PUTTING SOCIAL INTO ACTION
You've developed your social media strategy, now it's time to put it into action!
In this section, we enjoy expert insights from content specialists Madeleine Sugden and Kirsty Marrins. You'll learn how to plan your activity, how to pick the right images and how to tell a story.
HOW TO PLAN YOUR CONTENT DAY TO DAY
One of the most common questions we hear from charities is, ‘How should I manage social media every day?’ Social Media can be far more time consuming than anticipated, especially when it comes to balancing day to day work with being responsive to your users. Here's how to help manage that balance:
BY KIRSTY MARRINS
Create a simple system for sourcing content. Put together a content calendar, whether it’s in the form of a Google doc or a spreadsheet. Whether you’re a large or small charity, this is a good way to get people to think collectively or holistically about content and ideas and will help break down silos. People don’t realise what useful information they’re sitting on!.
When selecting the right content and source images - it must speak to your audience and resonate with them (and remember, doesn’t always need to be your own content).
Get buy-in. Whichever content planning system you use, it won’t work unless your colleagues support you and understand the benefit to them. You need to open up the channels of communication and get colleagues excited about how it can help them and the charity.
Find smart ways of working. Charities need to be responsive - and quick to do so on social media. It’s fine to schedule your content, and you could even do so up to a week before, however you still need to go into your social media feeds several times a day to respond to comments.
I also recommend downloading the apps on your phone and checking in frequently to see if everything is okay. This will also give you ideas for topical content when you see what others in your sector or your supporters and beneficiaries are talking about.
Measure success. Get a feel for what works through looking at your analytics. By understanding what kind of content your audience likes, you’ll save time in planning.
DECIDE HOW OFTEN YOU WANT TO POST
Charities should be aware of how much time they have to devote to social media.
Twitter - Ideally, you should aim to post at least three proactive tweets a day, and two reactive.
For Facebook, some charities post once a day, some three times a week. Above all, charities should focus efforts on really great content and prioritise quality over quantity.
HOW TO USE STORYTELLING TECHNIQUES
BY MADELEINE SUGDEN
As competition for air-time increases on social media, your content is having to work even harder to be read, shared, liked or clicked on.
Social media isn’t the place for long paragraphs of carefully written content.
Content which works best has an emotional impact which people can relate to and instantly connect with. Well-produced stories can help to explain why your cause is important, show how the work you do makes a difference, explain about difficult topics, change attitudes and give a voice to those you help – from their perspective.
A good story can share the detail of a moment or can show transitions or a bigger picture. Stories can be shocking or funny or sad or happy. They should bring the person or situation to life. They should be interesting, start with impact and end with an action for the reader (share / vote / help etc).
Storytelling on social media can take many forms - from a single tweet, image or quote, to a written case study, personal video blog (vlog), podcast or video.
Case study-type storytelling is, generally written about the person rather than by the person. Take a look at MNDA’s Shortened Stories campaign for an example of storytelling told in the third person with creative visuals.
Simple objects can tell a story – see WaterAid’s maternity bag series for their Deliver Life appeal which was widely shared and covered by press including Stylist Magazine and the Huffington Post.
Live storytelling can be lots of work but good for big stories – see Marie Curie who followed some of their staff across the UK on International Nurses Day. They used social media to share images and stories as well as posting them into a live blog.
Housing charity Shelter often use live tweeting to show the variety of work they do using the hashtag #ShelterStories. This example shows a day of dealing with repossession cases at Accrington County Court.
ser-generated stories bring additional authenticity as they are in the words of the people telling them – see NHS Organ Donation’s Facebook where they re-post stories shared by their community.
Creative storytelling can be interactive. See the British Red Cross’ Disaster Island which is an interactive video using lego.
USING IMAGES IN SOCIAL MEDIA
BY MADELEINE SUGDEN
For a charity it can be challenging to source, manage and use images. With little or no budget, hard to illustrate causes or sensitive subjects, it can feel like an easier option to do nothing. But on social media images are key to raising your profile and building engagement.
On text-based social media channels (such as Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn) images are increasingly needed to draw people in. In someone’s busy feed, eye-catching images will inspire someone to pause, read, click, share, comment or act. Images are not just window dressing. They can be used to tell a story, give information, raise awareness and/or entertain.
Image-based channels such as Instagram are well used by big charities who use the channel to share great images and stories. For some great examples, see six charities getting Instagram right. 300 million people now use Instagram everyday.
What makes an engaging photo or eye-catching graphic? What is your ‘housestyle’? Social media is more informal than other digital communication methods so you can be more playful and show more personality. However, this works better for some brands than others. For example, St John Ambulance used Game of Thrones to share first aid tips. This might not have worked so well for NHS England.
USING IMAGES FOR FUNDRAISING - TIPS
Use images of community or challenge fundraising such as happy people running marathons, cake sales and seasonal events.
Use images to say thank you - see GiveAsYouLive’s cute puppy and Marie Curie’s hand-drawn thanks).
Use images (and stories) of beneficiaries
Avoid pictures of giant cheques (if you can)!
USING DATA IMAGES - TIPS
USING IMAGES TO ILLUSTRATE YOUR CAUSE - TIPS
It can be hard to illustrate your work if your cause is related to a medical condition or a sensitive subject. However, there are ways around this:
CREATING IMAGES - TIPS
There are lots of free tools to help you create images (such as Canva). If you have a smart phone, why not take the photo you need yourself? A good picture on social media:
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BY KIRSTY MARRINS
I'm a Digital Communications freelancer, specialising in social media, digital marketing and copywriting. I'm a proud Trustee of the Small Charities Coalition, a TPMA accredited Trainer and a graduate of Google's Digital Marketing course, Squared Online.
I am a columnist for Third Sector's Digital Hub and regularly write for the Guardian's Voluntary Sector Network and other sector publications. Past and present clients include: Breast Cancer Care, Canterbury Christchurch University, The Resource Alliance, Teenage Cancer Trust, Cancer Research UK, Turner PR, CFA Institute, Platypus Digital and Media Trust.
BY MADELEINE SUGDEN
Madeleine Sugden is a content specialist with over 15 years of experience in digital and charity communications. As a trainer, writer and strategist, she works with organisations of all sizes to improve their skills, processes and output.
She helps charities to build storytelling and persuasiveness into their digital content to improve user experience and maximise impact.