Questions from The Advanced Social Media Decision Maker's Toolkit: Using Social Media to Cultivate Deeper Commitment

We had a tremendous turnout of our recent Advanced Social Media Decision Maker’s Toolkit, but  a downside of a big class is that lots of good questions don’t get answered. To get around that, we took some time to answer a few of the remaining questions from our second session, Getting Beyond the Like: Using Social Media to Cultivate Deeper Commitment, and since we thought some of the answers might help other people, we made them available to everyone.

Is it more advantageous to play to your biggest demographic, or focus on gaining a new demographic?

In most cases, it’s important to keep your core fans happy. They’re the ones who will be actively doing something for your organization, like donating, attending events, or even just sharing your posts. That doesn’t mean you should completely abandon the prospect of getting new followers, or reaching out to different demographics, just be sure not to alienate your current fan base by changing completely.

In all other communications, after I focus on a goal, I focus on audience. Should you take the same approach with social media? The audience seems vast and untargeted.

Audience is certainly important with social media. Targeting and defining your audience can help you to decide on which communication channels to use, what kinds of things to post, and how you should be defining success. Understanding your audience should go hand-in-hand with goal setting.

It is helpful for those of us that are still at the "Attract Followers" stage to talk through how to do so. What are your tips?

Take every opportunity to tell people about your page. Put the link on your business cards, put it in your email signature, and put it clearly on your website (widgits are eye catching and work well for this). Ask your friends and fellow organizations to promote your page as well. You could potentially offer incentives and contests to grow your fan base. Consider a culture of calling out your newest "likes" by name, make them feel special. Most of all, post strong, regular content, and encourage people to share it. That way, when your followers friends see that content, they'll be encouraged to follow you naturally.

How do you lure followers from other peoples' pages?

It's reasonable that you would want to find followers who are interested in similar organizations, or showing an interest in your cause some other way. In the most aggressive scenario, ask the organization if they would be willing to promote your page in an email or social media post. Maybe you could do the same for them. Easier, would be to comment on other pages as your own page. If you show yourself as an informed voice on a community page, or on the page of a friendly organization, more followers might be drawn to you. Again, the same advice could be given as the post above. Make certain that your page is well promoted, and share strong content, as that will encourage people to follow you.

How quickly should we respond to comments vs. allowing other followers to respond?

It depends on the particular comment and on your voice as an organization. For questions or comments aumed at the community, sometimes the best thing to do is to let your followers do the work themselves, but unless there is a culture of responding, you may find this difficult to facilitate. If you need to stir the pot a bit to keep things moving, adding a comment can be helpful. For questions and comments aimed directly at you, you should answer and respond promptly. A question like “how to I donate?” or "where can I access your services" should certainly get an immediate response.

My organization is about independent movies. We provide value by bringing unseen cinema. We announce the events, but how do we create a value balance?

Since there is such a wealth of information about independent cinema online, it seems like it would be valuable to your followers to post relevant resources from other places. Something like a review of one of your upcoming films, or an article surrounding the subject matter of one of those films. Even if it’s not directly related to an event, your followers might be interested in articles about filming techniques, movie theaters, or entertainment news.

We are a business organization for ski areas. Is it legit to regularly repost their posts?

Absolutely, as long as you are also providing a mix of your own content in there as well. It’s perfectly valuable to post the best resources from your members, or valuable resources from around the web that are related to your mission.

As a nonprofit, we've been invited to participate in Facebook campaigns. Is there a limit on how many of these we should do? I felt that our followers were tuning out and getting 'fatigued' by the daily/weekly ask to vote, etc. but our executive director really wanted certain campaigns aggressively promoted.

You will want to uphold a steady mix of content that isn’t purely related to one of those campaigns. While you could take the approach of only valuing social media as it affects your bottom line, keeping your followers engaged and mindful of your organization’s value will make a big difference when it does come time to respond to an ask. And voting fatigue is certainly a real thing. Consider setting a threshold for how many voting campaigns you'll do in a month and ask your team to help decide on which to do and which to pass on. Wearing out your community to a point where they will not vote at all would be worse than missing an opportunity here or there. Try to find the right balance.

Is there data regarding when the best time to post is?

Whatever works for you! Check out Facebook Insights, Hootsuite, or a number of other free tools to see what times get you the best response. You may be surprised to find that 9 PM on a Sunday gets you the most views, or 7 AM on a Tuesday. Every group of followers is a bit different. It isn't something worth obsessing over, but lee[omg tans on "high focus" times can definitely be helpful. Don’t forget that you can also use these tools to schedule posts ahead of time if you don't keep the same hours as your followers.

What is better? Full name or initials in stating who is posting on the organization's page?

If you’re running a close-knit group of followers, it can be valuable to share who is posting what, but in general, it may be preferable to just post as your organization. If you want to share individual’s names, the full name would likely be recognizable to a wider audience, but if you’re using twitter for instance, every letter counts, so it would be best to remove the attribution altogether, if possible. Check out this blog post for more:

Is it OK to edit a retweet?

Since Twitter is so focused around the 140 characters, it can be tough to get YOUR message in along with someone else’s. Removing a hashtag or shortening a date is perfectly acceptable in a re-tweet, but mis-quoting a person is not. Try to leave the content as is as much as possible, but also remember to make sure that tweet is still providing value to your audience. Thanking people for the mention is good etiquette, but flooding your twitter feed with “Thanks for the RT:” won’t give much to the rest of your followers.

How do you locate user posts that are related to your organization or your mission?

Try searching on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, etc for relevant hashtags, or looking at where your own name comes up. Even a Google search can reveal a lot. You can also use tools like Google Alerts, Addictomatic, and Social Mention. Check out this article for more

How can we determine the kind of fill-in-the-blank questions and discussion questions that get people excited and wanting to engage?

Coming up with creative content should be part of the fun of running a social media page. Try a few out and see which works best. Definitely make sure they are fun, but still related to your mission. “What’s your favorite dog breed?” might get a lot of reponses, but is it really making people think about your mission? (Well, maybe if you’re running a page for an animal shelter). Brainstorm with your team, that should generate enough ideas for quite a while.

I inherited two Facebook as an organization, and another for our organization as if it were a person. should I only use the organization page, and what to do with all of our "friends" on the page that we have where we are just like a person?

An organizational page will look more professional, and more people will be able to see your content. Furthermore, when people search you out, it's more likely they will land on the organizational page. We recommend you delete it, rather than leave it abandoned, because should someone stumble upon it, and have their questions unanswered, it could leave a bad impression about your organization.  Before you close out your personal page, make sure to give plenty of warning, and tell everyone to like your organizational page (and tell their friends to do the same) as that is where you will be posting now. The people who were paying attention before will move and boost activity on the page. Note that during this transition, it is a good idea to really focus on high quality, interactive content to set the tone and show why the people should move. It will mean less work for you, a more effective presence, and hopefully, a single place for all your fans to come together.

If you can't interact more than once or twice daily on Twitter, is it still worth maintaining?

The answer to this questions depends on your goals. If you are looking to build a lively community on Twitter, than one or two posts per day won't be enough. But, if you are looking to share valuable content with your community and show your expertise in the larger mission, posting infrequently, but with high quality, is totally fine. Also remember that you can use a program like HootSuite to schedule multiple posts out at once and save yourself a little time.

Have technology questions or want to learn more about how Tech Impact can help your nonprofit?