6 Actionable Insights into Authentic Social Media Marketing for Non-Techies

development public relations social media May 26, 2021
6 Actionable Insights into Authentic Social Media Marketing for Non-Techies

Voices in Social Media

Social media has been a great equalizer. It has given a voice to those who may not otherwise be given a platform to express their ideas. In fact, many who feel like they have been marginalized have turned to social media in order to exert control over their voice.

Likewise, social media has also been infiltrated by highly sophisticated marketers and influencers whose entire purpose is to change how you think or get you to buy a product. Furthermore, the degree of sophistication needed to advance effective social media campaigns is much more technology-focused than ever before. As a result, many nonprofits without adequate budgets have relied on inconsistent social media strategies that are often staffed by interns who are believed to be competent in this field exclusively for their youth. However, developing strong social media campaigns requires more than successfully navigating TikTok. In this article, we will focus on how to develop effective and ethical social media campaigns for the Third Sector.

1. Be sure to select the right social media forum for the target population you want to reach.

Just because a social network exists does not mean that it is right for your organization. Your efforts should be limited and targeted based on what makes the most sense for your organization and the population that you want to reach. Begin by researching the demographics that use each platform. For example, if you want to reach Spanish-speaking-only populations, a significant portion of your media campaign should be carried out on Facebook, and you should rely on applications like WhatsApp. You don’t want to waste your time using a platform that will not reach your target demographic. 

The Pew Research Center has a great deal of data on social media that all organizations could benefit from.  In a 2018 study, Pew found that social media usage varies across groups, including how different populations are likely to show support for an advocacy campaign. For example, Black and Hispanic social media users are more likely than white users to say social media is important to them for engaging in certain political activities. 

2. Be clear on what it is that you want to achieve from your social media marketing plan.

Your content should be driven by your social marketing goals. Are you looking to kick off a fundraising campaign? Do you want more people to understand what your organization does and why its mission is important? Do you want more people to visit your website? Are you looking to increase awareness about a particular issue? The answers to these questions should be the drivers behind your content and any potential follow-up strategies that you may use with individuals that are interested and engaged in your campaign. 

3. Assess the results of your social media campaigns with clear metrics to measure the success of the social media campaign. 

Your metrics should be correlated with the goals of your campaign. In order to see the reach of your campaign, there will be three types of metrics you want to consider:

  • Metric 1: The number of people who saw your post, your viral reach, and the paid reach. This is also known as “organic reach”.
  • Metric 2: You also want to look at the type of engagement you are experiencing. This includes likes and shares, audience growth, the number of followers you have, and how many times you are mentioned by audience members. In other words, how many people are talking about your campaign? How many social mentions did you receive? How many shares did you obtain?
  • Metric 3: Assess how many people have taken action based on the instructions that you have given. If you are asking your audience to use a campaign hashtag, are they doing it?

These metrics help you measure the impact of your efforts so that your organization does not waste its valuable human capital on efforts that will not yield any results. For example, if you have a lot of social mentions, but your goal is to increase donations to your organization, and you have not seen a visible increase in revenue, perhaps the content is not what your audience is interested in. At this point, it is time to redirect the campaign.

4. Develop a strategy for creating and managing your content. 

Research the social media strategies of other organizations and develop an SEO strategy to reach the audience in your field. This will align the voice and themes of your social media campaign with your target audience’s interests and search engine preferences.

There are numerous competitor analysis tools that you can use online. You can also find publicly available conversations that will help you fine-tune your campaign. Questions you should ask yourself while crafting your messaging are: 

  • What does my target audience care about? 
  • How does this posting impact them? 
  • Why would they care? 
  • Are there specific keywords and phrases or hashtags that this target audience is more likely to respond to or search for? 
  • Are you giving your readers instructions on what you want them to do? For example, do you want them to take action on a particular advocacy campaign by signing a petition?  Do you want them to share an article? Do you want them to comment on a video or a posting? 
  • Is your call to action time sensitive, and if so, are you clear on what your reader should do? 
  • What is the optimal time for posting and generating engagement?  
  • What is your plan for engaging with your audience? 

The answers to all of these questions will help you develop customized copy that will resonate with your target audience. In addition, the corresponding metrics will help you identify what messaging is working in your media campaign versus what is not. 

5. Have a consistent schedule that your followers can rely on.

You should have a consistent posting calendar so that your viewership knows when you are going to make a post. This approach presents a serious, professional, and intentional approach to marketing that your audience will feel is reliable. In addition, if you let too much time go in between social media postings, your organization will not be as present in the minds of your target audience. 

6. Post responsibly and ethically to ensure the integrity of your message and to avoid getting into trouble with the IRS. 

More than ever, it is essential that as you proceed with your social media campaign, both you and your team consider your duty and any potential unintended effects of your social media campaigns. The following are important considerations:

Thus, if you are engaging in a social media advocacy campaign, you must use credible data and information that results in a more informed consumer. Your messaging should not contribute to conspiracy theories, or false narratives, or propagate false or unproven claims. As keepers of the public good, nonprofits have a higher ethical standard to meet.

  • Provide information that is factual and informative so that your message does not get lost in partisanship. According to the Pew Foundation, many information consumers believe that social media companies have too much influence over the political process. This is the case for both major political parties. Therefore, if you are working for a 501(c)3, your messaging should aim to build up your credibility as a conveyor of facts instead of a partisan advocate. This does not mean you should water down your organizational values, either, rather use language that does not automatically disengage the audience by exhibiting partisan bias. 
  • You should not exclusively rely on social media in order to further a marketing or public relations campaign. A concurrent traditional media campaign rounds out your social media efforts. A broader set of constituents believe that traditional media outlets are more reliable than social media. The opinion of the general public is increasingly negative about technology companies and social media platforms.  In fact, around seven in 10 Americans think it is likely that social media platforms censor political views. As a result, if you are a 501(c) 3, your content should beware of echo chambers of thought, and partisanship, and be mindful of providing neutral, objective, and trustworthy information.
  • Do not unintentionally violate IRS rules on lobbying and political campaigning. Before your campaign begins, you must have an understanding of the parameters set forth by the IRS. If you are a 501(c)3, you cannot participate in electioneering or political campaigning. In addition, lobbying is highly regulated for nonprofits and, if you are going to engage in it, you must ensure that you are following the law and maintaining proper documentation. You do not want to be cited by the IRS because you didn’t know the parameters of what you are and are not allowed to do. Thus, you should have a protocol in place before your lobbying work begins. All of your staff and volunteers should also be trained both on the protocol and the documentation requirements.

Social Media Advocacy in the Future

Social media campaigns serve different purposes, but all efforts must be carried out ethically. Some individuals who have felt traditionally marginalized have turned themselves into citizen journalists to give a voice to the disenfranchised. Others have turned to social media to promote their organization’s work and mission. Some organizations use social media as a strategic communication method for promoting fundraising initiatives. Other organizations have begun using social media as a way of giving a voice to the clients they serve and giving them a network of support when they do not have the ability to travel because they are disabled or isolated because of distance. Whatever the purpose is, in a world where social norms are changing, it is essential that we manage social media campaigns responsibly so that we advance the public good and give a voice to those who would not otherwise have one. 

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