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Blog > On Social Media, tailor your message to the medium

On Social Media, tailor your message to the medium

posted on Sep 7, 2017

by Maria Lahiffe

Nobody in the non-profit world can afford an expensive social media manager. A lot of us compose a bunch of posts, then schedule them across all the platforms and hope someone reads something.

How’s that working for you?

Social media almost certainly needs to be a part of your overall communications strategy. It is a great way to market your services to the people who need them, to find supporters and donors, and to help your stakeholders promote your cause. However, each platform is different. You need to tailor your content accordingly.


Facebook is the biggest social network on the web, with almost 2 billion users worldwide. In Canada, 71% of social media users have a Facebook account, spending an average of 40 minutes per day on the site. Canadians from all age demographics use Facebook. [1]

On Facebook, your posts only appear on the newsfeeds of people who have “liked” your page. Your posts may appear on their friends’ pages if they interacted with the content, e.g. liked or commented on your post. On Facebook, people generally expect a conversation. Be ready to add to your posts by responding to comments. [2]

The ideal Facebook post has the following characteristics: [3]

  1. The ideal length of a Facebook post is 40 characters. [4] This sentence contains forty characters. Your post should simply provide a bit of context for the link or picture you are including. A link will also include the page title and meta description, so try not to repeat yourself.
  2. Include a link or an image.
    1. Make sure the link is to a place that adds value
    2. The ideal image size is 1230 x 627 for a link image or 1200 x 630 for a shared image. [5]
  3. Newsworthy or sharable
  4. Posted when your audience is on Facebook


Twitter has far fewer users than Facebook, accounting for about 27% of Canadian social media users, mainly concentrated between the ages of 18-29. [1]

Twitter is a place to broadcast information, where people do not expect responses. Your posts will appear to your followers, as well as to anyone you link (using their @twitter handle) and anyone following the hashtags you use.

The ideal Twitter post has the following characteristics:

  1. Less than 100 characters. [6]
  2. Two hashtags is the ideal number. [4] Here is a good article about using hashtags well.
  3. When including links, use your headline to add information to the page title.
  4. The ideal image size of a shared image is 440 x 220.


LinkedIn is the most popular social network among people aged 30-64 with a postsecondary degree. 12% of Canadian social media users have a LinkedIn account. [1]

When you post to LinkedIn, you can choose whether to your post publicly or to your connections only. Public posts can appear on the feed of any LinkedIn member. [7]

People use LinkedIn to connect with other professionals and to learn new information which is relevant to them professionally. Make sure your posts on LinkedIn are informative and useful in a professional context. [8] If the majority of your stakeholders do not engage with your organization in a professional context (e.g. if you run after-school children’s programs), then you probably do not need to create a company page on LinkedIn.

The ideal image size is 150 x 80 for a link image and 550 x 375 for a shared image. [5]

What now?

These are just three of the many social media platforms out there. Many Canadians are also on YouTube (49% of Canadian social media users), Pinterest (23%), Google+ (21%), and Instagram (20%). [1] Like the platforms we discussed today, every platform has its own optimal uses.

Optimal use of each platform is only one aspect of a social media strategy. Come to our professional development seminar to find out how to improve your communications online.

Want to learn more? Come to an upcoming workshop.

Click here for more information, and to register.

Volunteer Ottawa offers a comprehensive suite of courses related to all aspects of running a non-profit or a charity. Click here for our event calendar. Subscribe to our Event RSS Feed to be among the first to know when a new workshop is added to the schedule.

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Social Media is not Step One!

Is this thing on? Measuring social media.

[1] "By the Numbers: Social media in Canada," UFCW Canada, 25 February 2017. [Online]. Available: http://www.ufcw.ca/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=31389:by-the-numbers-social-media-in-canada&catid=9820&Itemid=6&lang=en. [Accessed 5 September 2017]. [2] C. Brennan, "Why you need to reply to comments on your Facebook ads," Faclon.io, 2 June 2017. [Online]. Available: https://www.falcon.io/insights-hub/topics/customer-engagement/reply-to-facebook-ad-comments/#GEN. [Accessed 5 September 2017]. [3] A. Khan, "What an Ideal Post on Facebook should Look Like," Alex Khan: Social Media Coach, 21 December 2016. [Online]. Available: https://alexkhan.tv/2016/12/ideal-post-facebook-look-like/. [Accessed 5 September 2017]. [4] L. Kolowich, "The Character Count Guide for Blog Posts, Videos, Tweets & More," HubSpot, 25 April 2017. [Online]. Available: https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/character-count-guide. [Accessed 5 September 2017]. [5] A. Collier, "2017 Social Media Image Sizes Cheat Sheet," Constant Contact, 3 January 2017. [Online]. Available: https://blogs.constantcontact.com/social-media-image-sizes/#. [Accessed 5 September 2017]. [6] A. Read, "How to craft the perfect post on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram," Buffer Social, 18 May 2017. [Online]. Available: https://blog.bufferapp.com/how-to-craft-the-perfect-post-on-facebook-twitter-and-instagram. [Accessed 5 September 2017]. [7] LinkedIn Help, "Visibility of your updates, posts, and activity," LinkedIn, 2017 August 9. [Online]. Available: https://www.linkedin.com /help/linkedin/answer/61030/visibility-of-your-updates-posts-and-activity?lang=en. [Accessed 2017 September 5]. [8] K. Lee, "7 Essential LinkedIn Marketing Stats," Buffer Social, 24 March 2014. [Online]. Available: https://blog.bufferapp.com/7-vital-statistics-to-help-with-your-linkedin-marketing-strategy. [Accessed 5 September 2017].
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