No matter the size of your organization or the focus of its mission, social media is crucial to your success. Social media is a great way to build and maintain relationships with audiences, and taking advantage of emerging trends on these platforms can help your organization do great things for the community. Here are eight social media trends for your organization to try in 2014.
Social media users want real, authentic experiences online. Content from other followers can help provide such experiences because what others say about your organization is more valuable and believable than what you say about yourself. Turn your followers into advocates through crowdsourcing. Connect with and empower them to represent your organization through active management. Use crowdsourcing on social media by collecting user feedback, running contests and polling your audience. People want to feel like they are part of the experience and are more likely to participate when they see others engaged.
New dynamics brought about by social media have forced organizations to reconfigure how openly they communicate with audiences. Harness the power of social media to drive organizational transparency and build trust with stakeholders. Showcase the impact your organization is making, but be honest and open about the money use and fundraising numbers.
3. Integrated Campaigns
Social media works best when it is part of something larger. Use integrated campaigns to close the loop between online and offline action. Utilize marketing, public relations, advertising and social media together to educate your audience. The more you integrate upfront, the less work you have to do once you launch your campaigns. By using multiple methods with a cohesive strategy, you increase your chances of reaffirming your message.
4. Visual Storytelling
Social media has evolved to become a highly visual medium. Visual-centric social networks have seen explosive growth, while photos and video posts generate higher engagement levels than text-based content. Images that resonate with an audience and get shared are ones that tell a story. Storytelling has always been a powerful way to connect with audiences, but can be more effective than ever with photos and video. Combine traditional storytelling with social technologies by using visuals to highlight the people you’re helping. Create YouTube videos that focus on stories of people you’ve helped, or dedicate a Facebook page to the results of your efforts where users can post their own stories and photos.
5. Real-time Marketing
The ability for users to engage with one another in real time through social media is transforming marketing practices. The key to real-time marketing is not to produce more content more quickly, but to create real and authentic stories that are relevant to audiences and encourage them to share and participate. Content needs to be personalized, relevant and timely. Organizations should interact with users as an attentive and present participant, responding to the flow of online discussion. It is important to create content that fits audiences’ needs and deliver targeted real-time messages.
6. Data Analytics
Real-time content needs to be relevant, and the right message should be aligned to the right platform and the right person. Using the right channels can provide maximum exposure for your organization. Content can be seen as data, and for this reason, data analytics are an important tool for nonprofits. To effectively gather and analyze social media analytics, you need to first understand what you want to track. Ask yourself what your goals are and what you’re interested in finding out. Make sure to integrate measurement strategies into the initial planning of a campaign to facilitate learning, accountability and continuous improvement.
7. Social Partnerships
Nonprofits can use social media to create connections and put partnerships to work to help raise money and awareness. Social media has facilitated opportunities to interact and build rapport, and has lowered barriers to forming partnerships. Partners can be anything from a fully integrated co-marketing relationship to a more casual request to share a tweet or a post. Don’t be afraid to ask for support and look for opportunities to involve partners in your social media campaigns. Tap into partners’ social channels to amplify your message and ask them to share on your behalf. Ask partners to retweet, cross-post on Facebook, or mention you in a blog post and make sure to offer something in return.
Social media makes it easier for organizations to connect with audiences and gain valuable information about them. Social media listening has become an important tool for understanding what people are saying about your organization and what their experience has been. Find out where conversations are happening and use listening to leverage what you learn about audiences to create content they will want to engage with. This will result in more shares, follows and traffic on your pages. Listening software like HootSuite, SproutSocial or Sendible can provide information on mentions, unique visitors, impressions, new fans or followers, and keyword tracking.