Get Your Social Media Off the Back Burner

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High-quality social media content doesn’t just happen and building a body of engaged followers requires a sustained investment of creative energy over a long period of time.

While most United Ways want to have a strong social media presence, many fail to dedicate the time necessary to create great content and a large online following. This failure is rarely intentional; often, social media is pushed aside in favor of other, more immediate, marketing projects. This is especially true in small United Ways where marketing staff wear several other hats.

That said, the reality is that if your United Way wants to build a strong social media presence, you have to take your social media efforts off the back burner and make them a priority – there’s no way around it.

However, just because prioritizing social media is essential doesn’t mean it’s not daunting to take on. If you’re feeling the pressure to strengthen your United Way’s social media presence but you aren’t sure where to start, there are four principles I’d recommend adopting as guiding principles for your social media renaissance.

1. Commit to Making a Concerted Effort

This means no excuses or exceptions. Good social media takes a lot of work, so you first need commit to setting aside the necessary time. To be perceived as an agile, responsive organization, your United Way should be posting on social media multiple times per week. More frequent posting is even better, but you should start by at least dedicating the time you need to create and share four posts per week on Instagram and Facebook, or at least one tweet per day on Twitter.

2. Be Judicious in Where You Post

Your groups of stakeholders are not equally present on each social media platform. Younger donors tend to shun Facebook in favor of Instagram and Snapchat, while older millennials and younger baby boomers still tend to use Facebook. This means you have to be strategic in where you choose to focus your social media efforts. The more platforms you seek to conquer, the more time you will need to dedicate to creating great content.

While it may seem daunting to pick which platform to focus on, the decision-making process is straightforward: identify the stakeholder group you most want to connect with and focus on the platform they most often use.

3. Make Really Good Content

Each platform has its own limitations and requirements for what makes quality content; a high-quality tweet will look different from a high-quality Instagram post. However, despite the differences between platforms, there are three considerations that you must keep in mind when crafting content for any social media platform:

a. Locally relevant: Make sure what you’re sharing online is relevant to your community and will resonate with your followers. This includes everything from ensuring the stock photos you use look like people from your community to sharing local stories and statistics. In short: keep your content close to home.

b. Polished: Your followers expect you to keep your content looking clean and professional. Don’t post images that are pixelated, grainy, or that you clearly lifted from the first page of a Google image search. The extra effort you put into looking polished is invaluable.

c. Regular: Good content is consistent content. Keep your followers engaged by following through on your commitment to post frequently.

4. Stop Burying Your Treasure

You cannot expect your target audience to just stumble upon your social media and start following you. To build a following, you need to stop burying small links to your social media on your website and in email signature lines. If you want to build an online following, you need to get the word out. Whenever possible, tell your donors, volunteers, event attendees, and workplace campaign leaders that your United Way has an online presence and encourage them to follow you.

To summarize, successfully strengthening your online presence requires doubling down on a limited number of platforms to create high-quality content and then promoting that content. There’s no denying that these activities require an investment of time and creative energy, but if you really want to build a strong online following, now is the time to take your social media marketing off the back burner and make it a priority.