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Third Sector Magazine: Activate your community through social media

Third Sector Magazine has published our advice on engaging communities through social media. Alex will be discussing social media as a speaker at the Third Sector Expo on Monday the 15th of April, for details please visit www.thirdsectorevents.com.au.

The website Humanities 21 which is integrated with Facebook, Twitter and other social media tools

The website Humanities 21 which is integrated with Facebook, Twitter and other social media tools

Activate your community through social media

Is your organisation considering social media, but not sure where to start? Or has it recently created a Facebook page and Twitter feed only to be underwhelmed by the results? Syneka Marketing provides seven tips to help your organisation strengthen its social media presence and re-engage its communities online.

Know where to start

Social media is the collective name for a range of tools that enhance interactivity and discussion, such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ and Pinterest. Each of these tools has a slightly different purpose and audience, but they are all designed to encourage participation.

Know what you want to achieve

Success begins with strategy and this is no different for social media. Decide the specific outcomes you want to achieve from your social media efforts, such as:

  • Raising awareness
  • Encouraging volunteers
  • Increasing donations.

Once you know what you want to achieve, you can consider the messages and tools that can be used to promote these objectives.

Develop a social media policy

Social media policies help to identify the people who will have access to social media accounts and will be authorised to provide official announcements. Other individuals can respond to comments and interact, as well as support the authorised spokespeople.

Policies should enable board members, staff and volunteers to support the organisation’s social media presence.

Each social media tool has its own audience and key strengths.

Each social media tool has its own audience and key strengths.

Engage and interact

When creating a new social media account, encourage your members or supporters to follow your organisation. In addition, promote your social media presence through your website, newsletter and other communication tools. Undertaking initial promotion will ensure that you can build a network of followers that will assist in promoting your organisation. Follow similar organisations and encourage them to follow you.

Handle negativity

Negative comments should hopefully be kept to a minimum, but it’s important to have clear guidelines to manage any adverse commentary.

Make a clear distinction between negative and offensive comments and respond accordingly. Aim to engage directly with someone that has written a negative comment and suggest that you would like to follow up further. Try and engage the person through offline forms of contact, such as the telephone, so that you can discuss their concerns directly. Attempting to resolve the issue outside of the public realm will enable a more in-depth discussion.

If a comment is deemed to be offensive, it should be removed immediately as per your media and communications policy.

Integrate online tools

One of the great aspects of the web and social media is that messages can be integrated. You can automatically post updates from your website through to Facebook, Twitter and other social media tools. Integration ensures a consistent message while saving time by replicating content across your networks.

Integrating social media means you’ll have more time to foster and develop your community by providing a base level of communications.

Share content

Re-tweeting or sharing posts on Facebook indicates that the person supports your organisation and messages. The sharing of content is the online equivalent of word of mouth advertising and is a great way to extend your organisation’s networks.

Social media, like a website, needs to be kept up-to-date. An inactive presence is worse than having no presence, as the first question someone will ask is whether the organisation still exists.

Alex Makin

Author Alex Makin

In a career spanning over fifteen years, Alex has been instrumental in transforming, reinvigorating and growing the capacity of businesses and not-for-profit organisations. He is a visionary who understands the big picture. Alex's expertise is a Certified Practising Marketer and as Chair of the Victorian State Council of the Australian Marketing Institute. Alex is also an accomplished speaker, author and mentor and former Mayor and Councillor for the City of Maroondah.

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