Social media tips for small charities

Artificial brightly-coloured birds in a cage

Many small charities struggle with social media. They just don’t have the time or people to devote to it. Yet social media is increasingly where people get their news, their community, their information and their fun. If your organisation does not have a presence, you are not on people’s radar. Recent research from TSB showed that only 1 in ten people can name a local charity.

Here are my top tips for small charities new to social media or wanting to up their game beyond basic broadcasting.

1. Use social media to tell your stories

What makes your organisation special? Why do you do what you do? What difference do you make? Telling stories about the work you do is a powerful way to get your message heard. 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.

Read more about storytelling and don’t miss the charity sector’s own TED-style BeingTheStory event in September.

2. Be creative

Images, text and video can all be used to tell your story. This doesn’t have to cost anything other than your time. Use your smart phone to take pictures or video around your organisation. Have fun and be creative.If your garden is looking splendid, you are running an event or just want to say thank you to a supporter, take a picture.

Images can also be used as a reward to help build relationships. Look at how East London Group welcomes new followers with an image or Epilepsy Society’s Good Luck messages on Instagram.

Look at what other people are doing and think about what is appropriate for your organisation and brand. Think about the tone of voice you use across your social media channels and what type of content you share. Social media allows you to be more informal, personal and to show your personality. So you can talk about things outside your area such as the weather or seasonal events (think of it as social media small-talk) if this works for you.

See also Creative ways to illustrate data and stats on social media and simple graphics can bring your data to life featuring some work I did with MakeLunch.

3. Join the conversation

If your work is around big themes (such as poverty, homelessness, refugees or cancer) watch out for relevant TV programmes, soap storylines or news stories. Many local areas have regular Twitter sessions where people talk about local issues for an hour (such as #BedsHour and #HarrogateHour – see #HashtagHour for a list). Join in with the hashtags being used, to share your message. This can be an opportunity to reach new audiences and build new relationships. Listen to what people are saying and show what you are doing. These opportunities can be a big chance for small charities to get their voices heard and to connect with others.

For example: look at this Storify of tweets sent during a BBC1 documentary on homelessness.

4. Don’t try to do too much

With limited resources the pressure of using social media can feel overwhelming. Think about which channels your audience uses and prioritise these (see Sprout Social’s How to find the best social media channels for your business).  Use free tools such as Hootsuite to schedule and manage posts and interaction. Nurture your ambassadors, your staff, volunteers, beneficiaries and supporters who are influential on social media, and help them to speak for you.

See also: How can charities manage social media 24/7?

5. Give people ways to get involved

Include clear calls to action in your posts. Invite people to share / like / comment or donate via text giving. And thank them when they do to help build relationships. Having a large number of followers is not a measure of success, it is more valuable to have followers who are engaged and active. Measure what is working by using free analytics tools (such as those in Hootsuite or Twitter / Facebook plus Google Analytics to count click-throughs) to measure and track the impact of your efforts. What calls to action have worked?

See also: Please donate in 140 characters?

What are your top tips?

What tips would you like to share with small charities? Which small charities do you think do social media really well and why? Please do share them here.

Can I help?

I help charities and non-profits with their digital comms. Whether you are looking for training for the team, copywriting or input into your content or digital strategy, please get in touch.

One thought on “Social media tips for small charities

  1. Great post Madeleine! My top tips would be: quality over quantity in terms of content.

    If you have to focus on numbers then focus on engagement, not how many people Like or Follow you – numbers are meaningless if there’s nothing meaningful taking place.

    Small charities who I think do social media well are Small Charities Coalition (although I may be biased!), Diversity Role Models and Child’s i Foundation.

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