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It’s time to stop treating ‘social media’ as one entity

8 October 2021

“Can you put that on social media?” is a phrase many of us hear far too often. As comms professionals, we understand that platforms like TikTok and Facebook are vastly different channels with distinct audiences and content styles. But this isn’t always understood by other teams within our organisations.

Social media channels are so different from each other, that really they should have their own strategies. Making the best of our digital comms means looking at these platforms as separate entities.

This may sound like a lot of extra work, but it’s worth the effort. By taking a step back, focusing on the channels that can really make a difference to your charity, and ensuring that the content you’re putting out is suitable for said channels, you will actually end up using your limited time and energy in the most impactful way.

Prioritizing platforms

Many comms teams feel pressure to try and be across every social media platform. But many charity comms teams don’t have the resources to cover this, so just end up posting the same type of content across all channels. Unsurprisingly this approach means content often doesn’t perform as well as liked and can lead to failing to grow audiences, meaning the time you’ve put into these platforms is effectively wasted. So why not pick a smaller number of channels that could be really impactful for your charity instead?

To decide what to invest your precious time in start by asking yourself these questions:

  • Where are you currently thriving on social media?
  • What skills do you have in your team and what platforms would allow you to best utilise these? Do you have a great video editor? Are you a combined marketing and fundraising team with a major gifts colleague who is great at connecting with donors on LinkedIn?
  • Where are the bulk of your supporters? Who are you trying to reach and where will you find them?
  • Which channels can best support your organisation’s goals?
  • What are the benefits of each channel for your charity?
  • How much time do you have to give?

Once you have a rough answer to these questions, you should be able to narrow down where your time is best spent. For example, if you were an LGBTQIA+ charity supporting young people, you might decide on something like this:  

You are a small charity with a couple of comms colleagues who have limited time to juggle all of your communications. One of the main goals of your charity is to provide support to young people struggling with LGBTQIA+ issues. Your Instagram seems to be growing more than your other channels. One of your team is really good at creating and editing videos.

In this situation, you might decide to focus on Instagram (particularly Reels) and engage with supporters on that platform. With your in-house video skills, you could also look at cultivating a TikTok channel to reach even more young people.

Top Tip: Think about how YOU use social media

When you are using a social media platform, you have certain expectations as a user. If you are scrolling through Twitter, you expect mostly text-based posts, real time conversation, and short, punchy information. Whereas if you are using YouTube, you expect longer form video content.

Diversifying content platform well

Shelter is a great example of a charity diversifying content well across different channels. They are using Twitter to engage with current affairs that are relevant to their organisation by using copy that is short and has a clear call to action – a technique that works well on this platform. They’ve also utilised the ability to create a thread so that they can share further information without separating the tweets. This works really well because Twitter is an excellent place to inform audiences about (and then encourage them to share) a petition as people can engage with minimal effort.

Meanwhile on TikTok, Shelter are using the platform to inform whilst entertaining. The messages they’re choosing to share on this platform are clearly targeted at a younger generation – sharing information about landlords, and also sharing key political changes in a way this generation can engage with. The content is perfectly pitched for TikTok, which has its own very specific language and style – including the use of trending music (which on TikTok acts like a hashtag) and current memes.

How to choose the right content

When creating content for a social media channel, here’s what to think about:

  • Take a look at the language that is being used on the channel you’re focusing on – can you match the style? Are emojis used as part of that language?
  • How long is the copy for a standard post on that channel and how is it formatted? Looking at your past posts, is there a length or style of copy that has performed well in the past? 
  • Does that channel use hashtags? If so, how many should you use?
  • What type of visuals are most used on that channel? Have you tried images or videos in the past – which of these have performed better?
  • What accessibility considerations do you need to think about? Does that platform have a place for alt text? Can you subtitle your videos?

Remember to keep testing. If you have an idea, try it and see how it performs then take your learnings forward to improve future content. Social media moves quickly and it’s the perfect place to test, test, test!

It’s understandable to feel overwhelmed by the number of different channels and the differences between them. But if you pare back the amount of channels you’re using and spend some time creating a strategy per channel, you will find content creation easier going forward. 

If you feel you need a bit of extra support in nailing your strategy, check out my Digital Communications Strategy course, which takes you through every step that’s needed to build your own unique strategy.

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Banner Image: Oladimeji Ajegbile on Pexels

Georgie Wishart

content creator and director, Plant Based Digital

Georgie creates specialist visual and written content for charities and sustainable organisations. With experience in both corporate and non-profit sectors, she set up Plant Based Digital to share her skills and knowledge with as many good causes as possible. She loves creating innovative digital content and supporting charities to put strategies in place to maximise that content.