How to use social media to grow your charity's reach
Social media has been a game changer for all kinds of organisations across the globe, and it's showing no signs of slowing down.
In fact, it is estimated that in 2014 there will be 1.82 billion social network users around the world. If everyone is on it, then it makes sense that charities should be maximising their social media impact in order to prosper.
Jumping on the campaign bandwagon
Looking at recent campaigns, it's clear to see the power social media can have for charities. The #nomakeupselfie campaign raised over £8 million in the space of a week for Cancer Research, asking people to donate via text message. While this large-scale, viral campaign is hard to replicate, even the smallest of charities can benefit from piggy-backing on social media phenomenons and breaking news by quickly responding and creating a 'community feel' around the sensation. Charities can learn from Cancer Research - it showed appreciation to donors and made it clear how the raised funds would be spent.
The more recent Ice Bucket Challenge has seen over 28 million uploading, commenting or 'liking' ice bucket-related posts on Facebook, raising $98.2 million for ALS in the space of a month - that's over $95 million more than the same period a year earlier.
Tweeting for success
Twitter is one of the best ways you can raise awareness for your charity, but you need to think about quality of followers as opposed to quantity. How are they going to help your charity? Tweet engaging and snappy posts and, as mentioned, don't forget to ride the wave of the latest social craze, using hashtags. Come up with a content strategy, conjuring up ideas for tweets ahead of time to go alongside breaking news. The British Red Cross, for example, uses their Twitter account to engage users with a mix of their own campaign information and compelling news stories.
One of the biggest challenges for charities on Facebook is finding content that people will want to 'like' as, quite often, charities are involved in upsetting or difficult matters. While you don't want to brush these issues under the carpet, you should also focus on the positive side of what you do, including fundraising and the difference you are making to those in need. Use quality imagery and video as this will always receive a better response than a pure text post. Macmillan, for example, has attracted over 200,000 fans to its Facebook page, and keeps them engaged with regular posts, Q&A sessions and relevant news articles.
Share your story on YouTube
It's not just Twitter and Facebook that charities need to take advantage of; YouTube is one of the best ways to promote your cause. Your charity is likely to have a compelling and original story to tell, so make this into a quality video in order to captivate your target audience. Like other social channels, you must remain active and responsive in order to establish relationships, so make sure you respond to any comments. Push your YouTube videos through other networks, and include a link on your website.
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