t be replaced with a Facebook page but you could enrich your message by using Facebook to inform fans about your campaign – and vice versa.
Social media is a good, low cost, effective way to reach new audiences but it is only one platform for communicating with your audience. Above all, social media gives you the opportunity to be creative and reach new audiences in new ways, so use it to your best advantage.