Which platforms will you use?

Social media plays a crucial role in shaping public thought about campaigns and organisations. It enables audiences to be increasingly aware and up to date on causes and campaigns.

You must therefore consider carefully what platforms will be most effective for engaging with and informing your stakeholder groups. Ask questions such as: Which social media platforms are your target audiences most active on? What content do they consume there? This will help you decide which platforms to focus your efforts on.

For example, you might use Twitter to engage with stakeholder groups such as policy-makers, politicians or journalists, aiming to set the agenda with key campaign messages. You can use Facebook to amplify your voices, reach new supporters and have a greater impact on changing hearts and minds by providing engaging and shareable content. If your current supporters are more active on Instagram, you should use that platform to mobilise and motivate them with key messages and content that they can communicate to their networks.

For different platforms you will have different objectives and audiences, requiring different content, but all your approaches should complement each other in the context of the wider campaign. Social media content, informed by your campaign frame and designed for a target audience, should be fully integrated into all campaign planning and decision-making.

Below is a brief introduction to some of the most popular social media platforms. You’ll also find examples of nonprofit organisations and campaigns that are using these platforms effectively to help reach their goals.

Facebook is the largest and most widely used social network in the world. It promotes and facilitates interaction between friends, family and colleagues. Users can like and post comments, and share videos, images and links to news or other content on the Web. Campaigns and organisations can create their own Facebook page to post different types of content, run advertising campaigns and even stream live video.

Learn more about how to use Facebook to help your cause.

Twitter is a microblogging social network that allows users to publish short posts called tweets that are publicly viewable. Unlike Facebook, where members need to approve social connections, anyone can follow anyone on Twitter. Tweets are limited to 280 characters and can include images (max. 4), videos, links, polls and livestreams. Hashtags are used to discover and cultivate conversations on various topics. Twitter also offers advertising, allowing users to promote tweets into audience’s Twitter feeds.

Download Twitter’s “NGO Handbook: Campaigning on Twitter”.

Instagram is a social networking app with an emphasis on visual media. Users can only upload and share photos or videos from mobile devices. Much like on Twitter, hashtags are a common feature of Instagram. Users post images and videos with relevant hashtags to attract likes, comments and new followers. Audiences can search hashtags to discover content and Instagrammers of interest to them.

Instagram is the fastest-growing social network. It currently has 500 million daily and 800 million monthly active users, and is most popular among younger people.

Read more: Instagram Activism: How campaigns and organisations mobilise the masses through powerful visuals and storytelling. 

Snapchat is a social messaging app used to share photos, videos and text. What makes Snapchat different is that messages (“snaps”) disappear from the recipient’s phone after ten seconds or less. Snapchat Stories is a popular feature where users can compile photos or videos for all their followers to view in one collection. Unlike normal snaps, Snapchat Stories last for 24 hours and can be viewed more than once. This feature was replicated by Instagram.

Snapchat has more than 300 million active monthly users, most of them aged 25 or less, according to research.

Messaging apps like Whatsapp and video-hosting platforms like YouTube also attract millions of daily active users. They are increasingly being adopted by campaigns and organisations to share content, advertise, and facilitate group communications.

What is important to learn from this section is that there are many options for you to explore in order to find what works best for your campaign or organisation.