One of the simplest ways of creating a strong media profile for your charity is to post regular information on social media, particularly to Facebook. The statistics really speak for themselves. According to a press release in December 2013, Facebook claimed to have 1.23 billion monthly users globally, with 757 million visitors every day. As the highest ranked social media platform, it is the most profitable and the company’s CEO and founder, Mark Zuckerberg has donated almost $1 billion in stock to a Silicon Valley charity as part of a pledge to donate half of his wealth to philanthropy.
With this magnitude of followers, if your charity is not already reaping the benefits associated with a Facebook presence, perhaps you should be asking yourself “why?”
Before jumping in head first you need to determine exactly what you wish to achieve from using social media and what type of audience/s you intend to attract. Facebook, though being the most popular, is not the only social media rostrum; there are others, but not all would be suitable. It would be fairly pointless, for example, to join Myspace, a site mainly followed by younger users with a particular interest in bands and their music. Similarly, other platforms may be equally inappropriate as they are aimed at followers that share specific interests. One such is Pinterest (as of April 2015, the 4th most popular social media site); while Flickr (ranked 9th) is primarily used for sharing photographs. The second largest player Twitter, though quite different in character, but along with Facebook, tends to work well for charities. Twitter claims to have 302 million monthly active users (around 42% aged 31-49 and 41% aged 18-29). 77% of its accounts are outside of the US and around 500 million Tweets are sent every day (80% of them from mobile devices). The third most popular site, Linkedin, is used by over 300 million business and professional people between the ages of 25-54 (including those seeking to further their careers) in over 200 countries and territories across the world.
Unlike printed media, social sites operate in ‘real time’ making it ideal for posting current news of campaigns and other activities ‘as they happen’ enabling current information to reach followers immediately it is posted. By default, to ensure all users are treated equally, Twitter posts (‘Tweets’) are restricted to 140 characters; therefore communications must be short, sharp and concise.
The power for Charity social media is indicated by the results of research conducted by the Pew Research Centre in January 2014 that found 74% of all internet users (76% women, 72% men) visit social networking sites. Charities are finding that sites, especially Facebook, are beneficial in their quest to attract volunteers, raise money and to promote their activities. Though it is best to restrict your activities to two or three social media platforms, registering and posting is simple but if you have doubts, courses and books are available that offer good advice on ways to maximise your productivity. Nevertheless, maintaining a full time presence on social media is time consuming and for this reason many charities have found it worthwhile to hire a dedicated marketing person or agency to manage their activities.
We have mentioned just a few of the great benefits of using Facebook and Twitter as engagement tools for your charity social media. You can also share photographs, create charity events and also hold competitions and raffles quickly and easily without having to go through tedious paperwork and administration. If you want to optimise awareness of your cause, then you should start by creating a Facebook page dedicated to your organisation and reap the benefits.
Please visit and ‘like’ our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/growmycharity where you will be kept up to date on everything that is happening in the SW Charity sector.