by Maria Lahiffe
Chances are, you need to be on social media to reach a portion of your stakeholders. After all, over 70% of Canadians over the age of 10 are active on at least one social network.   Chances are equally strong that you don’t need to be on EVERY social media platform. So how do you choose the best ones for your organization?
Communications on social media need to be considered as part of a wider communications plan. Read our previous blog post to learn why you need a communications plan.
In order to communicate effectively, you need to start by asking some key questions: 
Examples of communication channels include: 
As you can see, social media needs to be a part – and maybe only a small part – of your overall communications. You need to decide which communication channels are most appropriate to your needs.
You need to decide what you want people to DO as a result of interacting with your communication. Read our previous blog post to learn about measurable communications objectives.
Likes and followers are called “vanity metrics” – that is, they are meaningless. Here is a very incomplete list of potential communications objectives:
You’ll notice that we’re pretty far into this blog post already, and only now are we talking about social media platforms. That reflects reality. You first need to decide what you want to say, to whom, and how you want to reach those people, before you can make an informed choice of platform(s).
Most people will tell you that you need to be on Facebook because it is the biggest social media platform in the world, with over 2 billion monthly users . If you have a budget to pay for advertising, then Facebook is excellent – and the budget does not need to be that large. You can boost a post for as little as $5.  You should at least have a Facebook page for people to find you,  but think hard about how much money and effort you want to invest in posting on this platform.
The bulk of Facebook users are over 35; the age group which is joining in the greatest numbers is over 55 years old. Thus, if you want to reach young people. Facebook is probably not a good choice. 
Instagram is a fun, image-based site popular with younger people , which has 800 million monthly users . If you can achieve your communications goals using images or video, then you may want to use Instagram.  It has excellent analytics, but is primarily for mobile use, which can make it inefficient in a business setting. 
LinkedIn is a professional space with 250 million active monthly users , where you can connect with other professionals. It could be a good platform on which to connect, for example, with potential board members, pro bono volunteers, or donors. You may also find it useful for hiring. It is difficult, however, to connect with specific supporters as opposed to other professionals in general. 
Twitter is good for brief, real-time communication. With over 6,000 tweets being posted every minute, expect to post at least a few times a day if you want any sort of visibility . A down side, however, is that anyone can link a tweet to your organization. Thus, if you have a Twitter presence, you need to monitor it pretty closely to make sure nobody hijacks your story. 
There are dozens of other social media platforms which can help you tell your story, including YouTube, Pinterest, Snapchat, Google+… and many others. Click here for an incomplete list. Every platform is popular with a particular demographic segment, and every one has its strengths and drawbacks. Do your research to determine which platforms are the best for your communications plan and resources.
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