In this week’s links round-up, Ed Hawes evaluates the relationship non-profit organisations have with social media, highlighting their challenges and successes.
Charities and non-profit organisations are often seen as being a little slower than the commercial sector in really integrating digital comms & technologies into how they operate – not least because they are held back by budgets.
I have collated five reads that ask: what are the challenges non-profits face with the uptake of social media? What are the best platforms to use to get your message heard? And which organisations are successes of the digital age?
Laura Keely, Guardian
“Platforms like Twitter are vital campaigning tools for the third sector. Charities can use them to force their issues up the political agenda.”
In the run up to the general election, much has been said around social media’s role to persuade users to vote. Laura Keely – of Macmillan Cancer Support – talks about how charities can encourage existing supporters to champion their cause directly with local MPs.
Social media campaigns during the election period can raise the profiles of important issues and attract new supporters. Keely says online action from supporters is vital if charities want to ensure their issues are on the political agenda.
“I have worked in charity marketing and communications for more than 15 years and, now more than ever, understand the importance and impact of a personal social media presence. It raises our profile in a crowded space and can be more effective than sending out a press release or posting a story on our own website.”
The author makes it clear that the charity sector should not solely rely on traditional marketing methods. A charity’s CEO is responsible for being accessible to their followers, which as a result can raise the organisations’ profile in an already crowded market. Not having this medium, however, can stunt their growth.
The article quotes a study claiming eight out of 10 people are more likely to trust an organisation whose CEO and leadership team are on social media. Leaders need to acknowledge this as a way to access a vast range of demographics and new opportunities.
Mary Mitchell, Technology Trust
“Charities with large audiences have discovered that consolidating their presence on Facebook might not be as useful as developing a campaign on Snapchat if they’re targeting a young audience, and that changes to the Facebook algorithm can alter everything.”
Social media has evolved as a place of “expressive capability” where people are collaborative in groups. With this in mind, Mitchell draws on five trends and techniques she delivered in her ‘How international development charities are using social media’ report. This ranges from making sure you deliver the right message on a platform which holds your target audience, to prioritising new voices. These are crucial tips to any non-profit looking for new mediums.
Mary Mitchell’s main point? Social media opens up a pool of new opportunities to bring the Western world closer to developing countries.
Zoe Amar, Guardian
“From a National Trust photo campaign to snaps from the Ebola frontline, Instagram can bring your supporters right up to the action.”
We’ve discussed the importance of charities using social media overall, but which platforms are the most effective and far-reaching? Author Zoe Amar highlights interesting case studies on how Instagram is being used effectively by non-profits. Essentially the app allows charities to take users to the forefront of their activities, be that in Syria or Nigeria. It also brings the topic to a younger audience. Co-creating campaigns on Instagram with your audience as well as involving them in campaigns can be key to retaining interest.
Owen Williams, TNW
“Snapchat is a powerful tool for UNICEF to reach younger people, who might not otherwise take the time to learn the full story. The organization, which is reliant on funding from governments and private donors, is facing a severe funding shortfall, and needs new methods to reach people.”
In contrast to the second article on charity CEOs who can’t see social media’s potential, this article shows how a non-profit is investing boldly in new social frontiers. UNICEF have used Snapchat as a vertical that brings awareness of humanitarian issues to a generation who wouldn’t usually seek out these headlines – Generation X.
What UNICEF are doing with Snapchat is a powerful example of how non-profits can utilise social media’s potential to influence a younger audience – an audience that is mostly far removed from the issues UNICEF raise.
Join us in a fortnight for another sector round up. Send over any suggestions to me at @FaceResearch.