Social Media FAQs
Is social media really that important?
Yes! But don’t just take our word for it. 95% of global NGOs say social media is effective for online brand awareness, and 80% find it an effective tool for recruiting volunteers.
And while social media is important, it is not a replacement for offline activity. Your digital strategy should be concerned with using social media to organise, mobilise and communicate with target audiences and facilitating their offline action.
Which social media platforms should my campaign be using?
That depends on your aims and objectives. For instance, if you are trying to reach and recruit people under 25, you probably should be active on Instagram. If you are trying to reach and engage policy-makers and decision-makers, then Twitter is likely to be more appropriate.
See “Which platforms will you reach them on?” for more information.
How often should I post?
There are no set criteria, but some platforms lend themselves to more posting than others. What is important is that your posts are consistent and relevant. Sending numerous tweets a day is fine, but you should probably be more selective on Facebook. For example, if you are organising a campaign event, you might “live-tweet” and engage with audience members on Twitter, then post images, video or media coverage to Facebook after the event.
The 2018 Global NGO Tech Report found the following, based on 4,908 NGOs:
- 18% post twice or more a day
- 25% post once a day
- 23% post every other day
- 19% post once a week
- 15% post less than once a week
- 8% post twice or more a day
- 17% post once a day
- 21% post every other day
- 24% post once a week
- 30% post less than once a week
- 7% tweet five or more times a day
- 24% tweet 2–5 times a day
- 18% tweet once a day
- 18% tweet every other day
- 12% tweet once a week
- 21% tweet less than once a week
How do we grow our followers?
With a well-thought-out digital strategy, proper engagement, and the attention it needs. Frequent posts asking people to follow you is not a good strategy. Link to your social media accounts on your website, mailouts and email signature. Put your usernames on any literature or campaign materials that are produced. Get in on the conversation – use keywords and hashtags, and follow relevant users, to identify when your issue is being discussed, then join in. Be proactive! If you are starting out, consider using social media advertising to attract new followers.
Is it OK to post the same content to each platform?
Not exactly. While the message or call to action might be the same, the content should be designed and executed specific to each platform. For example, how images appear in social feeds differs between platforms, so they should be adapted accordingly. Use Canva templates that are already sized for each platform, or resize an image using Landscape.
The style and tone of your posts may also differ between platforms. How you communicate the launch of a new report on Twitter will be different from how you present key findings on Facebook. This will be informed by understanding your audiences and what platforms they are most active on.
My boss doesn’t buy into social media. What should I do?
Show, don’t tell. One of the best things about social media is that you can easily measure everything you do. By setting yourself SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Action-oriented, Realistic and Timely), you can demonstrate successes with confidence and clarity. Show your boss how many people engaged with your social media posts that month, or the number of click-throughs to the volunteer or donate pages on your website, or how many views and shares your latest video got. Unlike traditional media, with social media you can report on performance in real time. Just make sure you articulate your success in a way they will understand and be able to recognise its true value.
How should I respond to negative comments on social media?
It is best to have an agreed policy on this from the outset, especially if you anticipate negative targeting from vocal opponents online. Consider what people post, then respond calmly and constructively. Don’t respond or engage in heated debate when it is best to just ignore. On Twitter, it’s helpful to create a list of the main opposition accounts – then avoid engaging with these accounts.
Instead, your social media presence should aim to create a “safe space”, engaging and responding where people have legitimate questions or concerns.
Should we have a hashtag? What should it be?
Hashtags have become a staple of campaigns on social media, helping to organise, amplify and enrich conversations on your cause. The right hashtag may also help people discover you, serve as a call to action, and make your campaign go viral. Selecting it can be difficult, especially if other hashtags related to your cause have gained prominence. When searching for a campaign hashtag, ensure it is relevant, easy to understand, and synonymous with your campaign or cause. Use HASHATIT to see if your chosen hashtag is already being used elsewhere.
See “Hashtag Activism” for more information.
What’s the difference between a mention and a hashtag?
A hashtag (#) is a way to denote a topic of conversation or participate in a larger linked discussion. When someone clicks on a hashtag, they see a feed of all the people and posts about that subject. If you’re using hashtags in a post, ensure they are relevant or being used by others in the conversation. Avoid using too many hashtags in a single post.
A mention (@) links to a user’s social media profile. When mentioned in a post, that account will generally receive a notification that they have been tagged. Mentions can be used to ask questions of users, to invite them to engage, or to bring a post to their attention. You can mention more than one user in a post using their @names. When sharing an image on Twitter, you can tag up to 10 users without using their @names in the tweet, by clicking on “Who’s in this photo”, thereby saving characters.
How much should we spend on social media advertising?
It is increasingly difficult to attract high engagement on organic content on social media. Paid advertising ensures that you reach clearly defined audiences with your campaign message. Whatever your budget for social media advertising, use it wisely. Look at your overall digital strategy and prioritise your aims and objectives: Is there a message or action that you definitely want supporters to take? Once you’ve identified those, budget accordingly. The important thing is to be selective and strategic: When is it likely to add most value to your campaign? Don’t rely on this approach every time you post an update, as too much advertising can discourage people from supporting your campaign.
See “Social Media Advertising” for more information.
How can I find content more specific to my audience?
Keeping your social media calendar full of great content can be hard! But there are steps you can take to make it easier.
- Start with planning. What is the priority for the week? Fundraising? Create and schedule posts with a fundraising call to action at the start of the week.
- Use social listening tools such as Tweetdeck and Hootsuite to search for content using keywords and hashtags relevant to your cause or campaign.
- Identify and develop content series. These may run across a week or become a regular feature, e.g. once a week.
- Harvest social media channels to find content made by your supporters. Ask them for permission to re-share it on your campaign’s social feeds.
- Invite supporters to send or share content relevant to a topic, conversation or event which you can use for campaign purposes. It can be submitted by email, messenger or WhatsApp, or via a dedicated hashtag.
- Re-share content. If a video performs particularly well, share it again. Don’t be afraid to share the same post a few times on Twitter to reach different audiences. The average lifetime of a tweet is estimated at 12–18 minutes, which means that if you post a tweet now, anyone who opens Twitter 20 minutes later is much less likely to see it. So re-share!
How do I get people to engage with our social media posts?
Success on social media is generally measured by the number of likes, comments, shares, retweets and clicks on your content. So how do you ensure that you are getting the most value? Consider the following:
- Pose a question
- Host a Q&A
- Respond to user comments
- Show personality
- Run polls.
See “How will you engage your audiences?” for more information.
How do we convert social media followers into active supporters?
To convert people from observers to advocates, you need to enable and empower supporters to create content and share it with their peers, promoting your key message. Authentic campaign messages from supporters to their networks can reach more people and incentivise more action. You can achieve this by opening up your campaign to participation, allowing others to get involved and use their skills. Encourage participation by providing a spectrum with different levels of engagement and points of entry. Some people may want to show support by simply changing their social media avatars; others may want to donate online or even make a video. However supporters want to participate, it’s important that they can.
What are the top 5 benefits of using social media for campaigns?
- Tell powerful stories
- Facilitate meaningful conversations
- Organise locally
- Engage and empower supporters
- Measure performance and adapt accordingly.