Sunday, December 28, 2014

Webinar Summary: An Introduction to Social Media for Not-for-Profits & Social Services

The following are a few of the key notes and takeaways from a Bowda webinar delivered to a number of non-profit social services organizations in British Columbia. The topic of the webinar was an introduction to social media for not-for-profits and social services. 

It started out with an introduction to The Big Three: Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, with a quick description of how each network works. These are the three major social networks that brands need to consider and evaluate if they are the right fit for their organization. Twitter and Facebook accounts are essential for your brand, and Instagram is beneficial if you have interesting visuals to share.

Following that, there was an outline of the basic information organizations need to have ready, which included: 

Profile Checklist: (ensure that your social media profiles have the following) 
  • Profile photo (business logo)
  • Cover photo (relevant and/or branded photo)
  • Short bio of your business
  • Long bio of your business
  • Links to your website
  • Physical address (and map)
  • Contact info (email address, phone numbers, etc.)

Next we learned what makes not for profits and social services different from other organizations and how these differences translate to social media. 

One of the main issues not for profits and social services face is how to deal with social media in relation to sensitive information. A tip we shared was to focus on statistics and numbers instead of using names. If you are questioning whether a post could affect a person’s reputation, it’s always best to play safe. Transparency is also key for these organizations, as people seek more background information as to where their donation and money will go. It is important to use your social media networks to inform your audience about what your organizations offers and how they do it. Many not for profits and social services have limited budget when it comes to social media and public relations, it is important to note that traditional marketing means are becoming less and less necessary. Not for profits need to take a page from startups and learn how to bootstrap effectively. Social media is an amazing resource with global reach that is free and organizations should be taking advantage of that. Many of the tools to enhance your social media strategy, such as Hootsuite, offer their basic services for free as well. 

Organizations were also given examples of social services organizations on international ((RED)), national (Canadian Blood Services), and local (Our Place Society) levels with good social media presence and practices.

Once organizations understand the whys and hows of using social media, it all comes down to content. 

Creating and Curating Content
  • Content you share should be helpful to your audience and relevant to your business - for example, if you offer services for women, mention other resources in your area that might also benefit women
  • FAQs - what are some of the questions that your organization is asked 
  • Engage with other businesses/sponsors/locals; share stories - write thank you’s to sponsors, engage with local influential people (like the mayor, for example), share stories of volunteers in action, reminders for up-coming events and follow-ups about previous events including pictures, go beyond organization centric and include issue-centric content
  • Have a plan, set goals, and stick with it - define your organizational goals and make sure your social media reflects those goals. Plan your content strategically with your goals in mind. 
  • Share everywhere - newsletter, social media, email, posters in physical locations, in person, etc.
  • Consistency is key - use the same photo/logo across platforms, post regularly
  • Get help if you can’t keep up - hire a volunteer to be in charge of your social media, or employ a professional agency to come in and ramp up your social media
Tools to Make the Most out of Social Networks
  • Instagram: use hashtags and apps to communicate and share with audiences, as well as discover other people, organizations and causes that are in line with your organization’s goals
  • Facebook: engage as your page (organization is active), reply to followers/questions, like other pages, obtain analytics/statistics
  • Twitter: create lists of interest groups/allies/influential people and organizations, use hashtags, host Twitter chats to generate awareness/discussion of relevant issues
The power of social media in communicating and reaching audiences can and should be used by organizations of all sizes. Not-for-profits and social services organizations can use this introduction to build their online presence in order to raise awareness, gain followers, fundraise, and bring attention to the causes and social issues that need support. These organizations help populations in our neighbourhoods, country, and across the world. 

If you are interested in learning more, don't hesitate to contact us for any webinar inquiries. 

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