First Steps in Social Media

Social media has transformed the way we consume and share information and does so entirely through the filter of social connections. It’s the crowdfunder’s greatest opportunity! And yet for many organizations, it’s also a great source of anxiety. Just how much time—and money—should be spent developing social media as a fundraising tool, especially when it seems that very few people actually give more than a like?
The key—as always—is to keep it donor-centric. In the words of Julia Campbell of JC Social Marketing, this means becoming “less focused on what you want to say about your organization and more focused on what your donors want to hear.“ There’s no secret recipe, but if you’re putting together your first crowdfunding campaign or want to increase the volume of traffic from social media to your project page on HIPGive, here are our top tips.

How to Create a Winning Social Media Strategy

1. Start with a clear goal.

As with all communications, social media requires a strategy. Ask yourself: what are the three main things you’d like to achieve, and brainstorm how you might achieve them. (Hopefully this is aligned with the goals and audience of your crowdfunding campaign!)  As well as increasing traffic to the campaign page, possible goals could include reaching a wider audience or establishing trust by acting as a point of reference for new donors who are checking out the organization.

2. Be in the right place at the right time.  

Remember the saying, "el que abarca mucho, aprieta poco"? Loosely translated, it means you shouldn’t waste your time trying to have a strong presence on numerous platforms but rather concentrate on one, possibly two, platforms most used by the people you want to reach.  
Timing is also important. To raise the chances of your posts being seen and shared by a larger audience, use scheduling tools to write them ahead of time and publish later when your audience is likely to be online. Lunchtime and evenings are “peak time” for most people, but you should tailor the frequency and timing of your posts according to your particular target audience.

3. Develop lots of shareworthy content.   

The key to social media is making your content “social”—capable of generating likes, shares, and comments, which will increase your engagement with supporters and their level of identification with your organization and the cause.  

Try not to post what you want to say; instead, create content based on what potential donors and supporters want to know. Testimonials, photos, and statistics are all useful, but only as far as they answer questions such as: Who is being helped? How are donor funds being spent? Who are the people on the ground making it happen? Etc.  

One you have a list of ideas about what content will be effective, bring it together in a content plan or editorial calendar which you can easily follow week by week. 

4. Use pictures to tell your story.

Stories and pictures offer the most memorable and shareable content. Twitter updates can generate 150% more retweets than your usual plain-text updates, and Facebook posts with images generate two times more engagement than those without (Buzzsumo). For inspiration, look no further than Charity Water, whose social media spaces are consistently filled with personal stories, or Humans of New York, which perfected the social media testimony.
If you have a really strong image-based post that’s not taking off organically, consider paying for promotion. Add your logo, a short description of how it relates to your campaign, or a powerful call to action, as UNHCR and Save the Children recently did on Facebook:

5. Listen and engage.    

At the risk of sounding repetitive, always remember that social media is, well, social! It’s not a public broadcasting service, but lets you build a community of like-minded individuals around a common cause. Active community members are much more likely to feel part of your cause and that sense of identity and belonging generates a powerful emotion that can translate into more donations and peer-to-peer promotion of our campaign.  

So always remember to listen, engage, and converse with your followers or supporters. How? By replying to comments and messages as promptly as possible, thanking people for their likes, posting questions, and posting regular updates on campaign results and impact. We love this idea from WeDidIt for using direct messages to follow up when somebody “likes” something:

Hi ______, 
Thank you for ‘liking’ this post and showing your support for our campaign! We’ve still got $____ more to go before we hit our goal and all donations, no matter their size, help us get closer to achieving it. 
If you could make a donation and share the campaign with your friends, family, and coworkers I would be truly grateful. 

6. Learn and evolve.

Most social media platforms let you access data about your users and activity. Jot down these key figures and bring together your team to review what is and isn’t working and adjust your approach for the future. Even if you’re not making rapid progress on all fronts, take heart in the fact that everyone else is also constantly adjusting their social media strategy and that your hard work will pay off over time. If you want to get ready for the next campaign with plenty of anticipation, then you can also introduce strategies to Build your Audience All Year Round.
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