Social media is the number one reason we use the internet. More than a quarter of the time you and I spend online is spent on a social media site – this is more than we spend emailing, online shopping, or on anything else. And it’s worth noting that social media is not a fad. Individual platforms come and go (when was the last time you logged on to your MySpace page?) but the hyper-connectivity and functionality common to all popular platforms (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc) are a fixture of modern life.
The majority of charities and social enterprises, of all types and sizes, are to varying degrees aware of social media’s power and potential. Many organisations have truly embraced social media and have, appropriately, embedded it into their fundraising and marketing strategies; others, for a variety of reasons, still have some way to go. However, the bottleneck has shifted. The conversation now is not whether or not my organisation should be on Facebook or Twitter but rather, now that my organisation is on Facebook and Twitter, how do I make them work for us?
The answer is content. Content is the material that determines your success on social media. In fact, it’s fair to state that you will never maximize the potential or full power of social media until you are proactively creating and strategically sharing your own original content.
In partnership with Aegis Media, we here at Social Misfits Media have today launched Something to Tweet About, a free guide to content creation and distribution aimed at charities and social enterprises, with or without a social media or marketing budget.
What exactly do we mean by content? Social media content is anything that gets people to engage with you or your organisation. Content can be an opinionated blog post about a new piece of legislation, a photo album of your beneficiaries, an infographic, a video, a podcast, a mobile app, a guide. Facebook’s Karla Geci, who is interviewed in our guide, notes: “good content is anything that encourages people to interact and share.”
It doesn’t matter if your content is professionally produced or more on the amateur side. What really matters when it comes to content is that your stakeholders – donors, beneficiaries, staff, leadership, volunteers, etc – see your content and interact with it in a way that is tangibly beneficial to you and your cause.
Good content also doesn’t require a big budget. In fact, content doesn’t have to cost much more than time. Your organisation can create original content on a shoestring because authenticity and a clear direct message (eg share this, donate here, etc) are the key ingredients for success. Jessica Mason, lead at YouTube for Good, notes that “professional videos are wonderful and it’s great if you have the budget to make them. But [lack of budget] shouldn’t keep you from making videos. On YouTube we find that authenticity and storytelling tend to be more important than the quality of the video.”
These stories shouldn’t be hard to find. Something we always say is that you don’t have to travel very far to find content specific to you and your cause. In fact, you are surrounded by content material, be it your volunteers in action or the stories of the people you help. And if you’re still stuck, find inspiration by looking at what others, including your competitors, are doing. Don’t worry if you stumble at first, it will always take time to find your way.
If you take anything away from this article, take this: there are many ways you can repurpose your everyday activities to create original social media content. All you have to be is a little creative on how you package it and a little strategic on when and how you share it with the world.
Download Something to Tweet About for an in-depth look at case studies like Movember, AfriKids, British Red Cross and many more and tips from experts like Karla from Facebook and Jessica from YouTube.
This article originally appeared in the Guardian Voluntary Sector Network on Monday, November 25th, 2013.