Social media refers to a range of websites where you as a person and often as an organization can create a profile and communicate with others. You can become a friend, a follower, or a connection, depending on the platform. You can share information, photos, and videos with each other. The great thing about social media is that you can also reply to messages. Communication goes both ways! Posts can also be shared quickly as people find something fun or interesting, so they ‘like’ the post, which can then be seen by all their friends.
Many organizations, businesses, TV programmes, artists, celebrities, and politicians are active on social media. A lot of news stories are shared on social media, well before they appear on TV or in the newspaper. Information is shared more and more quickly these days. What was news yesterday isn’t usually news any more today.
Every organization planning to use social media needs to ask itself some questions first:
- What do we want to achieve?
2. What is our target audience?
3. What platforms are the most suitable?
4. How much time will it take up?
5. Who will run our social media?
6. How do we coordinate our content with other means of communication?
Social media must be seen as an additional means of communication with your volunteers, visitors, or customers. You use it to keep your audience up to date about what you are doing; you engage them in your organization. By using social media, you can raise your organization’s profile with its network partners. Or you can use it to attract new visitors by focusing on external content.
There are plenty of social media platforms out there. The most common ones are Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Choose the platform that your target audience uses too. Also choose the platform that suits the type of posts you want to share. Twitter is best for short posts, tips, news snippets, and questions, especially on more serious topics. Facebook is used by people for their personal life, with posts being more funny or surprising; using pictures, comic strips, and videos works well here. LinkedIn is a networking site that is especially suited to keeping your network up to date and discussing all kinds of issues in groups.
If you don’t have much time, start off with using just one platform. Initially, it will take longer to post something, but you will soon get used to it and it will become as easy as sending an email. It should become a run-of-the-mill task, which one or more people should be doing practically every day. There’s nothing worse than a Facebook page that hasn’t been updated for four months. Ask a colleague or volunteer who already uses social media to do the same for your organization.
Coordinate your communication
As social media forms part of your overall communications, you need to make sure you coordinate with your website manager. A news story about a workshop should be uploaded to your website as well. You also need to ensure that your website links to your social media profiles. And in turn, your social media profiles should link back to your website.