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Social Media Essentials at the 2013 Third Sector Expo

Alex delivering marketing and social media essentials at Third Sector Expo 2013

The Third Sector Expo is an annual conference and exhibition dedicated to the not-for-profit sector.

Syneka Marketing has received regular coverage in Third Sector Magazine, providing editorial content over the past year. We were invited to speak at the 2013 Third Sector Expo.

Alex speaking at the 2013 Third Sector Exhibition and Conference

Alex speaking at the 2013 Third Sector Exhibition and Conference

I discussed social media and marketing, outlining how an organisation needs to use the right tools to reach its target markets. Social media is a marketing activity, and should be linked to the actions identified in a marketing plan.

Every not-for-profit organisation needs a marketing plan to support its organisational or corporate strategies. A corporate plan will often identify what an organisation wants to achieve and a marketing plan looks at how to achieve these outcomes.

Marketing plans need to consider the tools that are available to achieve these goals, including communication methods such as social media. Following this approach means you will be able to communicate your key messages through an online community using social media tools.

Websites and social media are only effective if they are regularly updated. This ensures that visitors are aware of your organisation’s activities. In addition, the frequency of updates is one of the metrics Google uses for search engine rankings.

Fortunately social media can be integrated with a website, ensuring consistent messages that can be published once and replicated through tools like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Integration saves time by ensuring consistency, while also providing a base level of engagement. Using this approach provides the ability to foster online communities, by encouraging committee, staff, volunteers and members to interact with the discussion.

Social media should be treated like other forms of media and covered by a communications policy. The policy should outline acceptable use of social media and identify the spokespeople who provide official comments on your organisation’s social media accounts. Guidelines should be clearly published, including on the About page on Facebook, and visible within Twitter and other social media tools.

There are several social media tools, each of which are designed for different purposes. Facebook is good for building online communities and for promoting events. Twitter is great for quick announcements, and can be linked with Facebook to provide an integrated approach. Pinterest is effective through its use of photographs, and Youtube can host video content that can promote an organisation.

Social media is increasingly prevalent across all demographics. For example, over half of Australia’s population has a Facebook account. People aged 55 plus are now the fastest growing segment of new accounts. While social media has extensive reach, email still has almost universal coverage and should be included as an online form of communication. The ability to share email content should be incorporated within newsletters to encourage recipients to forward messages through social media.

The 2013 Third Sector Expo

The 2013 Third Sector Expo

Policies should distinguish between negativity and offensiveness. Offensive comments, that denigrate, or are inflammatory should be immediately removed. Negative comments, however should be managed by seeking to engage the person that wrote the content. Try and engage the person outside of social media to prevent other comments. In particular, it is best to try and resolve the complaint in person or via the phone to remove the anonymity that social media provides. Resolving a complaint outside of social media will often lead to better outcomes and enable you to demonstrate the steps you undertook to reach a resolution.

Social media can deliver positive outcomes for an organisation, if it is linked to marketing objectives.

For example, if your goal is to raise donations, ensure that messages target prospective donors and that you encourage the sharing of content to reach their extended networks. If you are aiming to raise awareness, then promote stories that creative a narrative, outlining how your organisation achieves positive social or environmental outcomes.

Audio equipment was kindly provided by ConnectingUp. A version of the presentation with audio and slides is available through Youtube:

Or view the slides delivered to the 2013 Third Sector Expo

Thank you to the many participants who attended our presentation and for the discussion on Twitter.  A transcript of the Twitter conversation is available via Storify.

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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