Connecting Using Social Media

We’ve all been using social media for quite some time now, mostly to connect and engage with people to help grow our business or organisation, yet there are still high numbers of people who use it to chat mainly with friends and family. Some of these ‘users’ even use their organisation’s profiles to do this. Why?

It is surprising that this goes on. Sure friends and family can be connecting and engaging, but when using social media to connect with people that we already ‘engage’ with on a daily basis, it can seem a little pointless and a waste of opportunity. These individuals could be better using their time by making connections or engaging with new people who can help them and who can be converted.

I’ve seen people who operate their charity’s online profile using it mainly for personal use. It’s such a waste. There are so many opportunities for charities to connect with their audience, to engage, and to make a beneficial connection that will help charities with the work they do.

How can social media work for charity?

Here’s an example of a commercial project I recently worked on using social media as a conversion tool. The campaign involved launching a new service that the client was about to offer. During the course of the launch we tracked the number of hours, days, and conversions. The results of this ‘tracking’ are below:

Twitter Days   28(1)

Hours (per day)  2.25(2)

Total Hours   63.0

New Members  187(3)

New Members (per hour) 2.97

Web Traffic (avg. per day) 57(4)

There will be some of you who’ll say, “Charity is different to commercial, so this is irrelevant,” well, not really. In looking at this it is easy to see that a new product or service can be promoted successfully using only one social media tool, in this case Twitter. If a commercial business can do this through the use of one channel and gain a relatively high number of new ‘clients’ (ROI), why can’t charitable organisations do the same to gain memberships, support, or donations for a specific project?

Imagine if the 187 new members this commercial client gained were 187 new members, supporters, or donors to your organisation. How much more would this allow you to do?

There are a relatively high number of charitable organisations using social media to gain awareness, but not many appear to be using it proactively to gain the support they could. It’s time for this to change.

If more charities were to start using social media they would soon discover that they not only connect with potential supporters, but they would soon start building relationships with other groups in the community. If they are able to build these relationships, just like businesses using social media, knowledge will be shared, tips will be passed on, and connections made.

Using social media can help not only in raising awareness and funds, but also to help with reducing the cost of raising those funds.

How can this be done? There are several ways. Let’s look at a couple of opportunities that come immediately to mind:

  • Connecting with influential people in the community— this will give you the opportunity to raise your profile, invite these people to attend, speak at, or in other ways support your organisation.
  • Connecting with philanthropic people, you never know who is ‘listening’ to what you have to say when you’re online. For example, you may decide to blog about a specific project you are working on. A link to this post would be added to your Facebook fan page, your Twitter stream, or perhaps even a video clip centred around the blog post posted on YouTube. All of these will give you the opportunity to be seen. There may just be someone sitting there reading what you have to say who decides to make a contribution to your cause.
  • Reach– this is something that a lot of people don’t consider when using social media. You may send a tweet that you think will only be seen by your immediate followers, but this isn’t true. A number of your followers will retweet what you have to say, meaning their followers will see it and so on. Thus, your tweet has the potential to be seen by many more people than your immediate fans, subscribers, or followers.

So what can you do to attract and engage using social media that will make people connect with you and want to be part of what you are doing?

  • Talk about who/what benefits from the work your organisation does
  • Ask people about causes they support
  • Quote, where possible, how people have used your services and what it meant to them
  • Listen to what people are saying about you, your organisation, or the cause you support. This will give insight into what people think and what they will (and will not) support. In turn, this will give you valuable information that will help you position your organisation to ensure the best possible ‘fit’ with your community.

There’s so many ways social media can help charities and community organisations. The only limit is the imagination of the people in the driver’s seat.

(1) a specific number of days were assigned for the promotion

(2) specific number of hours per day assigned for the promotion

(3) total number of new members to join as a result of the new service offered

(4) total number of links to company’s website from twitter only

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This post was written by Graeme Russell of Adage Business