Skills Platform - Find training courses for your charity
© 2016 Skills for Health - Registered Charity Number 1132476. Company Number 6659453
 
The Skills Platform is part of Skills for Health

CHAPTER 2

One of the most common questions we hear from charities is, ‘How should I manage social media every day?’ Social Media can be far more time consuming than anticipated, especially when it comes to balancing day to day work with being responsive to your users. Here's how to help manage that balance: 

<- TAKE ME TO CHAPTER ONE

For a charity it can be challenging to source, manage and use images. With little or no budget, hard to illustrate causes or sensitive subjects, it can feel like an easier option to do nothing. But on social media images are key to raising your profile and building engagement.

Skills Platform - Find training courses for your charity
Click here to visit the Skills Platform Facebook page
Click here to visit the Skills Platform Linkedin page
Click here to download the Charity Social Media Toolkit as a PDF
Click here to visit the Skills Platform Twitter page
Click here to visit the Skills Platform Google+ page

PUTTING SOCIAL INTO ACTION

Zoe Amar

You've developed your social media strategy, now it's time to put it into action!

In this section, we enjoy expert insights from content specialists Madeleine Sugden and Kirsty Marrins. You'll learn how to plan your activity, how to pick the right images and how to tell a story.

HOW TO PLAN YOUR CONTENT DAY TO DAY

TOP TIPS

  • Create a system for sourcing content and get buy-in for it from your colleagues
  • Do schedule content, but make sure you pop into your social media channels several times a day to respond to your audience
  • Use your analytics tools to learn on the go about what content works for your audience

FURTHER READING

HOW TO USE STORYTELLING TECHNIQUES

As competition for air-time increases on social media, your content is having to work even harder to be read, shared, liked or clicked on.

Social media isn’t the place for long paragraphs of carefully written content.

Content which works best has an emotional impact which people can relate to and instantly connect with. Well-produced stories can help to explain why your cause is important, show how the work you do makes a difference, explain about difficult topics, change attitudes and give a voice to those you help – from their perspective.

A good story can share the detail of a moment or can show transitions or a bigger picture. Stories can be shocking or funny or sad or happy. They should bring the person or situation to life. They should be interesting, start with impact and end with an action for the reader (share / vote / help etc).

Storytelling on social media can take many forms - from a single tweet, image or quote, to a written case study, personal video blog (vlog), podcast or video. 

Case study-type storytelling is, generally written about the person rather than by the person. Take a look at MNDA’s Shortened Stories campaign for an example of storytelling told in the third person with creative visuals.

TOP TIPS

  • Talk to your colleagues, staff, beneficiaries and volunteers to source stories and then plan how you can use them on social media
  • Think about how your approach will enhance the content you share, and how this could work on different channels. Will you use images, live storytelling, or do something creative and innovative?
  • Ultimately, your stories should serve a purpose and demonstrate your charity’s impact. How will you achieve this?

FURTHER READING

USING IMAGES IN SOCIAL MEDIA

On text-based social media channels (such as Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn) images are increasingly needed to draw people in. In someone’s busy feed, eye-catching images will inspire someone to pause, read, click, share, comment or act. Images are not just window dressing. They can be used to tell a story, give information, raise awareness and/or entertain.

Image-based channels such as Instagram are well used by big charities who use the channel to share great images and stories. For some great examples, see six charities getting Instagram right. 300 million people now use Instagram everyday (source: Social Media Today).

What makes an engaging photo or eye-catching graphic? What is your ‘housestyle’? Social media is more informal than other digital communication methods so you can be more playful and show more personality. However, this works better for some brands than others. For example, St John Ambulance used Game of Thrones to share first aid tips. This might not have worked so well for NHS England.

TOP TIPS

  • Know what kind of images will suit your brand and how they work on different social channels.
  • Think about what you want people to do after they have seen the image. What is your call to action and how will you communicate that?
  • Make sure you allow time to source or create images as part of your content creation process 

FURTHER READING

  • A guide to using images on social media for charities (Madeleine Sugden)
  • The always up to date guide to social media image sizes (Social Sprout)
  • Psychological insights for building powerful images (Quick Sprout)
TAKE ME TO CHAPTER THREE->

Create a simple system for sourcing content. Put together a content calendar, whether it’s in the form of a Google doc or a spreadsheet. Whether you’re a large or small charity, this is a good way to get people to think collectively or holistically about content and ideas and will help break down silos. People don’t realise what useful information they’re sitting on!.

When selecting the right content and source images - it must speak to your audience and resonate with them (and remember, doesn’t always need to be your own content).

Get buy-in. Whichever content planning system you use, it won’t work unless your colleagues support you and understand the benefit to them. You need to open up the channels of communication and get colleagues excited about how it can help them and the charity. Zoe Amar explains how to get buy in here

Find smart ways of working. Charities need to be responsive - and quick to do so on social media. It’s fine to schedule your content, and you could even do so up to a week before, however you still need to go into your social media feeds several times a day to respond to comments. 

I also recommend downloading the apps on your phone and checking in frequently to see if everything is okay. This will also give you ideas for topical content when you see what others in your sector or your supporters and beneficiaries are talking about.

Measure success. Get a feel for what works through looking at your analytics. By understanding what kind of content your audience likes, you’ll save time in planning.

 

DECIDE HOW OFTEN YOU WANT TO POST

Charities should be aware of how much time they have to devote to social media.

Twitter - Ideally, you should aim to post at least three proactive tweets a day, and two reactive.

For Facebook, some charities post once a day, some three times a week. Above all, charities should focus efforts on really great content and prioritise quality over quantity.

Madeleine Sugden on storytelling
The Charity Social media Toolkit - Storytelling techniques

INNOVATIVE STORYTELLING EXAMPLES

Simple objects can tell a story – see WaterAid’s maternity bag series for their Deliver Life appeal which was widely shared and covered by press including Stylist Magazine and the Huffington Post.

Live storytelling can be lots of work but good for big stories – see Marie Curie who followed some of their staff across the UK on International Nurses Day. They used social media to share images and stories as well as posting them into a live blog.

Housing charity Shelter often use live tweeting to show the variety of work they do using the hashtag #ShelterStories. This example shows a day of dealing with repossession cases at Accrington County Court.

User-generated stories bring additional authenticity as they are in the words of the people telling them – see NHS Organ Donation’s Facebook where they re-post stories shared by their community.

Creative storytelling can be interactive. See Kelly’s story from Crisis which used a graphic novel style and British Red Cross’ Disaster Island which is an interactive video using lego.

Marie Curie Story Telling Example showing a lunchtime at liverpool hospice

It can be hard for organisations to source stories but everyone (staff, volunteers, trustees, beneficiaries, even the office mascot) has a story to tell. Think about how to build a culture of story sharing in your organisation. 

Madeleine Sugden on using images in social media
Social media example from St John Ambulance using Game of Thrones imagery

USING IMAGES FOR FUNDRAISING - TIPS

Marie Curie hand drawn fundraising image taken from twitter

USING DATA IMAGES - TIPS

  • Maps, infographics and totalisers work well on social media – the Big Issue Foundation regularly share this guide to their impact.
  • Be creative with how you present data. For example make a pie-chart out of an actual pie, jelly babies to show numbers of people, or hand-drawn images. See BHF’s portion size guide.
BHF tweet about portion sizes using a cut-up chocolate cake to show portion size

USING IMAGES TO ILLUSTRATE YOUR CAUSE - TIPS

It can be hard to illustrate your work if your cause is related to a medical condition or a sensitive subject. However, there are ways around this:

NHS blood donation tweet about what happens after you donate

CREATING IMAGES - TIPS

There are lots of free tools to help you create images (such as Canva). If you have a smart phone, why not take the photo you need yourself? A good picture on social media:

  • Is clear and easy to understand.
  • Tells a story or shows something happening.
  • Is uncluttered and in focus Isn’t dark or gloomy.
  • Can be cropped in closely.
  • Can be moving / shocking / funny.
  • Can be creative.
Kirsty Marrins
Putting charity social media into action
All ChaptersAboutResourcesCharity Training
The Charity Social Media Toolkit - from the Skills Platform written by Zoe Amar & David Evans
BY KIRSTY MARRINS
Top Tips Icon
BY MADELEINE SUGDENBY MADELEINE SUGDEN
Top Tips Icon
Top Tips Icon
Need more help - Click here to find out about charity training and consultancy
Top Tips Icon
FIND CHARITY TRAINING
Click here to download the Charity Social Media Toolkit as a PDF