I’ve got a confession to make. Even though at Parachute Digital I am the bread and butter that will create and hold your social social-media-optionsmedia marketing campaign together, I don’t have a personal Facebook account. Nope, deactivated it almost a year ago.

The choice was hard – everybody and their uncle is on Facebook, after all – but the right one for me. Because while it’s an amazing, pervasive, community for communicating and sharing, it was too vast and impersonal for me, and not the right place for what I needed personally. While I’ve forsaken Facebook, you will find me rampant on Instagram, LinkedIn, and (when I remember) Pinterest, though.

Now, I’m not telling you this so you all deactivate your personal Facebook accounts or fall into the rabbit hole of Pinteresting for hours (been there). What I do want you think about is how being on any social platform serves your charity’s needs… if any.

We so easily fall into the trap of thinking our charity needs to be on all the latest social trends – Snapchat, Pinterest, Vine, LinkedIn, Twitter, Tumblr, YouTube – to get our message across. Plus, they are all (mostly) FREE platforms, with incredible reach… no brainer, right?

Set your social intentions

But, honestly, just because everybody’s doing it is never a good enough reason to waste time, money, and effort on a social platform. And if you’re wanting to get your message across to the right people for your charity, refining your efforts across social is going to have a bigger impact.

Social media is a measurable platform that that needs creative magic to thrive. But it isn’t a one-size-fits all platform. A channel or strategy that works for one charity won’t necessarily for another. But once you do figure what you need and want from social, you will reap your own benefits.

Most of you are already across at least the major social channels – Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, maybe Instagram. Some of you may have jumped in blindly, others might have a better strategy, but before you begin (or resume), it’s important to consider 3 things.

1. Who are you?

What does your charity advocate? What does your charity want to achieve? What kind of activities to you partake in? What conversations can you contribute to? How big or small is your team? How many resources do you have on hand.

Knowing who you are and what you need will stop you from stretching yourself thin across too many platforms. Particularly for smaller charities, you can sometimes fall into the trap of thinking it’s more prudent to be across lots of social media platforms. It’s free marketing, after all!

But most often than not, creating a well-crafted, curated, and monitored presence on one or two platforms is always better than a diluted effort across too many. Especially if your charity is resource poor and can’t devote enough time to it.

2. Why do you want to be social?

Do you want to:

  • Raise awareness & affinity?
  • Use it as a touch point for donors – current, potential, inactive?
  • Drive people to action – donating, registering for event, petition signing, downloading something, clicking through to website?
  • Use it as narrative tool?
  • Use it as conversation tool?
  • Use it as a listening tool?

social-for-donationsSometimes you will have competing needs across social – particularly when your charity offers varying services, and have different stakeholder interests. We see this issue across all charity organisations – trying to manage different social audiences, stakeholder needs/messages, brand, tone, goals, and the age old marketing vs. fundraising.

This can be tricky to navigate and negotiate, but being clear about your goals – on all different channels – will allow you to create guidelines that govern best practice. Ensure you share this within the organisation so that everyone is on the same page. Often times your goals will be a combination of the above listed, so a clear social strategy will allow you to refine what type of messaging will work on what channels, and how to implement these in a way that complements, rather than competes.

Once you know what you are trying to achieve, the strategy and channels you need to use will become clearer, and you’ll be able to target the right people.

3. Who do you want to talk to?

What does your current donor look like? What does your ideal donor look like? Where are they talking about you, where do they hang out the most online? Some of these can be no-brainers (i.e. younger audiences flock to Snapchat, older donors will be mostly prominent on Facebook), but others might require deeper audience survey/research.storytelling-on-social

Knowing who you want to speak to will help you narrow down where you should be speaking to them, what kind of messages will work (based on what channel they are on), and how you best you can achieve your charities goals and drive action. For example, we all know the best donors are women 40+, who are most likely to be on Facebook, and will respond to specific types of messages. But if your organisation works with teens, and offers services to teens, Instagram, Facebook & Snapchat might be better channel to get some key messages across.

I’m not saying…

… you have to be like me and renounce Facebook. (In fact, NO charity should renounce Facebook – that’s where the majority of the audience is, and the best performing social channel). But do you really need to be on Snapchat or Pinterest? Or even Twitter (which only really drives results in the US and is overly saturated regardless)? Try to resist the urge to be on everything. Rather, select the social channels that best reflect what you want to achieve and who you want to speak to, spend effort building your content and audiences on them, then monitor and adjust if need be. Less is definitely more in this case. And the results and engagement will reflect this.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I feel the pull of a 2-hour Pinterest rabbit hole binge calling.