Social media sitesAll charities large and small have puzzled over how they can best use social media to harness online communications to their benefit.  While some larger charities have dedicated social media teams, smaller charities don’t have as many resources.  Although a good social media campaign doesn’t have to cost a bundle, they do need time and creativity, which can be hard to come by when you have a small team and a long list of things that need to get done.  I recently came across an article that speaks with various small British charities and asks them what their strategies are for social media campaign tips, and here is what they have to say:

1. Make a plan: The social media landscape is ever-changing, so for smaller charities you need to create a comprehensive “what if” plan to work around every possible scenario.  For their Christmas campaign, the Haven House Children’s Hospice constructed a detailed, goal-specific outline of the campaign period, with every message assigned to a specific outcome.  The campaign wasn’t about reaching a financial target, but instead helping various audiences understand the purpose of a hospice.  They experimented with how much emotion their videos and photographs conveyed while also working on opportunistic newsjacking.  Creating this skeleton outline allows a charity to do some of the work in advance while still reacting to the creativity of your supporters and leaving room for any new ideas.

2. Every team member counts: Once you have a plan, you need voices and hands to carry it out, so in a small charity that means all hands need to be on deck.  The Rainbow Trust gathered teammates from across the marketing and fundraising departments to work on a “12 Ways of Christmas” campaign this past December.  With little budget, the team needed the support of colleagues to ensure the campaign would be successful.  Taking advantage of design, copy and promotion, this ensured staff buy-in and stopped any chance of a static online campaign.

3. Use stats: Goals are only useful if you can monitor them.  Such tools as Hootsuite, Bit.ly and analytics for Google, Twitter and Facebook all provide the necessary data to prove that something works or doesn’t, with no charge whatsoever.  Accountability can also be a good reason to check your numbers, since it allows you to share with your audiences how close you are to your goals, and what accomplishing those goals would mean to the charity you’re involved with.  Such a transparency will go a long way.

4. Learn from mistakes: The sad fact about social media is that fabulous posts frequently get lost in the white noise.  Yet returning to the plan and noting successes and failures allows your team to react to what seems to work and what doesn’t, allowing you to make subsequent posts that nail substance, timing and tone.  Mistakes are sadly part of online communications, yet studying your likes, retweets and clicks allows you to better understand what your supporters want to hear from you.