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Making Social Media Work for Community Organizations

August 26, 2016

This is the first in a series of posts based on Erik Johnson’s presentation, “Getting Your Message Across,” about how community organizations can effectively use social media.

Erik Johnson Profile Picture

Erik Johnson

Most of us use social media to connect to friends and family, follow blogs that address our interests or keep up with the daily news. But community organizations and the volunteers who work with them must recognize the unique role that social media plays in their supporters’ lives in order to make the most of these platforms. On August 25, the Coppell Gifted Association invited Erik Johnson, Vice President of Marketing Technology for ClubCorp, to speak to a group of community organizers and volunteers about how they can best use social media to reach the Coppell community.

“Social media brings your story to life,” Johnson said. “Facebook and other platforms allow your organization to pull out the stories that show why you exist.”

Although social media sites like Twitter and Instagram are appropriate for some organizations, Johnson focused his remarks on Facebook, citing statistics that show 71% of Internet users have a Facebook account and 50% of those users check it every day.

According to Johnson, the goal of your organization’s Facebook posts should be to compel your followers to engage with your stories by commenting or sharing your posts, which will, in turn, ensure that your posts are seen by those user’s friends and so on. In order to make content engaging, Johnson recommends that organizations follow a rule of thirds: “You should spend equal time posting about Appreciation, Advocacy and Appeals,” he said.

Appreciation posts should be exactly what they sound like–posts that highlight volunteers, sponsors, donors or other organizations that have helped your group. Johnson recommended that these posts lead with the activity. In other words, a great advocacy post would read: “XYZ Company volunteers braved the heat to set up booths for our Spring Carnival. We appreciate them so much!”

Johnson said that Advocacy posts show your followers that you care about the things they care about. Posting original content or re-posting news articles associated with your cause (education, child development, community sports, etc.) elevates your credibility as a source for information and increases the likelihood that your followers will engage with your page.

Appeal posts focus on what every organization needs: volunteers and money. And while these kinds of posts are important to groups, they should be interspersed with other the other two kinds to prevent donor/volunteer fatigue.

“Most importantly, an organization should be real and transparent on social media,” Johnson said. “You must listen to your followers and respond to every single comment, even the negative ones.” He recommends that organizations acknowledge any negative comments and indicate what they are doing to address the situation. Then, if necessary, take up the issue in an offline format like email or by phone. An exception would be if the group receives any dangerous or disturbing comments. These should be deleted immediately.

For more information on the Coppell Gifted Association or to become a member, click here.

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